The (very-close-to) Perfect Mattress

I tweeted a promotion for a coupon code yesterday. I wanted to link it to an article, that I was sure that I had written, about my mattress. It appears that I didn’t write one; although, I really should have written one because I love my mattress.

I have a Koala Mattress. The website states:

we’ve combined world-first materials and advanced sleep technology to create the perfect mattress specifically for Aussie conditions. Our weather is different to anywhere else in the world, so your mattress should be too,

120-nightwhich pretty much sounds like EVERY other mattress promotion. However, Koala is so confident you’ll love your Koala Mattress that if you’re not getting the best sleep of your life in the first 120 nights they’ll pick it up for free and give you every cent of your money back.  Now this sounded pretty good.

deliverySo, back in February, I bought a new mattress. Firstly, there is free express delivery Australia wide and a free 4-hour delivery service in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide. You can have a new bed tomorrow night! The next surprise is that the mattress arrives rolled up in a long rectangular box (taller than me and a great box to turn into a rocket ship!). As soon as you open it, the mattress is ready to sleep on. (Depending on how bad a day you’re having, you might be ready to lie down then and there.)

Personally, I dressed my bed in some of my favourite linen and waited until bedtime.

I crawled into bed (I only just realised that most people don’t actually crawl into bed; but I have a whole bed to myself so I get to crawl into the middle) and that’s when it happened – my new mattress hugged me! Really! It felt like a cloud was holding me, like that first bite into a pink-iced Krispy Kreme doughnut, like coming home.

I made everyone who visited me jump into the middle – I didn’t want to spoil the surprise – the bed hugged everyone (my AusPost lady, the handyman, my Mommy, my neighbour).

I’m not going to repeat the whole website here. I just wanted to share my experience with a Koala mattress. It isn’t the fibro or insomnia cure we’re all looking for; but, so far, this is the best mattress that I have experienced. Needless to say, I did not return my mattress after 120 days. I still love my mattress…and every night, I get a hug.

adopt…oh, I forgot…Koala adopts one sick and injured koala with every mattress purchase.

Do you need a new mattress? Maybe now’s the time to try one out!

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Have I Got a Deal for YOU!

Yesterday, I spent time in an infra-red sauna then a flotation pod. I’m going again on Friday…so I have decided to tell you about it AFTER my second session.

Until then, I spoke to Symee at The Orchard Prahran and he is offering ALL my readers a deal:

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Click HERE

 

It’s Getting Hot in Here!

3a905ae900000578-3953366-remedy_lady_gaga_shared_with_fans_some_of_the_ways_she_deals_wit-m-108_1479598663224So, tomorrow, as well as a flotation session, I’ll be exploring the growing body of evidence confirming the amazing benefits of infrared sauna therapy (and not just Lady Gaga’s recent testimonial). The heat from infrared saunas is powerful and deep, yet surprisingly gentle and easy to tolerate at the same time. Studies show that, in addition to deeply heating your tissues and inducing an intense sweat to help detoxify, infrared sauna therapy causes other health-promoting changes in the body that have lead to a significant decrease in pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Japanese researchers studied the effects of infrared sauna sessions in 13 female fibromyalgia patients. Patients received infrared sauna therapy in cabins heated to 60°c (140°F) once per day for 15 minutes, two or five days a week. After the sauna sessions, the patients went into a warm room and were covered with a blanket from the neck down to keep them warm for 30 minutes.

All patients’ pain was significantly reduced by about half after the first session and the effect became lasting after about ten treatments. At that time, pain was decreased by 20% to 78%!

In another study in 44 female fibromyalgia patients, three months of sauna therapy three times a week, along with underwater exercise twice a week, decreased pain and other symptoms by 33% to 77%. And the improvements lasted: pain was still 28% to 68% improved six months after the end of the study.

Exercise performance also significantly improved for those in the sauna group. In a six-minute walking test, they were able to walk almost twice as far without pain after the six weeks of infrared sauna use, while those in the control group experienced no change in walking distance.

With all this research suggesting significant pain reduction, it is no wonder infrared saunas are being installed in doctor’s offices, spas, wellness centres, and private homes around the world at an increasing rate. If you’re interested in all-natural, non-drug pain treatment, it may well be worth checking on the availability of an infrared sauna near you (a Google search would do it).

At this point, it’s not clear what the optimal infrared sauna temperature, duration, and frequency is to lessen pain. The Japanese recommend shorter, more frequent sauna sessions. Daily or almost-daily 15-minutes sessions are always followed by a 30-minute warming period during which time you lie wrapped in a blanket.

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Float Like a Butterfly

As I told you in my last post, I am going to a 90-minute flotation session on Tuesday. (For those in Melbourne, you can get a 90-Minute Relaxation Package with Flotation Session and Infrared Therapy for $55 from LivingSocial.com!!!!)

podFlotation REST is a form of Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) that uses a shallow pool of heavy water. The water is made heavy by super-saturating it with Epsom Salt (MgSO4) to the point that a person floats on his or her back effortlessly on the surface of the water like a cork. The water is heated to skin temperature and the pool is enclosed in a lightproof, soundproof environment.

This device, invented by Dr John C Lilly, effectively removes external stimulation and creates a neutral environment that gives the feeling that one is floating comfortably in space. In using this type of therapy, you are given a private room with a shower where you can undress, shower; and step into the pool enclosure. After sitting in the water and lying back to float on the surface, you can then turn out the lights.

The reduced stimulation encountered in the flotation pool refocuses the individual’s attention to internal stimuli. At first this includes the novel sensations of floating effortlessly in darkness and quiet. The sensations of the body become much more salient making flotation REST a walk-in biofeedback device. This natural biofeedback initiates a self-regulation process leading toward relaxation.

This relaxation is augmented by the trans-cutaneous absorption of magnesium that elicits the release of muscle tension. As physical sensations become less salient mental activity can come to the fore. For those not used to being alone with their thoughts this can be difficult. However, even unpleasant thoughts become more palatable as the body enters a more deeply relaxed state. Eventually even the parade of thought subsides and the mind arrives at a meditative state.

A few years ago, anecdotes began to circulate from people with fibromyalgia, that float tanks provided remarkable relief for them. This caught the attention of float researcher Rod Borrie and his collaborators, who noted the remarkable alignment between the effects and benefits of flotation, and the symptoms of fibromyalgia: floating

In 2011 Borrie, Tamara Russell, and colleagues started the Fibromyalgia Flotation Project, with no money, all volunteers, to try to test this treatment on as scientific a basis as possible.  Is there an immediate effect from the float sessions, and if so, does it last?

They sought volunteer subjects with fibromyalgia, and float centres willing to contribute free time in their tanks.  Each volunteer took three hour-long float sessions over three weeks, and answered a questionnaire before and after each session about ten variables:

  • Pain
  • Stress Well-being
  • Bothered by pain
  • Energy
  • Relaxation
  • Muscular tension
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Freedom of movement

When they discussed intermediate results at the 2012 Float Conference, they had had 81 participants across five countries (US, UK, SWE, GER, NL).

The results were astonishingly positive:  “Without exception, the immediate intervention effects (average pre-post change) are highly significant for all variables in the expected direction (e.g., pain ratings decrease on average by 2.3 points on an 11 point scale from pre- to post-intervention).”  There was no control group in the first phase.

(Want to see some figures and pretty pictures?)

These results are exciting, but caution is due as this was not a randomized, controlled study.  One particular item to be cautious about is drop-outs — if the people who didn’t see benefits were to drop out, that alone could cause an impression of improvement of symptoms in the later sessions.

pod-2The Fibromyalgia Flotation Project is continuing into a second phase to follow up on these very promising results, still with no funding.  They’re trying to push both for greater numbers of participants, to better persuade the medical establishment, and also for a longer test period (ten weeks instead of three) to see how sustainable the results are.  It’s all being organized via the internet; sign-up and more information is at Fibromyalgia Flotation Project.

And, hopefully, after Tuesday, I will have my own successful(?) story to tell.

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Fibro – GAGA

Lady Gaga is well known for her unconventional…um…ways.

She is less known as a chronic pain sufferer.

Lady Gaga recently opened up about her chronic pain. (It’s been said that she suffers from Fibromyalgia but I have not found any confirming sources) She shared some of her methods for easing her pain in a series of posts on Instagram: some unusual and some just like ours.

Lada Gaga recently shared on Instagram details about her “frustrating” battle with chronic pain, along with two photos of herself getting treatment.

 

After an outpouring of support from her Instagram followers, Lady Gaga posted another photo of herself on Friday, showing the singer sitting in an infrared sauna wrapped in an emergency blanket. It’s a remedy she uses to relieve pain and inflammation.

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“I was so overwhelmed by the empathy, confessions & personal stories of chronic pain in response to my previous post I thought what the hell. Maybe I should just share some of my personal remedies I’ve acquired over the past five years. Everyone’s body and condition is different U should consult w ure Dr. but what the heck here we go!” she wrote.

“When my body goes into a spasm one thing I find really helps is infrared sauna. I’ve invested in one. They come in a large box form as well as a low coffin-like form and even some like electric blankets! You can also look around your community for a infrared sauna parlor or homeopathic center that has one.

“I combine this treatment with marley silver emergency blankets (seen in the photo) that trap in the heat and are very cheap, reusable and effective for detox as well as weight loss!”

Lady Gaga likes to alternate between hot and cold therapy.

“In order to not overheat my system and cause more inflammation i follow this with either a VERY cold bath, ice bath (if u can stand it, it’s worth it) or the most environmentally savvy way is to keep many reusable cold packs in the freezer (or frozen peas’ n carrots’!) and pack them around the body in all areas of pain,” she wrote.

Lada Gaga reportedly suffers from synovitis, a painful inflammation of the joints, that apparently stems from a hip injury she suffered during a concert.

After years of hiding her chronic pain from fans and even her own staff, Lady Gaga had surgery in 2013. She is now one of the few celebrities to speak openly about her experience with chronic pain.

Luckily for me, I recently found an online deal from LivingSocial.com.au that entitles me to a 90-Minute Flotation Session followed by an Infrared Therapy Session. Hopefully, I’ll be be one of these people who can share their successful methods of dealing with this pain.

“Hope this helps some of you, it helps me to keep doing my passion, job and the things I love even on days when I feel like I can’t get out of bed. Love you and thank you for all your positive messages,” wrote Lady Gaga.

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If You Poison Us, Do We Not Die?

industries_health_research and development_ Tarantula venom could provide relief from Irritable Bowel Syndrome_bannerTARANTULA venom is being used to help develop pain relief medications for people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Researchers from The University of Adelaide in South Australia found that a specific peptide in the spider venom could be used to understand how people sense pain. Two toxins were found to specifically target Nav 1.1, a voltage-gated sodium channel in the nervous system to initiate the electrical impulses that signal pain.

Associate Professor Stuart Brierley said the study demonstrated that Nav 1.1 contributed to mechanical, but not thermal, pain signalling.

“Using the highly specific peptide in the spider toxin we were able to work out how pain nerve fibres signal in a healthy situation and also in chronic abdominal pain such as what you see in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS),” Assoc Prof Brierley said.

“We found that the spider toxin was able to cause a lot more pain in the IBS state than what it was in the healthy state. It’s important to note that because of the studies we should be able to develop treatments for IBS based pain – blockers for Nav 1.1 that only target the peripheral and don’t go to the central nervous system.”

106. cure #1

The causes of IBS are still unknown but it affects about 10 per cent of people globally (and lots of FMS patients). Chronic abdominal pain is the predominant symptom of IBS.

Assoc Prof Brierley said that until recently there had not been much research into the role of the Nav 1.1 channel subtype on the peripheral nervous system.

“Over a long period of time we were able to work out that one particular compound was in the venom that you could isolate, separate out and acted on this Nav 1.1 channel,” he said. “It gave us a highly specific and highly selective tool to look at its role in pain.”

Many nociceptors or pain sensing nerve fibres use Nav channels to initiate the electrical impulses that signal pain. Although the study focused on the peripheral nervous system, the findings also pose potential implications for central nervous system diseases such as epilepsy (and FMS)

The study was a collaboration between the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), the University of Queensland, The University of California, John Hopkins University and the Medical College of Wisconsin. It was published in Nature last week.

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Escaping from the Cold

There’s only 6 weeks until I escape to Bali for 4 weeks and, of course, I’m a little worried about the travelling.

One of the people, from a Facebook group that I belong to, just went to Jamaica for two weeks then spent 5 days in L.A. She, too, wasn’t sure how she would cope with Fibro and travelling.

Her travel advice-

♣ Ask your travel agent to request disability assistance. We had quite a few change-overs at different airports but, thanks to the request, there was staff waiting with a wheel chair or a golf trolley to take me around airport. I don’t usually need a wheelchair but waiting in line to check in, or waiting to go through customs or security can take a long time and having the wheelchair made a huge difference. It even meant getting through was quicker as the disabled are given priority. Also, getting from one side of the airport to another was made a lot easier. The staff knew the layout of airport better than me and in all honesty there’s no way I could have walked that far and still caught my flights on time. Some airports are massive!

♣ I’m not sure how to do it but I saw a lady on my flight who had problems with her legs and had reserved seats to put her leg up on. If you can, try to get seating that allows leg space. Fibro is painful enough so having space to move your legs, stretch, etc makes a difference.

♣ We flew Qantas to and from the States and then American Airlines. The differences in seating space was surprising. If I had of known in advance, I would have paid extra for ‘premium economic seats’ on American Airlines. Sitting for hours in bad positions, unable to move or stretch triggered my pain. It’s worth paying a bit extra, if you can, for comfort as discomfort can have a domino effect.

♣ Being tired from travelling, in pain and arriving in a foreign country in the middle of the night can be very disorienting under the best conditions. Try to make things as easy for yourself as you can. I pre-booked shuttles to hotels in advance which worked out ok at one location, but when we arrived in L.A. I felt so unwell I couldn’t think straight let alone try to find the shuttle stop. We ended up paying for a cab to hotel simply because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, in too much pain from the bad seats on the plane; and too tired. I have since learnt that I didn’t have to pre-book shuttles as you can pay on the spot and, sometimes, the cab works out cheaper!

♣ If using AirB’n’B to book accommodation let the place know you have mobility issues and make sure the dwelling is easy to access. I had to cancel our accommodation on arrival as it was physically impossible for me to access the stairs up to the residence and the cliff it was located on would have been too hard to walk up every day (photos of location and descriptions were misleading!).

Blue-LAgoon♣ Plan rest days into your schedule. It can be hard when you’re on holidays and wanting to see as much as you can but the best way to avoid a flare is to pace yourself. I made sure that after a really busy day we’d have a lazy day. Also, try to pick one or two ‘must do’ things. For me, it was swimming in the Blue Lagoon in Jamaica. It was physically hard to get to the location but I managed it and we spent about an hour swimming. I was happy as I’d accomplished the one thing I had my heart on. Because of the limitations of Fibromyalgia you may not be able to do all the tourist-y things or activities others do, but if you pick one or two ‘must dos’ for your trip, you’ll feel great when you do it and any other activities you manage is a bonus!!

So, with this advice in hand, I’m off to relax by a pool with a freshly squeezed juice.

Struggles Only #Exhaustipated People Understand

Just a little (“poke fun at ourselves”) fun from Nadia Sennet at SHE ‘SAID’

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Must. Stay. Awake.

I’m never more than a slow blink away from falling face-first into my laptop in a pile of drool and snores – I’m literally struggling to keep my eyes open writing this article.

If you also battle constantly feeling tired, the good news is, there’s usually a medical reason for it that can be resolved with appropriate treatment. For the unlucky ones of us though, the struggle is very real…

1. There is literally no place or position in which you couldn’t fall asleep.

2. Getting out of bed in the morning is HELL.

3. ALL forms of morning-time activity are slow torture.

4. ESPECIALLY extra-early morning meetings.

5. You’ve had to develop a repertoire of excuses for being late.

6. No speaking can take place until coffee has been consumed.

7. And one coffee is never, ever enough.

8. You have been known to fall asleep at your desk.

9. A comfy couch is your kryptonite.

10. You’ve turned down social events in favour of napping.

11. Weekend time = sleep time.

12. People who schedule brunch catch-ups earlier than 11am make you want to throat punch them.

13. Any form of exercise immediately signals your napping instincts.

14. You resort to snacking constantly to stay pepped up at work.

15. And if you don’t get your fix every few hours, severe hanger strikes (otherwise known as FEED ME OR I WILL CUT YOU).

16. Boozing always results in you crawling into the nearest bed or couch and dozing off.

17. You start to freak out if you’re not in bed by 10:30…

18. And as such, have been known to leave parties early because bed is calling.

19. People who interrupt your sleep inspire a special kind of rage.

20. You regularly zone out mid task and conversation because you’re too tired to think.

21. You’d literally choose sleep over sex without hesitation.

22. Your bed is your fave place in the world.

23. Let’s face it. If there was a way to make a career out of sleeping, you’d take it in a heartbeat.

Images via giphy.com and tumblr.com.

Do you relate to the struggle of always feeling tired?

 

Tank You, #Fibro

So I read this in News For America

Amazing news!

(for now…)

Fibromyalgia has, throughout history, been incredibly difficult to identify and diagnose because it appears, at first glance, to be something else since its symptoms, which include musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, mood swings, and memory loss, are fairly common.

To provide some perspective 1 in 70 people, mostly women, in the United States actually have fibromyalgia.

There is amazing news though, hyperbaric oxygen treatment has made some game changing progress in medicine for those who have this horrible condition. Researchers from Tel Aviv University found that women who tried hyperbaric oxygen treatments were able to reduce or entirely eliminate  their need for pain medication.

Researchers believe that the primary cause of fibromyalgia is a disruption of brain mechanisms that are responsible for processing pain;

“As a physician, the most important finding for me is that 70 percent of the patients could recover from their fibromyalgia symptoms. The most exciting finding for the world of research, however, is that we were able to map the malfunctioning brain regions responsible for the syndrome… The intake of [the pain medication they were taking] eased the pain but did not reverse the condition. But hyperbaric oxygen treatments did reverse the condition… Hyperbaric oxygen treatments are designed to address the actual cause of fibromyalgia – the brain pathology responsible for the syndrome. 

As you can see this is extraordinary news.

Doctor with Fibromyalgia Wishes People Understood

Reblogged from Weekly AmericaI'm A Doctor With Fibromyalgia. Here's What I Wish People Understood About It Hero Image

Fibromyalgia, a widely misunderstood illness, confuses and frustrates both patients and doctors alike. I know because I’ve seen it from both sides—as both a physician and a woman with the illness myself.

This common chronic disease is characterized by widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and brain fog. It’s estimated that 5 million Americans currently suffer from the disorder, and close to 90 percent of those diagnosed are women.

Still, there remains a lot of confusion about what the illness really is and how it’s treated. Here are five truths about fibromyalgia that are not widely known, even by most doctors:

1. Fibromyalgia is real and can be treated—but it requires a holistic approach.

Research on fibromyalgia has lagged far behind other diseases, bogged down by controversy and a century of arguments about whether it’s a “real” illness.

This changed in 2002, when a groundbreaking study showed abnormalities in how the brain processes pain in fibromyalgia. These brain-imaging studies gave the objective data to prove fibromyalgia was “real” and triggered a decade of intensive research resulting in three drugs approved by the FDA that dull pain signals.

Fibro fogBut those medications don’t treat the often more debilitating symptoms of fatigue and fuzzy thinking called “fibrofog.” To do that, doctors and patients have to be knowledgeable about different treatment options—especially holistic approaches such as making dietary changes to reduce inflammation or adding supplements to boost cellular energy production.

2. It’s no longer a complete mystery.

I often hear the myth repeated that “we don’t know what causes fibromyalgia.” Recent physician surveys reveal that most doctors still don’t know how to help their fibromyalgia patients—in spite of the existence of some very effective treatments. Fibromyalgia is often described in medical journals as “perplexing,” “mysterious,” and “confusing.”

The TV commercials that say fibromyalgia is a condition of hyperactive pain nerves don’t tell the whole story. In fact, pain-processing problems are only the tip of the iceberg. A much bigger factor is a stress (or danger) response that has gone haywire and is constantly on “red alert,” leading to a chain reaction that results in fatigue, brain fog, and muscle pain.

The only way to get lasting improvement in all of these symptoms is to systematically address the negative effects on the body of a chronic hyperactive stress response. A chronically activated stress response wreaks havoc by preventing deep sleep and keeping muscles tense, leading to pain and tenderness; impairing digestion and energy production; and throwing hormones out of balance. It also ultimately causes the pain-sensing nerves to increase the volume of their signals.

3. Fibromyalgia is primarily a sleep disorder.

Unfortunately, many doctors, even sleep specialists, are not aware of the sleep issues that come with fibromyalgia. But fibromyalgia is in many ways a sleep disorder, a state of chronic deep sleep deprivation. Studies have demonstrated over and over that patients experience inadequate deep sleep that is frequently interrupted by “wakeful” brain waves. This deep-sleep starvation contributes to the fatigue, muscle pain, and foggy thinking characteristic of the condition.

121. rise and shineTreating sleep is the key to treating fibromyalgia, and it’s where I see the most benefit in reducing pain, fatigue, and brain fog. Sleep must always be improved before any other treatment will work, so it’s vital to address this with your health care provider to treat hidden sleep problems like obstructive sleep apnea and then add medications and supplements to help restore normal deep sleep.

4. Most doctors don’t know much about fibromyalgia—and it’s not their fault.

315. internet connectionFibromyalgia is an orphan disease that is not claimed by any specialty and instead awkwardly straddles the fields of rheumatology, neurology, sleep, and pain medicine. The majority of care falls to overwhelmed primary care doctors who don’t have time to go searching for new treatment ideas among the sea of medical publications. The big medical journals neglect fibromyalgia. In fact, since 1987, only one fibromyalgia study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the most widely read medical publication in the world.

Since the busy primary care provider does not have time to actively search out new treatments for fibromyalgia, research has to be brought to their attention in some other way—namely by their patients. So in my new book, The FibroManual, I included a health care provider guide with research-supported medical guidance for patients to bring to their doctor’s attention.

5. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are effective treatments.

There is no cure for fibromyalgia—yet. But we don’t have cures for many chronic illnesses, like diabetes and high blood pressure. What we do have are effective treatments that manage those diseases well enough that they are minimally detrimental to one’s health. And powerful treatments for fibromyalgia are out there as well.

When people ask me if I have recovered from fibromyalgia, I say, “Yes.” I’ve found ways to feel much better and minimize its impact on my life. Ultimately, I do still have fibromyalgia, and there is no magic bullet that completely eliminates all symptoms. It requires work, and I have learned that consistency in my self-care routine is essential to keeping my symptoms under control.

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