The reality of a flare-up: Living with EDS & Dysautonomia
Recently I had a terrible flare up, and someone asked me “what exactly does that feel like? How was a flare-up different from the usual pain of my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome & Dysautonomia?” It honestly took me some time to put into words what going through an EDS & Dysautonomia flare-up means for me.
It’s a very individual process; some people can feel them coming, others are blindsided every time. They affect everybody VERY differently, but one thing that is the same across the board is that when you’re in a flare up, it can be some of the worst days of your life.. every time.
What follows is my experience; others’ will be different.
For me a flare-up begins with a low fever, I try to play it off, “Oh you’re fine, it’s just cold in here today, you don’t actually have a fever.” Next is the pain. Every day is painful with EDS and medically complicated with dysautonomia, but a flare-up brings its own exquisite form of torture. It brings pain that makes me feel like my joints are being crushed and burned and pulled apart all at the same.
Still, I try to play it off in my mind, “Oh maybe I just twisted the wrong way, or I did walk a lot today maybe I’m just more sore than usual.”
Then the rash and the stomach issues seem to all come together. At this point, you would think I would give in; you think I would admit what I know to be true. Yet I try one last time “maybe you ate something weird, maybe your new face wash is giving you that rash, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe….” At some point, I’m not sure when it is, I do give up. I give into the fact that another flare-up is upon me and the worst part, the scariest part is you just never know how long it will last.
How long will I have to suffer through this? How long CAN my body and mind do this?
I try to keep track and try to find any reason for them, but they come and go when they want. When it is here, it takes everything in my power to keep telling myself, “you are okay, this isn’t forever,” because from within the throes of a flare-up, it feels like forever and a day.
If this sounds like a hellish nightmare, that’s because it is. I will not sugar coat it, and I don’t want your sympathy. But anyone going through this could use your empathy; your understanding and your caring during these particularly hard times.
I will say one positive thing that comes from all this, every time you can feel a flare-up start to break, each time you feel the pain start to dissipate, you appreciate every single minute of life outside the flare-up more and more every time you get out of one. Everything is more beautiful each time, you can breathe a little easier, but in the back of your mind, you always know your time of peaceful bliss is limited.
Do you get flare-ups like this? Tell us what yours are like, whether they are similar or different!