Friday, August 17, 2012

Focus Beyond The Flare

I've had what I would call a "Fibro Flare" over the last few days.  I don't believe it is my first, but it is the first one that I can pinpoint as a flare up of Fibromyalgia, if that makes sense.

It started Wednesday and I believe it is finally coming to an "end" today.  Truthfully, the aches and stiffness don't ever really go completely away, but they do get to a point where they are minimal and I can function without dwelling on them.  I hope that that is always the case (that the pain/stiffness is so minimal that I can "ignore" it) and that eventually that will be the norm or that there will be days (and hopefully most days) that there is truly no pain.  That would be amazing. :)

I know in part what brought it on.  There were more than a few factors I'd say.  Here they are, in no particular order:

1. The weather.  It has been evil; stormy and major fluctuations in temperature.  I know just by looking outside what type of day I will have in regards to my Fibromyalgia.  I try to psyche myself out and tell myself that it's all in my head and the pain won't come, but it always does.  I suppose eventually I'll accept it and be able to prepare for it better, but I'm still learning how to do that.

2. The last few weeks have been insanely busy.  I have been running all over the place for appointments and commitments.  On top of that, I volunteered for some things that I wanted so badly to do and told myself that I didn't care if it made my Fibromyalgia go nuts (still feel that way).  I suppose, in retrospect, that I really need to not overbook myself in the future, but I do know that there are some things that I will do anyway, like helping family, no matter how busy I am and no matter what the consequences to my physical body.  I guess I just need to make sure I rest as much as possible after (and before, if possible) such episodes before my body decides enough is enough and makes me rest.

3. Diet.  I have been wonderful about physical activity, though I am pretty sure that even that I need to make sure I don't overdo, but I let myself fall into the trap of "I deserve" in way of food.   I'll explain.  I was looking at the scales and happy with myself, and decided that I deserved some of that ice cream in the freezer, that I deserved to help myself to this or that, that I'd budgeted the calories for it, so it would be ok.  Well, it wasn't.   Now don't get me wrong - it wasn't that I went over budget calorie-wise or anything, it was that the processed food is NEVER a good idea.  My body doesn't like it and it not only makes me sick to my stomach, it adds to the aches and pains.  Instead of being a good little girl and making my own desserts that were not preservative and additive packed, instead of buying the ice cream that is natural (like Haagen-Dazs Five), I decided that I deserved a quick fix and the processed ickiness would be just fine!  And my moment of self-indulgence and pride got me 3 days of debilitation.  So not worth the trade-off!

Years ago, when I was 265+, I remember taking a walk and breaking down mid-way through it.  I remember crying out to God (though I wasn't a Christian at the time), begging Him to help me.  Something had to give.  I couldn't live like that anymore!  He answered my prayer in a way I'd never imagined - I was misdiagnosed (or correctly diagnosed and later miraculously cured) with food allergies that totally changed how I ate and helped me not only lose weight, but look at food in a whole new way.

Now, facing being almost that heavy again, I found myself not too long ago making the same prayer, and I suppose I should have guessed that the answer would be not quite what I expected.  I don't think that God gave me Fibromyalgia, but I do believe that He allowed it for my good, and only one of those reasons being to lose the weight I need to.

Maybe that sounds like crazy talk to some of you, and you are allowed to think so, but I believe with all my heart that God is going to use this Fibromyalgia diagnosis for my good and to give me the unique opportunity to help others through it all.  I will be able to share my experience, empathize better with those who endure chronic conditions, and who knows what all else.  I am even today, in the midst of pain, praising God for it because of the opportunity it allows me.

I don't know if changing my diet, losing the weight, etc. will take away the pain completely or not.  I don't know if I will have to take drugs like Prozac in the future or not.  I don't know if I will end up bed ridden at times or not.  But you know what?  It doesn't matter.  The Lord is with me, and I KNOW that it will be ok no matter the outcome.

Today I choose to have joy despite it all.  Today I choose to praise God that I am alive and for all the blessings He gives me.  Every good thing in life is a gift, and I choose to be thankful for them, no matter what the package of life that wraps them up may look like at the time.  I will not get caught up in the packaging.  I will not get caught up in the trees, but instead look on the beauty that is the forest.  Anyone can focus on the negative so close to their face, but it takes a rare person to take a step back and look for the positive things to focus on.  I choose to be rare.

To wrap this up, I want to share some photos with you that I took.  Here's the first one:

Not such a great picture, huh?  Kinda looks like a mess of dirt and debris, though the sunset is pretty enough.  I can't, however, seem to appreciate the sunset because of the mess in the foreground.

Now take a look at this picture, which is basically the same photo (it's my background picture on the blog, actually) with the focus on the rocks instead of the sunset:

Quite the contrast, huh?  All the sudden you see some pretty cool rocks and the sunset (though blurry) looks amazing.  You get the impression of a beautiful sunset on a lovely beach - exactly the effect I was going for.

So, what made the difference?  The focus.

What's my point?  If we choose where our focus is, we can see beauty even among chaos.  Ordinary things can become awe-inspiring.  Focus is key.

Life for anyone is hard, though for those of us with chronic conditions, it can seem even harder, especially to stay positive.  Let me challenge you to get your eyes off the immediate (i.e. the pain, the stiffness, the difficulties) and focus on the beautiful things, even if they are small (i.e. that you were able to do this or that, that your kid did something extremely silly and you got to laugh about it, that it was a gorgeous day outside).  Trust me, with a condition that can effect your mood, it pays to stay positive in any way that you can...and that takes practice.

Hey, I'm not asking you to do anything I'm not doing myself.  I know it's not easy, some days it seems impossible, but I remember these words, "For with God nothing shall be impossible." (Luke 1:37 KJV) So, keep your chin up, pray for that strength, choose to have joy and be ever so grateful for even the smallest of blessings.  It really does help!

May you have an amazing weekend!

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