Oh how I hate that word. It never meant anything to me before coming down with fibromyalgia. Now I ram my head up against it on any ordinary Saturday.

At the beginning, I had more limits than I usually have now. True, I was working full time, but some days were difficult to get through. Getting started could be hard, and by the time the final bell rang, I was ready to go home. I couldn’t face another hour or two of work. Some days I didn’t even walk down the long hall to the office because my legs hurt so badly. I even joked about getting a scooter or a Segway to make it down that damn long hall. I’d want to cry just thinking of my drive home—fifteen more minutes before I could lay down. I’d get home and not want to do anything except lay on the couch until it was time to go to sleep, which was hard on my husband, hard on my home and my yard, and hard on any hobbies or goals that I had that weren’t work-related.

Now my symptoms are better controlled and I don’t have the limits I once had, but I’ve still got them. I’m not ever going to be able to ride 100 miles on my bike in a day. I’m not going to get a PhD while being a parent. I’ll never have 3 or 4 projects going on a time. Sometimes I don’t mind those limits—I’d never want to ride 100 miles at a time anyway. I don’t need a PhD. I’m okay with the career I have now. But some of the limits—I need to take a nap right now instead of writing more, I can only drink one glass of wine when I want two, I’d like to stay up later tonight but I have to go sleep in order to feel okay tomorrow, I can only go twelve miles an hour on my bike right now when I want to ride fifteen—get me down.

I’ve been trying to come up with a more positive spin on the reality that I have limits. It’s hard. I’m not a look-on-the-bright-side-everything-happens-for-a-reason kind of person. Some days I don’t want to give it a positive spin. But I could think of it this way: maybe the limit I’m running into on any given day is just the limit for that day. After all, I was able to ride 25 miles on a bike when I had thought my limit was 15. And on this past Friday I did nearly an hour’s worth of work in the backyard. I paced myself, of course—moving slowly, taking rests, just not doing certain things—in a way that someone without fibromyalgia wouldn’t have done, but I did it. And maybe I should focus on making the things I can do count for more. Maybe I should aim for more quality. I won’t always achieve it because there is only so much quality to be wrung from a mind mired in fibro fog, but I could at least try.

Fibromyalgia is such a variable condition that I can’t possibly hope to cope with it the same way every day, so I fully expect to curse many more of the limits I find myself facing, but I should try to handle my limitations in a more healthy way. I do have to live with them for the rest of my life, after all.

We’ll see how that goes.