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Pacing for big projects with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Friday 31 May 2013


From's Adrienne Dellwo:


Woman paintingPacing for Big Projects with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By , Guide
May 28, 2013

Have you found yourself needing to take on a big project, but not sure you'd be able to get it done? With fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, that always a concern.

First, you really have to know where you are with your health and functionality. If folding one load of laundry is too much for you, you shouldn't be thinking about painting a room or putting in a new flower bed.

If you're able to be somewhat active on most days and think you're up to something big, here are some things to consider:

  • Can you handle it on top of your every-day demands?
  • How much help will you have?
  • How disruptive will it be to your life if it takes a long time?
  • Are you on a deadline?
  • Can you take time to recover, both as needed during the project and after it's completed?

I've done several big projects and have learned a lot from them.

A little over a year ago, I painted my son's room as a birthday present. The old paint job was too young for him. He's a creative kid, so of course he wanted something complicated - a couple of different colors and a graphic pattern on one wall. I couldn't stand to break his heart by not fulfilling his vision, so I took it on. I don't consider that a "mistake," but it was a complicating factor.

A true mistake was starting the project early in my husband's work week. I'd been feeling pretty good and I've painted enough in the past few years to know I can do a fair amount, but I was being over confident thinking I could do the job without him.

Then I ignored a red flag at the paint store, when I learned that both of the colors my son had chosen were difficult to use - we'd likely need a good primer and multiple coats to cover the old paint and get a nice even finish. (One color took three coats, the other took four.)

We started the project by disgorging the contents of my son's room into the living room, right in the heart of the house. We had a narrow little trail to get through it.

With all of the drying times and elaborate taping, what could have been a two-day project stretched out. After the third day, my symptoms flared. I was down for four days. With my living room a disaster and my son sleeping on the family room couch. Lovely.

My husband spend his days off, while I was down, doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen and grocery shopping, since I hadn't been able to keep up on those while painting.

Finally, I was able to get it done and restore order to my house. However, then I needed a couple more days to recover.

With subsequent projects, I've been better about gauging how much time things will take, and then building in extra time for breaks. I make sure I'll have plenty of help, as well.

My husband and I just finished a painting and minor remodeling job for his grandmother. We hoped it'd take three days, but we blocked out five. I got through the first two days, then on day three he worked while I laid on the couch with lots of ice packs. Day four was cut a little short when a migraine started to threaten, then went back on the fifth day to take care of final details and do the clean up.

I've recovered fairly well, but of course the laundry is piling up and groceries are running out. You know what I'm doing about that? What I can, when I can. I know if I push myself too hard, I'll just make it all worse.

As always, it goes back to: Knowing How to Pace Yourself.

What kind of projects have you tackled? How did it go? What did you do right or wrong? Leave your comments here! (Please understand that comments may not appear right away.)

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo © Tim Platt/Getty Images


The above, with comments, originally appeared here.


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