Fibromyalgia is different for everyone. This is one of the things that makes treating it so difficult. As a newbie to this world of chronic pain, it is up to me to figure out what works best. In order to find what works best, I need to know what triggers the pain. I already know that stress is a pain trigger, but as I've now had two more flare ups since my diagnosis I know there are other triggers. With the Fibro Fog clouding my mental capacity, I decided it was time to start writing things down.
I searched for online tracking journals, but the free ones didn't seem to suit what I was trying to track, or had a monthly subscription. I'm already spending a small fortune on medical stuff, so I didn't want to subscribe to anything if I didn't have to. It was time for me to create my own tracking system.
To begin with, I decided to focus on tracking my food intake, sleep, activity, stress and pain. In order to make it easier to find triggers, I will be logging the one day's food, sleep, activity & stress on the first page of the journal. The next day, I will record pain & symptoms on the page I started the day before, and on a new page I will again record food, sleep, activity & stress, repeating until I have recorded information for an entire month. Before my next visit with my doctor, I will pull out the high pain/symptom days and look for commonalities in the food, sleep, activity & stress categories. For example, if I notice that I have increased symptoms every time I get less than 7 hours of sleep, I can then focus on making sleep a priority. Perhaps I'll discover that eating chocolate triggers a pain flare, so I would experiment with eliminating chocolate from my diet. (N.B.: I will be DEVASTATED if I have to give up chocolate!)
I will be recording stress in the comments column, along with any noteworthy events or changes to routine. The pages will go into a three ring binder (when I can find the energy to pick up another binder). Maybe I will get some fun pens to make the record keeping fun. In case you would like your own copy (minus the bonus doodles), you can get one here. Eventually, I may get fancy and add pretty pictures to the pages. Hey, just because I have fibromyalgia, it doesn't mean I can't have fun with a journal :-P