A friend asked me once, “How can you deal with the levels of pain you deal with and still function on a daily basis?”
I replied, “After a while you get used to it and can ignore some of the low-level pain.”
I explained that those with fibro always have some pain, and I consider my baseline between two and four on the pain scale. This kind of pain can be blocked out mentally (sometimes) as you get used to it always being there. Then there are times where the pain flares up to between six and eight and can no longer be ignored. That is when we have to try to do something to reduce it or it becomes unbearable.
“But how can you possibly ignore pain?” she asked. “When I cut my finger slicing potatoes, it drives me crazy!”
Like any other person who doesn’t have fibromyalgia, my friend had a hard time understanding; so I came up with the following analogy to help her understand: Imagine a lazy afternoon of reading a good book on the couch while your hubby is watching golf on the TV. I know she hates golf and really is annoyed when he watches it, so we will consider that the “irritant” (pain). When you are really enjoying your book and focused on the story line, you are able to ignore the noise of the TV (the pain) and can mostly tune it out. However, when someone makes a good shot and the crowd claps, it gets your attention for a few moments and distracts you from your book; you might even look up at the TV briefly (the pain gets your attention for a moment).
Suddenly, someone makes a hole-in-one! The crowd (and your hubby) goes wild and everyone is making a lot of noise. Meanwhile, your hubby also spills his beverage all over the papers you have on your table. This completely distracts you and you lose your place in the book because all of a sudden your senses are overwhelmed with the distraction (pain). At that point you have to deal with the mess he made and can no longer sit in the same room as the TV without being irritated. You may even be so annoyed with your hubby that you are no longer able to enjoy the book and have to put it away. This is what fibro pain can be like.
Sometimes we can focus on other things and put it out of our mind somewhat but often it gets too intense to ignore. One of the most frustrating aspects of the disease is not knowing when the pain will suddenly become too much. It is constantly in the back of our minds that at any minute, it could become unbearable and we have to use whatever pain reduction methods we have on hand to cope.