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?

 

Catching Up

I haven’t really checked in with you guys recently so I’m going to try to catch you up ASAP. So, what’s up with me?

Housemate

After a very long (and oh-so-complicated) 18 months, my housemate has left. We had an on and off relationship for a while which ended with us being ‘just friends.’ Anyway, it’s been a month since he left; and it’s like this great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It had gotten to the stage where everything I said was misinterpreted by him – so we just kept fighting. I didn’t realise how hard it had become: I was trying to be so careful with what (or if) I spoke to him; whereas, when we first met, I remember how much fun, and how I used to feel when we were hanging out.Boris and flowers I really hadn’t realised how much our relationship had changed until I was away from it (permanently).

We are supposed to still be mates BUT he posted my key back to me, didn’t help with cleaning up after him and his cat (it’s taken me a month to clean everything alone!) and hasn’t wanted to talk to me all month…I don’t need friends like that!

Garage Sale

With all the cleaning, I decided it was time for a clear-out. I emptied my house out (as did some of my neighbours) and we had a multiple household sale. 20150724_182631It was huge…and very hard work.

We ran around, the night before, putting out all of our signs. Then it was up at 6am. (I had practiced getting up early for the two days prior).

Although we all made some money and got to know each other, I really don’t think I’ll be doing that again!

Million Dollar Minute

Four days later (and more practice at getting up early), I arose at 5am so I could wake up properly, get ready and go to Channel 7 studios for the opportunity to appear on Million Dollar Minute.

profileI made it (and, for those in Australia, I will be on TV on Thursday 20th August at 5.30pm). I can’t tell you what happened – non-disclosure statements and all that – but I can tell you that, if you don’t watch on the 20th, you won’t see me again!

It was great fun and I met a lot of very clever people.

After all of that, I crashed (of course) and I really have had not the energy (spoons) to do much more than sit on the couch for the last 2 weeks. However, I am building up to some more energetic activities.

Rescue Dog

With the cat (and Simon) gone, I have decided that I would like a dog. I have never had a dog before and it has to be a particular kind of dog as I live in a 2 bedroom unit with, only, a small courtyard and I can’t walk particularly fast or long distances. I would prefer to rescue a dog BUT, with my particular requirements, this may not be possible.

I am religiously perusing the rescue dog sites (as well as nearly being ripped off by 2 interstate people who were looking to re-dogs).

This is Coco - a pomeranian/chihuahua mix.

This is Coco – a pomeranian/chihuahua mix.

This is Rocky, a maltese mix.

This is Rocky, a maltese mix.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Daiichi Sankyo Research Study

Last week, I wrote about the Daiichi Sankyo research study. I have decided (after consultation with my GP) that I will be signing up. The first part is a blind study so I’ll be telling you about how I feel, if I am accepted – I have to give up my Lyrica and Sertraline (scary!)

LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA

The next issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA is due out September 1st. It has been a VERY difficult issue as our contributors appear to be slowly disappearing so, sadly, unless I can get some more volunteers, the September issue will be the last one. If you want to write for us, please email me at contributions@fibromodem.com.

Now you’re all caught up. What’s going on with you?

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Utopian Worldwide Wellness

You may have noticed a new widget on my site – Priceless Vitality.

Ian-PericarrowA friend of mine, Ian, has started a non-profit organisation that is almost Utopian. The concept behind it all: supporting and sharing wellness worldwide by providing access to quality health focused information, products and services for everyone.

Priceless Vitality is anywhere with an internet connection. Anyone in the world is welcome to use Priceless Vitality for free, and there is a growing range of internet delivered “worldwide” listings. (Because this initiative is just starting out, the coverage is currently limited by the level of community awareness.) You can create listings on the site for offers as well as requests for something you need. If there’s anything that you could really use, you can create a request listing on our site asking for it.

Offers could range from organic food to private health cover, and can be open to everyone or targeted to specific categories of people. These categories are based on things like age, income and illness type. Providers share what they can and those who receive are free to pay the suggested price, pay more or negotiate to pay what they can. Payment could take the form of a smile, a trade, a payment plan, money, an alternate economy or paying it forward. The price is open to negotiation between the recipient and the provider.

As well as connecting people through this free service, Priceless Vitality intends to provide wellness information and raise funds to subsidise providers, pay for therapist training and support projects that improve people’s quality of life.

Mission:

WorldPriceless Vitality is committed to supporting and sharing wellness worldwide by providing access to quality health focused information, products and services for everyone. We believe that health and happiness can become a new “normal”.

Our World Wide Wellness network helps people gain access to health care and support.

Vision:

We facilitate compassionate action providing a platform to make a healthy life affordable across the globe. We make access to health focused goods and services available to everyone and support projects that nurture a sharing oriented community spirit.

Priceless Vitality is proof that care is sustainable and shows that people are happy to give some wealth in exchange for a stranger’s health – doing all we can to support a happy and healthy planet for generations to come.

Values:

We bring together the Individual, the Community, the Medical field and the Alternate health field in an ecosystem of honesty, integrity and a shared goal of community health.

At the heart of everything we do, our mission, vision and services are all underpinned by these core values:

  • Compassion: With heartfelt respect and empathy we do our best to improve the quality of life for everyone who wants our help. Working with respectful understanding and deep integrity towards the shared Wellness of everyone on the planet.
  • Innovation: We are open-minded – constantly listening, adapting and exploring new ways to deliver a genuine positive impact on people’s lives.
  • Health: In sickness and in health we do all we can to make affordable health measures available to everyone. This includes mental, physical and environmental health. Bringing treatment to those who are suffering and proactive health options to others.
  • Passion: We are driven and committed to make health and happiness the norm for generations to come. Our dedication to creating sustainable smiles is electric and contagious!
  • Collaboration: We are for something and against nothing. Working together as one global family. Encouraging individuals and organisations to combine their efforts and help each other towards shared goals. Creating products and services that produce something far greater than the sum of their parts.

Isn’t it an idealistic and wonderful model? (No, I don’t want to hear the Debbie-Downers – there are plenty of reasons why this won’t work BUT, with honesty, integrity and a shared goal; it absolutely CAN work!)

I’m asking you to share the site with your health providers, your friends…oh, just everyone, please.

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Lifestyle Management With a Chronic Illness

by Harper Spero for HEALTH PERCH (with parenthesis by me!)

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During the first ten years of my life, my mom was on a mission to figure out why I had chronic ear infections, eczema, abscesses, and ongoing dental issues. Finally, when I was 11, I was diagnosed with Hyper-IgE, a chronic illness.

The National Institute of Health defines a chronic illness as a long-term health condition that does not have a cure. Some examples of chronic illnesses are epilepsy, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cancer, HIV, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and arthritis (and Fibromyalgia, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other related illnesses).

While most of these chronic diseases are familiar, there are hundreds of lesser-known diseases, including Hyper-IgE (and Fibromyalgia, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other related illnesses).

Hyper-IgE syndromes (HIES) are rare, primary immune deficiencies characterized by elevated serum IgE, dermatitis, and recurrent skin and lung infections. When I received the diagnosis, I had no idea what that meant or what to make of it. (Sound familiar?) I now had something to hang my hat on—but what exactly was it?

I was on medications here and there, dealt with many bumps along the way, and changed my diet numerous times, but never actually took complete control of my health. I chose to treat the symptoms as they arose instead of treating the illness as a whole. When I was 27, a cyst the size of a golf ball was discovered in my right lung. Shortly after having surgery to remove a quarter of my lung, I realized I needed to take complete control of my health. I didn’t want to be defined by my illness, but I also knew I couldn’t hide anymore. I knew I needed to evaluate my health and wellbeing and figure out what lifestyle changes I could make.

So I took a time out. I evaluated all facets of my life including environment, work, social life, diet, exercise, and even the way I processed information. This evaluation brought me to these 10 steps that can apply to managing most chronic illnesses. All of these points have helped to vastly improve my outlook and to move me in the right direction towards a healthier, well-balanced, satisfying life.

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  1. Find a team of experts

When you receive a diagnosis from a test result, a medical exam or a conversation with a doctor, it’s important to determine the best people to add to your health and wellness team. A key person should be one doctor that specializes in your specific chronic illness and with whom you feel comfortable, confident, and safe.

Another key component is finding specialists who may be able to support you with the different aspects of managing life with the chronic illness. This can be a team including (but not limited to) a nutritionist, acupuncturist, massage therapist, health coach, or physical therapist.

  1. Empower yourself

Your doctor can provide a ton of information that will allow you to educate yourself. This is the time to take ownership of this newfound challenge you’re facing. It’s not always easy, but you have control over the way you manage your life and can educate yourself with the resources available.

Be wary when reading articles about your chronic illness. It’s easy to assume one bad thing that happened to a single person could happen to you. Living your life in a constant state of fear won’t allow you to enjoy the life you were given.

  1. Create or join a supportive community

When facing a new diagnosis, it’s often a struggle to determine who to talk to and who to relate to. Find or create a like-minded group of people (as small or big as you’d like) that are experiencing similar circumstances. It may be beneficial to bounce ideas off of one another to avoid feeling alone. There are hundreds of Facebook pages for chronic illnesses, message boards, and online platforms for support. Additionally, there are meet-ups and other groups that get together regularly to discuss chronic illnesses. These add a personal, face-to-face element of support for those who are going through similar situations.

  1. Start a dialogue with your loved ones

Family and friends are there to support and love you unconditionally. It’s important to find the words to tell them what’s going on with you, but also to help them help you. Everyone reacts to these types of life situations differently—some take it much harder than others. Some people are quick to jump to conclusions and determine how they think you should manage your illness. One of the best resources for those with a chronic illness and for their family is a How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick by Letty Cottin Pogrebin. While the book provides amazing tips for dealing with cancer specifically, it’s also relevant to all chronic illnesses.

Surround yourself with people who inspire, motivate, and support. You have the ability to choose who you want in the movie of your life—those who play a leading role, others who are extras, and the final group that doesn’t make the cut. Remove toxic relationships. They can serve as an added burden when managing life with a chronic illness.

  1. Don’t let your illness define you

64. More to meIt’s really easy to get consumed by doctor’s appointments and the overall maintenance of managing a chronic illness. It’s also extremely important that your illness does not define you or your life. You should always have the ability to allow fun, pleasure, and happiness into your world. In Danea Horn’s book Chronic Resilience, she states, “If you ‘own’ your illness, that probably means it has become your identity … you give a level of importance to the disease—one it does not deserve.” Remind yourself what is important to you and what you enjoy doing most. Be sure to implement those things into your daily routine.

  1. Be conscious of your diet

(Okay, this is where I really, REALLY suck!) Evaluate the foods that you eat. Do they benefit your health or do they drain you? Amie Valpone, founder of TheHealthyApple.com says, “Eating for wellness is a huge topic these days. Food sensitivities are increasing and people are understanding certain healthy foods (such as lemon, cilantro, etc.) are causing inflammation in their bodies along with the major toxic triggers such as gluten, dairy, soy, and sugar.” Valpone suggests sticking with one-ingredient organic foods such as raw nuts and seeds, beans, and organic animal products.

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  1. Keep fitness top of mind

95. yogaThis doesn’t mean you need to be at the gym every single day, but it does mean every bit of physical activity can help. Staying active helps the body function better and can quiet the mind. Fitness can include walking, running, spinning, rowing, yoga, weights, swimming, and more. Everyone has his or her preferred method of physical activity. Try out different gyms, studios, machines, classes, or teachers to determine what’s the right fit for you. Just because one person loves yoga doesn’t mean everyone else does. There are plenty of podcasts, apps, and online video platforms that provide exercises you can do in the comfort of your home or office.

  1. Give yourself a break

Managing life with a chronic illness can be exhausting. Keeping track of medications, doctor’s visits, and ongoing symptoms is nothing short of daunting. “We beat ourselves up for the way our body is letting us down,” Horn says. It’s important to cut yourself some slack and understand what you’re going through isn’t meant to be easy and there will be forks in the road. Sometimes your body isn’t going to function the way you’d ideally like it to and it’s imperative to be mindful and accepting of that. Your mind and body will benefit.

  1. Stay organized

With bills, prescriptions, doctor’s appointments, vitamins, and more to keep track of, staying organized is vital when managing your chronic illness. Find the best way to stay on top of your calendar. Google Calendar or an old-fashioned calendar/datebook can be helpful to keep track of when you start a medication, doctor’s visits, and symptoms.

  1. Give back

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine, but there are people in worse shape than you. Another person’s chronic illness may be getting the worst of them, they may be struggling financially, or they don’t have any online or offline support. These are likely the people who may not reach out for help but would appreciate any bit of support you can provide. Whether it’s virtual or in person, any way you can give back to those facing a chronic illness will not only be appreciated by the recipient but also extremely rewarding for you.

There is no question that living with a chronic illness can be challenging. Take ownership of the aspects of your life that you do have control of and you may reap the benefits of this empowerment.

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Just Say No!

(This is a re-post. Maybe it can give some Aussies a place to start…)

It seems to me that the government departments that deal with disability payments (from all different countries) have a policy to just reject all claims (like the insurance company in The Rainmaker).

I know that every time I have applied for anything from Centrelink (the Australian version), I have been rejected; and each time, I have either had to appeal or follow-up with many, many phone calls. But each time, I have received (finally!) what I was supposed to receive.

So, today’s post is going to try to make it easier for Aussie FM sufferers to get the Disability Support Pension. (If you are from another country and can write a post that will help others from your country, I am happy to publish it)

DISABILITY SUPPORT INFORMATION

 *** Please note – This is NOT legal advice This has been written based on my personal experience: I successfully appealed the rejection of my Disability Support Pension application.

I have put this together, hoping it will help others in the same predicament.

Basically, this is how it works:

You apply for Disability Support Pension
You must have a total impairment rating of 20 points or more under the Impairment Tables.
To get a rating you must have a permanent condition that is more likely than not to persist for more than 2 years.
You receive Disability Support Pension

 Seems easy, right?

When can a rating be assigned?

An impairment rating can only be assigned for permanent conditions which cause an impairment that is more likely than not to persist for more than 2 years.

A condition is permanent if:

  • the condition has been fully diagnosed by an appropriately qualified medical practitioner, and
  • the condition has been fully treated, and
  • the condition has been fully stabilised.

What does ‘fully diagnosed, fully treated & fully stabilised’ mean?

According to the Guide to Social Security Law (Version 1.191 – Released 12 November 2012), which is run on an Australian Government site and is therefore reliable (although you should always check for updates):

Fully diagnosed and fully treated

In determining whether a condition has been fully diagnosed by an appropriately qualified medical practitioner and whether it has been fully treated, the following is to be considered:

  • whether there is corroborating evidence of the condition, and
  • what treatment or rehabilitation has occurred in relation to the condition, and
  • whether treatment is continuing or is planned in the next 2 years.

Fully stabilised

A condition is fully stabilised if:

  • either the person has undertaken reasonable treatment for the condition and any further reasonable treatment is unlikely to result in significant functional improvement to a level enabling the person to undertake work in the next 2 years, or
  • the person has not undertaken reasonable treatment for the condition and:
  • significant functional improvement to a level enabling the person to undertake work in the next 2 years is not expected to result, even if the person undertakes reasonable treatment, or
  • there is a medical or other compelling reason for the person not to undertake reasonable treatment.

This is the point where most of our applications are rejected.

I suggest that, when writing a letter of appeal (or even your first statement), you address each point clearly and concisely.

When you get past this point, you can move on to your impairment…

Assessment of Impairment Ratings

As part of the qualification for a Disability Support Pension (DSP), a person must have one or more physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment(s) that attract a total impairment rating of 20 points or more under the Impairment Tables.

For the purposes of DSP, the Impairment Tables are tables designed to assess impairment in relation to work. The tables were revised earlier this year, so you need to make sure that you are looking at the right information. (The Centrelink representative will always ask you if you looked at the most recent tables!)

The Tables:

    • are function based rather than diagnosis based,
    • describe functional activities, abilities, symptoms and limitations, and
    • are designed to assign ratings to determine the level of functional impact of impairment and not to assess conditions.

A claimant who has a total impairment rating of at least 20 points, must also have a continuing inability to work to qualify for DSP.

Now (I have to get a little lawyer-like), as per s 6(9) (this means section 6, sub-section 9) of the Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination 2011:

(9)      There is no Table dealing specifically with pain and when assessing pain the following must be considered:

(a)    acute pain is a symptom which may result in short-term loss of functional capacity in more than one area of the body; and

(b)    chronic pain is a condition and, where it has been diagnosed, any resulting impairment should be assessed using the Table relevant to the area of function affected; and

(c)      whether the condition causing pain has been fully diagnosed, fully treated and fully stabilised for the purposes of subsections 6(5) and (6).

The statements in BOLD are what is important to us. We can use ALL the tables to get a total of 20 as we have a number of conditions that cause our impairment!

Section 10(5) states:

(5)                Where two or more conditions cause a common or combined impairment, a single rating should be assigned in relation to that common or combined impairment under a single Table.

(6)                Where a common or combined impairment resulting from two or more conditions is assessed in accordance with subsection 10(5), it is inappropriate to assign a separate impairment rating for each condition as this would result in the same impairment being assessed more than once.

Now, I don’t expect you to read all the tables (although I did) but have a look at the headings for each:

  • Table 1 – Functions Requiring Physical Exertion & Stamina
  • Table 2 – Upper Limb Function
  • Table 3 – Lower Limb Function
  • Table 4 – Spinal Function
  • Table 5 – Mental Health Function
  • Table 6 – Functioning Related to Alcohol, Drug & Other Substance Use
  • Table 7 – Brain Function
  • Table 8 – Communication Function
  • Table 9 – Intellectual Function
  • Table 10 – Digestive & Reproductive Function
  • Table 11 – Hearing & Other Functions of the Ear
  • Table 12 – Visual Function
  • Table 13 – Continence Function
  • Table 14 – Functions of the Skin
  • Table 15 – Functions of Consciousness

This is where, in your letter/statement, you get personal. Address each and every one of these tables, if they affect you. Give examples. Explain how it affects your life. the more information that you give, the better.

Your Letter

  • Attach every piece of information that you have from any doctors (you can ask them for copies of correspondence to other doctors)
  • Write EVERYTHING down – don’t leave something out because you don’t think it’s important.
  • Try not to write emotionally – it will probably make you very upset to write down how badly you feel but, they don’t care. Centrelink needs it written down clearly, concisely, even impersonally.
  • Spell check (AND have some-one else read through the letter). Basically, Centrelink doesn’t see you as an individual, so this is a letter from one professional to another

I am attaching the letter that I sent to Centrelink as an example. It may not be perfect but it achieved my goal and I received DSP.

I hope it can help some others.

Helping a Fibro Frog Stay Dry

Remember I told you about Amy’s predicament?

fibro frogYes, Amy the owner/author of The Fibro Fog blog page – you know the one…voted as one of the top 15 Fibromyalgia blogs of 2014 by Healthline; voted as one of the top 15 Fibromyalgia blogs by Healthline for 3 consecutive years; and certified for medical accuracy by an M.D. through Healthline.

Yes, Amy the owner of The Fibro Frog Facebook page – with 0ver 15,000 LIKES (which should translate to over 15,000 votes, right?)

Yes, Amy who regularly contributes to our e-mag LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA.

Yes, Amy who does all of this for free; who educates and advocates for those that live with chronic pain conditions; and supports people who are suffering with these conditions.

She, herself, suffers with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Regional Pain syndrome, COPD, Degenerative Disc Disease, Osteoarthritis, Diabetes, Ruptured Discs, and IBS.

And, just in case, I’ll remind you: Amy is living under this roof…

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All we need you to do is visit to Amy’s voting page in the nation-wide program called No Roof Left Behind, and vote.

amy 1

amy 5You can see that currently Amy only has 38% of the vote – that’s really NOT good enough. Especially as I just Googled the weather report for her town:

…So, let’s keep Amy dry (the frog can stay wet!). Visit Amy’s voting page and vote now!

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A Frog in a Frying Pan

Do you know Amy? No?

fibro frogOk, then, do you know The Fibro Frog? Ah…much better!

Yes, Amy is the owner/author of The Fibro Fog, as well as the correlating Facebook page.  Her blog has been voted as one of the top 15 Fibromyalgia blogs of 2014 by Healthline, and has received this honor for 3 consecutive years. The blog has also been certified for medical accuracy by an M.D. through Healthline.

She is also a regular contributor to our e-mag LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA.

Next question: Do you know what this is?

This is Amy’s ceiling!

This is Amy’s ceiling!

Stop_SignSTOP! We are NOT asking for donations.

Amy is one of four finalists (in her area) in a nation-wide program called No Roof Left Behind, so all we want from you is a visit to Amy’s voting page and your vote.

Amy’s blog isn’t monetized – it is there to educate and advocate for those that live with chronic pain conditions; and as a support for people who are suffering with these conditions. She, herself, suffers with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Regional Pain Syndrom, COPD, Degenerative Disc Disease, Oseoarthritis, Diabetes, Ruptured Discs, and IBS. She is a single mother, living on a fixed income.

…So, let’s keep Amy dry (the frog can stay wet!). Visit Amy’s voting page and vote now!

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A Time for Giving (Away)

Being happy starts with giving away worry and stress (or so I’m told). Letting go of anything in life can be a little scary, but it can also be an amazing act of self-love.

This Christmas (or whatever holy days you may be celebrating), why not give away these 20 things and reach unlimited happiness.

  1. Give away all thoughts that don’t make you feel empowered and strong.
  2. Give away feeling guilty for doing what you truly want to do.
  3. Give away the fear of the unknown; take one small step and watch the path reveal itself.
  4. Give away regrets; at one point in your life, that “whatever” was exactly what you wanted.
  5. Give away worrying; worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.
  6. Give away blaming anyone for anything; be accountable for your own life. If you don’t like something, you have two choices, accept it or change it.
  7. Give away thinking you are damaged; you matter, and the world needs you just as you are.
  8. Give away thinking your dreams are not important; always follow your heart.
  9. Give away being the “go-to person” for everyone, all the time; stop blowing yourself off and take care of yourself first … because you matter.
  10. Give away thinking everyone else is happier, more successful or better off than you. You are right where you need to be. Your journey is unfolding perfectly for you.
  11. Give away thinking there’s a right and wrong way to do things or to see the world. Enjoy the contrast and celebrate the diversity and richness of life.
  12. Give away cheating on your future with your past. It’s time to move on and tell a new story.
  13. Give away thinking you are not where you should be. You are right where you need to be to get to where you want to go, so start asking yourself where you want to go.
  14. Give away anger toward ex-lovers and family. We all deserve happiness and love; just because it is over doesn’t mean the love was wrong.
  15. Give away the need to do more and be more; for today, you’ve done the best you can; and that’s enough.
  16. Give away thinking you have to know how to make it happen; we learn the way on the way.
  17. Give away your money woes — make a plan to pay off debt and focus on your abundance.
  18. Give away trying to save or change people. Everyone has her own path, and the best thing you can do is work on yourself and stop focusing on others.
  19. Give away trying to fit in and be accepted by everyone. Your uniqueness is what makes you outstanding.
  20. Give away self-hate. You are not the shape of your body or the number on the scale. Who you are matters, and the world needs you as you are.

Celebrate you!

Chronically Quiet

70. never aloneMany of us are lonely and alone…and it’s sad.

But let’s look at some of the great revelations and benefits found in silence and solitude that other people (smartphone users check their device every 6.5 minutes, which works out to mean around 150 times a day) miss out on. Silence has been replaced with a cacophony of communication, and solitude with social media.

Here are ten (as described by Thai Nguyen):

1.       Bypassing Burnout:

Too often our culture parallels self-worth with productivity levels. Whether it’s asking what our country can do for us, or what we can do for our country, the question remains—what is left to be done? It’s a one-way ticket to burnout.

Solitude allows for a break from the tyrant of productivity. What’s more is that doing nothing helps with doing much rather than being in opposition. Promega is a company with on-the-job “third spaces” where employees are able to take solitude breaks and meditate in natural light. This has resulted in numerous health benefits as well as improved productivity levels for the company.

2.       Heightened Sensitivity (ok, maybe we don’t want this one):

For many, attempting ten days of silence would be akin to walking on water. Vipassana silent retreats are exactly that; participants are instructed to refrain from reading, writing, or eye contact.

One hundred scientists went on a retreat for research and noted that shutting off the faculty of speech heightens awareness in other areas. Beginning with breathing, that focus and sensitivity is then transferred to sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts, intentions and emotions.

3.       Dissolving Tomorrow’s Troubles:

Alan Watts argues that our frustration and anxiety is rooted in feeling and being disconnected—living in the future or the past is nothing but an illusion.

Silence brings our awareness back to the present. This is where concrete happiness is experienced. Watts makes the distinction between our basic and ingenious consciousness; the latter makes predictions based on our memories, which seem so real to the mind that we’re caught in a hypothetical abstraction. It plans out our lives with an abstract happiness, but an abstract happiness can also be a very real disappointment.

The future falls short of what the present can deliver. Silence and solitude can help immerses us back in the present moment.

2014 1. nature4.      Improves Memory (fibro what?):

Combining solitude with a walk in nature causes brain growth in the hippocampus region, resulting in better memory.

Evolutionists explain that being in nature sparks our spatial memory as it did when our ancestors went hunting—remembering where the food and predators were was essential for survival. Taking a walk alone gives the brain uninterrupted focus and helps with memory consolidation.

5.       Strengthens Intention and Action:

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal says during silence, the mind is best able to cultivate a form of mindful intention that later motivates us to take action.

Intentional silence puts us in a state of mental reflection and disengages our intellectual mind. At that point McGonigal says to ask yourself three questions:

“If anything were possible, what would I welcome or create in my life?”

“When I’m feeling most courageous and inspired, what do I want to offer the world?”

“When I’m honest about how I suffer, what do I want to make peace with?”

Removing our critical minds allows the imagination and positive emotions to build a subconscious intention and add fuel to our goals.

McGonigal explains, “When you approach the practice of figuring this stuff out in that way, you start to get images and memories and ideas that are different than if you tried to answer those questions intellectually.”

6.       Increases Self-Awareness:

In silence, we make room for the self-awareness that allows us to be in control of our actions, rather than under their control. The break from external voices puts us in tune to our inner voices—and it’s those inner voices that drive our actions. Awareness leads to control.

We must practice becoming an observer of our thoughts. The human will is strengthened whenever we choose not to respond to every actionable thought.

7.       Grow Your Brain (oh, another one that really couldn’t hurt any of us!):

The brain is the most complex and powerful organ, and like muscles, benefits from rest. UCLA research showed that regular times set aside to disengage, sit in silence, and mentally rest, improves the “folding” of the cortex and boosts our ability to process information.

Carving out as little as 10 minutes to sit in our car and visualize peaceful scenery (rainforest, snow-falling, beach) will thicken grey matter in our brains.

8.       “A-Ha” Moments:

The creative process includes a crucial stage called incubation, where all the ideas we’ve been exposed to get to meet, mingle, marinate – then produce an “A-ha” moment. The secret to incubation? Nothing. Literally. Disengage from the work at hand, and take a rest. It’s also the elixir for mental blocks. What’s typically seen as useless daydreaming is now being seen as an essential experience.

9.       Mastering Discomfort:

Just when we’ve found a quiet place to sit alone and reflect, an itch will beckon to be scratched. But many meditation teachers will encourage us to refrain and breathe into the experience until it passes (Remember Eat, Pray, Love?).

Along with bringing our minds back from distracting thoughts and to our breathing, these practices work to build greater self-discipline.

10.     Emotional Cleansing

Our fight/flight mechanism causes us to flee not only from physical difficulties, but also emotional difficulties. Ignoring and burying negative emotions, however, only causes them to manifest in the form of stress, anxiety, anger and insomnia.

Strategies to release emotional turbulence include sitting in silence and thinking in detail about what triggered the negative emotion. The key is to do so as an observer—stepping outside of ourselves as if we’re reporting for a newspaper. It’s a visualization technique used by psychotherapists to detach a person from their emotions, which allows them to process an experience objectively and rationally.

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