Flyweight Fibrofella

I’ve only ever thrown one punch in my life. Although to even describe that as a punch is probably stretching it a little bit. That not everyone on a team gets on with everyone else should come as no surprise. While on the pitch we could dig in together and do our absolute best but off the pitch some of us didn’t have much in common and just didn’t get on.

To cut a long story short(ish), a team-mate raked down my Achilles one night in a training match and I took exception. I didn’t know how to punch but I gave it a go but it came out as more of a push than a punch and then we were separated by the rest of the team. The following weekend we actually played side-by-side, got a great win, high-fived at the final whistle and got on with things.

This weekend Dublin plays in the All-Ireland Gaelic football final. It’s our Super League Grand Final, our Superbowl or our Boxing Day Cricket in Melbourne. Tickets are like gold dust so I’ll be watching on TV but I did snare tickets to the semi-final and this was when I noticed how frustrated and angry I am at the invisible nature of my conditions and that to people in general ‘I don’t look sick’.  

A huge crowd gathered in the pubs around Croke Park very early on the day. Some were just soaking up the atmosphere while others were watching the Man Utd V Liverpool match. Space was at a premium and when I spotted a ledge to rest a drink on and lean against I moved as quick as my body would allow me.

However a Muppet* who moved after me, insisted he had been standing there all along. Normally I would just ignore that but when 3 more people joined him, started to gently push me forward and tried to insist they too had been standing there all along I flipped.

I let loose some verbals and used my body to make it as awkward for this group to stay there as possible. Inside I was urging him to hit me and start a ruck. I might have just run away but I kind of wanted him to get a few digs in so that I could say to people ‘see my bruises, see my bloody nose, that’s how I feel every single day but you can’t see it.’

I followed this theme up inside the ground too. It is the great bonus of Gaelic football and hurling that fans sit by side with opposition fans and there is always good banter back and forth. I spied a Kerry fan who was particularly biased and insulted any fan that had the temerity to ask him to move so they could get past to the toilets or the concessions.

I set about winding him with sarcastic comments, deliberately biased views on the game and barracking of the Kerry players. I never spoke directly to him but made sure he could hear every word. Eventually he got fed up and turned and told me to ‘f##k off!’ That should have been enough for me but I kept at him in the hope that he might start a fight and I again could get some visible injuries.

It’s a very strange feeling, wishing for a row to escalate because in this day and age, there are knives and guns to worry about as well as fists and boots. It’s all however just an outlet for my stress and frustration at my physical condition.

Patience is a vital component of managing fibromyalgia and/or arthritis. On lots of days that has been ok with me but the last few weeks has reminded me to be ever vigilant and catch myself before I go spoiling for a fight. As much as my hands can get hurt typing, I think telling you all about my frustration on here is a much more constructive way to deal with my frustrations and anger than spoiling for a fight.


*Muppet – A colloquial term for a fool, also known as a gobshite

State of the Union Address

Ouch! ouch! ouch! Every single keystroke hurts today.

 I’m going through one of the worst pain flares I’ve gone through in a long time. As with most people with musculoskeletal conditions (MSD’s), I’ve developed quite a high pain threshold. So for me to say I’m very sore today means ‘I’M VERY SORE’. Normally when I go into a flare like this my brain turns to mush and I curl up on the couch watching mindless TV and waiting for it to pass on. What’s a little different this time is that while the flare is at its zenith, my mind is still relatively lucid. I can concentrate on writing this post and catching up on some of my fellow bloggers’ work.

So there’ll be no curling up on the couch today, instead I’m going to try to articulate exactly what a severe pain flare feels like. First of all it will be good to release some stress, secondly it may give you a further insight into the pain people with MSD’s go through daily and thirdly it will give me a reference point for the future and I can determine how serious the next flare is.

Finding the cause of a flare is always tough. One theory is that the air pressure in Ireland changed dramatically in the last few days and, generally, my fibromyalgia does not appreciate this in any way. I tried to lift a plate up onto a shelf on Monday. My body refused, fingers too sore to grip, wrist too sore to hold the plate, elbow and shoulder sore and incredibly weak. The plate stayed on the counter and is still there. The muscles around all these joints felt like dead weights. There was no spark of energy, no firing of the muscle fibres. My arms felt like they were immobile dead weights by my side.

The muscle fatigue and pain is one thing but alongside that pain there is the pain of my arthritis. My fingers and wrists are always sore but my elbows and shoulders, normally joints with less pain, are absolutely screaming. Pain scales are very difficult to describe as it’s a different experience for each individual but as I said I’ve a fairly high pain threshold but I’m floored with the pain this week.

That covers my arms, next on the list is my torso. Breathing at the moment is enough to cause pain around my rib cage and its’ joints. The intercostal muscles are tearing through weakness. These muscles between the ribs have landed me in hospital before with suspected heart attacks. The muscles tear and cause pain in the ribs and when it was the left-sided ones I tore, the pain was like someone standing on my chest and the pain radiated through my shoulder and down my left arm. If it’s happened to you before, you’ll know how frightening and painful this can be.

Then there is my back and my hips. I put my hand to the middle of my spine this morning. Lots of people do this hoping a quick rub will alleviate the pain. Instead of this I found a 2 inch spot along my spine which when pressed, almost made me pass out. I’ve no idea where this came from or if it will last but, between you and me, I’ve been very conscious of my posture today! Normally (whatever normal is), my left hip is slightly more painful than the left but this week they’re both at it. Both of them have locked this week at different times. Both of them have collapsed at different time causing me to lose my balance. Both of them have felt like they were being drilled by a very precise drill right in the middle joint.

My legs haven’t stayed away from the party either. The muscles are so stiff, taut and painful; getting out of bed has been an ordeal. I do a 20 minute stretching regime every single day. I need not have bothered  such is the lack of strength, the stiffness and constant feeling I’m a second away from tearing one of the muscles.

This muscular pain in turn causes pain within the joints. The joints don’t need any help as they are sore enough as it is but they take on the extra strain. My knees feel swollen and my right knee is sorer at times than before or after the surgeries I had on it. Then there’s my ankles which, like my wrists, are always sore but they have ramped up the pain. Last but not least there’s my instep, my toes and the famous David Beckham metatarsals.

My fingers and toes have very small joints but there are lots of them. The pain they give me bears no relation to their size. EVERY SINGLE joint of both my hands and feet hurts. Take a look at your hands and your feet, touch each and every joint there is and imagine the tiniest pressure on them causing huge pain. In fact, no pressure is actually needed because the pain is constant. Particularly sore are the base of the thumbs and the base of my big toes but really singling them out doesn’t matter because the others aren’t far behind.

I’m sorry for the downbeat nature of this point but I think I can save it. You see, while I am in the worst pain I’ve been in for ages, I’m happy that for once my mind feels relatively fresh. That’s why I wanted to write this post. Yes my body is really sore at the minute but hopefully with the help of my psycho-analysis I’m beginning to see the positives even in situations that before would have felt hopeless. 

Keep smiling.