Fibromyalgia and Aging: Hope for the new decade

” To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old”, Oliver Wendell Holmes

As we age each new year brings hope of change in a positive direction. Less pain, less fatigue, and better quality sleep are the things I wish for. The new resolutions: try not to overdo like I always do on days when a flare-up has subsided; daily gentle exercises if only for a few minutes off and on each day; maybe take a music appreciation class (not like the class I tried to take to relearn how to speak French and had to attend class all day from 8 a.m. till 4 p.m conjugating verbs, ugh! The teachers were terrific, and the program was lovely but I had brain fog.

After one week I quit, exhausted). My new year’s resolution is to practice meditation more regularly; try new creative things but only gradually, not like I did with the quilting (I had never quilted before and by hand I sewed 4 quilts since Easter, without a sewing machine, now I suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome!). That seems like enough for me right now, the quilting (notice the Betty Boop quilt which is very uplifting!)and the French classes did me this year.

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Some say that as one age the nervous system of the person with fibro subsides and there are fewer and fewer flare-ups. It seems as though the idea is that as the children leave home, lives become more controlled and pleasant and therefore less to be anxious about. I talk about that research in my book. I want to go on record as saying that for me this has not been the case.

This past year has been spent caring for 92-year-old parents, worrying about my adult children and family relationships,  the economy and the impact that has had on my children and will have on my grandchildren, and concern about horrific wars, economic disasters, climate change, and of course as we age there is the growing concern about one’s own mortality and those of people we love.

So I would say that as we age fibromyalgia does not become easier. Living as I do in a cold climate there is always the weather to contend with as arthritis sets in to make the pain even less tolerable during the winter months. I often wonder if the brain fog is just part of the aging process and not necessarily from fibromyalgia? The pain I experience upon exercise could also be from growing older.

In spite of this gloomy perspective, I do have cheerful hope for a better year as I am always looking for the silver lining and I know it is out there in the hands of the neuroscientists who are finding ways of changing the brain and especially working with chronic pain. Don’t miss those PBS documentaries on pain and the brain and keep looking for positive and optimistic messages they convey for those of us who suffer from this demon, no matter what our ages happen to be! It IS easier to change the brain of younger people but it is NEVER too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It is just a slower process.

Happy new year to us all; 2018 has a nice ring to it! I have hope that in this new decade more and more people will gain insight into this dis-ease that afflicts us with such challenges and struggles.

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