Saturday, January 29, 2011

Exercise and Flare-ups

     My doctor is convinced if I lose weight and exercise, the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue will be cured.  I go between rage and hope he is right.  His comments embarrass me and make me feel like a failure.
      Eleven years ago I was fifty pounds lighter with two small children and enough energy to work full time and get my masters degree at night.  Soon after my son was born, I noticed my body wasn't recovering the way it had before.  I didn't have any energy for my baby or young daughter. Simple tasks like taking a shower or getting dressed left me crying on the floor.
     Then the pain started.  Things that were not painful before became excruciating.  Hugs from my baby made me feel like I had been tackled by a football player. The gentlest touch sent waves of pain through my body.  Even wearing clothes or having a sheet touch my skin at night was horrible.
     My doctor diagnosed me with depression.  I kept telling him I was depressed because I was sick, not sick because I was depressed.  He gave me anti-depressants and sent me home.  With the medicine, I gained thirty pounds in weeks.  I tried to exercise, but then I couldn't walk.  The steroid shots helped me walk again, but added twenty more pounds. 
     Most days, most people can't tell I am sick.  Huge amounts of medication keep me functioning, but my weight is still a big issue for my self-esteem.  I haven't had a flare up for months, so I forgot how horrible they are.  This week I convinced myself to start jogging.  I jogged four times and lost two pounds.  I also brought on the worst flare-up I have had in years.  My friend says, "If exercise cures your chronic fatigue, you never really had it in the first place."
     It is a hard balance to find.  Do I listen to people who have these illnesses, too, and know what I am talking about? Do I listen to doctors who think it is all in my head?  Do I exercise to get healthy and spend the rest of the day in bed or do I save my energy for the rest of my life?  I'm still trying to find that balance in my life.  Funny that finding balance is my resolution this year.  Luckily it's only January.