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I’m a married 31 year-old who has been diagnosed with fibromylagia for 12 years. I am on a quest to raise awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive. Read more
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Fibro Feelings – Can do’s, but Shouldn’t do’s

What is Fibro Feelings?

This past week I had an experience where I carried out a “can do, but shouldn’t do.” A “can do, but shouldn’t do” is an activity that I physically and mentally can do, at the moment, without it feeling like it is too much, but after doing the activity it will most likely feel like too much. It may even cause a flare-up.

The Helpful Hubby We got a new TV, which meant we needed to play musical TVs (like musical chiars). Musical TVs required putting TV 3 (78 lbs) into the car, then moving it from the car to the living room. TV 1 (~100 lbs), which we are getting rid of, was moved from the cabinet to the couch. TV 2 (90 lbs) was carried upstairs and put on the cabinet. I felt fine while moving the TVs around, but the next day my back was killing me, my knee was hurting, my arms were extremely tender to the touch and I was exhausted! I’m not talking about regular muscle workout pain either. My muscles did not hurt more when using them, my arms just hurt to be sitting there. With The Helpful Hubby helping me I could lift those weights just fine. Strength was not the issue. When I was younger I helped my dad carry a cast iron tub down 2 flights of stairs and across a big yard.

The symptoms that I was experiencing ended up turning into fatigue and horrible pain that lasted for 6 days (and counting). My “can do, but shouldn’t do” ended up producing a flare-up. Dang-it! This has continuously been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn since getting fibromyalgia. I’ve gotten leaps and bounds better about NOT doing “can do’s, but shouldn’t do’s,” but I guess I’ve still got some leaps left to go! It is so hard to walk away from (or ask for more help with) an activity that seems like it doesn’t take much time and might not be too hard to accomplish!

One of the things that helped me transition into doing less “can do’s, but shouldn’t do’s” at first was not even something I did. The Helpful Hubby and other friends would tell me not to do certain physical tasks or simply take over the task for me. Nowadays I just try to keep myself in check and not do them, but sometimes I am weak. In those weak moments I think unrealistically optimistically about how my body will handle the task. Of course, “can do’s, but shouldn’t do’s” aren’t always physical tasks, sometimes they are overbooking a schedule, wearing high heels, staying out late with friends or not canceling something when not feeling well.

How do you handle “can do’s, but shouldn’t do’s”?

This post was included in Chronic Babe Blog Carnival #23

carrying boxes

One "can do, but shouldn't do"*

*Image Credit: from East Valley Storage


Comment from kiwikchat
Time December 23, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Learning to pace and say no is a daily struggle. Yesterday I went to the pharmacy, bought myers decorations,made a bed, put up decorations and bought a vacum. I’m blaming the vacum, but really it was the whole shopping in crowds experience that I should not have done. The pharmacy and bed making were the only need to do. Todays dilema ‘should I go out to dinner with my boss or can I can it?’ My boyfriend is a great help and he is good at stopping me but sometimes even he gets it wrong. Eg can you pick up a vacuum cleaner while you are at the pharmacy?’ Good luck to all those struggling with the little word ‘no’ and learning about ‘shouldn’t dos’


Felicia Fibro Reply:

@kiwikchat Good luck working on your balance with can do’s, but shouldn’t do’s as well! Did you end up going to dinner with your boss? I hate to say it, but I got a little chuckle out of “Can you pick up a vacuum cleaner while you are at the pharmacy?” It made me think back at all the things The Helpful Hubby used to ask me to do during the first couple years we were dating that he wouldn’t even want me to do now. There are so many things we have learned (individually and together) after years of living with each other and fibromyalgia.


Comment from Michelle jadaa
Time December 24, 2010 at 6:54 am

This is exactly the kind of thing the disibility people dont understand.We “can” do some things but then we are unusable for several days afterwards!


Comment from Selena
Time February 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Wow, I can relate to this. It’s a hard lesson that I have been trying hard to consistently implement too.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

I’m rooting for you, Selena!


Comment from Hayzell
Time February 23, 2011 at 2:15 am

Great idea with the can-do but shouldn’t do list! It’s so easy to forget about flare ups when you’re having a good day. What I find hardest is the pacing while trying to very slowly add to what I can do. Sometimes I over do it and sometimes it’s just right. It literally took me a couple of years (yes, years) to build up strength in one of my hands to just get through washing a couple of dishes with minimal pain. Now it’s just a matter of balancing that inner voice that wants me to do more but also needs to take care of not getting too many flare ups.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

That is so wonderful that you stuck with it and didn’t give up as your hand slowly gained strength! I agree that is about balancing inner voices. It almost reminds me of the when you see the angel and devil on a character’s shoulder arguing opposite sides. It is like one side thinks, “Oh, it’ll be fine” and the other side says, “You know better than to do this”


Comment from Denise
Time August 15, 2011 at 3:33 am

Thank you so much for this blog. The can do but shouldn’t do is so hard for me. It has taken me years to accept my diagnosis and I feel for the most part quite alone. I feel as if I’ve made a friend.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Welcome, Denise! Do you use Twitter at all? There is a huge community of chronic illness support there!


Comment from Dave
Time August 30, 2013 at 6:45 am

How about what it’s like for the men? I helped my father do everything imaginable with house remodeling for nearly 15 years including lifting a lawn mower (alone) off a truck bed, mowing a lawn, and lifting it back on the truck 8 times on a single weekend day. I do audits at work for lighting and it can take anywhere from 2 hours to all day to walk a building and after an hour and a half, I’m kaput.

As a man, it’s always been in me to work until the last minute or to the point of exhaustion and through the pain, whatever level of it I may have. I have leather for skin (soft leather) but my body can take some punishment. Once I started hurting in an hour and a half, I ask myself how all these other guys, even guys in their 60s I work next to can outpace me in intensity and endurance and I respond with, it’s not possible, I’m just being weak and remembering how much I used to be able to do, I continue to work.

Even after stopping all manly activity entirely for the last 6 months, the pain just doesn’t go away.

Can do but shouldn’t do, well… those are tough spoons to take for a man. I can’t let that part go.


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