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Seren Kiremitcioglu • 17 July 2020 • 7 minutes

My creature comforts during a fibro flare [Partially Sponsored! #Ad]

You know what sucks? Fibromyalgia. You know what REALLY sucks? A fibro flare.

There. I said it!

I’ve had fibro for a while now, and I tick off all the symptoms. To quote the NHS, these include:

  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • muscle stiffness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • problems with mental processes (known as “fibro-fog”), such as problems with memory and concentration
  • headaches
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

It’s not fun. I always have at least two or three symptoms going at the same time, but in a particularly bad fibro flare, I’ll have more.

This is when I become overwhelmed. Luckily for me, I have some creature comforts which help me to get through the harder times.

Let’s break them down symptom by symptom.

Typical fibro flare: increased sensitivity to pain

My worst flares heighten my sensitivity to pain. Even my boyfriend’s hand on my skin can feel physically irritating, abrasive, or painful. I’m not sure about other people with fibromyalgia, but these are the times I need loose, soft clothing. Like…

A photo of me wearing Christmas themed pyjama bottoms and a grey hoodie by I'm Fine Attire. The hoodie says "You are allowed to... sleep in late. eat too much. cry for no reason. love whoever you want. make new friends.move on. love yourself. be you."

GIFTED – I’m Fine Attire: You Are Allowed Hoodie

Oversized t-shirts, jumpers, and dungarees are all my jam. I was very kindly gifted the ‘You Are Allowed’ Hoodie by Emma at I’m Fine Attire, and it’s a real help when I’m feeling super sensitive. Not only is it ‘supersoft’, but it’s drop shoulder, oversized, and from an independently-run company, which I love most of all!

I’m a big supporter of I’m Fine Attire as it’s run by someone, who, like me, has a chronic illness. Emma was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in 2012, followed by Endometriosis and Chronic Migraine a few years later.

Despite the hurdles that illness threw her, she decided to use her experience to amplify the voices of the chronic illness community through empowering clothes.

IFA, along with t-shirts and hoodies, offers leggings and jeans with built-in elasticated heat pack pockets!

Could life get any better?

This is an absolute dream for anyone regardless of their health, but it’s especially innovative for people who may live with stomach or reproductive associated pains.

It makes sense that these were made with medical flares in mind!

I’m an IFA Affiliate, so if you fancy 15% off your order, follow my link (https://imfineattire.com/?ref=Lu5zkxgI8yGp) or use code SERENKIREMITCIO. For transparency, I will earn a small commission for links or codes used.

A photo of me wearing Christmas pyjama bottoms and a grey hoodie by I'm Fine Attire. I'm holding my very fluffy grey cat in my arms, and I'm looking at him. He is looking at something else. His name is Bug.

P.S It is cat approved.

Extreme tiredness (fatigue)

A photo of my Back Rest Reading Cushion on the sofa, next to my cat who is laying across another cushion. His name is Teddy and he is very cute.

This isn’t the healthiest coping mechanism, but when I’m having a super slump of a day, I’ll have a diet coke. I try to avoid it, but honestly, the caffeine does help.

My ‘Back Rest Reading Cushion’ is also an absolute saviour. It’s comfortable and keeps me in an upright position, which naturally encourages me to stay awake. I got this as part of my DSA award for my Master’s degree, and it helps extend the time I’m able to spend studying or working. Back aches are a huge issue for me, so again, this is really handy to have!

Muscle Stiffness

A photo of my electric heat mat and 'v' shaped maternity pillow

When do I not have aches and pains?

Like above, my cushion is a great support, but if I’m feeling too knackered I’ll lay on my bed and use my ‘fibromyalgia aid pillow.’

This is essentially a maternity pillow used to support you while sitting up, but I find it useful lying down as it supports my head in a way a traditional pillow doesn’t. If I’m using my phone or Kindle, it also means I can rest my hand/wrist on it too.

I’ll also use anything that acts as a heat source to help soothe my muscles. I’ve always sworn by the ‘ThermoDr Microwaveable Body Wrap with Lavender’ (which you’ll see in the picture under Irritable Bowel Syndrome). It has a stretchy Velcro elastic which means you can secure it around your area of pain, which for me is most commonly my stomach.

It’s versatile, easy to heat, and has that comforting lavender smell.

If I’m experiencing back / shoulder / neck aches, I’ll use my Silvercrest Back and Neck heat pad. This was one of those magical middle aisle purchases from either Lidl or Aldi, and it’s a great help if I’m stuck in bed with pain or muscle stiffness. I couldn’t find the specific one I have, but here’s an alternative should you want one.

Difficulty sleeping

A photo of sleep together calming spray surrounded by fairy lights

My sleep quality generally sucks, and I always wake up tired, so it’s coffee coffee coffee for me!

If you struggle to fall asleep, fibro flare or not, I wholeheartedly recommend the ThisWorks Calming Spray. It’s a lot fresher than the Lush sleep spray, and always helps my boyfriend and me when we struggle to sleep. Here’s a link if you fancy taking a look.

One of my least favourite parts of a fibro flare: Fibro Fog

A photo of me playing Adventure Time on Animal Crossing. In the foreground is a close up of the remote control, in the background is the TV with the home screen

I never know how to help fibro fog. It’s so hard to even explain, let alone overcome!

It’s basically exactly what it says on the tin – a fog that descends over you.

I’ll be in the middle of a sentence when I’ll completely forget what I was saying, or what the conversation was even about. I’ll be trying to complete a lesson on Duolingo, and every bit of knowledge will evaporate into thin air.

When this happens, my mental health suffers. I feel useless and generally bad about myself. Fibro flares are generally challenging, but with fibro fog, I know I can’t do anything that requires any brainpower. So, instead, I do low-maintenance things that make me happy. This could be watching House, reading my kindle, playing my Nintendo Switch or falling into YouTube holes.

Headaches

A photo of Kool'n'Soothe Cooling Gel Sheet surrounded by fairy lights

I get headaches all. the. damn. time.

After pain medication and a big glass of water, my port of call is a Kool’n’Soothe Cooling Gel Sheet. There’s no medicine in there, it just feels nice and cool and helps bring me relief from the discomfort. It’s times like these when I really appreciate blackout curtains and cosy pillows.

Irritable bowel syndrome

A photo of a waterbottle, a unicorn wheatie, and the ThermoDr heat wrap, with fairylights and a soft white plushie whale

There’s no getting around it. This is a horrible, horrible experience.

When you’re in the clutches of an IBS episode, all you want is for it to stop. When the pain kicks in but nothing is happening, my first move is to get into a hot bath.

The same applies when I first get my period. After the episode is over (and sometimes they last hours and hours), I’ll use a hot water bottle or wheatie to soothe the residual pain.

Heat seems to be the only thing that gets me through the pain of IBS, but if you have any tips, I’d love to know them!


If you live with fibromyalgia, do you use anything to seek comfort during a fibro flare? Let me know down in the comments below!  

Learn more about the impact of chronic illness on an individual by clicking on the link. Alternatively, discover more of my blogs on disability.

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