It’s a Very #Fibro Christmas Sing-a-Long

sing

84. maxine_stressOn the first day of Christmas, FIBRO gave to me:
A bout of Anxiety

 

On the second day of Christmas, FIBRO gave to me:
Two New Trigger Points
and A bout of Anxiety

 

On the third day of Christmas, FIBRO gave to me:
Three Days of Heartburn
Two New Trigger Points
A bout of Anxiety

 

223. fibro

On the fourth day of Christmas, FIBRO gave to me:
Four Doctors’ Visits
Three Days of Heartburn
Two New Trigger Points
and A bout of Anxiety

 

On the fifth day of 86. crawl into bedChristmas, FIBRO gave to me:
Five Sleepless Nights
Four Doctors’ Visits
Three Days of Heartburn
Two New Trigger Points
and A bout of Anxiety

 

On the sixth day of Christmas, FIBRO gave to me:
74. prescriptionsSix Medications
Five Sleepless Nights
Four Doctors’ Visits
Three Days of Heartburn
Two New Trigger Points
and A bout of Anxiety

 

 

 

On the seventh day of Christmas, FIBRO gave to me:
68. HatSeven Tension Headaches
Six Medications
Five Sleepless Nights
Four Doctors’ Visits
Three Days of Heartburn
Two New Trigger Points
and A bout of Anxiety

 

 

 

On the eighth day of Christmas, FIBRO gave to me:
205. centredTotal Disequilibrium
Seven Tension Headaches
Six Medications
Five Sleepless Nights
Four Doctors’ Visits
Three Days of Heartburn
Two New Trigger Points
and A bout of Anxiety

 

On the ninth day of Christmas, FIBRO gave to me:
292.FM LovesongNine Painful Cuddles
Total Disequilibrium
Seven Tension Headaches
Six Medications
Five Sleepless Nights
Four Doctors’ Visits
Three Days of Heartburn
Two New Trigger Points
and A bout of Anxiety

 

On the tenth day of Christmas, FIBRO gave to me:
Paresthesia in my (ten) Fingers
Nine Painful Cuddles203. acupuncture
Total Disequilibrium
Seven Tension Headaches
Six Medications
Five Sleepless Nights
Four Doctors’ Visits
Three Days of Heartburn
Two New Trigger Points
and A bout of Anxiety

 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, FIBRO gave to me:
Eleven ‘New Cures’ proffered
Paresthesia in my (ten) Fingers
Nine Painful Cuddlesxmas
Total Disequilibrium
Seven Tension Headaches
Six Medications
Five Sleepless Nights
Four Doctors’ Visits
Three Days of Heartburn
Two New Trigger Points
and A bout of Anxiety

 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, FIBRO gave to me:
Twelve Judgmental Relatives
Eleven ‘New Cures’ proffered
Paresthesia in my (ten) Fingers
Nine Painful Cuddles
Total Disequilibrium
Seven Tension Headaches
Six Medications124. indifferent friends
Five Sleepless Nights
Four Doctors’ Visits
Three Days of Heartburn
Two New Trigger Points
and A bout of Anxiety

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!

100-off

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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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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Sometimes a Duck is…

So, it’s Winter in Australia – not as cold as some places but, still, too cold for me.

I have been suffering from intense pain in my rib-cage and chest. The aching and stabbing pain felt like I had broken and bruised ribs.

Bloody hell! I thought, it’s that awful costochondritis AGAIN!!!

For over a week, every morning I was waking up in extreme pain. It seemed to dissipate by the time it was bed-time. But then, it would all start again.

After a week of agony and really cold weather, I finally realised that I was sleeping all curled up, in the foetal position, and it was my own elbows causing all that pain!

Sometimes a duck is just a duck!

117. fibro duck

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At Least, it isn’t Cancer.

The following post appeared at reachwhite.com; however (and it’s a BIG however) I have taken some liberties. It was originally about Lyme disease but I empathised completely with the author, from my fibromyalgia-racked perspective. So I am sure that some of you feel the same way (not all of you, I know that!). Basically, this is a re-blog but I have replaced Lyme Disease with Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS.

invisible

Here goes:

I probably won’t make a lot of friends with this post — but I hope I don’t make any enemies either. I hope that what I’m not saying is as clear as what I am saying.

I’m not saying that Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS is worse than Cancer. I’m not trying to make any comparison between the two diseases…as diseases. Both Cancer and Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS are devastating. Both wreck families. Both make patients unable: unable to stay awake, unable to sleep, unable to work. Both impact on functional status and well-being and reduce quality of life.

But there are some notable differences — and those differences are all in how other people respond to the illness. How other people perceive the sick person, and the sick person’s family.

If you have Cancer, or another sickness from the established disease Canon: the register of approved diseases (Diabetes or AIDS or Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis or Cancer), people will listen.

If you have Cancer, your health insurance will probably cover your treatment, at least partially…whatever you want that treatment to be.

If you have Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS, you will get letters from your health insurance company saying that they can’t cover any of your treatment because their guidelines don’t recognize chronic Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS.

If you have Cancer, people will establish foundations, and run 5k’s, and pass acts in Congress and wear ribbons and buy bracelets and pink things to raise funds for research — to the tune of billions a year.

If you have Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS, no one will raise funds for research, or even believe that you have a disease. But you’ll look around one Saturday and realize your 5-year-old daughter is missing…and you’ll find her down the street, peddling her artwork and her trinkets door-to-door: to raise money for the family.

If you have Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS, you will go broke…while you’re going for broke.

If you have Cancer, and you’re a kid, the Make-A-Wish Foundation will arrange for you to meet your favorite celebrity or go to Disney World.  And Hollywood will make movie, after movie, after movie about your story.

If you have Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS, and you’re a kid, your gym teacher will tell you that you have to run the mile unless you can get a note from your doctor. Your teachers will fail you for missing too many days of school. And people will tell your parents that you’re just going through a phase.

If your dad or your mom has Cancer, people will organize workshops and therapy groups for you. People will tell you that it’s OK to express your feelings.

If your dad has Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS, people will tell you that he doesn’t love you. Let me repeat that and assure you that I do not exaggerate. If you’re a kid, and your dad has Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS, well-meaning people will tell you that, if your daddy loved you more, he would try to get better.

If your husband has Cancer, ladies from your church will show up at your door with casseroles.

If your husband has Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS, ladies from your church, even people in your own family, will tell you to leave him; or call you an enabler. But you’ll be too busy helping him crawl from his bed to the couch, or steadying him as he stands so that he can use the bathroom, or helping him finish his work so that your kids can eat to wonder what, exactly, you’re enabling him to do.

If people ask you: “Is your dad sick?” And you say: “He has Cancer.” Their eyes will well up. They’ll squeeze your hand and offer to bring you dinner, put you on their prayer list. They’ll say: “If there’s anything we can do…” And they’ll mean it.

If people ask you: “Is your dad sick?” And you say: “He has chronic Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS.” They will look confused for a moment. They’ll say: “What?” And then they’ll shake their heads, smile, and say:

“Well…at least it isn’t Cancer.”

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A (Mass) Debate

I have found a treatment, as old as time, which may help those of us with sleep problems: masturbation!

OOPS!

Masturbation - Gustav Klimt

Masturbation – Gustav Klimt

Having a conversation about masturbation is taboo, isn’t it? Not to be discussed at work or dinner parties (or on blogs!) Well, masturbation is a topic that could do with some airing, especially as it may fight insomnia!

Sexual climax (of any kind) leaves one in a relaxed and contented state. This is often followed closely by drowsiness and sleep – particularly when one masturbates in bed.

Ta-Da! Problem solved!

***If you do not approve of masturbation, please do NOT continue reading***

Matched with male masturbation, female masturbation is considerably less common: 90 per cent of the total male population compared to 65% of the total female population masturbate from time to time. There are many benefits linked to masturbation, in general.

General Benefits

The best thing about masturbation is its many unexpected health benefits for both women and men.

Masturbation may:

  1. Promote the release of endorphins, the neurotransmitters associated with happy feelings that can improve overall mood and fight off depression.
  2. Produce oxytocin, which works as a natural pain reliever.
  3. Help reduce headaches and muscle aches.
  4. Relieve stress and tension and aid relaxation after a stressful day.
  5. Provide a sexual outlet for people who are on their own, by choice or circumstance.
  6. Help to induce sleep, or conversely, help to start the day with more energy.
  7. Improve the immune system and contribute to overall health.
  8. Strengthen muscle tone in the genital and pelvic floor area, which can lead to better sex.
  9. Keep you free from sexual transmitted infections as it’s the safest kind of sex.
  10. Help people who suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), a neurological disorder causing leg pain, cramps, tingling and itching, (published in the medical journal Sleep Medicine). Several doctors in the US have had confirmation from their patients that it helps.
  11. Translate into better sex as stimulating each other at the same time is intimate and rewarding. People often masturbate into old age.

Benefits for Men

In 2003, an Australian research team led by Graham Giles of The Cancer Council Australia found that males masturbating frequently had a lower probability of developing prostate cancer. Men who averaged five or more ejaculations weekly in their 20s had significantly lower risk! However they could not show a direct causation. The study also indicated that increased ejaculation through masturbation rather than intercourse would be more helpful as intercourse is associated with diseases (STDs) that may increase the risk of cancer instead.

However, this benefit may be age related. A 2008 study concluded that frequent ejaculation between the ages of 20 and 40 may be correlated with higher risk of developing prostate cancer. On the other hand, frequent ejaculation in one’s 50s was found to be correlated with a lower such risk in this same study.

A 2008 study at Tabriz Medical University found ejaculation reduces swollen nasal blood vessels, freeing the airway for normal breathing. The mechanism is through stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and is long-lasting. The study author suggests a male can masturbate to alleviate the congestion and can adjust the number of ejaculations depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Other benefits include:

  1. May help combat premature ejaculation by training to last longer; it’s easier to practise control when on your own.
  2. Regular flushing of the system keeps semen healthy.

Benefits for Women

Possible health benefits for women:

  1. Combats pre-menstrual tension and other physical conditions associated with the menstrual cycle, such as cramps.
  2. Relieves painful menstruation by increasing blood flow to the pelvic region; which will also reduce pelvic cramping and related back aches.
  3. Builds resistance to yeast infections.
  4. Allows women to explore and understand their bodies better, so they will know what they like when they have sex with a partner.

Should you require further inducement, ladies, as you age, your body undergoes normal physical changes that may affect your sex life. The good news is that all these changes aren’t bad: ageing can have positive effects on sexuality. Some women, for instance, report feeling the freedom to enjoy sex more as they get older and don’t have birth control issues to contend with. Other women, however, experience emotional or physical changes that can make sex less enjoyable.

Practicing masturbation techniques can help remedy some of the problems experienced by women as they grow older. As a woman ages, her vagina becomes shorter and more narrow. In addition, without regular supplies of estrogen, the walls of the vagina can become thin and stiff. For this reason, it is common to experience vaginal dryness, or a lack of natural vaginal lubrication (wetness), as you get older. Masturbation stimulates the brain to produce physical changes in the vagina and activates various neural pathways responsible for clitoral swelling, vaginal congestion, lengthening of the vagina, and lubrication.

Maybe it’s a good idea to make masturbation part of your health routine and have fun at the same time.

What’s the Deal with Fibromyalgia?

This piece has been re-blogged from ProHealth and authored by Sue Ingebretson (www.RebuildingWellness.com).

Have you ever been asked, “So, what’s the deal with fibromyalgia? What is fibro, really?”

When you’re asked, what do you say? Do you have a clear, concise spiel that gives the facts or a printed list with need-to-know bullet points?

Nope, I don’t either.

Sometimes when I’m asked, I’m in the middle of doing something else. It takes me a moment to switch gears into educator mode. Other times, I feel that the person asking the question doesn’t really want to know facts and figures. There’s more going on than what meets the eye.

Our answers about our personal health challenges really depend on who is asking. And, our answers change based on how they ask.

So, I have a suggestion for you.

Print out the following letter. Keep copies handy for the next time you’re asked questions about fibromyalgia in general, or even about your personal health challenges. This letter covers all the bases, yet gets some very important – and personal – points across in a non-technical and relatable way.

I hope you find it useful, and if so – please share!

You can download a printable copy of the letter HERE.

Fibromyalgia?  Because you asked…

Dear Concerned,

You’ve recently asked me about fibromyalgia and I’m sure you’re wondering what all the hype is about. While most people have heard of it by now, that doesn’t mean they know what it is. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there and it can be confusing.

After all, if everything you know about fibromyalgia comes from what you see on TV, you might believe I should be out rowing a canoe, gardening, or opening my own bakery and sweets shop. But, instead, you see me not feeling well and not participating in activities that are too taxing or stressful.

To clarify my response, I’m providing it in this written format. It’s my way of making sure I don’t leave out anything important.

Here’s what you need to know…

Health conditions in general, are classified as either diseases or syndromes. Diseases have a specific, definable, biological cause and have a specific set of symptoms. Health conditions that have no definable biological cause and exhibit a variety of symptoms are categorized as syndromes.

Fibromyalgia, therefore, is categorized as a syndrome as are multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, and hundreds of other chronic health challenges. Fibromyalgia likely affects about 10 million Americans (mostly women) and the numbers globally continue to rise.

Now that I’ve covered some fundamentals, here are five more things that I think are important for you to know about fibromyalgia as well as about how fibromyalgia affects me.

#1 – Fibromyalgia is actually a systemic health concern. That means multiple systems of the body are compromised and may experience dysfunction. Many of us exhibit symptoms related to the musculoskeletal, nervous, respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular, immune, urinary, endocrine systems and more.

We’re all different. Some fibrofolk experience symptoms that relate to more than one system (or systems) than others. For example, some may experience frequent digestive dysfunction issues and rarely experience cardiovascular issues, etc. This varies widely.

The most dominant symptoms that we do share, however, are:

  1. Chronic widespread body pain that varies in type and intensity day by day (muscles, joints, headaches/migraines, etc.)
  2. Fatigue (this doesn’t mean simply tired – it means knocked down, dragged out, run-over-by-a-truck exhausted feeling that lasts for days, weeks, or much longer)
  3. Sleep disturbances (difficulties in falling asleep or staying asleep – also, not feeling rested even after sleep)
  4. Concentration, memory, and cognitive dysfunction issues (grasping for words, forgetfulness, difficulty in completing tasks, etc.). This is oftentimes referred to as fibrofog.

There’s a plethora of other symptoms, too. Digestive issues are very common as are anxiety and mood issues, balance and coordination challenges, weight management issues, whole body stiffness, PMS, inability to regulate body temperature and more.

While there are far too many symptoms to list here, the top four listed above are the biggies. Mine vary from day-to-day and while sometimes I feel some more than others, they’re all usually lurking under the surface.

I’d like to say a quick word, here, about depression. As you can imagine, dealing with chronic and relentless pain (and more) leaves its mark. It can leave a person feeling frustrated at best and potentially depressed at worst. Depression can especially develop for those who feel overwhelmed, unsupported, and hopeless about their health circumstances.

Therefore (non-clinical) depression can result from all of the factors listed above. It’s not the cause of the factors listed above. This distinction matters for reasons of establishing a diagnosis, a future prognosis, and potential treatment(s) for existing depression.

#2 – No, I didn’t “do” anything to cause fibromyalgia. There are multiple reasons that fibromyalgia can develop and it’s never just one thing. It takes a combination of factors and some of the most likely include:

  • A compromised digestive system* (contributed to by food sensitivities, stress, processed foods, diets and more),
  • A family history of immune system dysfunction and/or allergies.
  • Infection(s).
  • A traumatic physical event or injury (includes surgeries).
  • A traumatic stressful/emotional event.
  • Vitamin/nutrient deficiencies (*can be contributed to by a compromised digestive system).
  • Environmental exposures to toxins (both internal and external).
  • Multiple chronic infections leading to repeated use of antibiotics, steroids, or corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Dental issues.

Also, any number of the above factors can lead to:

  • Whole body inflammation.
  • Chronic yeast and candida issues.
  • Compromised adrenal, thyroid, and hormone regulation.

These things set the stage for dysfunctions in multiple systems of the body. That’s why there’s such a wide variety of symptoms.

#3 – It’s important to understand that fibromyalgia and my symptoms are unpredictable. I’d love to “know” how I’ll feel tomorrow or even next week, but I simply don’t. Sometimes I can do something relatively minor (like fixing dinner for my family) and feel awful afterward. Other times, I can participate in something major and feel fine.

But, here’s the important part. If I can’t predict my own reactions to foods, places, events, circumstances, etc. – I certainly don’t expect you to.

I appreciate your concern when you ask if I “should” do this or that, but it’s my choice. I get to decide what I will or won’t choose to do. And, I’ll deal with the consequences of my choices. Additionally, I don’t expect you to know what to do, what to say, or even how to help me. It’s my choice and responsibility when (or if) to ask for help, and to share how I’d like to be helped.

#4 – In a nutshell, it’s important to grasp that having fibromyalgia makes me hyper-sensitive. Things that don’t pinch, hurt, or even annoy most people might drive me crazy. A heavy necklace or a large purse can feel like I’ve got an anvil pulling on my neck and shoulders. A simple touch or even an embrace can leave me feeling as if I’d been squeezed in a vice.

Sounds, lights, smells, tastes, and touches can be unusually amplified. Please respect (and withhold judgment) when I express that something may be too loud, too bright, to stinky, too spicy, or too painful.

I’m not trying to be difficult.

I’m simply trying to share my feelings and experiences.

And, along with being hyper-sensitive, there are some things I can’t control. While I agree it may look funny, it’s not humorous to me when I startle easily, jump at loud noises, or shriek when unexpectedly alarmed. It’s as simple as a reflex and I can’t change that.

It’s important to note that due to this hyper-aware state, stress is also amplified. Therefore, avoiding stress and dealing with the stress I can’t avoid has become my priority. For me, stress isn’t a simple fact of life to accept. Its negative effects are far-reaching and potentially long-lasting.

It is, therefore, an important health mission for me to participate in relaxation activities and care for my body physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

#5 – I appreciate your thoughtful suggestions for how to manage my health challenges, but keep in mind that above all, I’m doing the best I can.

Your helpful advice will be taken into consideration. If I apply your suggestion to my current protocol of treatments, I’ll do it because I feel it could benefit my healing process. If I don’t take your suggestion, it might be for any number of reasons. I may have already tried it, I may have researched or read something to the contrary, I may not have the resources to put it into practice, or I may feel it would conflict with something else I’m already doing.

While I may or may not have the time or energy to go into all this detail with you, please know that I value your concern. If there’s anything that I’ve learned, I know that there’s no single pill, practice, or program that will “fix” fibromyalgia. If there were, I’d already be taking it, doing it, or be devoted to learning it.

Which is exactly what I’m doing now.

I’m learning as I go.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn is how to express myself. Although it’s difficult, here are a few thoughts on that topic:

Please don’t….

  • Tell me that you know how I feel. Even if you have fibromyalgia and/or any other health challenge, we’re all different and experience our conditions differently.
  • Tell me how I should feel. That’s up to me.
  • Tell me that so-and-so drank this “magic juice” and got better. There are as many treatments that don’t work as ones that do. I’m on the journey to discover this process on my own.
  • Compare me to siblings, friends, colleagues, who don’t have health challenges or even those who do. As I’ve stated, I’m on my own path to wellness.

Please do….

  • Tell me that you’re thinking of me. Even if I’m not terribly responsive or talkative it’s wonderful to know that you’re supportive of me and of my health.
  • Send me books, magazines, cards, emails, notes, etc. that express that you’re there. Chronic illness can be SO isolating and every kind word from you matters to me.
  • Ask if there’s anything specific that I need. Even if I say “no” 50 times out of 51, that one time that I really need something may mean the world to me.
  • Continue to search for helpful treatments, protocols, nutrients, supplements, and practices. Just because I don’t always implement your suggestions doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the help. I’m always open to and encouraged by current news and information.

In summary:

  • Remember that my body may bruise like a tender peach, but my will is strong as iron.
  • What I’m really trying to say is that inside, I’m still the same me.
  • I’m just trying to find my way as best I can.
  • I’d love it if you’d come along with me on this unpredictable journey.

               Not behind me pushing,

               Not in front of me pulling,

               But beside me – guiding, encouraging, nurturing and supporting

Are you with me?

_________________________

Sue-IngebretsonSue Ingebretson (www.RebuildingWellness.com) is an author, speaker, certified holistic health care practitioner and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. She is also a Patient Advocate/Fibromyalgia Expert for the Alliance Health website and a Fibromyalgia writer for the ProHealth website community.

Her #1 Amazon best-selling chronic illness book, FibroWHYalgia, details her own journey from chronic illness to chronic wellness. She is also the creator of the FibroFrog™– a therapeutic stress-relieving tool which provides powerful healing benefits with fun and whimsy.

Would you like to find out more about the effects of STRESS on your body? Download Sue’s free Is Stress Making You Sick? guide and discover your own Stress Profile by taking the surveys provided in this detailed 23-page report.

The Bitch is Back (literally)

It’s 6.10am and I am amazed by how much pain I am in.

work_625175_7_flat,550x550,075,f_purple-painMainly, I am amazed because I forget, in between flares, about how bad these can actually be; how much we actually put up with. I don’t normally write when I feel like this because I really can’t be bothered…and, then when they’re over, it never feels like it could have been THAT bad…WRONG!

So here goes (from toes upwards): both my little toes feel like they are being squished by my shoes (like they are every time I wear any time I wear any kind of shoes) except I haven’t worn any shoes in 3 days!

Purple-Stiletto-Heels (1)The balls of my feet feel like they have spent at least 10 hours in a pair of stilettos partying – once again, I can’t remember the last time I wore a pair of heels. You know those Dr Scholl sandals with the funny nodules – those nodules are growing on the inside of my soles. And there’s a spot where I had a papilloma which is now growing up the inside of my calf muscle, despite being removed when I was twelve. Sounds so bizarre, right? Welcome to my central nervous system!

Every muscle in my calves has cramped up; and I have used every single technique that the physio at rehab taught me, applied every cream and ointment from my box of tricks…everything!

b27293cc-66ff-4474-89ba-f809cfb092ad-tmpMoving upwards (and you may want to miss this paragraph if you don’t like to share too much information): 10 days ago, I suffered an anal fissure due to constipation – yeah! fabulous! Since then, it has felt like my insides have been cramped up completely. I have been taking turns at both constipation and diarrhoea while having a very sore ass the entire time! Needless to say, I am too scared to leave the house, in case my insides should just decide to drop out! Hey! It could happen!

Now the wonderful ointment that the doctor gives you for this lovely and embarrassing condition has the possible (and very probable for us) side effects of headaches and dizziness. Ta Da! I’ve continued with non-stop headaches and dizziness.

greenhealth_07_pmsLet’s move to another orifice. My period is due tomorrow so during all of this I have been pre-menstrual. Aren’t you guys lucky that you don’t have to be anywhere near me at the moment!

You’ll be happy to know that my chest, shoulders and neck seem to fine right now so we can miss those…otherwise this could be one really long bitching session.

great make upThe pain in my cheek and jaw bones (I’m told it is a continuation of migraine pain) is not reacting to anti-inflammatories, or any other pain medication – bring on the Botox injections (and the possible addition of Botox to the PBS in March). And I have had a giant case of face leakage for the last 3 days – and no wonder when you read all of this crap, really.

One can’t help but feel sorry for oneself in this state.

Maybe a sleeping tablet will help and I’ll wake up feeling better?

Break out the Furry Handcuffs!

Get kinky!

People who partake in bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism (BDSM) may be mentally healthier than those who don’t, says research published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

blindfoldedResearchers asked 902 people who practice BDSM to fill out questionnaires on their psychological health. And compared to those having “vanilla sex;” and despite past assumptions that BDSM proclivities might be correlated with previous abuse, rape or mental disorders (research has shown that they’re not), this survey found that kinky people actually scored better on many indicators of mental health than those who didn’t practice BDSM, reported LiveScience. According to Reuters, BDSM-friendly participants were found to be less neurotic, more open, more aware of and sensitive to rejection, more secure in their relationships and have better overall well-being.

Foot_in_BondageThe researchers speculate that spicing it up in the bedroom may help you tune in to sexual desires and communicate them. In turn, that could make you more comfortable with your overall identity.

Andreas Wismeijer, a psychologist at Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands and the lead author on the study, told LiveScience that people involved in the BDSM community may have scored better on these surveys because they tend to be more aware of and communicative about their sexual desires, or because they have done some “hard psychological work” to accept and live with sexual needs that are beyond the scope of what is often considered socially acceptable to discuss in the mainstream.

Maggie Gylenhaal

This research isn’t necessarily representative of the general population since participants were selected on a volunteer basis, but it does support the argument for removing BDSM from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). In the current DSM, BDSM fetishes are listed as “paraphilia,” which essentially encompasses any “unusual” sexual preferences.

Fetish communities have argued for years that harmless sexual tastes should not be listed next to mental disorders. Perhaps this research will help bolster their case.

AND you don’t have to jump into full-blown kinky sex to reap the benefits. Any sort of experimentation can lead to higher levels of well-being and sexual satisfaction, says Ava Cadell, Ph.D., founder of Loveology University, an online resource for sex knowledge. Start with something manageable, like spanking, suggests Cadell.

Here’s how to pull it off: “Aim lower on her butt, rather than hitting the top of the cheek,” says Cadell. Men often make the mistake of spanking too high, but this could actually cause pain—you’re closer to bone, says Cadell. You engage more nerve endings when you make contact with the fleshier area of her cheeks, she explains.

So, peeps, make sure to report back here after your experimentation!

P.S. For the next issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA, I am working on having some-one write an article about kink and FM.