I have an image of the nervous system that I show people, and I say, “I have chronic pain because of global dysfunction of these nerves…,”and I explain that nerves affect every part and system of the body. “Ever burned yourself? Nerves relayed the info to your brain. Pain resulted,” I explain. “Had a toothache? Nerves. Had stomach ache, headache, broken arm, overworked muscle or Charley horse? All of that pain came from what nerves tell the brain.

“My nerves are irritated and confused all the time, so my pain moves around, but it is chronic and affects all of my physical life: strength, energy, cognitive acuity, sleep/wake cycles, etc.I can push through and exert myself, and I have many times, but doing so sends my nervous system into a hurricane of misinformation and nothing but time can calm it down.

“Bear with me. I’ll do my best for you, but I need to be cautious of my limits. If I don’t? I’ll pay for it with acute pain for days.

“Fortunately, meds allow me to function on some days and, this is the best part, fibromyalgia is not cancer. It will not kill me.”

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