Public Perceptions

As a middle-aged stereotypical woman, I watch true crime stuff. One of the shows I’ve been watching lately is American Monster. I like it because it focuses on the story of the people around the person who suddenly turns out to be a “monster” – very dramatic that title – and the impact of the victims, and not just the one in the morgue. On the whole, it’s trash TV; I won’t try to claim otherwise.

Just recently I saw an episode called “Stay with Me.” It’s about an active, beautiful, and in-love couple. The wife eventually gets someone to attack her husband in order to settle a custody battle after they’re no longer in love anymore. Lots of years for attempted murder and conspiracy, but the husband survives. That’s the short version.

The reason this episode stands out to me is because the narrator points out that the wife, after a few blissful years of marriage has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, “a condition marked by widespread muscle pain and chronic fatigue.” Their world is turned upside down. There is no treatment, he notes, other than rest and reducing stress.

Fibromyalgia is not the focus of this episode. However, after that description, we find out that the wife, who is a technical writer, cannot continue to work. She doesn’t have enough energy to get up and work. We have all been there, right? Fortunately, she had a husband with a good job who could support them both when she stopped working, right? We haven’t all been there, have we?

After the couple had a child, things sort of fall apart. She believes the baby also has a health condition like hers, which is not substantiated by a pediatrician, and the couple starts to fight about whether or not the baby should be treated, among other things. It’s never just one thing, right? You know the rest of the story.

A few thoughts because this episode bothered me a bit:

  1. The description of fibromyalgia is so off. It’s good that they didn’t describe it as a so-called condition, but it’s very easy to hear “widespread muscle aches and chronic fatigue” and say, yeah so? It’s so much more, but since it’s not the focus of the episode, what else could they say? I see similar descriptions on commercials (when I’m not quick enough to skip them) that are touting pills for fibro. It’s superficial and harmful. There are people who will scoff when they hear the diagnosis, and there are people who will hear the description and jump to the conclusion that they have fibromyalgia. Harmful either way.
  2. The wife, who started out fit and trim before the diagnosis, stayed fit and trim throughout the rest of the drama. There was no fibro-50 for her. I wonder about her diagnosis. Not everyone who gets fibromyalgia gains weight, but it is dominant.
  3. More importantly, if she had not been given this diagnosis, would she have reacted to her symptoms as much as she did? There are a lot of us out there with fibromyalgia who do not quit their jobs and who do get out of bed every day even cloaked in morning brainfog. I sometimes wonder about getting a diagnosis. It helped me because I realized I could still do what I wanted to do, that I wasn’t actually hurting myself when things hurt. But it seems to have been the opposite for this person.
  4. There was no discussion about mental illness at all, either before the event or during the trial. Depression is (I think) almost inevitable. If she was focused on her child possibly having the same thing she did, was she missing signs that she needed mental health treatment? Was her focus on her child’s health a sign in itself? We don’t know whether a physician talked with her about anything related to mental health, but I would argue it should be part of any treatment plan at the very least to monitor for depression. I’m not saying fibro is going to make you talk someone into shooting a high powered weapon at your soon-to-be-ex husband. There was obviously so much more going on in this situation. Is it possible she had a mental health condition that was mistaken for fibromyalgia and then exacerbated by the stress of having a child?

I have no major insights here. It matters, though, how fibromyalgia is described in mainstream media. No, I’m not going to start a campaign about how fibro should be talked about or described, but I will point it out when it bothers me.

Summer’s Over

This blog has gotten a little more personal than I intended it to be when I started it. Part of the reason is because I have not been finding the research articles and poring over them like I did at the start. In fact, I’ve done very little reading lately. Another part of the reason is because it feels like every ounce of energy I have is spent on work. That’s both physical and mental/emotional energy. It has helped so much to commute only on occasion, but by the end of the day, I’m done. And if there’s something fibromyalgia people know is when they’re done.

At the same time, I have been self-destructive this summer. I have not been taking care of myself. I certainly haven’t been taking the extra care that’s necessary to function with fibro. Instead of exercise and stretching, I go in the yard (a perennial garden, no grass) and work, including heavy lifting and lots of bending and kneeling. My back and knees are worse than they’ve ever been. I’m not eating regularly – not three times a day for sure, oftentimes only once, and usually not well-rounded meals. Evenings include a glass (or two) of wine. My body does not like sugar, but I like wine (and margaritas).

I think there are a lot of reasons I have not been kind to myself. I’ve had some emotional impacts this last year, beyond the way COVID sort rampaged through the world, and it has impacted my self-perception, self-worth, self-esteem. I’m having a hard time even just caring that I’m not taking care of myself. If I’m honest with myself, it’s a slo-mo suicide. I’m aware of the drama of a statement like that, and I’m not intentionally trying to shock. I’m trying to be honest with myself and to remind myself of all the reasons I should care about myself and my life, as well as all the people around me who love me. And there are a lot of reasons.

Mostly, this summer has felt insurmountable. The things I want to do aren’t done. And there’s so much I want to do, but when the time comes that I can carve out a little time for myself, it gets taken away, either by the needs of other people, by work, by pain and fatigue, by brain fog, or very often by an overwhelming “what’s the point?” If I do X, I know the consequences. It’s been hard to choose life knowing that tomorrow I’ll regret it. In addition, my world outlook has changed so dramatically, I can’t comprehend the optimistic lens I used to look at the world through. My sense of a power to change even my little corner of the world is pretty much gone.

It’s been a bad summer physically too. My back is constantly in pain making just walking difficult. Pain is constantly shooting down my legs, whether I’m up and moving or sitting and working. I can’t completely straighten my left leg. It takes several minutes when I get up from working at my desk to walk normally. The joints in my fingers are swollen and painful every day. The pointer finger on my left hand is numb. I know I have to see a doctor and ask for a referral to a rheum doctor. I made an appointment for a yearly checkup, but I don’t want to go.

I’m very aware of the depression symptoms I’m manifesting. I’m very aware that I have to return to counseling. I also know that I have made the conscious decision to not do the things I need to do to maintain my physical and mental health. I’m calling myself out. Life is all about choices. I’ve been deliberately making bad choices. Summer’s over. I need to change seasons too.

Adding Pain to Reduce Pain?

The other day I came across a Try Guys YouTube video where Zach Kornfeld (@korndiddy, apparently) tries out products that have been developed for people with chronic pain, things like a “bed of nails” (Zach describes using it as a peaceful pain), and home cupping products, home TENS units, etc. It got me thinking about the need to relieve pain.

Some of the products reminded me of when I was a kid and had a huge headache. To make the headache “go away,” I wanted to thump my head against a wall. Not hard. No brain damage. I realized that was pretty counterproductive and didn’t do it. The point is, if you have pain, creating a more intense pain to counter the original pain is tempting. Is that where self-harm comes from? People are hurting inside, and that external pain they inflict on themselves gives them relief from their inner turmoil? I’m having a little bit of a hard time seeing how some of these products are doing more than self-harm.

There were some products that helped to stretch muscles or massages, which seem more productive. One guest on the show brought a large bag of what she called her “little angels” – products to help with chronic pain. Included were a pair of mirror glasses, which allow people to lay flat, look forward, and see downward so they can watch TV without putting their neck in an awkward position. Useful – my dad broke his back and spent months in bed with a pair of mirror glasses to read and watch TV while he mended. Most of the products, however, didn’t seem worth the money or – frankly – the hope. The guest with the bag of toys suffers from trigeminal neuralgia, which a friend of mine was dealing with for some time. It’s a condition where essentially the nerves in your jaw connecting to your head get all bundled up and twisted. The pain can be unbearable. My friend has told me about several people in his support group who have committed suicide with this condition. He was lucky – he was able to have surgery to actually cure the pain. But I wonder when someone with that kind of pain orders a product and gives in to hope, does it make it worse?

Bottom line, none of these toys are cures. None will stop the pain. They may relieve the pain; they won’t cure the pain. The cynic in me says these are products put out there to take advantage of people with chronic pain, and since a lot of people with chronic pain are on disability and not necessary financially fluid, that’s a shame. These things are not inexpensive. At the same time, when I wrestle my cynic aside, I am a strong believer in the placebo effect. People can feel better when they convince themselves they feel better, just like they can convince themselves they don’t feel well. If putting a home TENS unit on your back gives you relief, there’s nothing wrong with that.

And then I look at the bottle of naproxen slowly going out of date on my bedside table. I have it there for one specific pain I get in my side, right about where my ovaries are (TMI, sorry). It’s the one pain that naproxen helps with every time. However, I don’t take it immediately. I wait for a few days. If that pain doesn’t go away in a few days, it won’t go away for a few weeks, it disrupts my sleep, and I take the pill. When I find something that helps, I have to be careful not to overuse it. Ibuprofen used to help – now it hurts me. More than anything, however, is I’ve learned to live with it. I’ve stopped hoping. That’s not a negative thing. I look out my window at the garden I’m putting together with baby steps, at my work and all the things I’ve done and will do. I’m generally happy and satisfied with my life. The hope was dragging me down. I’m not going to spend money on things that might help me for a few minutes. The most productive pain reduction for me has been to make choices about how to live, to accept the things I can’t do and to push myself to do the things I can even when they hurt. I don’t succeed all the time. I’ve been struggling, but none of the toys on Zach’s show will help more than that. Try Guys, btw, love them. They make me smile every time.

Dee Dee Darkly…

…is my alter ego.I actually write this blog with Dee Dee in my mind. That is why it’s deedeefibro.com. I’m actually a very shy, very private person. It’s sort of fashionable right now to identify as introvert, but true introverts are probably not the ones who say, excuse me, but I’m an introvert. It’s easier for me to put thoughts out to the world as Dee Dee Darkly than as me. I have a hard time putting myself out there, so I don’t. I put Dee Dee out there. Don’t worry, she doesn’t talk to me or tell me to do questionable things involving sharp objects. Alter ego, not demon.

I bring this up because I’m going to put myself out there. I’m going to ask you, if you read this blog and you appreciate the content to please like or follow. I’m trying to pull myself out of the funk I’ve been in and climb out of the rut where I’ve been nesting. It’s time. I’m almost 60 and I don’t plan to live forever. I have to say what I need to say before I fall and break a hip. It helps to think people may be looking for something, that people may want to hear what I have to say. I function best in the fear that I’m disappointing someone. If I do it just for me, I can put it off or find plenty of distractions that seem more important.

Please like or follow me.

You can also find me (and Dee Dee) on Good Reads. About a year ago I self-published a few Dee Dee stories, Dee Dee Darkly: Spontaneous Traveler and Erstwhile Sleuth. Available through Amazon (paperback or Kindle). Dee Dee is a writer and traveler – what I’ve always aspired to be. She doesn’t know it yet, but she has fibromyalgia. It’s okay – I’ll help her through it.

Happy Anniversary

Today is my one-year anniversary. One year ago today was the first day I worked from home. Things have changed so much. I still have a dog looking at me like I’m being way too lazy and need to get off my computer. But the other dog and Terry, now my ex, are in Oregon, soaking up the ocean. I have gone from hating working from home to seriously appreciating it. It’s like getting a raise in pay and time both. I’ve gained a lot of clarity about my own needs and wants and how to accomplish them. But on the negative side, I’m a little afraid of people on the whole. I’m emerging from this COVID cocoon looking differently at the people around me. So much has happened to make me realize there are people out there who do not make me happy. Or maybe they’re on the whole unhappy and want the rest of us to be unhappy with them. Or they have more than they need so they’re going to make sure they keep it and stay on top. I’ve always understood inequities in human society. It’s a thing that’s been around forever. I understand hate; again not a new concept. I just never felt completely surrounded and beaten down by hate and inequity, by the people espousing it and the people unaware (consciously or unconsciously) of it.

This is actually earth-shattering to me. I’ve always been an optimist (perhaps disappointed but still an optimist). I’ve always believed in the basic goodness of humanity. I still see that goodness. But I also see the cracks in the porcelain. I see people obsessed with ideas instead of facts, unable to distinguish between not just right and wrong, but truth and fiction. Believing in something with your whole heart does not make it true or real. It does not make your neighbor wrong because he or she has a different belief. I’m not just talking religion or politics. That’s the easy pick. It’s being made to feel like there is a constant choice – if you love this, you cannot love that. If you love the Beatles, you can’t love Elvis. Making everything an “either/or” instead of an “and.” I can care about more than one issue at a time. You have to when there are 17,000,000,000,000 problems in the world. I can worry about animal rights just as much as I worry about human rights. Just because I worry about animal rights does not lessen my worry about human rights. But we’re living in a world where if you speak out against animal cruelty, you will likely be faced with someone pointing out that people are more important than animals, rather than recognizing you are speaking up for animals, not reducing the worth of humans. I don’t like this world. Not right now. I look at my home and my muddy pre-spring garden, and I am grateful. But I understand my privilege. Even with the struggles I have – physically, emotionally, financially – I am privileged. I am also ineffective, mute in an angry world, constantly recoiling from conflict.

What does this have to do with fibromyalgia? Maybe it explains a bit why I’ve been so quiet this last year – few years. There is so much to worry about. To focus on one thing – fibromyalgia – is like saving one snowflake from melting in a flood. It doesn’t make it any less important than the other 16,999,999,999,999 problems in the world, but my attention is clearly divided. There’s luxury in being able to focus. Not everyone recognizes that. Focus is a luxury. Most of us multitask our way through the world. I’ll get back on track. This little blog is not meaningless. It’s small, but it’s not meaningless. And I do have a few things I want to say before I shuffle away.

Atypical Body Dysmorphia

Is it a thing? So here’s what happens. I’m walking along, feeling good about the world and myself, swinging my hips, head raised high, and then I have to enter a building. It doesn’t matter what building, except that building has glass doors, and they’re working like a mirror. And I catch sight of myself for the first time that day. I go from a youthful 25-year-old to my real 58-year-old. From young, thin, and pretty – to older, overweight, and… different looking. I don’t recognize myself anymore. I don’t just hate mirrors and cameras, they cause panic. My biggest challenge in the last several years was being mother of the groom! I had to talk my way through the family photos, and even then, I’m clinging onto my son’s arm and turned slightly away like I’m about to dash out of the picture. I felt like I was being shot by something other than film. The way I feel about the way I look does not correspond with the way I actually look. The face I think I have, is not the face I have. And oddly, I FEEL better than I LOOK. When I was young, I thought I was fat and ugly – I look at pictures from back then and realize – I was thin and pretty! It’s done a complete flip and I don’t think I ever met myself in the middle so that my perception of myself was equal to my real self. Ever.

What’s this got to do with fibromyalgia. I have no idea. Maybe nothing, but I’m going to try to train myself to:

Look at myself. Allow myself to see myself as I am. Not as I think I am. And to appreciate myself as I am. Nobody’s ever actually run away screaming, so I think when I do catch a glimpse of myself, I’m not perceiving myself properly. The panic I feel when I unexpectedly (or expectedly) face a camera or mirror or glass door warps my perception of myself. I’m going to try to change that.

If I’m successful at feeling comfortable with my own perceptions, I bet I’ll feel better physically too. Fibro is a real physical disease, but I firmly believe state of mind can control how deeply it sets in.

My plan: It’s not set in stone, but I’m going to supplement this website with a vlog. I’m going to look myself in the face while I talk about…. whatever. Maybe I’ll throw in some middle-aged-fat-woman stretching videos so I have to face the rest of me too. I don’t know, but weekly. I have to commit to it. I’m turning 59 next month. I’m single again as of next week Wednesday, so it’s time. I can do this.

This Is Your Fibro Body on Stress: A Fibromyalgia Simulation Suit

There are old age suits. You put it on and you age 40 years. I’m not sure how they simulate the aches and pains that come with old age, but it does give a younger person a good idea about mobility and the difficulties with motor skills associated with age. Cool. I wonder if there is a suit to approximate a fibro body. When I Google it (half-heartedly, I admit), I only come up with wishes for a simulation suit. It would be complex. Not everyone experiences fibromyalgia the same way. Even good days have symptoms; bad days can have a myriad of symptoms. In addition, fibro reacts to outside stimulation that can create a “fibro storm”- a whirlwind of symptoms that can knock you off your feet. Here’s a circumstance and consequences of putting mental stress on the fibro body:

I work as an Education Program Coordinator for a large medical institution. It’s a great career that fits me, allows me to challenge myself but also manage stress for the most part. It doesn’t usually knock me off my feet. My favorite time of the year is interview season and selecting the new batch of residents. It’s my Christmas. This year for the first time (due to COVID, of course) we had virtual interviews. We have worked for months getting ready, deciding how we want the interview days to look, how we can present ourselves the best, give the best experience to both candidates and interviewers. It’s been an arduous task, and once we developed the plan, I’ve been going over and over it in my head for the last several weeks. Last week was the first set of three days of interviews. In addition, we developed a virtual social event for the candidates to meet our current residents so they could socialize and ask questions. Both the interviews and the social event requires me to sit at the computer all day with a timer and move people from “room” to “room” for about 12 hours. We could have hired an IT person to do this for me, but he or she would not have made sure the interview was actually done before moving the candidate. We decided it was better for me to break into the interview, let the candidates and interviewers end and then move the candidate out. So that’s been my day – watching timers, talking to candidates, being on call for technical difficulties. I’m not alone; I have the residents and a partner to back me up. At this point, we’re at three days done and three more to do next week.

Before the end of the first three days, I could see on my computer screen that I had lost color in my face, despite the computer backlight I have, and my double chin was thickening. My eyes started to swell despite getting good sleep. Both the pain scale and the relentlessness scale was ratcheting up. The pain was not the usual joint pain. It was a deep tissue pain that radiated from the inside out. In addition, joint pain was increasing throughout the three days, in particular back pain, probably from sitting at the computer for such extended days. Walking was problematic. Shortness of breath stopped me from walking at a normal speed and at one point I had to stop completely, just for a moment, before I could take another step. If a bench had been right there I would have gladly sat for a few moments and caught my breath. By Friday, I was losing my vocabulary. I couldn’t think of the term “bluegrass” and several other words or phrases that I was searching for. I was fighting against sleep, slurring my words, staggering in the hallway. I know it sounds very dramatic, and it was not terribly noticeable to the people around me, but in my mind, I was at a crisis point. If I had to do one more day of this process, I am sure I would not have managed. I not only love my job, I rely on my job. I would lose everything without it, and if I appear drunk during interviews, I have no doubt my job would be on the line. Friday night, I was asleep before 9PM. Saturday morning I woke up about 8AM. I was asleep again about noon, awake at about 5PM, asleep again about 11PM. Today, Sunday, I’m maintaining consciousness without physical activity.

Here’s my version of the fibromyalgia simulation suit in this circumstance:

  1. Get a bad flu – this will simulate the generalized interior ache and ill-feeling – I often feel like I have a fever
  2. Add weights to the shoulders, elbows, and ankles
  3. Drink several gallons of water – which do not go to the bladder, but are retained in your tissues and joints
  4. Simultaneously, eat a 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon to simulate dry mouth
  5. Add pressure bandages to your joints and then tweak them so they not only impede mobility but add pain
  6. Wrap an Ace bandage tightly around your chest so you breathe with your shoulders instead of your diaphragm, and you feel a constant struggle to get a deep breath
  7. Stay awake for 12 hours longer than you should – lose one night’s sleep
  8. Put in earbuds with either continuous static or high pitched ringing
  9. Add to the earbuds a talk show with someone talking incessantly (brain chatter)
  10. Take off prescription eye wear or put on glasses if you don’t normally wear them
  11. Remove the rigidity of your walking surface – add soft spots or tilt the floor boards so they aren’t level

A fibro simulation suit may be doable, but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Do I regret a week like this? Do I dread the upcoming week? No and no. I accept and choose the consequences for the things I do. The only things I regret are the things I have not done. The only dread I have is losing the choice to do them.

Happy 2021 – Begone 2020

I’m not actually angry with 2020. There are actually a lot of positive things that happened in 2020 on the whole personally, socially, politically, etc etc etc. Hopefully we (society) can take the good things – such as learning about what’s truly important in life and coming up with innovative ways to work and keep in touch with family and friends – and build on them in the coming months while we wait for our vaccines. Personally, I’m going to focus on my own little corner of the world. It’s like I’m living in a messy closet right now. A little organization and cleaning is in order. Until my closet is in order and without a layer of dog hair on the floor, I can’t expend the energy on anyone else’s closet. There’s a Bible verse about removing the mote in your own eye before you try to take out the mote in someone else’s eye – I don’t remember the verse exactly, but only because of the word “mote.” I had to look that one up way back when and it stuck with me. I think that verse should be the anthem for 2021. Essentially stop being judgmental, fix your corner of the world. I’ve always said, if everyone fixed their corner of the world, the world would be beautiful. Instead lately we’ve been gnawing at everyone else’s motes.

So my goal – not to be confused with resolution: Clean up my closet, inside and out, top to bottom, until it shines. Of course when it shines I’ll have to start over because that dog hair gets everywhere, but I’ll be able to expand the scope by bits. That’s all. That’s how I’m going to spend 2021.

Failure in the Time of COVID-19

Just before “COVID hit” (are you tired of that phrase too?) I said I was going to lose weight. It’s part of the experiment to see what actually helps fibro symptoms and what doesn’t really. So that was…. 9 months ago? Instead of losing weight, I’ve added probably a baby’s worth of weight, so I’m due now any day. But I can’t schedule an inducement to shed the weight. I blame COVID; I blame working from home; I blame the loss of weekly treks in the pool; I blame wine and pasta; I blame failure.

There have been successes. Working in the garden – I didn’t get as much done as I wanted, but I got a lot done. Working from home – I save money and time (lots of each) by working from home. I don’t see going back to working on site now, but I’ll worry about that bridge when it falls. I have a home and a job and friends and security. My life is on the whole good – still. I’m grateful for that goodness.

But I’ve failed at getting back to writing on this page and reading the articles I need to read. I’ve failed at my latest experiment and in fact have done damage to myself. And I’ve failed at my relationship. That makes me saddest of all. I’ll be going back to going it on my own after having someone in my life for 4 or so years. And it is my failure. I fail at accepting the things that women accept all the time, from the small things, like praising a man to high heaven for doing the most basic tasks, to much bigger things. I love Terry and want to see him happy – I’m not the person to make him happy. He’s not the person to make me happy. We are better suited to being the people each other can count on as we go our way separately in life. If we can achieve that, we can turn failure into a positive. I’m hopeful.

I’m hopeful that with this change I can resume my “normal” activities that have been put on hold. That I’ll be able to read and write and… think. My thinker has been blocked a lot for too long. One of the things I have had to struggle with is the idea that it’s okay to put what I want ahead of what other people want. I take care of people all day every day in my job and often in my life. With a chronic lack of energy and chronic exhaustion, I spend what little energy reserves I have on the needs of others. I’m not a saint. I don’t want to be a saint. I am, however, almost 60, yep upper reaches of 50, and it’s okay (I tell myself everyday) to put my needs ahead of other’s needs. I’ll always make time for people. I’ll always struggle to make time for myself. But asking for distance, for an empty home, is like blocking my calendar, giving myself administrative or office time. Some people need to be alone on a regular basis. I’m one of those people, to the detriment of relationships.

The Fibro Fight

I had my first fibro fight today with my partner Terry. Today he is out and about on his own because there’s a heat advisory this afternoon, I melt in the sun, and I wanted to get in the garden this morning while I could. He said that was fine with him. But when I said to tell the people he would be seeing (outside in the heat and sun) I would see them next time, he very blithely said, “It’s okay I just blame it on your fibro.”

We were in the kitchen and I bought a new knife set yesterday. Just by way of background.

My response was, “No. You never do that. You never blame anything on my fibro. If I’m having a fibro related problem, it is up to me to communicate that. You never blame anything on my fibro ever.” He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Well–” At which point I said, “No, you never do that. You don’t understand, and don’t look at me like I’m crazy because you don’t understand.” He knew better at that point than to say “Well” again, because he knew he wouldn’t get farther than that.

And that was the fight. No knives involved. Yet. The thing is, when he says something like that, I learn a couple things. First, that he talks to people about my fibromyalgia. This indicates to me that he is frustrated by the effects I experience (less energy, lower sex drive, crankiness). It also indicates to me that he is more affected by my fibro than I think he is. It also indicates that he has no boundaries, which I already knew, but that’s not a fibro issue, but he doesn’t understand that fibro is personal. People don’t know I have fibro unless I release that information to them. Secondly, and more importantly, a statement like that indicates a huge lack of understanding about how I want to and generally do deal with my fibro.

Fibro is an underlying, non-lethal, non-curable, relentless, permanent pain. Okay, cool. I can let it run my life. I can make excuses not to do things because of my fibro. I can sit around and feel sorry for myself. I hope to God I don’t do that. I don’t want to do that. I want to be mindful of how I live my life. I choose. I chose to work in the garden this morning, knowing it would wipe me out (sweating for a few hours in the sun and heat will wipe a lot of people without fibro out too), and knowing I would not be comfortable with going out this afternoon if I work in the garden. I chose the garden. I chose the garden over people. My choice. Not the fibro’s choice. Fibro does not have that power over me. I’ve worked for years to understand my own power over fibromyalgia. I’m not relinquishing that power, even to an offhand unthinking remark.