Tracing Origin of a Fibro Flare

DebMarPir

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So, question for those here experienced with fibro: are you always aware of what caused a fibro flare? In one case, I realized the next day it was from over-exercise. But this time I am not sure. Maybe general stress? I didn't feel so great the day before it hit, but maybe that was a sign it was coming on. The only thing I can think of is that I missed one dose of my medicine that controls some of my muscle spasm a day or two ago, but I wouldn't think that is enough.
 

Jemima

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Hi DebMarPir,

Stress can definitely do it! I find that flares can really be on a hair trigger if I get even slightly out of whack - so I'd guess that missing a dose of medication could well have caused a domino effect when combined with other factors. Over-exertion, various forms of stress, a bad night's sleep, a looming event, working too long - all sorts of different things can tip us over the edge if we aren't quite on the level overall. My therapist got me to keep a diary of self-observations that tracked both how I felt in terms of pain and energy, and how I felt emotionally, and tried to pinpoint external factors that preceded those changes. It was really helpful to record things, so I could understand how to avoid falling in those dreaded flare holes :rolleyes:
 

DebMarPir

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Yes, I am recording things now, to try to gain some insight. It's made me more aware of weird symptoms to mention when I go to the doctor. As for the flares, it sounds like if not enough sleep, which is almost a given, or stress trigger it, I haven't got a chance.
 

Jemima

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Yes, I am recording things now, to try to gain some insight. It's made me more aware of weird symptoms to mention when I go to the doctor. As for the flares, it sounds like if not enough sleep, which is almost a given, or stress trigger it, I haven't got a chance.
Don't give up hope - I find it's a balancing act! If I know I've got a hectic few days coming up, I'll up my game doing things that help me de-stress, like taking ten minute time-outs to do a breathing exercise, trying to slow my head down, and save some resources for what's coming. It's pretty tedious to accommodate these "good habits" (eye roll) but I've found that since I got really diligent about counterbalancing the stuff I can't control, I seem to be able to stay a bit more resilient. Life will neeeeever be perfect - that's for sure - but I do believe that some strategising can help. It's not easy, but whatever works for you, try to get badass about putting yourself first when you can 💪
 
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sunkacola

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Stress is my #1 trigger for flares. If I have a load of stress piled on me one day it's pretty much guaranteed the next will be bad.
After that, it's because I did too much the day before, or it's for no discernable reason at all.
 

DebMarPir

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I would love to hear more about the countermeasures you take to help reduce stress and ward off flares! Would this include relaxation for an hour or whatever included in each stressful day? Meditation? I find the latter rather tedious and haven't been able to implement it. But someone at PT on their staff is going to talk to me soon about how to implement breathing.
 

PepeFybro

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I can be pretty good for a little while then boom, a flare up, cant stay asleep at night cant even get a nap, just cant catch up with those ellusive ZZZZZZZ's. Then next few days usually the most weird and bizarre health issues like a random ill health lottery. Mines definitely connected to the sleep (or lack of it) but what causes this I really don't know, I just think that's the fybro. I just ease right down do as little as possible as I know it will go away for a short period of time and I try and get the most out of those days.
 

sunkacola

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I would love to hear more about the countermeasures you take to help reduce stress and ward off flares! Would this include relaxation for an hour or whatever included in each stressful day? Meditation? I find the latter rather tedious and haven't been able to implement it. But someone at PT on their staff is going to talk to me soon about how to implement breathing.
I have made a post with all of my best suggestions.
You can find it here:My advice for managing fibromyalgia (especially for newcomers)

And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
 

Jemima

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I would love to hear more about the countermeasures you take to help reduce stress and ward off flares! Would this include relaxation for an hour or whatever included in each stressful day? Meditation? I find the latter rather tedious and haven't been able to implement it. But someone at PT on their staff is going to talk to me soon about how to implement breathing.
I also find the whole idea of things like meditation a drag - it's something I've tried to adopt and failed so many times in my life. Happily, the psychologist that helped me with my fibro pain said frequency is what matters, and not quantity per session!

There's definitely a lot to be said for just chilling for an hour or more whenever you can accommodate it - that's definitely gold-star pacing - but in terms of things to specifically knock stress down to size in the moment, he told me that a five or ten minute practice twice a day will make a big difference, where as an hour of meditation that you only manage once a week because you'd rather not bother isn't going to touch the sides.

I wasn't really happy about it, but he massively kicked my ass and got me to do a mini guided meditation, a breathing exercise, or a body scan twice a day for several months. Low and behold, I started to feel better. He explained that the body's ability to recover quickly from stress is like a muscle we can train. The more frequently we flex it, the faster we can access that capacity to self correct - and hopefully pull back a fibro flare in the making. Once I got this, I didn't resent it so much 😂

Now days, I mix up breathing exercises, listening to binaural beats, using a light therapy app (Lumenate's free sessions) and the occasional mini guided meditation on Youtube. I do something most days, and if I start to feel worse, then I go right into twice a day like my life depends on it. For breathing exercises, the Gifs/Instagram of Breathwrk are really handy. The body scan thing I mentioned was something he taught me because I was having a direct stress response to pain, and launching into a vicious cycle. That was basically lying down and tightening and releasing each muscle one at a time while telling myself that the pain sensations I feel are not a threat. A bit counterintuitive to start, but actually really helpful - for me anyway.

At the end of the day, I suspect (hope) that most people with fibro can achieve some relief if they are able to find something that helps them get themselves chemically into a better state (brain chemistry!) I know we're all having a really unique battle with this thing, and that there are no easy fixes, but still seem to hold onto the tail of optimism like a stubborn lunatic, no matter how crap I feel. I hope something in that mix helps you too.
 

sunkacola

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Thanks for such a great post, Jemima.
I really think it's important to remind yourself that pain is not a threat, only pain. This helps so much with managing it. I try to be my dogs when the pain is bad. Dogs don't question it or complain or get emotionally involved in pain, for them it's just there. The more impersonally you can view your pain, the less it will affect your emotions, and the less affected your emotions are the better you can handle the pain.

Meditation has always been virtually impossible for me until I started doing timed 10 minute sessions. I can do that. :) and I feel it is helpful. But there are so many ways to get into a meditative state. For instance, if you knit or crochet, tie flies, sew or embroider, build birdhouses or furniture, paint or make ceramics, or do anything with your hands, you can get so into what you are doing that the world goes away and that period of time is like meditating in that it is excellent for you both physically and mentally.

You can also meditate while you are walking (although I recommend only doing this if you are in a park where you won't run into something and there are no cars). You don't close your eyes, but you can repeat a phrase or mantra or prayer while you are walking and focus on that.
 

JayCS

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Hi Deb:
Yep, me too. Trigger hunting, I call it. In my case I can usually be or get pretty sure what the trigger is. If not immediately then I check my week or month on my blog and often find it out after. I'd think my rate is >80%. What I need for this however is the time to self-care - so there's no sense in doing more - and a clear head - so there's no sense in taking meds that dull my brain. What I don't need is people like my acupressurist telling me 'a lot of others are having a problem at the moment, it's the moon or the weather change'. Yes, it may be a weather change, but by far not every weather change is a big problem for me: If I can change my habits, e.g. clothing in time, it's OK.

My biggest flare triggers in the 1st yr of fibro were meds & treatments which harmed me & made my fibro worse long-term. Now trying new herbs or supps usually again means overdosing until I've found the right dose, but in the mid- and long-term I'm making progress.

Overdoing now I'm making progress still happens fairly often, cos it's sometimes hard to see what is too much, if I feel good. Sometimes instead of listening to my body I need to use my head or listen to my wife.

Stress I find much more effective to prevent rather than to alleviate with Relaxation.
Like Jemima's psychologist's idea my body and mind need everything in shorter amounts. Not just the frequency and variety of mind exercise, but stopping any stress before I'd need days to recover.
Since changing what/how I work I don't have it much any more. With all other forms of stress (like socializing) I limit the activity so I only slightly overdo it. Fibro has made me decide I can no longer and do not any longer want to tolerate much stress. A lot of things which would stress others doesn't stress me, or I've learnt to tolerate it well or say it out loud to those who are stressing me or just as a matter of course stop going into situations where I wdnt've batted an eyelid before fibro´. What remains I take for a while and then go out of the situation. When others like my wife are stressed I deflect that (can then take the brunt with no problem, and not personally), separate and talk about it later. In the past 3-4 evenings, encapsulating my amino acids (all white powders :rolleyes:) has become a stressor and sleep postponer, so I'm gonna do this increasingly systematic as from today.


Relaxation: Like a lot of you, meditation is hard for me, altho I've tried it off and on since my teens. Main problem used to be the pain I've always had. What I can do very well now is autogenic training - at night replacing sleep (altho not that nec. anymore), or short at daytime. What's great about that is that I can very quickly manage to produce a 'stim': a lovely tingly feeling in my toes (they move a bit then too), up to my knees, I'm managing to get it into my hands/fingers a little bit too. This makes me enjoy it, so I'm keen to do it regularly. Very similarly relaxing I find Yoga Nidra videos to be. If possible (not too much pain) progressive muscle relaxation can be an alternative for me.
Just reminding of the terminology: AFAIK a body scan means you go thru and say 'hello' to your body parts, whether hurting or not (without tightening the muscles) - the 'not a threat' part belongs there too, because you just practice awareness, without judging, bemoaning etc. The tightening and releasing is actually progressive muscle relaxation. So this is an interesting combination of both. Also generally interesting that we can combine & adapt things to help us.
Whilst I occasionally do and definitely like quite a few breathing exercises (fave: breathing out and in thru one nostril, then the other), my definite favourite one is Wim Hof's, cos it recharges.
And often a cure-all for me, resetting, destressing, stopping rumination, even at night, is still his cold showering a minute.
My main combination of exercises is my twist-stretching "everything" outward, then inward, which also very muich helps me relax quickly. Praps similar to @sunkacola's recommendation of doing a walking meditation: Maybe the same doing tai chi/qigong or yoga with appropriate breathing.

A major problem has been my sleep, and I've only been getting the hang of that since starting amino acids (an balance of GABA, glutamine, theanine, now adding small doses of tryptophan), stopping magnesium glycinate, and increasing passiflora to 4x289mg. Busted my record on Monday night: Only 10', 3 breaks. But cracked that up again last night due to heartburn (followed by other things), probably due to taking the tryptophan doses too close to one another. But my generally good effective and reduced sleep is still incredibly fragile, so I'm still testing stuff to ground that more, which again costs me a few sfx. But it's fun and I'm getting there.

I love @sunkacola's "I try to be my dogs when the pain is bad." - yep, that's what it feels like for me, too. I actually don't even need to try that hard. It irritates this however when my wife starts dramatizing ... and then when I start protesting she starts saying I'm sugarcoating my condition ... I just ignore that, say something deliberately silly and don't try to explain it in that situation, but come back to it in a serious moment when she asks me what she can do for me....:rolleyes:
 

Auriel

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Sugarcoating?! Ask her to body swap for a day, I guarantee she’ll be wanting hers back less than halfway though 🙄
 

JayCS

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Sugarcoating?! Ask her to body swap for a day, I guarantee she’ll be wanting hers back less than halfway though 🙄
Nah, other way round - she wdnt wanna swap with mine for one second!: My wife sez/feels I shd dramatize and moan around more... Hehe - but when I occasionally do, she's not happy either. She sees & feels my pain more than I do myself. But over decades of pain, I've learnt to become a happy, optimistic person, why shd I let it get me down, on top of all of it? Why shd I cry when I need a minute or 2 to get up off the floor, if I want to laugh about it coz I think it's dead funny, or just want to patiently get my act together, like @sunkacola's dogs? Why shd I accept help or make it easier for myself (like she keeps naggin' around) if I want to take my socks or shoes on or off standing up, so I know how well my loins are doing today and can take appropriate measures? Next time she does that I'll ask her for a wheelchair! 👨‍🦽
I'd see a sense if it'd work as catharsis, blowing off steam, but that only works for me for very short anger periods about people that are getting on my wick (when they're not there). Very occasionally I howl like a wolf 🐺 - or throw f*** around in a spontaneous f***-rap.
 
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Auriel

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Ah yep now I get it good wife!, love your wife, good choice of a bride, yeah I got a little confused ( not the 1st time “Definitely” won’t be the last ) my sleep is all over the place, + medication taking is too, gonna ask my dr if I can get them ready made to take like old people do haha, soz for confusion, I’m gonna sleep for a bit, speak soon, 🎧🎤🎹🎼
 
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