Activities of Daily Living with Fibromyalgia

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Let’s face it: Doing “normal” everyday things becomes a huge challenge when you have fibromyalgia. We really need to pace ourselves to make sure we can accomplish ordinary tasks — tasks that I used to take for granted. The pain may get worse after overdoing it, but the fatigue is what worsens for me. It can put me totally out of commission for a few days.

Our energy occurs in spurts throughout the day, and we need to learn to conserve it. It would be like getting 10 gallons of gas a day. You use them up in a certain way and when you are done, you are running on fumes. All of a sudden you can be standing at the kitchen sink and you just can’t stand there another second. You can’t cook, you can’t wash another dish. You just have to sit down. Sometimes you can’t even talk. Many of us have all we can do to shower, do the laundry, and cook simple meals.

Driving becomes an issue for many. I personally make all my appointments when my husband is available to drive me. I have a difficult time focusing on driving and it becomes really exhausting. Before fibromyalgia, I loved to drive and was a horrible passenger. Now I’m content to be a passenger. There are times when the brain fog is as thick as pea soup. Even when you know where you are, it can be easy to forget how to get to your destination .

Fibromyalgia can be socially isolating for many — it is for me. As much as we love spending time with friends and family, it takes a huge toll. Because we may have to cancel plans at the last minute, we not only disappoint others, but it’s incredibly discouraging for us. We look forward to a party or other event, and then have to bow out due to our health issues.

Often, after every physically demanding activity, there needs to be a time of rest. There are a couple of ways I have chosen to improve my daily life. I hired someone to clean my home twice a month. I keep a chore jar. I take several slips of paper and write on each of them one thing I need to do. I fold them up and place them in my jar. As I have energy, I take one out and do that one thing. There are days you may only get one thing done, or days you may get several things accomplished. Then there are those days nothing will get done. That’s OK. Give yourself permission and don’t worry about it. Just do what you can do. If you have children, they love helping and you can make it a game for them.

Be creative and do what works for you and your family, in your unique situation.

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