Fibromyalgia fears and Covid19

“How little can be done under the spirit of fear”, Florence Nightingale

Fear of catching the virus, of giving it to others, of being around others, of going out in public and of wearing or not wearing the mask; these days fear abounds. It is much worse for those of us with such conditions as fibromyalgia, endlessly bound by anxiety.

When I thought it was safe for me to shop, like others, I was preoccupied about hand sanitizers, masks, hand washing and being in a public space. I wish I could say that this anxiety has subsided dramatically. It has a wee bit but not enough to say I am comfortable being around many , other than family members or close friends. I still wash grocery packages when I come home and try to track what is and what is not ‘contaminated’…the usual nurse’s training approach to a somewhat modified ‘sterile technique’. Like thousands of others I watch people disregard safety issues and I cringe.

This personal story of mine no doubt mimics millions of people world wide. Canada has done comparatively well and Nova Scotia in particular has taken the right measures for diminishing large numbers, with the exception of a specific long term care institution. I could relax a little but school is about to open, regular flu season is upon us, and anxiety begins to mount. Grandchildren are now to be avoided as much as possible. Will our world once again be subject to lock down? The symptoms of the virus are many, but I too have suffered from most on a daily basis, excluding the fever. In my darkest moments I dwell on the symptoms.

So, here I am, a person with fibromyalgia, anxious beyond belief, having just suffered through summer heat and humidity, identifying the stressors in my life, knowing that because of my age and other health conditions I am vulnerable. I am afraid our Premier will open our ‘bubble’ to include more than the Atlantic provinces- I distrust those from other parts of Canada to comply with the mask wearing mandate in public spaces of our province. More importantly I hope that the Canada-US border will not reopen for a very long time. It is said that the comedian Robin Williams once commented that being Canadian was like living in an apartment over a meth lab. It certainly feels like that now…I hate thinking of family, friends, neighbours to the south as people I no longer want contact with. It is a horrifying thought. It is like wishing one was in a cocoon.

Wearing a mask is difficult for me. I believe that many of us with fibromyalgia have a sensory processing disorder that is exacerbated by such things as clothing. Unless it is very soft and not too tight clothing can become an issue for me. The mask brings about difficulty in breathing and talking but I would never not wear one outside the home, nor would I ask for a medical exemption.

So, here I am now complaining about issues that reflect my white, class privilege. Yes, I can easily trigger intense fear; yes, I acknowledge that extreme anxiety such as we who have fibromyalgia are experiencing .But for the moment I am safe and cannot predict the future. I can only acknowledge these anxieties and feel great empathy for those who have died and those who are struggling with Covid19 or have after effects from the disease. Fibromyalgia is a dis-ease, not a disease. But as I listen to news reports of those with the after effects I compare them to fibromyalgia and they are amazingly similar. Could it be that those who have these after effects are highly sensitive people whose central nervous systems are compromised like those of us with fibromyalgia? This, of course is highly speculative…

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