In the field of medicine, there is no certainty. Not presenting any symptoms could sometimes means they are just being masked. There are several fibromyalgia symptoms and everyone experiences them differently on different scales.
Some symptoms are tolerable while some are plain torturing. Here are my thoughts on the 4 worst fibromyalgia symptoms that changed my life.
Chronic Widespread Pain
Pain changes people, need I say more? Uncontrolled or unexplained physical pain will eventually transform into mental and emotional pain which in turn affects our relationship with the people around us. It is important to let them understand how our physical pain plays a part in affecting our feelings and reactions to matters concerning them. Many a time, we have unintentional outbursts at our love ones due to the built-up frustration but be mindful not to let this become an excuse for everything. Instead, work your way around it.
A period of transition is expected upon diagnosis but it is crucial to find ways to manage our pain and keep our emotions in check. In one of the upcoming posts, I will be sharing several pain management methods as I have invested quite an amount into anything that claims to help with excruciating pain. While chronic widespread pain is very distracting, most people simply become used to it eventually. Sad, but truth.
Also known as fibro fog, now this is something that will impact us significantly in the way we interact with others and execute our daily tasks. I never knew what brain fog was, or that what I was experiencing back then was actually a brain fog. It started as disrupted chain of thoughts, sudden lack of vocabulary, difficulty in multitasking and short-term memory loss. These happened when I started freelance design in 2019 and was occasionally burning through the nights for some projects. Logically, I thought it was a result of inadequate sleep which made perfect sense.
There is no indicator on the severity of brain fog. It is subjective and researchers have no clue why does fibromyalgia lead to brain fog but they believe there is a close link to the inability to sleep well in fibromyalgia patients. Having a foggy brain certainly has its impact on our cognitive functions but there are actually many ways to modify our approach to performing daily tasks, whether you are a working individual or a student pursuing further study. Being both a working individual and a graduate student, I will be sharing some tips on managing brain fog in my upcoming posts.
Sensitivity to Cold
If I could rank how awful all the symptoms of fibromyalgia are, sensitivity to cold will be at the top of the list. I’m referring to abnormal cold intolerance which others may find absurd. In an air-conditioned office environment, it is not uncommon for me to put on 2 layers of blazers and mitten gloves with a tabletop heater, and still shivering. It may sound implausible in a tropical country like Singapore but the kind of cold I experience, particularly on my hands, is bone-chilling.
On extreme occasions, some people may experience Raynaud’s phenomenon due to restricted blood flow to the extremities of the body, which is an overbearing condition. I experienced Raynaud’s phenomenon quite frequently initially until I found ways to regulate my body temperature which I will be sharing in my posts to come as well.
Each morning we wake up, fatigue is a battle we have to fight. There is hardly sleep restoration for us. Inability to sleep well is one thing, still feeling unrested despite 10 hours of sleep is another. This was actually one of the diagnostic questions that was asked by a few of my rheumatologists if I wake up feeling as though I have not slept at all. There is also an interesting metaphor called Spoon Theory derived from chronic illness and fatigue which explains the limited amount of energy we have for each day.
Unfortunately, dealing with chronic fatigue is something that I have yet to figure out. I have tried aromatherapy which do not work all the time and undesirable methods such as skipping of heavy lunches and drinking plenty of coffee. As a matter of fact, relying on caffeine throughout the day to combat chronic fatigue is a vicious cycle that lead to insomnia at night and worsening chronic pain.
As I lay out all the symptoms that changed my life, it is evident that each symptom has its consequential impact on another. I can’t put a definite number on which symptom is worse as they are all correlated. Pretty much like what fibromyalgia does to us with the conflicting symptoms. It is what it is, and we can only learn how to deal with these symptoms that come along.