Thanksgiving just about killed me. I got up that morning as I normally would have to put the bird in the oven, but it wasn’t normal day. The familiar feeling of pain shot through my fingers and I knew.
I pushed through it even though I shouldn’t have because I wanted just one more “normal” holiday. Normal and I parted company over a year ago when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Now my days are filled with morning assessments of the state of my body. How do I feel? How much can I accomplish today?
It’s hard being a parent, a spouse and a friend when you have fibromyalgia. It takes away from every single experience you have, it drains you and it makes you less of the person that you once were. It made me stubborn, although some would say that I already had that trait in spades. I am never more stubborn than I am around the holidays. I know my body will refuse to let me do everything that I want it to do, and I’ve come to terms with that — somewhat.
Then there are times I find myself bargaining with my body, praying for one last chance at a normal holiday then I promise I’ll change. I promise to rest, eat healthy and find more time to exercise. I’ll take care of myself and put my tired, aching body first. I know my pleas for “normal” will be ignored but I say them anyway.
If you have fibromyalgia, you know these prayers well. I say them every morning when my children are banging at the door, but the pain of standing up is so bad it brings tears to my eyes. I say them every afternoon when I become disoriented on the drive home and have no clue where I am. I pray every evening that tomorrow when I wake up, the pain will be a little less and I’ll actually get some rest. Sometimes my prayers are answered, but most times they aren’t. Slowly, I’m beginning to accept that this is the way my life will be, and that it’s OK to accept this new “normal.”
I have to admit that around this time of year, I wish for my old body back. The body that could stay up late on Christmas Eve and wrap all of the presents without consequence. I never had to worry about getting enough sleep or what my hands were going to feel like after. I didn’t have to worry that fibro fog would cause me to forget half of the ingredients to recipes I’ve been making since I was 12. I did it all with such ease, an ease I took for granted.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to live in this body, but I have to figure out a way. I have to learn to ask for help. Most importantly, I have to realize that asking for help doesn’t make me less than and doesn’t make me a horrible spouse and mother. Even though that’s how I feel sometimes, like I’m letting everyone down, not just myself. I feel this pressure even more around the holidays when perfection is the goal and my body is less than perfect.
I have to remember, as we all do at this time of year, that I have loved ones who are fighting with me and for me. I don’t have to go it alone as long as we’re all happy, healthy and together. I need to realize that no one really cares how many side dishes I make for Christmas dinner. They don’t care if my presents look like some kind of animal wrapped them (although I can’t blame the fibro for that) or if my cookies are store bought because my hands weren’t up to the task this year.
I need to remember what’s important and take each holiday as I take each day — one at a time and hope that the next day will be better than the last.