What is a Fibromyalgia Flare?

A common definition for a fibromyalgia flare (or flare-up) is a temporary increase in the number and/or intensity of symptoms. Generally, the flare begins with pain and fatigue that generally increases with time. Other symptoms one can experience are “fibro fog” (cognitive dysfunction), digestive issues, and poor sleep.

Doesn’t sound too bad does it?

I do not know if someone who has never experienced a flare will ever understand a it no matter how it has been described to them. It is one of those things that you have to experience in order to truly understand how badly it feels. However, I am going to try.

First, I want you to understand that those of us with fibromyalgia are like snowflakes. We do not develop fibromyalgia the same way, have the same comorbid diagnoses(“evil-sidekicks”), or are able to treat our symptoms/conditions in the same way.

I will describe what a “normal” day feels like for me. I wake up still tired after 9-10 hours of being in bed(never feeling refreshed), experiencing body stiffness, pain, and tenderness in various parts of my body. I take my morning medicine, and within an hour (using a scale of 1-10), my pain is a 2 or 3.

I work 7 hours a day as an ELL paraprofessional. I work with children that English is their 2nd language. The great thing about my job besides the kids, is that I sit and walk all day long. It is a great mix of resting and moving my body, which keeps my pain and stiffness levels low. Once I get home, I lie down on the couch, and I take an hour nap, so that I can get through the rest of the day. As the night progresses, the fatigue and pain increase.

How does it feel for me to be in a “flare up”? I have been sitting here trying for a very long time to find the right words so that you will understand.
“Normal” fibro pain feels like you have the aches when you have the flu.

Good days feel as though when someone or your clothing touch you, it feels like the worst sunburn that you have ever experienced. My pain during a flare is beyond a 10. My arms and hands feel like the nerves are pushing to jump out of my skin.

The pain during a flare is indescribable. Along with the aches in my joints, my myofascial pain syndrome kicks into overdrive. The sharp pain feels like I am being stabbed repeatedly by a very sharp knife. My leg not only feels like growing pains, but sharp pains that start at my lower back, go straight down the sciatica nerve, through arthritis in my knee and down to my foot.

I sleep even less than normal. Every few hours I have to get fresh ice packs, medication, topical lotion, and heating pads. Anyone who experiences this kind of pain and exhaustion, knows how emotional you become after dealing with it for any length of time. Then, it is like a barrage of emotions, and I am a mess! There is E-X-T-R-E-M-E anxiety because I feel so out of control, as well as sadness, fear, and guilt, to name a few.

There is never any rhyme or reason. It could be the first day of a flare, or after I have been dealing with it for days. I am so overwhelmed by the pain and fatigue, that my thoughts become muddled. Then, my tears start. My uncontrollable tears.

Stress and emotion increase the pain levels, and unless you can break it, the flare can last for days. It becomes a vicious cycle. I know what I need to do to break a flare cycle. I coach others in what they should do, but during the moment that I am in, I can not process what I need to do.

I can remember a few years back when my flares would last for up to a week at a time, and I was experiencing one or a more a month. I was driving home from my job, because I could no longer stay at work that day. I had been in a severe flare for a week and I wanted it to be over. I prayed all the way home that a semi-truck would hit my car. I know that isn’t a healthy way to think, but when you are in that amount of pain and fatigue for days, or even weeks, you can no longer think clearly.

I am unable to do things that need to be done at home. I feel like a failure as a mother and a wife when I am in a flare. I can’t seem to do anything other than cry or slip into a deep solitude. I need tremendous support to reach out to my friends at this time, but yet I seem to push everyone away and enter into my own darkness.

Last week, my daughter had friends over 2 nights in a row to study for tests. My bedtime is usually 8:30 – 9:00. The kids were here until 10:30 and I felt that I shouldn’t have gone to bed until after they have left. The less the sleep, frustration over a schedule that keeps changing, and the weather changes sent me very quickly into a flare. I woke up this past Friday and knew. The pain increased as the day went on. The tears started, and I had to come home from work 2 hours early. I came home took some meds and immediately fell asleep on the couch for a 2 hour nap. Today is Sunday. I am still recovering but the worst of it is over.

I have been very lucky that since I changed jobs 3 years ago, the amount of flares that I have dealt with have decreased immensely, and the duration of them are now very short.

Before I started writing this blog, I asked my friends how they describe “Fibro Flares.” I wanted the reader to hear how others describe it to their family and friends. Here are some of the reasons that I received:

“Pummeled by pain,” “tumbled in the dryer,” “awful just f’n awful,” “like I have the flu permanently, and I lost an MMA match,” “a good day is like the flu and a bad day is like my bones are breaking and I’m being beaten by a bat,” “at the start I use to say I felt like my muscles were being eaten away (like extreme lactic acid buildup) I would say like you’ve been hit by a train and nothing relieves anything!” “like I was thrown off a cliff,” “nerves on fire,” “joints frozen,” ”flu type body aches is a good way to explain it to non-fibro folks,” “I think it’s the only way they can come close to getting it without becoming severely injured,” “sneaky, devious, invasive and miserable F’rs👹😈😭!!” and “feels like every nerve ending in my body is on fire.”

If one person reading this understands enough to offer empathy and help to their friend or family member during a flare up, then the mind struggle writing this blog has been worth it.


Fay Farms Rejuvenation Lotion

A Review of Fay Farms Rejuvenation Lotion (Sponsored Blog Post)

“I have been given this product as a part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinoins in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.”

I experience a lot of pain down my right leg that radiates around my knee. It has been occurring more often and much stronger. I have used almost every otc topical pain relief ointments that are available. Typically what happens is that I have a great amount of success with the ointments for awhile but then my body begins to reject it. I develop deep red rashes that feel as if my skin is burning off. I must be a gluten for punishment because I recently tried another topical lotion desperate to find one that I can use without developing an adverse reaction.

I could not even open the container without my eyes burning from the strong chemical smell. Everyone in the house knew when I had put it on. It lingered through the night and the scent remained on the bed sheets the next day.

Needless to say I was very leary to agree to review another topical lotion but like I stated before. I am desperate to find a topical that works.

I received the bottle of Fay Farms Rejuvenation Lotion in the mail. The bottle labeling is very attractive.

It states; “Natural relief for deep muscle and joint pain. Gently soothes and relaxes muscles. Handmade on Whidbey Island. Fay Farms Rejuvenation Lotion is made with organic ingredients.

The ingredients include 200 mg CBD(cannabidiol), Purified water, hemp oil, grape seed oil, apricot kernel oil, emulsifying wax, stearic acid, argan oil, magnesium, white sesame oil, jojoba oil, essential oils, fennel, licorice, turmeric, valerian, gluconolactone and sodium benzoate (certified organic preservative).

I have to admit that I have not done much research about the use of CBD/hemp oil. After doing a google search I found every site was saying the same thing. They stated that CBD oil has been found to help with reducing inflammation, pain and anxiety.

I was pleasantly surprised with the scent of jojoba and vanilla. Unlike the other products I have tried it’s scent is very mild and fades after a short time. My family even commented on the smell “goes away a lot faster”. I have developed a genuine like for the scent.

I like the feel of the lotion. It takes a very little amount to cover a significant area. I have been using it on my leg and the back of my neck. My right leg likes to remind me that it is there especially when I lay down and my muscles begin to relax. I am reminded every night that I have bursitis, arthritis, sciatica. In addition, I recently had a massage therapist not listen to me and she pushed to hard down on my trigger points in my neck resulting in stiffness and pain. I am excited to give you a positive review of Fay Farms Rejuvenation Lotion. I have been using it for over a month now.

The results have been fantastic. I find it relaxes my muscles, reduces the pain in my leg and eases the stiffness in my neck.

Fay Farms Rejuvenation Lotion has been added to my fibromyalgia “tool kit” and I will continue to use it.

You can find the Rejuvenation Lotion and more Fay Farms products at http://thefayfarm.com/p/cbd.