Music is the Strongest Form of Magic

musicA music therapist will use music to facilitate behavioural changes, by allowing patients to use a variety of musical instruments. Then, the therapist will engage in discussions about the patient’s musical interaction, allowing the patient to express his/her feelings with the aid of musical interaction. The main aim of music therapy is to determine how patients respond emotionally to music, and improve cognitive functioning and quality of life.

How Does This Apply to Fibromyalgia

Researchers examined the effects of music therapy on fibromyalgia, and found that music therapy, combined with relaxation techniques, reduced pain and depression, along with improving sleep for fibromyalgia patients.

music 2If music is able to reduce muscle tension, then possibly the muscle pain experienced in fibromyalgia may decrease. Additionally, if music interventions do decrease the release of stress hormones, then most of the emotional and anxiety symptoms of fibromyalgia may decrease. There is also evidence that music improves mood and stress, and it may also increase one’s immunity.

Sixty FM patients were assigned to either a music group or a control group. The participants of the music group listened to music (duh!) daily for 4 weeks, and were assigned to listen to two types of music. They were also taught relaxation techniques, and the combination of relaxation techniques and music therapy significantly decreased pain intensity and improved quality of life. After 4 weeks, participants of the music intervention group reported a significant decrease in their pain levels, while participants of the control group experienced no change in pain and/or quality of life.

Researchers state that musical interventions decrease cortisol and endorphins, which are markers of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (responsible for release of stress hormones), along with decreasing levels of cortisol, prolactin, ACTH, growth hormone, and norepinephrine levels. Music initiates brain responses that reduce muscle tension, heart rate, and skin conductance.

The researchers greatly recommend the combination of music and relaxation for FM patients. However, the efficacy of this combination depends on the patient’s dedication and willpower to be involved in the treatment.

BUT what if our overly sensitized brains can’t even handle music? (Personally) Give me silence any day…ssshhhh!

from Effects of Music Therapy on Fibromyalgia

Ring! Ring! Please Don’t Make me Pick up the Phone!

I woke up this morning, having missed a phone call from my brother. We don’t bother to leave messages – we just call each other back. Thankfully, he was unavailable and it went straight to voice mail.

KerosAgrosExplodingHeadMy head is killing me. It’s been killing me for about 5 weeks! The wonderful effects (on my head) of the first ketamine infusion seem to have worn off; and the second infusion doesn’t seem to have done anything. Yet, still, the hardest drug (other than Lyrica, etc) I am permitted to take is paracetamol. We’re working on a mix of treatments  to see if we can get rid of the headaches

Anyway, the point being, I really didn’t want to be on the phone. The phone hurts. The dial tone hurts my head. Voices are tinny. Yet I still need to make some other calls today. The voices on the other end of the line are like a colander squishing my brain out of my eyes. And what is it with hold Muzak? Why, oh why, do they choose THAT music?

And it’s really hard to close your eyes (as tight as you possibly can) to block out the sounds, when you’re supposed to be listening to the conversation.

We don’t normally think of a conversation as a strenuous mental activity, but when FIBRO FOG invades (accompanied by inexplicable head pain), it can become one. Hell, all social interaction takes energy, and when you’re not face-to-face, it takes even more.

When you’re on the phone, you lose the body language part of the conversation – this means you have to focus more. (Or not; and then not grasp any of the conversation, at all!) Pre-fibro, this was not noticeable. Now, it definitely can be. Our fibro-filled brains might not be up to the assignment.

Also, when you’re on the phone, the background (the stuff in your environment that you wouldn’t notice if some-one else was there (maybe)) can be a giant distraction. Suddenly, the house that they’re building next door, the bird chirping outside (has anyone else noticed that birds are getting louder?), the gale blowing outside – stuff that should only be on the periphery of your sub-conscious, is part of your foreground. It can (and did) hurt! While I’m trying to block out all the OTHER stuff, I end up confused as to where the conversation has gone, which is be infuriating and embarrassing. Today, I actually told my Mommy that I had to finish because our phone-call was hurting too much!

When important stuff needs to be said by me, or important stuff is said to me, my ever-trusty notebook sits with a pen on the coffee table near the phone. Only one problem with that: anyone know what I meant when I wrote down SHARE yesterday?

Any social inter-action takes energy…who would have thought (pre-fibro) that a phone call could exhaust you? I didn’t understand that then, but now I know it all too well.

And then there’s the actual conversation – my brain seems not to be attached to my mouth. I find myself starting a conversation “yeah, no, but, and, mmmm…” Then, I have to stop, take a breath, think about what I want to say and start again

And don’t get me started on holding a phone…

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So, I went to Yoga…

This will be a two part post. The plan is to give you a balanced view of my yoga class, so part 1 will be written while still on my exercise high. The next part will be written tomorrow (in real time, but not blog time) so, if there are any FM repercussions, I can let you know.

Part 1

I introduced myself to the dude who was holding the class – have you ever noticed that all male yoga teachers have ponytails? – letting him know about my condition and that I have never attended a class before this.

It all started very nicely. He turned on the relaxing music, lit the incense and we all sat on our mats with our legs crossed and our hands together (like we were praying) in front of us. Inhale…exhale. Concentrate on your breath. Then he told us to put our hands on our knees, palms up. Inhale…exhale. Concentrate on your breath. Next, put your dominant hand on your belly button and your other hand on your heart. Breathe in and feel your belly button go out. Exhale and feel your belly button move towards your spine. Breathe in and feel the breath move to your heart. Let your heart grow. Inhale…exhale. Concentrate on your breath. Hey! I can do this! Next we stood up straight; breathe in, lift your arms above your head and join your hands above your head. Then bring your hands down in front of you, back to that prayer position. Prepare yourself then let go of everything, letting your arms fall to the floor as you exhale. Still cool. Place your hands on the mat, take your left foot, then your foot backwards, moving into the downward dog position. My legs don’t move that way, dude! Then roll yourself down into the plank position. What? How? Now move your forehead and chin to the mat then push yourself up into a cobra. What the hell are you talking about? Then down again; then back into the downward dog.

Now this wasn’t as easy as it sounded (?) but I will admit that at the end of an hour, I appeared to be able to do this basic series of positions much more smoothly. The series is known as the Sun Salutation, and is meant to be practiced at the beginning of every yoga session. It is a way to warm up your body and focus your mind for the session. I was sweating profusely by this stage.

From the above series we moved into a forward lunge (supposedly by just moving my leg forward and NOT falling over!) then leaning to the side and rising (yes, at the same time) and moving into a half-moon pose then twist back, do the full series again and the lunge and moon thing on the other side. (Or don’t! and have to stop and rest in the child’s position while the rest of the class continues)

The really good thing about this is that you get to see how the rest of the class is doing. Other people are losing their balance, or resting, or looking on questioningly. This is really good to know – you don’t feel like quite a (politically incorrect) SPAZ!

There’s a ton of other positions: warrior 1, warrior 2, warrior 3, fish, Lord of the Dance pose, etc – but the best one I saw, that totally spun me out was the shoulder press:

This amazed me. And I think that I would have been able to do this except that my bum weighs SO much that I can’t lift it. Otherwise, I would have been a shoe-in! Instead Yoga Dude set me (the only real beginner) up against the wall so I could lie flat with my legs spread up in the air, against the wall. Imagine being at the gynaecologists – now, you’ve got it! Mind you, after a while, it was quite comfortable.

My favourite position was right at the end, called the corpse.

I went to the class alone and had to giggle all by myself (although everyone was very nice – they were also very serious about yoga). This would be great to do with a friend (especially the first few times) – who else will be able to tell embarrassing stories to all your family and friends?

Somehow, after all of this, I came away energised and refreshed (just in time for pizza for dinner – you really can’t expect me to cook after all of this!). I’m feeling light and buoyant and absolutely nothing hurts (knock on wood!) I don’t want to go to bed tonight because I don’t want to lose this feeling…you may just need to remind me about it in the morning!

Part 2

I have been awake for 2 hours now – waiting…is something going to hurt (more than normal)?

And guess what? No real pain; nothing very different from the normal FM wake up – other than I still feel energised (despite only having 5 hours sleep compared to yesterday’s astounding 10!)

So, I think it’s safe to report (and I’ll let you know if anything changes) that my yoga experience was pretty good. Note to all: I’ve been told that every yoga class is different (sound familiar?) so, for those just trying it like me, attempt to find a gentle or beginner’s class; introduce yourself to the instructor (he can then keep an eye on you); and have a giggle!