For those of us with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, “flare-up” is a familiar term. A flare-up is a sudden (or sometimes predictable) rise of multiple symptoms at once, causing extreme pain, physical and mental exhaustion. A flare-up can last hours, days, even months at a time.
The truth is, chronic pain bodies do what they want. A flare-up can be triggered by anything — a temperature shift, high stress levels, doing too much in a day, just getting dressed in the morning, taking a cab to work or just life itself… yup, it’s true.
As I discussed in my blog 25 Things You Should Know About People With Fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia can be really difficult to explain, but when a flare-up flares up, it’s a whole ‘nother animal.
The first time I had a flare-up I had no idea what was happening with my body. Every inch of me hurt. I couldn’t sit, stand or lay down without my entire body screaming in pain. From my eyelashes to my feet to my skin, to my muscles and joints, nothing felt right.
OMG! What the heck is going on? I thought. I was hospitalized right away and bedridden for eight days.
For me, a flare-up occurs most nights. This may be more frequent than average, but I keep a busy schedule.
Things can get pretty ugly during a flare-up, so I’ve started a list to raise awareness for how our loved ones and caretakers can flourish when a flare-up occurs. With your help, we can make this list even better.
Here is my list of 10 dos and don’ts that help me when I have a flare-up:
1. Don’t go into a catastrophic mindset. Keep a cool head. Your loved one will benefit from your calming energy. Yes, their body is retaliating; no, it won’t last forever.
2. Do let your loved one rest… a lot.
3. Do keep your loved one surrounded by heating pads and cool packs.
4. Don’t cook in the house until the flare-up is over — even if it’s your loved one’s favorite recipe, the smells can be nauseating.
5. Do spontaneously gift your loved one with nice, extra-comfy pajamas.
6. Do encourage your loved one to have their friends come over. Dress code: comfy pajamas.
7. Do help distract your loved one’s thoughts from their painful body by watching Netflix with them.
8. Do draw a bath for your loved one. Bonus if it’s infused with a clean scent like lavender or vanilla.
9. Don’t get into an argument with your loved one. Their short fuse just got shorter.
10. Do know that your loved one is so grateful for your compassion and tenderness.
Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.