Fibro Sunday

One of the things that I think is a challenge for those of us that deal with fibro pain, is trying to figure out when that pain is from the fibro, or something a little more serious.

For a year I complained to my Rheumatologist about my right shoulder pain. She kept blowing it off as fibro, even though over the months it was increasingly getting much worse. It took almost a year before she actually believed me and then in a matter of months I had rotator cuff surgery.

Another concern I have had is that I continue to get arthritis in many more places on my body, so I questioned something more severe, perhaps rheumatoid arthritis. And she shrugs it off.

So, sometimes we have to take matters into our own hands because we do know our bodies better than anybody. Rheumatologists are a rarity around my area so I will be driving to a nearby town. He may tell me the same things too but I feel that I need a second opinion.

I strongly encouraged anyone with a health concern that is not completely confident in your current doctor to seek out a second opinion, and a third if need be.

Another thing that makes me seek out a second opinion is that everytime I read an article about a theory on fibro, she “pooh-pooh’s” it, tells me the theory is old or that there is no truth to it.

I have read several articles over the last 6 months about a possible link to a virus. I would love to talk with her about it, but I already know what she will say.

I hope you are all well and enjoying the spring!

Live well!

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Fibro Sunday

Yesterday I spent part of the day with one of my dearest and most cherished friends. She is recovering from knee surgery, so we had a lot in common sharing our stories of pain medication, therapy, and overall physical pain.

And it made me realize that to those that do not have daily pain, chronic pain, you cannot understand how our lives have changed because of it. Or what we have to deal with.

For example, shopping. I love shopping! Especially in the spring when I get to plan and shop for my flowers, planters and garden. But it’s exhausting and painful. Getting in and out of the car can be tiresome but it can also hurt. All the walking hurts me, but I push on as much as I can. I usually have to ask for help with large bags of potting soil, fertilizer, etc. There have been days where I had to break the shopping up in two parts, coming home for a break and going back either later in the day or the next day.  Don’t even get me started on shopping for clothes, OMG!  What female doesn’t like shopping for clothes but I tell ya, getting undressed and dressed again can be a little hurtful.

Cleaning can be a challenge as well. When I hear someone say that they can get their house cleaned in a short amount of time, I kinda want to smack them! But I am also envious. I do a little cleaning and then have to sit for a short period of time. Possibly use the heating pad. But I can tell you this, having a spotless house isn’t as important as it used to be!!

Yard work, I always loved being in my yard and gardens but I have to pace myself and be careful how I move and how much work I allow myself to do at one time.  Pain meds are always involved.

Waking to an alarm and going to work, I know we all struggle with that! But seriously, when you hurt as bad as we do, getting up and moving first thing in the morning is not that easy. I have to work to support myself, so I do my best to work through the pain, or the stiffness, or the exhaustion as best I can just so I am out the door in time. And when I sit in my chair at my desk… WOW the pain sets in my back or hips like crazy. And I have to wonder, is it really worth it?

Taking a shower. Yes you read that correctly. Sometimes the water hitting our skin hurts. It can also be exhausting trying to get a shower done in a reasonable amount of time, all that moving. There have been times where I am using a back brush, it is like rubbing nails across my skin. There have been times when just shampooing my hair not only hurt but used all my energy. Most of the time the water cascading over me is very refreshing and comforting but there are times when it is not.

Weather. I know there are a lot of folks that can feel the weather changes coming with their arthritis pain. This is a little bit more! In fact, I can tell you that some days, I have sat at my desk with my head in my hands crying from the pain, willing it away, waiting for the pain med to kick in and just trying to breathe and not stress too much but the crying is a dead giveaway that I AM stressing!! I sometimes calm myself with a cup of chai while the med does its job. 🙂

Exercise. I once went to the gym, and often; at least 3-5 times a week. I am lucky if I can get myself to our fitness center and swim just once a week, I do try, and I do feel good while in the water. But trying to convince myself while I am IN pain, that I should be in the pool, well lets just say the conversation in my head is not pretty!! I try to walk too, but the pain in my feet is terrible, I have orthotics which does help but if you have never had pain in your feet you cannot understand walking like that! I am lucky to get a 30 minute casual walk in, my good walks of doing a hearty fast paced sweaty walk is over! I feel like I am giving myself heart disease by not moving, which is what both my parents passed from. I feel doomed.

Our weight, ugh. Because of everything I just told you, we then put on weight because we can’t move much and it is very depressing. And just makes us feel even more horrible about ourselves.

So when someone says they are hurting but they look fine, believe me, we do hurt and the struggle is real for us. Don’t judge us, just try to understand.

The sun is shining and it is just a tad warmer today so I am going for a walk. Then I need to run an errand and head for food for the week. You all have a great day!

Fibro Sunday

So, it’s been a rough 2 weeks for me. The weather usually has a hand in my pain so with some of the rain that was been passing through, and now the big winter storm coming our way… I’ve been hurting.

I didn’t even want to go swimming the last 2 weeks! And being in the warm water pool always makes me feel better….

I cannot do anything to change the weather but I can do my best to not let the pain win! I have shed a few tears too.

The struggle is real!

Anyway, my Christmas Cactus is blooming!!! Go figure! It’s gorgeous!!

          

Fibro Sunday, What Works For Me!

Hi there! Welcome back to my Sunday Fibro post! Today I am going to write about how I try to deal with the pain and what I try to do to survive the rough days.

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  1. One of the things that I have learned is not to fight a flare or the everyday pain. Sometimes I forget that important piece of advice and when I do, I seem to get knocked down!! So I just acknowledge that I have pain, trying to fight it takes too much energy. Trying to ignore it and hope it just goes away, is ridiculous. I try to stay relaxed and breathe, and basically just give myself a break.
  2. Try it, just take a few deep cleansing and relaxing breaths, and acknowledge the pain. If you can stay home and recover, do it. If you have a family to care for or must go to work, give yourself the time and patience to get through your day until you can rest. Slow down, and be gentle with your body.
  3. Another thing to remember is that stress can aggravate your pain. It is next to impossible to avoid stress in our busy lives but if you can learn to walk away from drama, or learn how to deal with difficult situations in your life by asking for help it can really help alleviate the stress.
  4. You know that saying “Not my monkeys, not my circus”? Keep that in mind! But if they are your monkeys, ask for help. Acknowledge that at this very moment you are having difficulty with the pain and need a little help.
  5. That being said, my next topic is to change my attitude. If I am not able to get the house cleaned or the laundry done like I had planned, I just try to realize that my body needs some rest and needs to recover before I try to do anything.
  6. Be prepared for bad days, take it easy and take care of YOU!
  7. Praying helps. If you pray and believe in a higher power, then pray. Be thankful for the good days you have, be thankful for the good days yet to come, and be thankful for your support system. If you don’t believe in prayer, then journal about your fibro journey. It will help you vent and you can also look back on the good days you’ve had and give thanks.
  8. Drink plenty of water, eat well, take a hot bath with Epsom salts, use a heating pad – just a few things to remember on days with pain. Cuddle up with a book and a pet, watch movies. Just breathe and relax and know that tomorrow is another day. I always remind myself there are others that have a much worse health condition. I might have pain that makes me curl up and cry but it could be soooo much worse!
  9. Exercise. It is so darn hard some days, heck even most days! I once went to the gym several times a week. I used the treadmill, weight machines, and some of the lighter free weights. But it became very difficult. Then I stopped. Even walking a few blocks was exhausting. But I am back to my yoga, meditation, trying to swim at least twice a week, and walking as often as I can. I don’t always want to but if all I can do is a few blocks on my walk, or a few yoga stretches and poses, I figure it’s better than doing nothing. Just be gentle with yourself and don’t push yourself beyond what you are capable of handling for the moment.

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These are just a few things that work for me. Hopefully, they will work for you. Feel free to post what works for you!

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Fibro Sunday

I have decided to… well, rather TRY something different here on my blog. I want to devote Sunday to writing about Fibromyalgia.

Sometimes, especially when I am in a flare, I need to vent. And I feel as though I may possibly be pushing my luck by complaining to family and friends.

And I figure there might be a few of you out there that are feeling the same way.

So here goes!

I was diagnosed with fibro about 5 years ago. I used to go to the gym about 4 times a week but suddenly I was finding it difficult to do any of the weight machines. And I couldn’t do the time, speed or incline on the treadmill. And I was exhausted.

I decided to give myself a break, thinking that some depression over my parent’s death was creeping into my life since I never really had the chance to grieve. Instead I had to deal with the estate.

But then the pain started. And I blamed menopause.

The pain got worse and I was convinced I had cancer. So I went to my doctor. And as I sat there and told him everything, he walked over to me, put his hand on my shoulder and just simply told me that he was sure it was fibromyalgia. He sent me to a Rheumatologist. She did a lot of tests and confirmed the diagnosis.

I was in tears.   I was always healthy and active, how the hell did this happen!!!

Then I realized I was lucky. I didn’t have it as bad as some people and I didn’t have cancer. So I moved on.

I went to physical therapy which helped get some movement back. And even though I already made sure I was eating healthy and not eating processed foods, I cracked down a little harder to make sure I was doing all that I could.

And I read. A lot! I have read so many articles on fibro, and I have tried different vitamins, different diets, and massage. Nothing has made a difference. A few times I felt that maybe something was working and I was feeling better and then BAM! I am in a flare!

That just happened too! I started taking a magnesium supplement and after several months, I noticed I was almost pain free for about 2 months. Then the pain was back and with a vengeance!!

I have also found that I have the most pain at work. In fact, sometimes I sit at my desk in so much pain that I begin to cry waiting for the pain pill to kick in. So far, I have been lucky enough that no one has walked in my office during that time!!! I also use a heating pad at my desk. It really helps, anywhere I have pain I just put the pad. The back of chair for my back, wrapped around my hip for hip pain, under my thigh for leg pain. Hey it works!!!

I have pain at home too, but its just not usually as bad.  Usually.  When I am home and have pain I can rest and recover.  At work I cannot.  Plus, I think sitting in a chair just aggravates the pain.

I do get up and stretch and move around but it is just not the same as being at home!

So, stay tuned for next Sunday and I will pick it back up with some things I have come to accept and how I deal with it all!

Live and love well!

 

 

Less Stress for the Holiday Season

I love the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Thanksgiving might be my favorite but only because we gather to share our love, our memories, and eat a delicious meal together. So for me, there is definitely less stress, and less to prepare for. The only expectation is the meal which I love cooking!

It is also the beginning of the Christmas season. The weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday, for me, are so very beautiful with all the decorations and lights. I love listening to the Christmas music; many songs awaken lovely memories from my childhood. I also love giving gifts, whether they are made by my own hands with love, or a carefully chosen store bought gift.

But then there are all those folks that I hear complaining about how commercialized Christmas has become. Or they are complaining about all the parties to go to and the food they must prepare to take to these parties. There are also complaints about buying gifts for people that they probably don’t want and they can’t afford to buy. And it breaks my heart to hear them say they can’t wait for Christmas to be over.

Christmas is no different than any other situation in life, YOU GET OUT OF IT EXACTLY WHAT YOU PUT IN IT! So if you go into it with disgust, dislike, and grumpiness…. That is exactly what you are going to get out of it!!

I totally understand how the holidays can also be difficult to get through because we may have lost a loved one, or we might be alone and have no one to celebrate with. Been in both of those situations, I know it is not pleasant and can be heartbreaking and depressing.

So hopefully I have come up with some ideas that might be able to help you get through the upcoming holidays with a little less stress. Maybe this will help you have a little more love in your heart. And maybe you will actually learn to at least like the holidays.

  1. Eat & drink smart and healthy! This is so hard to do with all the baked goodies and homemade candies BUT try to resist making a meal out of unhealthy treats!  Go ahead and have that small slice of pumpkin pie or cake, have one cookie, indulge in that one piece of fudge.  But only allow yourself one treat so choose wisely!  Snack on healthy things like veggies and fruit, nuts, a piece of cheese or some peanut butter for protein.  Drink lots of water, add lemon for a little taste and detox.  Do allow yourself a holiday cocktail, or two, but alternate with water.  Waking up tomorrow with a headache or being hungover will just add to your stress level.
  2. Meal plan! As mentioned above you want to eat healthy but still allow some treats, so plan your day’s menu/diet so that you are continually eating healthy.  Especially before you go to parties!!  Make sure you are planning your family meals according to your schedule, use a crock pot or casserole recipes for busy days and nights.  Make some casseroles, lasagna, anything that you can throw in your freezer.  Later in the week you will be thankful that all you need to do is pull out a casserole to thaw in the fridge while you are at work, and then pop it in the oven when you get home.
  3. Parties! I have heard a lot of people complain and basically whine about all the parties they need to go to!  Really?  Please be thankful that you have friends and family that want to share the holiday with you, no one is promised a tomorrow.  You do not always need to say yes to every party, it is okay to say no so that you can stay home and take care of you and your family or just to rest.  If you really don’t want to go, then don’t.  We all need some alone time, but we also need our friends and families too.  Think of the memories and fun times you might have, think of some friends and families that you can reconnect with.  Visit for as long as you want, eat healthy and drink healthy, be thankful for the friendships and have some fun!!
  4. Can you bring a covered dish? Yes, you can!  You do not need to go overboard and try to be a gourmet chef!  If you like to cook and prepare something fancy, great!  If you don’t, then just take something simple like cheese and crackers, veggies, or check out the appetizers in the frozen section of your grocery store.  There are some pretty good selections to choose from!  I love to cook but there are times when I just do not have the time to prepare something, so this works out well and they are delicious.
  5. Shopping and gift giving. This IS enough to stress everyone out!  You really need to be smart here, don’t just buy a gift for the sake of buying a gift.  If that is your reason for gift giving, just stop!  First, make a list of people that you want to give a gift, then think about them and what they like, jot down some ideas before you shop.  Also, set a dollar amount that you are willing to spend on each gift and stick with your budget.  Keep receipts, jot down names on the receipt/tags just in case you need to return something, and keep them all in an envelope.  I usually suggest not giving clothes but if you are confident in that choice, then go for it!  Also, keep an eye out for sales, use coupons.  If you do not like wrapping your gifts, then bag’em!  That is the easiest and the least stressful way to go.  Keep in mind that a simple gift from the heart is all you really need to give.
  6. Teach your kids about giving and receiving.  This is a challenge for most parents.  We don’t want our kids growing up to be materialistic and greedy; and we want to teach them about giving too.  Set boundaries for what they are asking for, have them organize and clean out what they already have, show them how fortunate they already are for what they have now.  Give your family members limits on what they can spend on your kids. If you have older kids and your budget allows, have your kids donate gifts to the needy, a shelter, or sponsor a family for Christmas. Have them volunteer at a food bank or as a family take a few bags to the food bank. Living in today’s world that is so materialist, I think this is something we all need to do.  Also, teach you kids the value of saying thank you as well as how to gracefully be thankful for a gift that they just unwrapped but don’t like!
  7. Stress-less kids? This is a time that kids are super excited!  Remember when you were a kid at Christmas?  They have a lot of stimuli from all the toy ads on TV, so it might be a good idea to limit their time in front of the TV.  Sit down and chat with them about their wants, desires, expectations and then chat about giving to the less fortunate.  Talk to them about your childhood memories and realize that you are creating and shaping theirs.  Involve them in decisions about new traditions.  Make sure they are eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, limit their treats and make sure they are getting enough rest and sleep.  This can also be a busy time in school with reports and projects needing to be completed before their holiday break so make sure they are getting enough time to complete their school work.  Get them outside for exercise and fresh air!  This is also a time for the little germ carriers to be sick, not fun for the holiday.
  8. Traditions! I love family traditions!  And I love creating new traditions!  Think back to when you were a child and the things that you used to do as a family, create those wonderful warm memories with your kids!! Slow down and enjoy the holiday season, celebrate it lovingly, and involve the kids!  Look online or on Pinterest for some new ideas.  Have fun!
  9. Physical and emotional health.  Make sure you are getting your exercise too!  Get those kids outside and play, walk, hike, whatever you can find to do.  Don’t forget about your gym membership, even if you only have 30 minutes to use the treadmill or lift a few weights, or if you’re lucky enough to have a pool to swim a few laps.  Every little bit helps.  Don’t forget about your mental and emotional health.  For as much enjoyment and beauty as some find in the holiday, there is also disappointment, sadness and loneliness.  Meditate, pray, go to church, talk to friends, talk to a professional if you need to.  There is no shame in that!  Try yoga, sit and read or just sit and look at the tree and drink in the beauty and silence of the room.
  10. Keep your life and the holiday in focus.  Easier said than done, I get it.  But try.  It’s so easy to compare your holiday life to others and be sad that you don’t have what someone else has.  Life isn’t fair, but this is your life and you only have one shot at it so stay focused.  You don’t have to have a lot of friends or a big bank account to enjoy the very beautiful and simple holiday.  Celebrate with the love of the family and friends that you are still blessed to have.  Don’t get caught up in the commercialism, that’s not what the holidays are about.  Remember, what you put into this holiday gig is what you are going to get out of it.

Live and love well my friends!

Caring For Yourself After Surgery

I just had surgery for a rotator cuff tear, all three layers were torn. The doc also scraped bone spurs from the shoulder joint. On my dominant right arm nonetheless!

I knew I would be in a sling for 6 weeks, I knew therapy was going to be rough, I knew I’d have pain and I knew I’d have to depend on my left arm that also has a small rotator tear as well as a bicep injury.

But, was I really “prepared” for my recovery??? I thought I was…

I piled books I wanted to read, photo’s and albums to clean up and organize, cookbooks and magazines to sort through and find new inspiration…. At 4 weeks into my recovery and I had little to no motivation!

What I HAVE tried is painting canvases with my left hand! It’s almost a challenge to see just how much I can depress myself with how awful they turn out!! Sort of makes me laugh too.  And playing with paint always brings me joy!!

But what I wasn’t expecting was the amount of time I would spend spiritually in prayer and meditation. The peace I find I have now is slowly bringing me to a new place in my life post recovery. It’s also helping me get through long days.

I’ve been very blessed with family and friends that are such a great help by bringing me meals, visiting, and taking me for groceries, to doctor appointments and therapy.  My daughter is such a huge blessing!

But even with all this, I still found myself on many days, lonely, depressed, and BORED!!!

So, I thought I would use some of my boredom trying to type with a non-dominant hand and maybe find some pointers for those of you that may be facing some downtime while you recover from some sort of health issue.

  1. Prepare your home. Whatever that may be for your recovery. For me, I was instructed to sleep in a recliner for my recovery but I don’t own a recliner so I slept on my sofa for many uncomfortable weeks. I brought a few bed pillows, a warm throw blanket, and I placed a large tray beside me. I used the tray to hold my cell, water bottle, remotes, tissues, lip balm, hand lotion, my library card (see #3) and a few books. My laptop was placed on the dining room table along with my checkbook and all of my bills/finances.
  2. Prepare food. My friends from work provided almost all of my meals the first few weeks which was such a huge help and greatly appreciated! But I also made a few things for the freezer, I purchased some frozen food items and I stocked my pantry. Unfortunately I had a lot of nausea after the surgery so it took some time for me to actually want to eat anything!!
  3. Books, magazines, etc. I knew my recovery would be long and painful and that I would physically not be able to do much so I placed about 15 books on my table. If you like to read I would suggest giving yourself a wide variety to choose from, when the boredom sets in you will appreciate the many choices. I kept my library card handy too because I like to “borrow” ebooks, an awesome way to spend time is browsing book online from my library!!
  4. Prayer, meditate, spiritual time. I have 2 daily devotionals that I have been reading. Also, my prayer book that I made. It includes favorite prayers, verses, and people that have either requested prayers or that I am praying for. And I have a bible app on my phone compliments of my pre-teen grandson!! My prayer time has increased tremendously since surgery!
  5. Any plans to be made?? I planned my gardens, flower and veggie. I ordered some plants online, and made a list of what I wanted to purchase when it’s time to plant. Sadly I will have to hire someone to actually dig up the gardens and do the planting as my shoulder most likely won’t be ready for that just yet!
  6. Prepare for bad days. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have them. I have days where I swear I am going to die from boredom, I have days that I swear I am going explode just from the discomfort of this awful sling that I am confined to wearing. Those moments are when you will need your prayer time the most. Try to breathe, try to relax, and remind yourself this is only temporary. I also needed to tell myself there are many others with a much worse and permanent situation. Even though I was told it would be a year before I would be back to my normal self, I knew things would get better. Put your situation in perspective.
  7. Don’t spend all of your time in front of the TV. The boob-tube will only add to your depression, you will find yourself lethargic and lifeless! This was difficult too since I cannot do much else, but I often turned off the TV. Find other ways to occupy your mind…prayer, meditate, read, games, catch up on phone calls, crossword puzzles.
  8. Exercise? Check with your doctor first!!! My left shoulder is also injured but I am allowed to do some bicep curls with a light weight. Get some bands to do leg exercises. Get out and walk! Just PLEASE use caution and do not do anything to further injure yourself and check with your doc before you do anything!
  9. Accept the help you are offered. This was VERY difficult for me to accept because I am always doing things to help others. A friend of mine very bluntly told me that it is now MY time to let others care for me. The day I came home from the hospital was all it took for me to realize I had no other way to live with my dominant arm in a sling unless I had help! I cannot take my shirt off (much less my bra) without help!!!!
  10. And finslly….Just RELAX! Take this time to heal, let others love and care for you. And most of all love and care for YOURSELF!!

Ok I gotta go, my son is bringing me tacos for dinner!!