In 1996, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) after suffering extreme fatigue, pain, and tenderness in my limbs for about 18 months.  FMS is chronic, widespread pain in the connective tissues that happens in certain areas of the body, mine more so in the legs.  In October 1997, I moved to a position in the Preservation Department “to get up on my feet more” instead of the computer desk job I previously had.  Recently I was also diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis (PF), which is pain in the feet.  So now I have a lot of pain in my lower extremities.  My preservation job has me sitting for extended periods of time either at my office desk or at my bench in the lab, but I try to keep flexible by getting up every so often to stretch my legs and relieve the stiffness.  Staying physically active at work and home has helped.

Over the years, I have found ways to continue with my job while in pain.  I do a lot of batch work in book repair so when I have several items waiting to dry, press, or soak, I may move into the office and input books, make title labels or check items out of the inventory so I can ice my feet on a frozen water bottle while sitting.  Then it’s back to the lab to work on more books, anywhere from 10 to 20 at the same time.  I don’t stand much at my bench and have a nice comfortable chair with arms on it to rest upon.  I don’t rest my feet on the rail below my chair, but instead have a box to set my feet flat upon.  A stool would work equally well.  I try to walk around the lab and library when working as much as possible and even go walking on campus during my breaks and lunch time.  This relieves some stiffness and I get some exercise and feel refreshed.  On good days, I will take the stairs over the elevator to limber up.

Some days my coordination isn’t good, and my fingers don’t work as well, so there are some book treatments I will not attempt to do until I have a better day.  This can include tip-ins, gluing down end sheets in full repairs and recases, and turning in the ends of rebacks.  I must feel confident that my fingers will work well enough to do the job, or the books can wait a day or two to be completed.  In January this year, I fell and broke my left hand, which brought on new challenges with my job repairing books.  I did a lot of prep work of the books, such as taking them apart and cleaning them, so when my hand healed I had books ready to complete.

I am currently with a new doctor and trying a new medicine for FMS as well as wearing night splints for PF.  So far, I am seeing positive results already and reduced pain.  Every person is different with FMS, so treatment is not the same from person to person. I am thankful my job allows for flexibility on my good and bad days with FMS and am appreciative of my supportive fellow co-workers who understand my painful days.