Monthly Archives: November 2009

Fibromyalgia: Trauma, Sleep disturbances, Night terrors, Sleep walking, Nightmares

“Trauma is so arresting that traumatized people will focus on it compulsively”, Peter Levine

There are so many various kinds of sleep disturbances that it becomes somewhat of a check list to differentiate between them all. Some of us suffer from everyone of them. I began having night terrors when I first started school,age 5, and the nuns told us stories of being responsible for killing Christ because we were born with original sin on our souls. Of course this  frightened us and made the entire class cry. We  were warned about sin and hell from the first day. I would hyperventilate at night and lose my breath. I was afraid to go to sleep. This was a serious trauma in my childhood. I began sleep walking. It was the time of the polio scare and this was added to the fears. World War ll had not yet ended the year I began school in Montreal and we were afraid our fathers would be sent away and be killed. There was much to be anxious about. My parents were extremely fearful people; my father has recently been diagnosed as a ‘borderline personality disorder’ which added to my lifelong anxiety.  And so began my lifetime of night terrors and nightmares. The trauma of my adult life is too lengthy to document here (nor is it necessary) but most of us have experienced traumas of one sort or another, whether major or minor. The women in my book tell stories about their own sleep disturbances based upon their life experiences, so I am not unique in this regard.

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Fibromyalgia: Numbness, Tingling, Pins and Needles

” The world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it”, Helen Keller

A condition called paresthesia results in numbness, tingling and pins and needles in the limbs, due to disturbances in the nerve pathways. Those of us with fibromyalgia have what is also known as peripheral neuropathy, most particularly in the legs. For me it is much worse at night and in my arms, rather than the legs. However, I also have many twitching new sensations in my legs as well, but the arms right now are worse. The result  is that I wake up several times during the night when an arm is ‘asleep’, numb with cold and actually hurting. When I am up for awhile, moving about the feeling comes back in my arm and I fall back asleep on the other side only to wake up an hour or two later with it on the other side. My sleep is very disturbed by this relatively new symptom. But, then I have developed pains in the knees this summer, another new symptom. Just as I think I have had them all, something new crops up. How discouraging. Like other sufferers of pain I live in fear that this new symptom will not disappear. While I am a great fan of Harriet Lerner it is this particular book which helps me the most.

It seems that peripheral neuropathy , that is pain mostly in legs, tingling of the extremities, pins and needles, numbness, “falling asleep” of legs or arms is quite common among those of us with fibromyalgia. The central nervous system, being always in a state of hyper-arousal is on high alert. Unlike others who are diabetic and have the same symptoms, those of us with FM do not have this constantly  as do diabetics, and is usually associated with a flare-up. It is time to stop, take stock of what is happening in our minds and work with our pain rather than struggle against it. Not an easy job!

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