The nomenclature of Fibromyalgia can be known as : “Central Sensitization”, “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” , “Cycles of Over-Exertion-Relapse”, “Chronic Fatigue Disorder”, and now a new term: “Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disorder”- all with the same characteristics. What’s to be done so that we can explain ourselves to others while so many labels of these invisible syndromes abound? In fact, do all these terms mean the same thing? Are they bio-psycho-social in nature yet present with symptoms that are almost identical? The more I read, live with, and experience these conditions the more certain I am that they are linked under the umbrella of “medically unexplained symptoms”, referred to as MUS. It appears to me that there is less understanding of the linkages than ever before as new labels appear. How can we separate the ‘bio’ from the ‘psycho’ ‘social’? Are they all neurological conditions?
” When things get really bad, just raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig”, Leonard Cohen
As I have been limping along these past few months following hip surgery I began to have foot pain, a condition I had never had before. I was speculating about the cause. Too little walking of late? Plantar fasciitis? Shifting from soft sponge shoes (GoWalk) to sneakers which are heavier? Shuffling after the surgery? The possibilities are endless. No one can tell me what the issues are that inhibit my walking and cause almost shock-like pain in arches and the top of foot.
“People are made happy by one thing and one thing only-pleasant sensations in their bodies”, Yuval Noah Harari
What is happiness? Sometimes I think I have been seeking it my entire life and it still often eludes me. I want to be happy. I have worked at it. I meditate, have done yoga and chi-gong, I even have coloured in books (the newest craze), made quilts and listened to joyful music, all said to enhance creativity which is thought to be integral to being happy. When I was young and religious I prayed. It made me fearful, not happy. I have looked at amazing skies, October foliage, a calm lake and enjoyed their beauty, but I do not often experience the peacefulness that happiness is said to bring. Is the feeling of being at peace the same as feeling happy? Some of the happiness experts say that if you smile often enough it will entice your brain to believe you are happy. I smile often when around others and many would consider me happy. Maybe, then, I do experience happiness, which differs from peacefulness. Perhaps it is so fleeting that it escapes my attention?
“To truly laugh, you must be able to take yourpain, and play with it”, Charlie Chaplin
This is a review of the many blogs where I have discussed the pain discourse, keeping it simple and giving us room to breathe through the suffering we experience on a day-to-day basis. It is important to understand some of the basic language and physiology of pain as we become the conquerors of these brain pathways that often lead to despair. Instead we must take a more lighthearted approach and do as Chaplin suggests: play with it.
I have brought on another pain attack- again! I have overdone it with social situations that have caused anxiety and resulted in overstimulation! This time the pain in my left foot is excruciating. The reason? I wore something other than the sneakers that are my daily companions. No, I did not wear high heels, but nonetheless they were not my regular footwear. There are many times I think I have to wear something on my feet that are a bit more dressy. Yet, I am now known to wear funky sneakers to most places, so why do I conform and wear ‘regular’ shoes when I know my body will rebel? Given that my muscles (like all of us with fibromyalgia) have become weakened over the years because of my inability to sustain regular exercise, I have found that supportive shoes are the best answer to stability. For that reason I have recently chosen to brighten my days with coloured sneakers that bring a smile to most people. But, without them my legs and feet are painful.
“The amygdala in the emotional center sees and hears everything that occurs to us instantaneously and is the trigger point for the fight or flight response “, Daniel Goleman.
Just as I figured several years ago…it wouldn’t take long before others would finally give up searching for viral/bacterial/hormonal or other CAUSES for fibromyalgia and agree with my theory that this demon is caused by a hyper-aroused nervous system in highly sensitive persons! My book was the first to write about that and now I find that in the magazine Psychology Today , August 2011, an article written by Andrea Bartz, suggests that as well! I have laid out these ideas as: fibromyalgia= highly sensitive persons who have had acute or chronic trauma in their lives (psychological and/or physical) have developed a hyper–aroused nervous system, and an amygdala that is hyper-responsive to fight or flight tendencies. This is called central sensitization, that is being hypersensitive to sounds, stress, weather changes, light and many other conditions that can affect the nervous system and which develops slowly over time.