How are You?

Hello. How are you?

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No…really.

I’m asking. I don’t want to hear that you’re ‘fine’ because you’re being polite; because you think I don’t care; because you’re used to most people not caring. So…how are you? You can actually tell me in the comments below because I’m going to tell you how I’m feeling…

I am so sad (yes, I’m depressed and I constantly get angry comments here for referring to it as sadness…but that’s what it is to me – it’s a deep, deep pool of sadness that I cannot swim out from). It seems that, suddenly, the people who I have chosen to surround myself with, no longer care how (or even, if) I answer the ‘How are You?’ question.

And, the worst part is that they don’t have to ask. They all know me well enough to see that there is something very wrong…they are just choosing not to delve further.

My sadness comes from asking myself why – they’re sick of hearing about my woes? they want to have a life beyond the lounge-room? they no longer believe in my worth? they no longer care?

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Drive Me Crazy


I hate driving! (Mind you, I also hate being a passenger with some people, too…but that’s another story!) Even in my cute little car. carDriving can be a major stressor. And we are all very aware that stress is a common trigger of flare ups. As well as being stressful, driving requires you to sit and move in ways that can make your bits hurt more.

Trains, buses and taxis may be options, but public transportation comes with its own stresses and is not always available or affordable. Many people with fibromyalgia cannot walk or bike very far without pain, and getting a ride is not always easy. As a result of all this, you may not be able to avoid driving, especially if you work. But, perhaps, there are a few things you can do to better cope with stressful driving situations.

The Risks of Driving with Fibromyalgia

  • Increased pain – Sitting in the same position for prolonged periods of time can cause pain and discomfort. It doesn’t allow for proper blood circulation, and sitting in one spot can pinch nerves in the legs and back, causing more pain.
  • Overstimulation – Any type of overstimulation that comes about from speeding cars, the noise, heavy traffic, and other visual and auditory sensory input can be added stress for us.
  • Fibro fog – Fibro fog, or cognitive troubles associated with fibromyalgia, can make it difficult for you to pay attention to the road. This can make being behind the wheel dangerous not only for you, but other drivers.

Things You Can Do to Help

If you need to drive, you can make some adjustments and improve your experience and make for a safer driving experience.

  • Make sure you get a good night’s sleep – It is imperative to sleep well (or as well as can be expected) the night before you are driving, so that you are not exhausted the next day. This will help prevent grogginess, which can cause a safety issue for you and others on the road. If you find you are extremely fatigued, see if you can get another person to drive for you. Check with your doctor about getting medication to help you sleep or try melatonin for a better night’s rest.
  • Plan your route – Figure out where you’re going and plan your route ahead of time. You will want to find the route that is least likely to have traffic or obstacles like construction. If you have GPS, use it, as it removes some of the stress of having to remember where you’re going. Additionally, there are apps for your phone that can tell you how traffic looks on the main highways and interstates so you can avoid traffic jams.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable – Make sure your seat is as comfortable as possible and that your posture is correct while driving – aim to be sitting up straight the same way you would at a desk. You may have to adjust your seat and mirrors to achieve this. If you’re still uncomfortable after making adjustments, try out a different headrest, or use a cushion or back support.
  • Take breaks – If you are driving for an extended period of time, take regular breaks to get out and stretch, and to rest your eyes and brain for a little while.
  • Consider alternatives – If you’re finding that driving causes you too much pain, or you become too disoriented while behind the wheel, look for alternative transport options. You may want to organize a carpool to work, work out how often you can afford to taxi, or, if you don’t have too far to go, consider a mobility scooter.

If you’re not feeling up to driving, DON’T. Your safety, and that of everyone else on the road, is far more important than arriving at your destination. REALLY!

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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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Young and Hard

A new study reveals that young and middle-aged FM patients report worse symptoms and poorer quality of life than older patients.

The study included 978 FM patients who were divided into three age groups: 39 and younger, 50 to 59, and 60 and older. The younger and middle-aged patients were more likely to be employed, unmarried, smokers, have a higher education level and lower body-mass index (BMI). They were also more likely to have a history of abuse.

(And you might say obviously) The younger and middle-aged patients had FM symptoms for a shorter length of time than older patients, the study authors said.

chronic comic 181“Among the three age groups of young, middle-aged and older, symptom severity and quality of life differs,” study senior author Dr Terry Oh, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in a clinic news release.

The findings were surprising, because older people generally have poorer quality of life and physical health than younger people, Oh said.

The researcher noted that female FM patients in all three age groups reported a lower quality of life than the average U.S. women, and that the difference between their physical health and that of the average woman was more significant than mental health differences, particularly in young patients.

Because the studies were presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The Ten Basic Rules to Dating with #Chronic Illness

Re-blogged from letsfeelbetter.com

The Ten Basic Rules to Dating with Chronic Illness

1. DO: Use Technology to Bypass First Date Anxiety 

23/F/Bleeding From My Eyeballs/ Boca Raton, FL.

23/F/Bleeding From My Eyeballs/ Boca Raton, FL.

My sister uses OkCupid so that men know she’s a 5’2 nudist with a penchant for folk songs. If men who are total assholes about nudism and folk songs see her profile proclaiming this both so boldly and so clearly: they don’t message her. Or they message her things like “PUT ON SOME CLOTHES, YOU HOMELESS HEATHEN” or “CAT STEVENS CAN SUCK IT, YOU HIPPIE.”

You may want to try a similar strategy. Whether you’re a profile on a dating site, or you’re chatting up a guy/girl on Facebook–make sure to drop the bomb before the first date. If they don’t want to go out with you after learning you have Crohn’s, Lupus, whatever–then that’s that. What’s my momma’s favorite word? NEXT!

Why is it good to break the news online or even over the phone? You have to be understanding of people when it comes to your chronic disease. Understand that their first reaction probably will be “what the fuck?” So allow them the courtesy of saying it (to themselves) in the privacy of their own bedroom while staring at their laptop. Give them a minute or two to process. Feel comforted in the fact that you can’t see their hands flittering over the keyboard trying to come up with a supportive/appropriate/charming response. And let them have the ability to untangle this information before you sit down to your first date. Hopefully, by this time they’ll have let it settle in their mind a bit and will be able to ask you some appropriate questions about how your disease affects your life.

2. DON’T: Be a Victim

“And then the doctor said I’d never be able to eat ice cream again!”

“And then the doctor said I’d never be able to eat ice cream again!”

The only thing more awkward than meeting your ex on a blind date-is having someone tell you something on a first date like “I have ass cancer,” and then having them STARE at you while a single, silent tear slips down their cheek.

Don’t be that girl. (or guy.)

People are going to follow your lead when it comes to the state of your disease. You’re frustrated about it. They’re frustrated about it. You’re sad about it–they’re sad about it. You’re cool about it? They’ll be cool about it. People can sense your uneasiness about your disease. If you haven’t come to terms with it yet and are still in a phase of mourning your old life–you probably aren’t ready to date anyway.You’ve got to love yourself–with or without the disease, if you’re going to expect someone new in your life to do the same.

Lead by example, and don’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder that you leave in plain view. I’m not saying you have to hug your fibromyalgia lovingly in your arms every night, but you at least have to be able to get through a flare in public without openly weeping.

3. DO: Highlight Your Best Assets

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Even in your Grand-dad’s clothes.

You’re still going to be just about as self-conscious as any other person is on a first date, so remember to play up your best assets. Maybe you’ve packed on a few prednisone pounds–it’s a great time to pull out the tight skirts to show that you no longer have a white-girl butt. Maybe you’ve got circles under your eyes so black you look like you just came from a football game–time to show your date just how sexy you can look in sunglasses.

4. DON’T: TMI

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K. Thnx.

The details of your sensitive stomach. The current color of your snot. Your barely-healed laparoscopy scars. Save it for the honeymoon, kids.

5. DON’T: Lay Down the Law

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Yes, you need someone who won’t play games. You need someone who is going to be there for you ALL the time. You need someone reliable. You need someone understanding. You need, you need, you need–but slamming your fist down on the table every time you decree a new amendment on how you will be treated as a partner is not going to win you any suitors.

So take a step back. Remember that relationships are a two way street and you’ve got be willing to put out just as much as you need to take in. So why not start off this date making a mental list of how you’re going to improve their life? Partners of those with chronic illnesses are probably the closest things to super heroes. They put up with it all and know they won’t ever get as much PHYSICAL effort in return. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put in effort elsewhere. There are millions of things you can do for your partner–from helping them have better relationships with their family and friends, to teaching them about having career goals or handling money and investing, to being a solid parenting partner or emotional caregiver. You’re not the only one with problems, so start looking for places where you can apply yourself as the solution.

6. DON’T: Be a Hero

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It’s just a little blood…from my eyeballs. I’m good, let’s eat.

Rock climbing? Extreme roller coaster riding? Hot dog eating contests? These might not be the best first date activities for you if you have a chronic illness. You will probably fuck yourself up, big time. You will probably end the night in excruciating pain. You will probably end up puking in the back seat of his car.

Don’t pretend like you’re cool, and then turn around and dry heave into your handbag (I have mastered this by the way.) Don’t agree to go to a rock concert when you have a migraine and don’t agree to eat hibachi when you’re on an all-liquid diet. No good will come of this. Better to out yourself and your condition early and avoid the consequences. You can’t pretend forever–and Jesus, why would you want to???

7. DO: Laugh About It

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Because really–it is kind of funny. I mean whoever heard of someone sneaking in a stash of immodium in their bra to the prom? There are so many instances of hilarity when it comes to chronic illness–and if you don’t believe me, this is clearly the first post on this blog that you’ve read!

Take it from Numero Uno Klutz, Jennifer Laurence–fall on your ass and cry about it, you’ll lose the Oscar. Fall on your ass and laugh about it–you’ll be America’s Sweet Heart.

8. DON’T: Be Afraid of Rejection

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Because if you think you won’t need to be brave after the first date: you’re wrong. Relationships require all kinds of bravery. From braving that first kiss to braving the first argument. So be brave and remember that you (hopefully) don’t live in Antartica where there are only five men and you have to share them with all the other women in the tribe. If someone doesn’t want to be with you, there will be someone else. And better to be happy, searching for the right one–than miserable and feeling worse about yourself with the wrong one.

9. DO: Learn to Adapt and Be Okay With It

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Are you going to bail sometimes? Yes. Will you spend three hours on your hair then realize you need a nap? Probably. Is the world going to end? No. Sometimes you’ll want to do something with your significant other and it just won’t work out because your body is fighting back. Sure, the first few times it’s okay to be frustrated–embarrassed even, to fumble over your apologies and stress out that they’ll be upset.

As R.J always says, “We’ll adapt.” Plans change. And even though on the surface it might mess with your emotions and make for a less-than-great day–it doesn’t have to make for a less-than-great relationships. Life happens. You’re still allowed to love and be loved.

10. DON’T: Forget That You Can Be Loved

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Baby, it’s you–me, the beta blockers, the afternoon naps and ALL OF THE FLARES!

On the forum the other day, someone asked: “Who wants to be with a person that is chronically ill?” I stopped, thought and responded something that I still stand by:

You’re not just a person who is chronically ill. You are a person, and you happen to also be chronically ill. Don’t let your disease define your personality. You are so much more than an illness, and when you stop thinking of yourself in that box–others will too. Your illness will limit a lot of things in your life–but it doesn’t make you any less able to be loved. Not by a long shot.

 

Step Up and Get Back to Being YOU!

Chronic pain has a way of radically changing a person’s life; even those with strong self- esteem and coping skills struggle (yep, even me!). Healthy self-esteem enables us to accept, respect, trust and believe in ourselves. Chronic pain can take that away from us: for some, the most difficult blow comes when you can no longer do things connected to your identity (loss of a job, not being able to participate in sports or hobbies, not being able to spend time with friends); for others, using a cane or walker or having to use a handicapped placard is devastating.

Whatever it is…you no longer feel like YOU; instead, you are just a bag of symptoms. This is exactly what Connie from Alice in Fibroland wrote about this week:

I took the stairs

Stairs

Yesterday, I took the stairs, instead of the elevator, and that made all the difference.

I was having a good morning.  I’m taking some new medications, one to help me sleep better and one to wake up my body during the day.  It seemed like an innocent flight of stairs, and I was feeling ok.  I was feeling stronger, braver – that little fear inside that says this is what life is going to be like from now on was quiet.  So I took the stairs.

And it came rushing back.  The strength flew away and took the bravery with it.  My breath was gone, my muscles were jelly.  I was no longer me, no longer ok.  I was fibro again.

There was a day earlier this year where I had the briefest moment of insight.  For weeks before, I had been sick, on top of fibro, with the flu and pneumonia.  At doctor’s visits, I had become my symptoms.  I wasn’t Connie; I was shortness of breath, exhaustion, fever.  But for a brief moment, as I was recovering from those illnesses: I didn’t feel any shortness of breath, so I wasn’t shortness of breath.  And I didn’t feel any exhaustion or fever, so I wasn’t those symptoms, either.  I was me, just me.

It’s the same with fibro.  In a search for answers, we become our symptoms.  We are fatigue, we are pain, we are fog.  It is such a struggle to climb those stairs, with the symptoms that are weighing us down, pulling us away from our true selves.

And yesterday, when I decided to take the stairs, I wasn’t my symptoms.  I was me, who used to take the stairs.  But by the time I made it to the top, I was fibro again.

To someone who is used to doing it all, learning to balance, to pace and to set limitations — weighing the stairs over the grocery store or the post office over cleaning the bathroom — is like learning to breathe underwater.  In the long run, taking the stairs isn’t important.  Neither is my ‘To Do’ list, cleaning the bathroom, or even the post office.  What’s important isn’t the doing or the things.  It’s the being, just being me.

You are NOT your illness! 

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Related Posts

Things I Miss Most Because of Fibromyalgia

Inspired by Toni Bernhard, J.D. in Turning Straw Into Gold…What do you miss most because of FM problems?

As Toni said: I’m trying to keep a non-complaining tone as I write.

Complaining does no good, so this is how I see my life in a realistic and factual manner.

1. Spontaneity

chronic comic 175Just like Toni, it is my guess is that this is #1 on most of your lists.  But this works both ways: sometimes you have to painstakingly plan everything so you don’t over-do it (yes, pacing!). And even then, you might be having a bad day and all that planning goes down the drain.

But, if you’re lucky, you may wake up feeling horrible (what? you say) so you ditch all the plans for the day…then, suddenly, in the afternoon, you begin to feel better so you go for a walk and get a chance to slowly window shop and appreciate your local area – something you just haven’t had time to do before.

2. Variety

As you know, I live alone. Most of my days are pretty much the same, all the time; unless some-one I know cares to visit or take me somewhere outside the 10km area zone that I am restricted to because it hurts to drive further. I tend to see the same people every day: there’s the hairdresser who calls me in for a coffee each time I pass her shop, there’s the guy who works in the bottle shop (near the supermarket) who takes a cigarette break with me each time I go shopping, there’s the florist who waves to me as I pass her store and gives me great discounts, there are all the ladies in the post office who always ask if it’s a good or bad day…and care.

Hey! Hold on…those aren’t such bad things; in fact, it makes my city living feel like a little village, and I would never have met these people if I hadn’t have gotten sick.

3. Being actively involved in the life of my family

I'd really like a girl!

I’d really like a girl!

My family now has 5 children under 7 (and another one on the way) and it hurts being in the same room with all of them sometimes.

But, if I was well/cured and working, I wouldn’t get to see them anywhere near as much. I wouldn’t be able to baby-sit or have one of them sleep over during the week, or do creative activities during school holidays.

4. Socialising

When I think about it, I didn’t really do much socialising when I was studying or working – I was too busy. I had some invitations (not too many) and yes, they have dried up now…but, really, not much has changed in that department.

5. The ability to pursue my former interests

I can no longer play squash with my father (but my father and I are no longer on speaking terms anymore, so that may have happened anyway!)

I used to love to read…and I still love to read, except that, by the time I have read 4 pages, I fall asleep.

I used to love spending a whole day shopping with my Mommy…mainly just looking – now I can only last 2 hours at most. Buy Mommy is not so well, either so outrageously long shopping trips would have been out of the question anyway.

6. Health not being the topic of conversation

64. More to meEven when (or maybe especially when) I’m not in the room, the conversation turns to my health. Am I looking good? Am I getting better? Why can’t I go back to work? Isn’t there something I can do?

I don’t want to be the centre of attention – at least, not for this ‘achievement.’

So, really, I don’t miss any of these things – what I really miss is the CHOICE: the choice to be spontaneous, the choice to re-introduce variety into my life, the choice to spend more time with my family, the choice to go to the local pub and meet new people, the choice to find new interests, the choice to stand out for something other than my weird condition; and the choice to be anybody I want.

What do you miss?

Toni Bernhard is the author of the award-winning How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their CaregiversBottom of Form
Her new book, How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrowis available for pre-order and will be released in September.

Is it Giving Up or Acceptance?

imagesA couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I haven’t reached the acceptance stage on the ‘grief scale’ so I don’t think I am qualified (am I ever?) to write about the topic of ACCEPTANCE however I read the following post by Jen Reynolds of FibroTV:

Acceptancesliderlogo

FibrotvartworkI think one of the most difficult issues to deal with when you are diagnosed with a chronic illness is acceptance. For the first couple years I was angry, in denial, and did everything I wanted to and paid big time every time I did.  I was very young (18) when I was diagnosed and I just wanted to do everything my friends were doing. It was almost like I had to prove to them and myself I was not going to change and would even push harder than a healthy person. I was working full-time  taking care of my boyfriend’s 2 kids 3 to 4 days out of the week, keeping up a 3 bedroom house,  and keeping a very hectic social calendar. This is when I started taking a lot of medication to cover up the symptoms of the poor choices I made that affected my health and began to decline rapidly.

There is almost a mourning process when you get diagnosed. On one hand I was happy they figured out what was wrong but on the other, all I wanted was to be normal again. I held on to a lot of anger because I wanted my life back the way it was. I would try to stay busy every second of the day because once I stopped the pain would be unrelenting and I would think about it more if I did not keep busy. I felt that accepting I was ill was giving in or giving up. What I later realized is that acceptance was key to begin my journey to wellness.

Giving up means that you feel hopeless and that nothing that you do can change the situation so you let yourself go. I ended up doing this for about 12 years. At one point I was on 12 medications and went from 97 pounds to almost 200 pounds in a year. I ate what I wanted because I had the attitude that if I was going to be like this for the rest of my life I should at least be able to enjoy what I eat. I did not know that the food I was eating was making me have more pain and more fatigue. I just did not connect food to pain because it made me feel good to eat it!  I ate fast food at least once a day and I loved having a donut for breakfast because it was cheap and fast before I went to work. My breakfast consisted of a donut or two, a Dr Pepper, two Vicodin  and a Soma. No wonder why I felt so bad! Everything I put into my body when I first woke up had 0 nutrition value and was toxic. I was basically in denial about my health and denied any personal responsibility for taking charge of it and taking care of my body. I would tell myself, ”I did not ask to be sick it is not my fault!” It was not my fault I got sick that is true, but it was my fault for treated my body the way I was and I continued to decline health wise because of it!

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

~Lao Tzu

I eventually accepted that I had fibromyalgia and started to work on my health. It was actually very empowering to accept that I had fibromyalgia and that I needed to take care of myself physically/mentally/and spiritually. I felt like I had at least some control of my body again.  I started not “overdoing it.” I dropped the process foods with the exception of going out to eat once a week and I started working on my mind and spirit. Once I started doing these things I started seeing small improvements in my health. At times it was very frustrating because the results were so small and they were slow but every small success adds up! It was much easier popping a pill and having that little relief for a short period of time! I saw quick results that way but I developed rebound pain that was even worse than the fibromyalgia and it just was a vicious cycle for me so I made the very personal decision (with the help of my doctor) to go off the medications. Once I got off all the meds (which took about a year) I could not believe the difference in my pain levels.

No matter how sick you are and what stage you are with your acceptance of your chronic condition there are things you can do to improve your health that will decrease pain and help you live a more full and productive life. For each person it will be different depending on what they have and what the underlying cause is for their condition. There is always an underlying cause of a health condition and unfortunately Western medicine never tries to figure it out and gives medications to cover up symptoms. It is just the way Doctors are trained here. They are trained to diagnose and prescribe medications accordingly. We can see with the rapid increase of chronic illness this is not working.  We are in a Nation that supports sick care – there is no “health” in healthcare right now. It is going to be up to YOU to find the underlying cause. The best way to do that is to look back to when you first became ill and what happened during that time. Good Nutrition is always a positive for the body and will make you feel better. Also many conditions are caused from food intolerance’s to ether wheat, dairy, and chemicals in foods that are not supposed to be in the body. If you do have a intolerance to one of these things it is a good thing because that can be resolved! I highly recommend that everyone get tested for food allergies and intolerance’s because it is such an easy fix. BUT we are not just physical beings, so if there are any unresolved issues from your past that cause unresolved anger and resentment that is something that must be dealt with in order to see your symptoms decrease.

Life is a journey and the choices you make every day affect the quality of your life. No one can make positive changes for you, that is something you have to do for yourself. You may always have some symptoms but you can live well-being chronically ill. It will take some lifestyle changes and change is very hard. Us humans are stubborn and resist change, but without change everything will stay the same. If something is not working move forward to the next thing until you find what works best for you. Don’t give up! Accept and move forward making positive healthy choices for yourself. You deserve it!

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Another One Bites the Dust

Back in April, I wrote the article that follows. And, despite writing the article myself, it appears that I obviously haven’t been able to identify where I stood within the grief scale.

Guess what? I now know.

How did I reach this epiphany? Well, recently Mommy mentioned (as carefully as possible) that she felt like she was stepping on egg-shells whenever she was around me. Then tonight, a so-called friend and I were texting when he wrote:

Last two texts I’ve got from you have been sarcastic and unnecessary and you think that’s how “friends” talk to one another. You wanna know something about me, I don’t wanna talk to people who are like that.

I answered:

It started because you wouldn’t tell me why you were feeling sorry for yourself…but as I said I’m angry so you needn’t talk to me anymore.

So I sit here on a Friday night, surrounded by all my friends (that is: alone!), as another one bites the dust!

Living With the Loss of You

There are 5 stages that make up the framework that allows us to live with loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. They can also be applied our grief over the loss of our ‘old’ selves.

These tools are not stations on a train line. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. Have you been to any of these places? Stuck at one?

As you accept the reality of loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade.

But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface…

People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage like getting on and off a train. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.

At times, people in grief will often report more stages. Just remember your grief is as unique as you are.