A Fibromite’s New Year Resolution

I took a walk in the snow today. Not a delicate, lazy snow of crystal masterpieces and satisfying fluffy heaps that pack into perfect snowballs and dress the trees in formal white tie tuxedos for a romantic gala, but a fine, blowing white-out of razor-sharp, vindictive snow that burned my ruddy cheeks and forced me to hunch into the wind.

Winter has finally come to Wisconsin after a bizarre autumn suspension of time through the Advent season. I am not complaining – I savoured every minute of sweatshirt weather, sunny mild days, and comfortable strolls to work. It was almost like a Portland winter, minus the rain and mist.

But this blinding, slicing snow suits me better. Mirrors what I have struggled with for almost a month now and thus feels more natural, more suitable for my daily struggles with fibromyalgia. I am walking through a metaphor sprung to vivid real-life.

For the past month I have struggled with a fibrofog. To explain the realities and terrors of this phenomenon to a non-fibromite is daunting. I look fine. Healthy, spry, fresh off my hiking adventures in Iceland and already looking ahead to volcano hikes in Sicily. Energized and optimistic. In the prime of my life.

If that’s what you see, then I have done a tremendous acting job. I cloak my frustrations and terrifying memory lapses in a mask of optimism and confidence. But this masquerade is exhausting and I hit the pillow every evening drained of energy.

You see, while you see me as “just fine”, I am fighting to move through the day, literally fighting my brain to stay awake and alert. It doesn’t always cooperate, a sullen, pouting teenager dragging its feet. On my good days, I can pull my brain along by sheer will, writing down everything on notepads to avoid forgetting important information, names, and dates. But this is not a failsafe strategy. I have slip-ups. My mask threatens to fall and shatter.

Yesterday I found myself struggling to form sentences. I knew what I wanted to say, what emotions I wanted to express, it was all in my head. But speaking the words, inflecting my voice with the right tone, was like pulling out a tooth or walking through mud. I fear I came across emotionless, idiotic, or distant. Times like this I prefer to be a recluse, but I push myself forward and pretend to be confident.

My short-term memory lapses frighten me. I write everything down obsessively, yet important pieces of information still elude me. I once sent my nephew two birthday cards, a week apart. I had literally forgotten I sent the first one. Have I ever forgotten to send one of my 15 nieces and nephews a birthday card entirely? Probably. That realization bothers me.

It’s a new year, but not much has changed. I fight this beast the doctors call fibromyalgia. I find myself drawn to stories with heroic people standing up against the odds, fighting to keep their pride and dignity. My latest discovery is the Korean TV show Hong Gil Dong, a Korean Robin Hood figure who stood and fought for the people against the corruption of the nobility. When I am sinking into the deepest depths of mental fog, I curl up in front of an episode and let the story buttress me up to face one more day.

A new year, another January and another birthday. My resolution? It’s not grand or heroic, but it means the world to me. To be gentle with myself, kind and forgiving. To keep moving forward, despite the haunting of fibromyalgia, one step, one day at a time.

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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4 Responses to A Fibromite’s New Year Resolution

  1. Keep up the hard work in living with fibro. I know it is difficult (my aunt lives with it as well) but you are a strong and amazing woman. **hug** L&L

  2. Holly Stigen says:

    It’s amazing that you are able to keep a positive attitude while dealing with this. This may be your resolution, but it my eyes you have already accomplished it. 🙂

    • chronictraveler says:

      That’s only because you can’t hear the commentary in my head! 😉 In all seriousness, thanks – we both deal with a lot and yet look “just fine”. You inspire me to keep going.

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