I think the Brompton is improving my fibromyalgia stamina already


Greg and Miles hung out at home this Saturday, while Jason and Beth and I rode the bus to Pioneer Square to check out some galleries. Our favorite place was Glasshouse-Studio, where I took all the photos in this post. Spending the whole afternoon looking at art (and the toy store, and Uwajimaya…) was wonderful, but the really amazing part of the day was when I realized how long we’d been walking around.

I asked the time, and Jason said it was almost three o’clock. I asked when we’d left. He replied that we’d left at eleven. I stopped on the sidewalk, lifted up my hand, and counted out my fingers…one, two, three, four hours we’ve been walking around. Four hours. I stared at my fingers. Had I done the math right? Should I really be asking if math I can do with one hand is correct? But, how is this possible? This can’t be right. I counted again. Yep. Still four.

Fibromyalgia is different for everyone, so keep that in mind when I write about my experience. Fibro is a condition with a kaleidoscope of symptoms, and the particular set of challenges that it creates can appear very different in different bodies.

Going by the history of my body: I should not have been able to walk at the four hour mark. I was in a lot of pain, that was true. My hips were so stiff I was walking with my “fibro limp”, and my lower back felt like a cement block of pain. But I was doing this! I was still going! The only thing I could think of was that the bicycling is really helping. 

Twenty minutes later, I took my walking stick out of my backpack. I use a carbon fiber trekking pole, it’s very light and folds up easily to fit in a bag. I look a little dorky (I look even dorkier when I’m using both of them) I’m sure, but the difference in my comfort while walking is worth it. Hell, I’d accept a piggy-back if someone could carry me. When you’re in that much pain, you don’t really care how you look.

Just when I thought I’d reached the limit of my glorious, stamina-filled day, we hopped on the bus to go home. We ambled to the back, flopped into seats, and all three of us wearily leaned over, closed our eyes, and dozed. Usually the bus lurches enough that I have to stay alert to catch myself, but today I’d kept the walking pole unfolded. I pressed the tip into a ridge in the floor to keep it from skidding, put my hand on the top, then rested my head in my hand. I dozed in this position the whole way home, and when our stop arrived, I walked off the bus feeling, what was that? What do you call it? What do normal people feel after a rest? REFRESHED.

While fibro looks different on everyone, there are a few things we all share, and one of these is the lack of refreshing sleep. People with fibro can sleep for ten hours, and we still wake up feeling like a train hit us. For me this extends even to naps, or periods of resting quietly. It will maintain the current level of pain, but it doesn’t usually make the pain go down. The only thing that usually feels refreshed after a nap is my mental stamina for dealing with the fatigue and pain – and yes, this is very much worth the rest. Not so, yesterday. I spent thirty minutes leaning on a walking pole, and then I got off the bus and walked home. Yeah, it’s five blocks, but that’s five blocks that I rarely walk. I usually call Greg to come pick me up.

To be willing, able, and desiring of a 5-block walk home, is so bizarre, I don’t know how to explain it. It must be the bike! That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it. More riding commences tomorrow. I have to be careful, after my last ride, my knees really hurt. This has never happened before, I’m sure it’s the fibro and my lack of fitness. I’m going to back off on the mileage for a couple weeks (Haha! I just wanted to say that – I usually ride less than a mile) and take it a little slower. I’ll also check my fit to the bike, and look up some leg exercises, and do some better stretching before and after.

I haven’t felt this inspired to exercise in years! Since the pain started in 2007 or so, exercise just means more pain. I never feel better afterward, and I never feel like I’m getting stronger. Bicycling seems to be changing that trend. Fingers crossed. Knock on wood. Hug your Brompton.

More photos from our trip downtown, all from the Glasshouse-Studio:
ps_glasswall ps_glass_ribbons ps_fishlamp ps_blowing ps_beth ps_beth_watching

And I filtered a couple into black and white just because I thought they looked neat:

ps_glass_ribbons_BW ps_glasswallBW



  1. memomaya says:

    Those glass pictures are very cool. I wonder if the different body position on the bike is helping to tone and stretch muscles that usually tighten up on you when you’re out walking. Very cool whatever it is. I’ve had a cane since I was 25. It was very depressing at that age. Then I went through an antagonistic phase where I felt very stared at and judged. Now I don’t care. Having the stick means that I can stroll through art galleries. It keeps my body upright in the current position and as you’ve discovered, it can help me relax into resting. I no longer fold mine up and hide it. If it’s with me, it’s out. Play around with that. It may be that you can go five hours next time if you start off with brief respites due to the stick instead of waiting until you are feeling tightness. Love the look of your Brompton, by the way.

    • Hollie says:

      I was diagnosed in my late thirties, and the grief was intense. Having a cane at 25, that must have been very rough. You’re right, I should take my stick out more. I was thinking about it for a half hour before I took it out on Saturday – I shouldn’t wait that long. The minute I think, “Hey, the pole would help,” I ought to just bust it out. It doesn’t seem like a walking pole would make that big a difference, but wow, it really does. I’d like to decorate it, I need to figure out the best way (I’m not sure what paint or stickers would adhere well to carbon fiber; must investigate). Oh and thank you! 🙂

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