Sunday, June 6, 2010

What's Stress Got to Do With It?


This past Friday, I experienced the strangest yet the strongest flare up - ever. As you know and I know, I have been blessed because my fibromyalgia has never been as strong as some people who suffer pain levels that make them hurt to the touch. I really could never comprehend what that would feel like, as it almost sounded like an exaggeration (i know it isn't!!!). Well, I was wrong and as if God wanted me to feel what hurting to the touch felt like, it struck me out one night after yet another late night at work.

Just to give you a quick background, work has not only been busy but also incrementally stressful because my new hire has not been working out well for our team. As a result, i have been staying extra long hours in order to review every single thing he does, correcting his errors and then use the late hours to get my job done. I have always been able to let go of work stress pretty well no matter how tough things got. However, people's ability is not something we can control, so I suppose I've been lost in trying to deal with this whole situation. I've been doing my best to teach him and motivate him to do better and communicate proactively with everyone to get things done on time and with reasonable level of accuracy. I have learned so far that it is very difficult to tolerate his mistakes and taking extra time to correct his mistakes while still trying to give him positive reinforcement!!

Anyway, after having a rather unsuccessful review meeting with my analyst at 9pm while all of us were trying to meet deadlines for three different projects, I think something happened that triggered my pain nerves. 30 minutes or so after, my ankles and calves started burning, my head started hurting, and i was just overwhelmed with fatigue. Although I still had a great deal of work to do, I knew i had to go home.

By the time i got home, my entire legs were sore and burning all over, my jaws hurt, and I felt like someone beat me hard on my back, I was not sure what was going on and the fear of the unknown scared me beyond belief. I was also really worried about making it to work the next day as there was still so much to do. The minute i got in, i dropped everything and took advil and two packs of Total Sleep, which is a natural serotonin booster (via tryptophan). I had to hope that it would help me relax and sleep better. As i started changing out of my work clothes, I realized that I was hurting so much from the clothes brushing down my legs! Literally, I was feeling sharp pain from what usually is a soft and pleasant feeling, a soft touch of soft fabric... I really did not know what to do, or how to react. I crawled in to bed, soon to realize that i couldn't lie down except on my back because I couldn't bear the pain from my body touching the bed! So I rolled my body like a ball so that the only part of my body touching the bed was my back. I stayed in that position for at least 30 minutes (not easy to do).

I don't know how long it was, but for as long as I could all I did was just pray that this sharp burning sensation would calm down a little. I was just stunned about it all, it was so different, it was so overwhelming, but i just focused on getting my nerves calm and shake off whatever stress i was feeling from work. I just never had to deal with a people problem like this before.

I think i fell asleep while praying...

The next morning when I woke up I definitely felt less of that burning sensation, but my ankles and calves and my teeth were still hurting (i know, teeth???).

I did make it to work, and I knew had to learn how to let people-related stress not get to me as it did the night before. I have a lot to think about.

I'm still in a lot of pain, my hips are definitely feeling it, i'm fatigued and i'm struggling to stay positive. But i know this is a challenge for me to overcome, that's the only way i can look at this. Maybe my analyst needs a manager that can develop his skills a little further. Maybe i can teach him to be more proactive, and show him new ways to approach problem solving, etc. I will try as much as I can until it is proven that i can't influence him any further.

Stress is a scary thing for all of us - and especially for us with fibromyalgia. Our already low serotonin levels will drop down, allowing our already high level of pain chemicals to shoot up and govern our brains! This flare up was really one of the scariest experiences i have ever had, and my heart goes out to those who suffer this kind of pain on a daily basis. But i know that even this can be overcome and I can get better. I have to keep trying. I hope we all keep trying. it's not easy, but we have to take the challenge.

God bless us all.