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

Don’t Mind(fulness) Me!

249. stressing out (1)Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a program that helps you learn to calm your mind and body to help you cope, not only with illness and/or pain, but also with stress in your everyday life.

MBSR teaches “mindfulness,” a focus only on things happening in the present moment. For example, you may sit quietly and think only about how your body feels. You might focus only on the sounds around you or how your food tastes and smells. When you are mindful, you do just one thing and you pay close attention to that one thing (basically, the opposite of multi-tasking).

To help you focus your mind on the present:

1. STOP

Stop everything! EVERYTHING! PAUSE…BREATHE! Allow everything to be exactly as it is, Release all resistance and attachment

chronic comic 164Imagine yourself hanging on to whatever you’re holding on to, with your hands, for dear life, with a big black hole beneath you. Now, LET GO and allow yourself to fall, fall down the black hole, keep falling, until you land on a beautiful, soft platform of golden light. The Universe, God, or whatever you might believe in holds you, loves you and supports you. ALLOW IT!

2. FEEL

Breathe…feel your body.

Breathe some more.

Breathe all the way down to your feet. Feel your feet touching the floor, wiggle your toes, push your big toes into the floor. Breathe deeply, sigh or groan as you breathe out. Try this at least 10 times.

What are you actually feeling?

Feel it! Express it! if you need to cry or scream, do it – it will leave you SO much lighter.

3. RELAX

chronic comic 163Not necessarily meditation or a formal way of relaxation – I mean do something you LOVE and can fully engage with, which will switch off your mind chatter (it can still be meditation if that is what you love).

4. OPEN

Open up to new possibilities.

73. miserableAsk questions without having specific answers in mind already, and without wanting them answered immediately. Simply ask and then forget about it. Allow space after the question, to free yourself from intellectualising it, and rather to be free to receive the answers when they come.

Questions like:

    • What else is possible?
    • What would the energy of my life be like, if I was living it for the joy of it?
    • How could this situation be even better?

Studies show that MBSR can reduce stress and help people relax. MBSR helped some people cope better with symptoms and improved their quality of life. Research also shows that MBSR helped people sleep better and feel less anxious, and it helped ease depression symptoms.

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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Fibro – A Greater Impact than Cancer!

Fibromyalgia is disabling (duh!) and has a greater impact on functional status and well-being than other chronic diseases such as cancer, says a UK public health researchers report. The emotional burden of FM is felt by lay carers as well as sufferers.

The study aimed to investigate the functional status and well-being of people with ME/CFS and their lay carers, and to compare them with people with other chronic conditions. Since GPs may refer to cases of ME/CFS by different names, cases that had been diagnosed by GPs with any of the following: chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), ME, post-viral asthenic syndrome (PVAS), fatigue syndrome (FS), fibromyalgia (FMS), post-infectious encephalitis (PIE) and post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS), were included in the study. Patients were considered as potential cases if any of the above diagnoses appeared in their individual electronic medical records.

As we know, diagnosis of our condition is largely based on clinical history, and exclusion of identifiable causes of chronic fatigue. Characterization of cases and the impact of interventions have been limited due to the diverse clinical nature of the condition and a lack of reliable biomarkers for diagnosis and outcome measures. The well-being of family members and those who care for us are also likely to be affected.

The functional status and well-being of a well characterised sample of individuals was measured using SF-36, a widely used and well-validated instrument, which provides generic (i.e. universally-valued, and not specific to age, disease or condition or treatment) measures of disease impact on physical, physiological, social functioning and roles. Unlike disease specific measures, SF-36 can be adequately used for comparisons between people with a range of different conditions.

The scores for the Physical and Mental Health Component summaries and the scales within each of these domains were considerably and consistently lower in people with ME/CFS, when contrasted with individuals with a range of other chronic diseases. This demonstrates that ME/CFS is not only physically disabling, but also has a significant impact on mental health.

The results of the study highlight the disabling nature of ME/CFS (Just wish our social security departments were given a copy of the report!). However, the lack of bio-markers and the fluctuating nature and lack of specificity of symptoms makes disease characterisation and disability assessment challenging.

Quality of life is inversely related to distress, disability and loss of function, and is associated with the ability of individuals to remain active and perform roles in society. A major goal of people with chronic diseases is to achieve effectiveness in life and to preserve function and well-being. However, people with ME/CFS are (generally) failing to achieve these goals, and their carers’ emotional well-being is also being affected. Recognition of the level of disability faced by us is essential for planning support services that adequately meet our needs.

 

***I apologise if this was difficult to read – but you should see the actual study! I tried, as best I could, to use ‘normal’ English.