Boundaries are a difficult business to negotiate when you have chronic pain and fatigue. But when you’ve spent the better part of a decade battling against your own body and managed to make some headway, you need to hold on to them tightly.
It’s me who pays when I overdo it.
I try to prepare for the fact that my new job will make me more sore and tired. It’s taken two weeks to come back from an intense flare after three months at an unsuitable job. And that job was easy.
My new job will be more intellectually demanding. I can’t even find the vocabulary to adequately explain the pain that will come from the physical situation an office job requires, the fatigue, and the cycle of pain and fatigue boosting one another.
The other day, I knew that I could manage walking to and from the park or walking around in it. After some negotiation with the husband, we walked to a closer park. Upon reaching it we decided to explore the walkway as we hadn’t been there before. It was a nice, ambling wander that turned out to be an hour long by the time we got home. My legs ached that night, which was a bad sign as I usually pay for things the next day.
And I did. My legs were so tight by the following evening that I had to sit with my heat pack on various parts of my legs, my knees were aching to a point where I wanted to cry and couldn’t put weight on them. I spent 15 minutes stretching them out gently. Then sat with my legs up for the rest of the evening, when I had to get up I had to hobble. The morning after it had receded back to a slight ache and tightness level.
I am trying to build my new (hard earned) awareness into my thought patterns. I can make a difference with forward planning. When I try to talk it through with my husband, it is part verbalising and working through it and part getting him on board.
Being able to plan, feeling in (some level of) control is an amazing feeling. I love it!
So what I ask, and what I hope for for anyone else with fibromyalgia or any other illness that imposes limits, is that people will accept our boundaries. Especially when they know that they are carefully considered.
I can guarantee you I have thought about the costs and benefits of a decision. I can guarantee I have included my baby and my husband (and my responsibilities to them) in my decision making. I can guarantee I have included some boundary stretching (on my terms) into my process.
This is my life, my consistent struggle against pain and fatigue, all I ask is that my boundaries are respected.