Fibromylagia Remission During Pregnancy
The first trimester of my pregnancy was horrible. I was exhausted, my pain was high, I was relying on Tylenol 3 to control that pain way more than I would have liked. My nerve pain coupled with morning sickness, hip pain and poor sleep had me gearing up for my fibromyalgia symptoms to get worse and worse as my pregnancy progressed. Then something strange happened: I started to feel better.
My second trimester was a breeze. I was still on medication but I was sleeping at night and my pain was low. I hadn’t needed Tylenol 3 for months, not even my continued morning sickness could get me down. But late in my second trimester my sleep became very disturbed. Of course, poor sleep quality is common in pregnancy but this seemed to reach so far beyond the discomfort of a heavy belly and disruption of an almost constantly full bladder.
I awoke every morning feeling like a patient waking up from surgery. I felt dull-minded and disoriented and woke up slowly taking time to remember who and where I was and to find each of my limbs before deliberating between the hard work of getting out of bed, the immobilizing stiffness of my body and the sharp discomfort of an overly full bladder. Even my fibromyalgia couldn’t be blamed for this level of discomfort and disorientation.
However, the daily fog (way beyond fibro-fog) caused by my poor sleep proved to have an upside: one night I forgot to take my medication. I slept like (I won’t say a baby as they tend not to be great sleepers) an old man. It was a sleep quality the likes of which I hadn’t had in years and it was unmedicated.
Being the cautious type I tested it, a few days with the meds a few days without until I was certain. It was the medication that was making me feel horrible. Without it I felt fine. My doctor confirmed my experience. It turns out she has had other patients who have experienced some form of remission at some point in their pregnancy but she left me with a tempered warning: the pain could come back as soon as I gave birth, or it might be days, weeks or months but odds are that it WILL come back.
I still don’t feel as well as I did before I got sick. My pain is lower, much lower but I am very aware that I still have fibromyalgia. I still have pain, I could still get flare ups. Without the armour of my medication I feel as though these things could strike me at any moment. I actually feel hesitant to take part in life because when you’re pregnant falling back on Tylenol 3 for pain relief is not without guilt (though in small doses it is largely without consequence).
You would think that for someone who has been in so much pain for so long such a sudden and dramatic reduction in pain would be cause for exuberance and celebration. While I did call my loved ones to tell them my good fortune I am far more cautious than exuberant. The walls that once defined my world are gone, or perhaps moved, and now I don’t know where my limits are.
Like an animal raised in captivity and suddenly set free I want to find a safe corner of the world to hide in because I could stumble upon that thing that brings it all back and after this short period of low pain the pain that I used to experience on a daily basis has become a frightening and unbearable prospect. A period of remission that may end at any time has made my comfort zone smaller rather than larger. I am skittish rather than reckless. Every day I must walk the edge of that comfort and widen it or face regret when my pain returns to narrow my world once again.
Because odds are it WILL.