My hubby has been busy out in our garden for the last couple of weeks. He’s re-doing the area around our raised beds. When he first built it, it was beautiful. He surrounded the garden boxes with white stone and put a nice fence around it all. I just loved it!
So why change it? The last couple of years, it hasn’t worked as well for us as we’d like. The problem is that those pretty white stones didn’t look so great once acorns, leaves, and other yard debris started falling onto them. My sweet hubby did his best to keep everything nice-looking but he ended up spending hours cleaning all that stuff out by hand. If he tried to use the blower, it blew the gravel out into the grass. As you know, lawn mowers and gravel are not a good combination.
What started out working well just wasn’t working anymore. We decided we needed to get rid of what worked so great that first couple of years and put in something that was much easier to maintain.
Sometimes our fibromyalgia care plans are the same way. We have this perfectly-crafted plan that seems to do a great job of keeping our pain and fatigue at bay. It seems we have it all figured out.
Then, little by little, we start to realize that we’re feeling worse. The things that have been working so well aren’t anymore. This isn’t a failure on our part; it’s just the nature of fibromyalgia.
We may need to make some changes to our self-care plan. We may only need some small tweaks to get us back on track, or we may need a complete re-do, as we did with our garden.
When we’ve found something that works for us, even for a while, it’s scary to think of making changes. In my post Time to Stop Letting Fear Hold Me Back, I talked about how my strict pacing had started to imprison me rather than helping me live a fulfilling life. I needed to make a change, but it was scary.
So how do we decide whether we should take that leap and try to change up our care routine and if we do, where we should start?
I’ve found that asking myself a few simple questions can help.
5 Questions We Can Use to Determine If/How Our Fibromyalgia Care Plan Needs to Change:
- Could these new symptoms be due to something other than my Fibromyalgia? This really needs to be the first question we ask ourselves. Unfortunately, because we have so many strange things that happen as a normal part of our Fibro, we may be tempted to attribute anything that happens to “just another weird symptom” of Fibromyalgia.
- Do I really need to change what I’m doing, or is this just the normal ebb and flow of Fibromyalgia? Any of us who have lived with Fibro know that there are periods where we feel much better and then there are others where we feel much worse. If we’re feeling bad it doesn’t always mean we’re getting worse; it may just be that natural ebb and flow. For me, I usually give it a couple of weeks – if things don’t start to lighten up a little after that, I start looking at where I may need to make some changes. If I determine I do, I start to look at how I need to change.
- How is my diet? Our diet impacts the way our bodies work and how we feel, maybe even more than we think. I’ve found that, more than anything else, the quality of my diet affects my energy levels. If I start to struggle with fatigue, I look at whether my eating patterns are supporting my energy needs. Many people find that the types of food they eat affect pain levels as well.
- Have I significantly increased/decreased my activity levels lately? If we increase our activity too quickly, we can often suffer from Post-exertional Malaise, “the worsening of symptoms following even minor physical or mental exertion, with symptoms typically worsening 12 to 48 hours after activity and lasting for days or even weeks.” (CDC) On the other side of the coin, if we decrease our movement too much, we run the risk of falling into the inactivity/pain cycle. Finding that balance is key.
- How is my attitude? Am I maintaining an attitude of dynamic optimism (optimism based on action) or have I started to entertain those negative thoughts that pop into my head more than I should? We probably all have those times that we just need to give ourselves permission to feel sorry for ourselves for a little while, but we have to guard against staying in a negative space. It’s vitally important that we recognize the difference between temporary bouts of sadness and clinical depression. Clinical depression isn’t something we can just talk ourselves out of. If you find that you’re depressed, please seek help from a qualified professional.
These questions help me decide if I need to make changes to what I’m already doing, and if so, what it is that I need to change. It also helps me decide whether I need to go ahead and make an appointment with my doctor to see if something else is going on.
How do you determine whether you need to change your Fibromyalgia Care Plan? If you find your care plan does need changing, how do you decide what changes to make? Please share!