22 November 2012

fibromyalgia and running

A condition some believe may be fictitious or at least exaggerated. Try it for a while and see. The pain is intense and debilitating yet the only visible signs are a slight swelling and a warmth to the touch. Let's not overlook the psychological effects either, the miserable impact of an inability to perform simple physical tasks. Since leaving my job in financial services, which was at times stressful, my own fibromyalgia has receded. It lurks unfelt behind the scenes – and in the connective tissue – occasionally for months at a time. Such was the suddenness of my initial relief that I took a whole new lease on life.

There are fourteen medically acknowledged points around the body which can typically be affected by swelling, stiffness and pain but my condition is mostly restricted to the upper body, elbows mainly but also jaw, neck, shoulders, wrists and fingers. Flare-ups returned at times of anxiety and sometimes for no apparent reason but eventually held off long enough for me to take up running five years ago, something that would have been unthinkable before. Vigorous exercise has had no adverse effect on me, in fact quite the opposite. I am convinced that running hard, often for hours at a time has brought big benefits all round, proof that my old doctor Bernie Bedford was right when he told me, ‘there’s no contra-indication to exercise’.

It’s not all plain sailing. Bouts drop out of the blue, stay for up to forty-eight hours then mysteriously vanish but a combination of diet, sleep and exercise seems to hold the condition at bay. Still something unexpected will arrive. On Sunday I ran a half marathon in two hours one and a half minutes, a personal best by thirty seconds, and felt great afterwards. Two days later on Monday I noticed a dull pain developing in my right hip, definitely not post-run pain, I know all about that. During the night I awoke hourly, grunting and grimacing as I tossed and turned unable to find relief from the pain. By Tuesday morning I could barely put weight on my right leg and I limped all day. Wednesday morning... gone, and I ran five miles in forty-two minutes averaging 7mph.


I have just finished reading two books about self-editing for writers. I was aware while I read that I already employ some of the suggested techniques but I learnt new and excellent ideas. Today I started James Lee Burke’s Pegasus Descending and saw from the first paragraph the advice I had recently received put to beautiful and thrilling use. It is without doubt possible to learn the craft of the novelist but takes a lifetime of practice to challenge Burke's lyrical prose.


Russell 'C.J.' Duffy said...

Two very interesting pints here. I think anyone who dismiises the condition of fibromyalgia as a fiction are much like those daft sods who did the same with Great War vets who suffered post traumatic syndrome or shell shock as they then called it. I believe it exists and just because facts are hard to come by at the moment there is every sign that more is being learn't.

Of course I am interested in your book and the methods you will use to get the job done. So many authors use so many different ways to write. Not all write a synopsis. Minnette Waters famously never knows how the story will end as she likes that organic surprise feel. J.G. Ballard always composed a synopsis first. Other combine both methods.
Whatever you write is bound to be good. I look forward to it.

Perfect Virgo said...

I'm grateful to have longish periods pain free. This week's flare-up was short but intense.

Being such an organiser I am making sure I have a plot mostly sketched out before getting in too deep! I have a couple of short chapters where I am exploring points of view. First Person is wonderful but more difficult.

Russell 'C.J.' Duffy said...

i agree with having a synopsis. I didn't at first but soon lost my way. I think having some idea of the way the story will go, allowing for a bit of spontanaeity is vital. How some authors just 'play it like it was jazz' is beyond me.
I am writing in the first person in one of the books I am working on. I prefer not to but this story demands it. I find it hard to maintain.

Perfect Virgo said...

Stepehen King claims he writes with just an idea and sees where it leads him. It must be easy to let inconsistencies creep in that way.

gel said...

Hi PV,

As one who has suffered (and tried many ways to conquer) fibromyalgia since my 20's, your post is spot on. I'm sorry you've hurt from recent flares.

Perfect Virgo said...

gel - just a case of finding ways to live with it, isn't it.

Gel said...

Actually, PV, it's much more than finding ways to live with it. Most of us w/ fibro have flares; however, there's no way of predicting when excruciating pain will abate.

I'm so glad for you that you're still able to run. I'm still able to dance, but I am affected awfully in my hips. Also, the other areas that are needed in dance are my arms and shoulders; I am able(limber enough) to dance complicated steps led by GEM; it's the next day or two that my body feels it and it's so much more "than a pulled muscle", as ignorant others think.

Do you suffer from "fibro fog?" Google it. I didn't until the last couple of yrs; however, that may not be "ff" for me; it could just be that my sleep is so poor, that no wonder I cannot remember like an elephant.

CJ makes a good point about PTSD. To this day, many people, even drs. do not believe that's a true diagnosis. As a survivor of PTSD, I shudder at those who dismiss it.

Perfect Virgo said...

I haven't been able to run for two weeks because of the snow and I'm feeling lethargic. I couldn't anyway as I've had my worst flare-up for a long time. In my neck and back. I can't turn my head properly. At first I thought it was really a pulled muscle and even now I think it has to do with tension.

I hadn't considered the 'fog' aspect before. I too dismiss my increasing inability to take decisions, personal, financial or even trivial, as a symptom of poor sleep - that and my advancing years.

Sleep is terrible right now. I go to bed around 9PM and wake every couple of hours throughout the night. No good. Periodically I get bouts of severe abdominal pain. I was doubled up for over a week and went to the ER. Diverticulitis was their suggestion but they weren't sure even after various tests.