‘Unexpect the expected’ was the, ahem, “catchy” tagline the GAA used to promote the Allianz Leagues in 2013. Reminiscent of the old tangle twister about Peter Piper and his pickled peppers it jarred the first couple of times I heard or saw it. What it did do though was to get people talking about the leagues and so at the end of the day that was what the GAA wanted out of the situation.  

The only thing that can be expected with any degree of certainty when living with fibromyalgia is its unpredictability. One day you’re feeling pretty decent about the world and the next there seems like there’ll never be an end to the fatigue, pain and disruption to life. In fact day-to-day is a massive timeframe, hour-to-hour is more appropriate to some of the swings in living with fibromyalgia.

It was said often, or maybe just once I’m not sure, that a week is a long time in politics. If that is in fact true, exactly how long is a week in the life of a fibro fighter? How many times can a fighter go from boom to bust in one week? Is it any wonder you’d be tired dealing with all those emotions, sensations and experiences. Looking back now I’m just surprised I was able to survive so long before the diagnosis became obvious and it severely impacted on my life.

A week ago I returned to the pub I used to work in to watch Ireland v England in the rugby. My favourite day ever working in Harry’s was also an Ireland v England match. That one was in 2007 and was the first time England came over to play in Croke Park. All expectation went out of the window that day in GAA headquarters as no one could know what was about to happen, now there was an event for which ‘Unexpect the expected’ would apply.

So I found myself in the scrum of people looking for seats last Saturday evening. Most of the family was there too but a seat for the mammy and a seat for my good self were the prime requirements. Needless to say the place was stuffed like all good match-days but it was very different not to be mucking in with the lads. I was enjoying my pints though so it was only a different experience rather than a negative one.

I really enjoyed the beer, meeting my old work colleagues and customers and hanging out with my family. An Ireland win was the only thing missing but my god what a game it was. A walk home and a takeaway rounded off my Saturday. I thought I’d suffer badly on Sunday but that wasn’t so bad. Monday and Tuesday went similarly. I had fully expected to crash and pay for my night out but I was doing ok. Even five hours in out-patients on Tuesday didn’t derail me. Maybe I’d got away with one?

Well what do you think? Does anyone with fibromyalgia reading this believe that is possible? I wish it was but every good event requires a pay-off is one truth I’ve learnt these past few years. I fully expected my payment to be taken on Monday but I got a little tease of a reprieve and that made paying my tab all the harder when it happened.

Last night I began to feel ropey, the stomach churned, the head spun, the pain grew and the fatigue finally got on top of me. I went to bed fearing this morning and lo and behold I awoke to the full blown flare and hangover I expected last week. I had planned on doing something in particular today even before last weekend’s rugby match. I was fully convinced that I’d struggle the early part of this week and feel the fresher for it today.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Planning and arranging is a difficult task for those of us with fibromyalgia. The really big, important dates can be made even when you’re not in great shape or form but expecting that 100% of the time would be folly. And if that’s the case for the Weddings, funerals, christenings etc. what about the quiet pints, the nice meal or the party? I got suckered into believing I might be able to have it all this week and then it was whipped right out from underneath me. That is making lying on the couch talking to you guys difficult to handle but at least I’m doing that. Six months ago I might still be in bed and not on the couch so that’s progress.

It’s something to hold on to I suppose but just when I thought I could plan ahead I got a big reminder that with fibromyalgia’s unpredictability it is always important to ‘Unexpect the Expected’.

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