Thursday, January 17, 2008

This Class Is Going to Kill Me!

Well, not really, of course.

But as I walked out with two classmates from the Living Well with Chronic Illness class, I asked if I was the only one who was barely getting through the 2.5-hour-long class and wondered aloud why they don't break it up into shorter segments and just hold the class over a longer time period, like 12 weeks instead of 6 weeks.

I think that would also be good for support for all of us, and give us a longer period to learn some of the new skills they're teaching us and put them into practice while still having someone to go back to and ask, "How could I have done this better?"

I mean, I seem to do pretty well with all of you chiming in when I ask that kind of question. (And I do appreciate the comments! Really! All except the one that was highly offensive and insulting, but I'm pretty sure that was just a random person who thankfully has never returned!)

But not everyone in the class has found an online support group, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who benefits from the structure of having a class I need to go to even when I feel crappy and just want to curl up in my recliner with an old quilt.

Anyway, I don't mean to sound ungrateful for the class. I think it's wonderful that it's offered and even more wonderful that it was offered free. But it's so exhausting to be there for so long, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who can't fully focus on the material after the first hour or so. And it not only kills my Thursdays, which is to be expected, but it pretty much kills my ability to get anything done on Fridays too. (And that was something else that the other women I talked to agreed about; the exhaustion from the class can leave us debilitated for one to three days afterwards. And that's just crazy.)

I guess at the end of the class -- and today was the halfway point -- they'll probably give us a chance to offer feedback and I'll mention it then. Meanwhile, I'll try to stick it out because I do think I'm learning some valuable things and I'm also enjoying meeting some new friends.


Sherril said...

Taking frequent breaks is one thing the NAMI classes are good about. Breaks and semi-healthy drinks and snacks.

There's a name for that
"exhaustion from the class can leave us debilitated for one to three days afterwards," it's a delayed flare-up.

This Dr. Podell in NJ talks about it in this article about being your own "expert medical witness":

"Medical Expert Witness Issue #3:

With fibromyalgia, when you physically push through your limits the expected flare-up of symptoms might not occur right away. Often the flare-up is delayed for hours or even a day. This pattern of fibromyalgia disability is very different from that of most other illnesses. Insurance industry representatives–and indeed many physicians-- don't yet understand this very basic fact.

Consider the Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE), the insurance industry's standard “test”. A physical or occupational therapist observes a claimant's ability to bend, crawl, push, and pull things during a single session of two hours or so. That's fine if the key problems are muscle weakness or stiff joints, where the symptom flare-up occurs quickly. But it misses the point for fibromyalgia, since the expected flare-up often does not occur. Current FCE protocols make no provision for follow-up; so these delayed reactions are missed.

Expert Medical Witness Issue #4:

Physically pushing through your limits for just one day might cause only a minor flare-up. But repeating the same effort for two, three, four or five days in a row–will usually cause a flare-up that's much more severe.

Current FCE protocols test for just one or two days. But real world work occurs five days every week. FCE testing therefore is not a realistic test of the fibromyalgia patient's ability to actually keep at work."

And it is SO HARD to explain this to anyone.

Hope I didn't run on too long here, but it seemed really pertinent to what you're experiencing. You can always edit me if need be...

joan said...

Why not call the instructor or go 10 minutes early (sorry - adding time to your day, I know) to ask this question now? As an instructor, I would want to know while I am conducting the course rather than after. If shared in a constructive way, it should be well received. If not, well, then maybe they are teaching the wrong class? Maybe use some of the information Sherril shares if you feel you need facts. But you shouldn't need to "prove" anything in a class like this.

I honestly think it would make a great discussion for everyone there.

Hang in there! Tell us a little about what you're learning?