How to LIVE a fibroLIFE©: Fibromyalgia Symtom Tracking
fibroLIFE Basics©: Tracking your symptoms is worth the time and effort!
You do not have to understand Fibromyalgia (FMS) at the healthcare professional’s level to LIVE a fibroLIFE©. What you must do, however, is figure out what causes your symptoms to increase and decrease. In fact, this is not something anyone else can do for you nor can any healthcare professional accurately answer for you. Yes, it is true that there are predictable changes, activities, stressors, etc. that will cause FMS to be worse, but the degree of effect of each of these is different for everyone. You have to determine your own “cause and effect” perimeters. The only way to do that is to track your symptoms.
There are tools available online and in books to help with this. You can create your own if you prefer even. What really matters is that you actually have a system that you are using!
Because my focus is in keeping Fibromyalgia as simple as possible for you, I advocate tracking the “Big Four”: Pain, Fatigue, Fog, and Mood. fibroLIFE© actually has a symptom tracker that utilizes pictures as visual aids to make it easier to identify what it is or how it is that you that you are feeling. I do not use “…on a scale of one-to-ten...” Frankly, who remembers what “six” felt like three days ago?
I do make little notes related to the “Big Four” pictures that I circle or mark to document information that will help me later understand the “cause and effect” aspects. For example, if I document that my pain was worse than usual, I will also note if it was storming, had turned cold, if I had overdone it the day before, if I was taking a cold, if I had experienced a very emotional incident such as a fight or a death, etc. I also tend to note how much pain medication I have to take. For me, this is a very consistent indicator as to how badly I am hurting.
Of course we have many other symptoms with FMS, but often they can be indicated with a brief note as well. If not, fibroLIFE© does have more detailed symptom trackers. I do not recommend them for long-term use, however. After over a year of testing various symptom-tracking systems with several FMS sufferers, we found the more basic the tracker, the more apt they were to use it. Tracking symptoms in depth for a few days is not as important as tracking “the big 4” an entire month at a time.
Doctors also got to see these trackers in use during the same time period and found the information very helpful in quickly understanding what their patients day-to-day fibroLIFE© looked like. In fact, the tracker is designed to show an entire month’s worth of symptoms at a glance. This type of information tends to promote communication between doctors and patients, improve doctor/patient relationships, and lead to improved and more effective FMS treatment plans.
Whether you are trying to determine what is wrong with you, have already been diagnosed with FMS, or have been dealing with FMS for years, symptom tracking is an essential part of minimizing fibro and MAXIMIZING LIFE—an essential part of LIVING your fibroLIFE©!