It is no secret that lupus and mornings are somewhat incompatible. If we could simply skip them, most of us lupus patients would opt out. However, mornings just have a habit of returning on a daily basis! There is no way out of them but to sleep or muddle through them. However, most working people do not have the most leisurely of these options.
So, what can a lupus patient do when morning arrives suddenly as a rude awakening? What are effective ways to turn around the foggy brain, stiff muscles, pain and deep headache that often follow an especially deep night’s sleep?
First, consider moving very slowly and speaking quietly. I try to help those around me know how to walk gently with me through my morning. Usually I seek out a quiet hug from my husband, quietly telling him it hurts to think, while imploring “my brain hurts, so please just give me a big hug for a minute.” It helps him to know there is something very simple he can do to help me face my morning. He is more empowered by that than if I complain without giving him guidance about what kind of support I need or expect him. My simple request frees him from feeling like he has to figure out how to solve my health problem, and puts boundaries around my expectations for help. He is usually able to stop his morning activity and fast-paced motion for a while and help with a hug.
Next, coffee, food, gentle stretching, deep breathing, medications and quiet reflection. I try to get my metabolism slowly coaxed into motion so it can begin to counteract the negative effects of actions lupus has taken against my body in the night. Accelerated cell death causes residual cellular debris deposits throughout my body, which are toxic and act to interrupt normal body chemistry and function. This is a factor in the brain fog and joint stiffness common in lupus. Gradual gentle coaxing into a more active mode helps stimulate circulation and struggling adrenaline, and also helps my body begin to deal with the extra physiological challenges lupus places on my metabolism each day.
Then, a light healthy breakfast. I spend a few moments before I eat to thank God for my blessings, and most days, even for my lupus and it’s limitations. I seek perspective and His help, ponder a passage from the Bible, and ask to borrow His strength for the day ahead. In these quiet moments I am reminded that the day ahead should be balanced between my own needs and the needs of those around me. I eat and reflect quietly while I wait for my mind and body to take a few steps forward out of sleep’s lingering pain, fog and stiffness.
Next, I feed the dog, finish drinking another cup of coffee on the porch for a few minutes, exercise and play the piano for a few minutes. The more I move and engage, the better I feel. Slowly, but surely the day opens up before me as pain, stiffness and mental cobwebs clear away and I am more prepared to engage the responsibilities of the day.
Of course, there are days when my efforts are in vain, and I am unable to perform my normal responsibilities. Thankfully, those days remain in the minority. Usually, I am grateful to claim some measure of personal victory by mid morning, and then venture out to try to make a difference in my little corner of the world.