Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Speed Limits . . . . (#8 of 11)

I have run smack dab, headlong into a major obstacle to my downsizing/moving project.

I ran into fibromyalgia, which I sometimes forget that I have.
I usually control the fibro by limiting my activity, eating right, and resting frequently. On “good days,” I feel fine. But one of the symptoms of fibro is forgetfulness, made worse by my age-related memory loss. This combination – feeling fine and having a poor memory – sometimes makes me forget that I have fibromyalgia.

For example, last month a colleague invited me to a job interview with her boss. Forgetting that I’m planning to retire, I said, “Sure!”, jumped into my car and drove forty miles down unfamiliar roads in the near 100 degree Florida heat, forgetting to bring a bottle of drinking water. My friend and I trudged through miles of hospital corridors to the interview, which lasted a long while. Afterward, heading back to the parking lot, I became painfully aware that I had forgotten to bring the cane that I keep in my car.

I had been hired! Spirits high, I did a little shopping on my way home.

Back in the villa at last, exhausted and aching, I collapsed and slept until my husband served dinner, and then I collapsed again.

I spent most of the next few days horizontal, more tired, weak, and internally disrupted than I had in months. I phoned my friend’s boss and explained that I could not accept the job because of the fibromyalgia which I had forgotten I have. 

That was by far not the first time I’d made myself ill. My enthusiasm for new projects and adventures springs eternal, and from time-to-time I over reach my limits, taking on something I used to be able to do very well B.F. (Before Fibro), and forgotten I can no longer do.

Now I am awash in refashioning my home, my professional career, and my lifestyle. At the start, in my enthusiasm, I planned to clear and pack a room a day. Now I’m finding that I am worn out by Noon. Pushing too hard makes me ill, and so, predictably, I’m in a fibro flare-up, wiped out, hurting all over.

The first principle of the art of decluttering, according to Leo Babauta, is: Set Limits. I need to continually remind myself to remember that I have fibromyalgia, and slow down, take my time, set limits to match reality, which is no more than a room a week, at best. 

The short list:
  1. Set limits.
  2. Be realistic.
When I find myself worrying about whether I’ll meet the schedule I’ve set for accomplishing this enormous task, I remind myself . . . I’ll do the best I can, and it will take as long as it takes. The only pressure is what I create for myself, and I must stop doing that. I really, really need to “take it slow.”

And with this realization, The Simple Life begins, as a mindset, an approach to living.

(To be continued next week.)  


  1. Speed limit is a perfect title for this entry. Speed limits change depending on where you are so pay attention, pay very close attentin and don;t forget the stop signs, stop lights, yellow slow down lights - yield - plus your TO DO list should have a sleed limit aqnd it should start like this Number one, make a to do list, number two check off first thing on to do list - check off number two because you did that one as well, Humber three, take a nap feeling great comfort in the idea that you alrady accomplised two things on your to do list for the day. Amen sister !

  2. That's my kinda TO DO list, for sure!!! Thanks, Anonymous Carole! And I see the blog has a new member . . . . I love it!

    I'm resting, today, enjoying The Simple Life by doing my body a much needed favor.

  3. Ah, don't you hate it when life intervenes? I keep reminding myself how boring life would be if it always went according to plan. Take care of yourself and KISS (Keep It Simple SWEETIE).

  4. Thank you so much, Sharon. We were going to go out tonight and enjoy some jazz together, take a break from all the frenzy of packing, cleaning, etc., but I've decided to send Hubby off without me and stay home and rest. It's my gift to myself.

    There's a Dutch proverb, "We grow too soon old, too late smart." Funny how often that phrase pops into my mind lately. I'm still learning, after all these years . . .

    1. Ooops, my mistake . . . Not Dutch, but "Pennsylvania Dutch," which is to say, German-American. Sorry.

  5. I felt as if I was reading a page out of my journal when I read this post. I had always been a very active, "nothing stops me" kind of person even through a battle with breast cancer. After going on Arimidex to prevent a recurrence of the cancer, I developed many symptoms of fibromyalgia and have had a real difficult time adjusting. It's so easy when you've had a few good days to forget that you can't just do whatever you want whenever you decide to do it anymore. So you had my heartfelt compassion as I read this post, and I'm glad you gave yourself the gift of a rest. That's the hardest part--learning to say "no" to things and giving yourself permission to do what you need to do to feel better!

  6. Thank you, Cathy. I think fibromyalgia is like this for all of us who have it. I'm glad you could relate to what I wrote. Interesting to me is that your fibro made its appearance following your cancer. That's how it came into my life, too . . . I went to my oncologist for a year of follow-ups and complained about my crushing fatigue, and he said, "Well, I don't know what's causing it, but I can tell you it's not the cancer, because the cancer is gone." Which left me feeling quite helpless about how to deal with it, as I wrote about in my book. There are so many alternate titles i could have given my book, and one of them is "How I Got Fibromyalgia And Was Never The Same Again." Learning to live graciously with a chronic illness is an ongoing challenge, but I am consistently grateful that the cancer was treated successfully and that fibro is not fatal. I just have to deal with the surprise on the part of others when I use my walker, my handicapped placard, elevator instead of stairs, because, as they say, "But you look so well!" Yup. That part fools even me! Knowing we share the challenge can be helpful, because you and I can help each other say "No." I'll think of you and it will help me.

  7. My gosh, we certainly have had a similar experience both in developing the fibromyalgia and trying to get a diagnosis for it. And I think that you are so right about the hardest part being that we "look so well!" that people can't understand why we need to say "no" to things sometimes or why you need the handicapped sign. Maybe we should carry pictures of how we look on bad days and say, "Yes, but this is what I looked like yesterday!" lol In any case, I find great comfort and derive courage from sharing with others who do understand, and your blog is a gift!

  8. Hmm, I was considering discontinuing the blog after this series of 11 posts (3 more to go). But if it's a gift, as you feel, please tell me what you would like me to write about. What is there here that you don't find everywhere on the Internet? Is it the Living with Fibro aspect of my life? Something else?

  9. Please don't discontinue the blog, I've really been enjoying following your posts, and I'm sure your other followers feel the same way. Of course, from a purely personal standpoint, I'm interested in how you manage living with Fibro. But I also have been enjoying your stories about how you're moving into a new aspect of life now, adjusting to simplying, moving, etc. and I think those are things that will interest a lot of people who are facing similar challenges. Yes, others write on the same topics but most frankly don't have your writing skills; you bring a new perspective to it all and I love your writing.

  10. Cathy, thank you. If not for your comment above, I would have shut the blog down after Installment #11, when this particular series concludes. But you have inspired me to keep going. The challenge is finding something to write about that will interest others. You've helped me identify at least two subjects which could be the basis for continuing . . . embracing change while handicapped, i.e. not letting my physical limitations nail me in place and keep me from the things I still want to do. I may not be able to dance my socks of, as I used to, but I am going to have a ball doing aquatics in the pool everyday! I'll keep writing. Please keep giving me feedback. Thank you so much!

  11. Thank you Samantha! The news that you plan to continue the blog has me smiling from ear to ear today, I so enjoy your posts! And I'll be looking forward to learning more about how you handle your challenges and getting inspiration from your positive, loving spirit. I can't dance my socks off anymore either, but I can manage a little happy dance here today. ;-)