Wondering why this blog is called Living with The Troll? Pull up a chair and I’ll explain.
Firstly, NO! the Troll is not my husband!
The Fibro-Troll is what we call my condition. Living with Fibromyalgia is a frustrating, pain in the…., well everything. I liken it to having to cross a bridge every day. There’s a troll that lives under the bridge, and he’s going to want paying. Only there’s no toll booth and no fixed toll, you have no idea when or how many times the troll will turn up. On top of that, you don’t know where on the bridge you get to start until you wake up in the morning.
The Troll wants payment every day. Sometimes, several times a day. You never get to take a day off, not even for Christmas or someone’s birthday. Each day you wake up and see how far you can get before the Troll turns up wanting payment.
Some days, you try to sneak past. You wake up relatively well, you do some light exercise, maybe some Yoga, maybe some Tai Chi, maybe some gentle stretching. You eat a perfect breakfast based on foods that don’t upset your IBS. All day, you never let yourself get too hungry, but you are very careful not to overeat. You make everything from scratch, you avoid triggers – coffee, alcohol, chocolate, sugar – all the fun things in life! You eat your fermented foods, your bone broths and crazy probiotic drinks. You have a soak in the bath. You get in your hyperbaric oxygen chamber, you meditate. You set a timer and do some housework. You actually STOP when the timer goes off and sit down. You do something creative or stimulating for your brain – but not too much, because that uses energy too! You make sure not to stay in one position for too long. You watch some TV or play games on your phone. All day you make sure you do everything perfectly. And, (this part is important) absolutely nothing goes wrong. The cat doesn’t cough up a hairball on the carpet, the neighbours aren’t playing loud music, you don’t stub your toe on the coffee table, your Kombucha bottles don’t explode all over the kitchen. On those days, you can almost pretend the troll doesn’t exist.
But those days don’t happen very often. Most days, something outside of your control messes things up. It might be the weather, the dog that barked all night, some food that didn’t agree with you, the fact that you stayed up an extra 30 mins to watch that interesting documentary, or you ignored the timer because you just wanted to finish cleaning the bathroom. Sometimes, you can pay the toll early, you can have a nap, a warm bath, oxygen therapy or just curl up on the couch and lose yourself in a novel or game and not move at all for a few hours.
Some days, the troll turns up with no warning. You might be having a fairly normal conversation about your day, or making dinner or playing a board game with friends. Then suddenly you’ve got no idea what you a doing. (What did I do today? Do you peel an onion before frying it? Who’s turn is it?) Your legs feel wobbly and you need to sit down right now. In our house, we describe this as “the Troll found me.” My husband – aka Knight in Tarnished Armour (because shiny armour is not important when fighting trolls) – knows exactly what that means. He stops trying to have an intelligent conversation with me, takes over cooking dinner (yes, he will peel the onion) and lets me know it’s my turn and questions whether we should stop playing for a while.
Sometimes, the Troll is happy with that. He lets you go and sit in a quiet room or on the couch and rest. Other times he beats you with his club so that everything hurts, your muscles, your joints, your head, your jaw. You are weak and dizzy. You are sensitive to light, noise, smell, taste. You get ridiculously cold. You can’t find the words you want to use. You feel nauseated, but you know you must eat so you can take some drugs to help.
Then there are the days when you pushed too hard. You went to a function, you cooked a bunch of things for the freezer, but didn’t take enough breaks, you had a piece of cake and a glass of wine, the neighbours had a party that went until 2 in the morning. Whatever the reason, the Troll has his whole family over and they all want paying.
You wake up at 3am, your head is throbbing. You also need to pee. You stumble to the bathroom, pee, and take some Panadol. It won’t do much, but it’s the only thing you can handle on an empty stomach. You go back to bed, only to spend the next few hours trying not to move too much, so your tarnished knight can stay asleep. Your back aches, so you try your side – that shoulder hurts too much, so you try the other side, but the crazy thumping in your ear and the stabbing pain in your hip prevent you from sleeping. In desperation, you try your stomach, but that just causes shooting pain in your neck and makes the headache worse. At 5 am you give up. You stumble out of bed and make yourself a hot drink – no caffeine of course, because that doesn’t agree with you. You can manage this because you have an instant hot-water dispenser, because there’s no way you can lift a kettle first thing in the morning. Then you curl up on the couch and feel sorry for yourself until the sleeping knight wakes up. He helps you get into the bath – you are too wobbly to stand up for long enough to have a shower and helps you get back out again. He makes breakfast and helps you back to bed. He comes home at lunchtime from work, to make sure you get something decent to eat – which he brings you in bed. In the evening, he comes home and makes dinner, cleans the kitchen, massages your neck, so that you might be able to get some sleep. The next day might be better, or it might take a few days before the troll sends his family home.
Bottom line is, you always have to be conscious of the troll. Conserving energy whenever you can, because the troll has his own counting system, currency and can change the length of the bridge without notice.