#Fibromyalgia, Fatigue and some (naughty) Fun

I know that some of you cannot even think of having sex without bringing on a flare – Me? I’d put up with a flare at the moment for a little loving!

With Valentine’s Day approaching, imagine this:

It’s 9pm. You’ve just put the kids to bed. It’s been a long, exhausting day. It feels like 4 in the morning and you’re ready to fall over. Suddenly your other half looks at you in that way, smiles and strokes your arm, and you know he/she wants to ‘make lurve.’

So, what’s your reaction?

Decreased sexual interest is not considered a common characteristic of FM. Nonetheless, a 2005 Turkish study demonstrates that female patients with FM have distinct sexual dysfunction compared with healthy controls.292.FM Lovesong

What is Normal Sexual Function?

For women, sex is a complex issue because it involves both physical and emotional reactions. Normal sexual functioning, however, may be divided into specific stages that include:

  • Desire
  • Arousal
  • Orgasm
  • Relaxation

They are all tied together with feelings of fulfillment, satisfaction and pleasure. For a woman, this is achieved not simply through physical touching. It involves psychological and emotional engagement. It may be difficult at times to remain sexually engaged when your body is in pain or fatigued or you are experiencing low self-esteem.

Types of Sexual Dysfunction in Women with Fibromyalgia

Sexual dysfunction refers to the inability to either engage in or enjoy the sexual act. It occurs for a number of different reasons that include illness, the impact of medications on the body, or emotional distress.

Women with fibromyalgia may suffer from one or more types of sexual dysfunction. The more common types include:

  1. Decreased sexual desire or drive
  2. Less arousal but maybe adequate sex drive
  3. Difficulty in achieving orgasm
  4. Increased pain with sexual intercourse or vaginal contact
  5. Failure of the body to co-operate with the desired position or movement

I am not even pretending that I know how to help with the first three types. I feel I can offer some suggestion on the last two.

We already know that FM is more foe than friend.  While many of us are too tired for sex, it is the muscle pain that leads to pressure and a squeezing of the pelvic area and lower back that ultimately result in muscle cramping during sexual intercourse. This naturally causes a great deal of discomfort, making it difficult to engage in certain sexual behaviours.

Sex may eventually become something that is no longer pleasurable (I can’t believe I said that!), but a negative experience. One’s natural tendency is to avoid such physically intimate situations, especially given that one is too tired or sore for sex.

sexSo, who can be bothered? (Pick me! Pick me!)

Further, taking a toll on one’s sex life are FM medications that decrease libido and a man’s ability to attain or maintain erection. Anti-depressants can also take a toll on a person’s sexual functioning. A person living with FM may react negatively to bodily changes, like weight changes and the loss of muscle mass.

As lovers feel less connected in the boudoir, their sexual relationship takes a hit (ie: unless you take steps to stay mentally and spiritually connected while attempting to be physically intimate). It’s important to realise that the release of hormones and endorphins, natural opioids, during sex can help to relieve FM symptoms, like pain and depression, and boost well-being. This double-sided sword is that while sex can relieve symptoms of FM, FM itself may result in a decreased libido, and, definitely, fatigue and pain that hinder a person’s desire and ability to engage in sexual intercourse.

Maintaining your sex life is vital to your health and well-being. Consider adopting this plan on Tuesday:

  • Plan ahead to make this the night for sexual relations. Practice acceptance. Adapt. Make peace with the fact that you need to deal with this condition, and then allow yourself to reclaim your life in every way. This means ensuring you do not wear yourself out earlier during the day. You need to be well-rested so pace yourself.
  • If you have stiffness of your muscles or joints, consider ways to reduce the stiffness. Do some stretching to relax the muscles and make them limber.
  • Practice reducing stress. You can do breathing exercises. You can also combine exercise with stress reduction by playing soothing music while you do yoga. For some, a guided meditation or visualization will produce the desired result.
  • Take a warm bath or shower. A bath is excellent because it means you can pamper yourself. Play soft, romantic or sensual music and indulge in an sumptuous bubble bath
  • Prepare the room so it is relaxing, comfortable and reignites your passion. Clean, fresh, fragrant sheets can help. Pillows you can place to make positions easier are good tools to have handy. Soft lights and even softer music can also be effective in setting the right mood.
  • When it comes to the actual sex act, talk to your partner. Consider some positions that do not cause any discomfort but result in pleasure for both of you. Allow your partner to be more active during sex if possible (Absolutely nothing bad about THAT!) Talk it through.
  • Experiment with different sexual positions. There are plenty of activities and positions that are ideal for fatigue; and many ways to avoid painful sex. And have fun trying them ALL out! (see the attachment)
  • Enjoy each other despite flare ups. Part of this is not being so goal-oriented during a love-making session. Allow things to happen as they can.
  • Stay physically connected by just cuddling (unless such is not made possible by allondynia, where the brain misinterprets neutral or pleasant stimuli for pain).

The important thing is to learn what has produced your sexual dysfunction and to make an effort to maintain interest in sex. You can discuss any concerns you have with your doctor and your partner or spouse. Being honest with your intimate partner will help you maintain an active sex life.

Finally?

Don’t give up. It might feel like you’re never going to want to have sex ever again – but that’s the fibro talking, not you. Lust strikes at the oddest moment, and people can have sex in a myriad of ways. So have fun exploring what works best for you. and you’ll feel IT again.

And when you do, take advantage of it, and enjoy it!

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For those grown-ups among us (and those NOT easily offended), please check out these recommended sexual positions that require less physical exertion. This is adult content –  By clicking “I Agree” below, you are agreeing to the following:

  1. You are an adult, at least 18 years of age, you are familiar with and understand the standards and laws of your local community regarding sexually oriented media. You represent that, based on your familiarity with the standards and laws of your local community, you will not be violating any applicable standards or laws by requesting, receiving, downloading or possessing any of the video, audio, graphics, images or text (“Adult Material”) available on this Website.
  2. You hereby acknowledge that any use of this Website is at your sole risk. You understand that by accepting the terms of this Agreement, you are agreeing to hold the Publisher of this Web Site harmless from any responsibilities or liabilities related to your use of this Web Site and the Adult Material contained herein.
  3. You will not permit any person(s) under 18 years of age to have access to any of the Adult Materials contained in this Web Site.
  4. You are voluntarily choosing to access this Web Site, because you want to view, read or hear the various Adult Materials that are available. You agree to immediately exit from this Web Site if you are in any way offended by the sexual nature of any Adult Material.
  5. If you use this Web Site in violation of these Terms, or use this Web Site where such use is illegal, you may be in violation of local and/or federal laws. You agree that you are solely responsible for your use of this Web Site and agree to indemnify Publisher against any claims arising out of such use.

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Feeling Broken?

NOTE: This post may be fun and informative BUT it may also offend some. If you are sensitive about very grown-up subjects, please avoid this post.

Many female FM sufferers have reported also suffering from Vaginismus. Vaginismus is defined as involuntary spasm/contraction/reflex of the muscles surrounding the entrance to the vagina, making penetration impossible and/or painful, which causes personal and/or relationship distress.

It is a very serious subject (so, please note, I am not making fun of the condition); however, I found this cartoon which deals with the subject a little more lightly.

2016-01-05-Vaginismus

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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.

 

 

Fibromyalgia Hurts Your Love Life

Forget the roses and the bottle of wine. When it comes to romance, Fibro is a buzz kill!

broken_heart1A new survey of FM patients has found that well over half believe that chronic pain has significantly harmed their romantic relationships.

The survey of 1,228 adults in the U.S. with FM found that pain was having a widespread impact on their social life, home life, work and school attendance, and exercise habits.

Pain also took a big toll on romance. Nearly 70 percent said FM pain has affected their physical intimacy with a partner or spouse. And over half (55%) said FM had negatively impacted their romantic relationships in some way.

“Fibromyalgia has long been misunderstood, as it is a complicated disease with many different symptoms, and as a patient, I have understood the importance of differentiating between the symptoms and recognizing the impact that just one symptom – like pain – can have on your life,” said Jan Chambers, president of the National FM & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA).

“This survey is important for the fibromyalgia community as it underscores the need for more effective dialogue between patients and their HCPs (health care practitioners), specifically focusing on pain management, including lifestyle changes that can make a difference.”

The survey, called Functioning with Fibro, was funded by Pfizer Inc., and was conducted in collaboration with NFMCPA and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. The survey was conducted August 9 – 23, 2013, using an email invitation and an online survey.

On average, the survey found that FM patients had more bad days than good, with the number of “flare up” days exceeding the good ones in a typical week. Daily activities most affected by FM were sleep (71%), exercise (70%) and the ability to do household chores (60%).

FM patients who work missed an average of 3 weeks of work annually (versus only 3 sick days for the average American). They were late for work an additional nine days. About a third said their professional relationships were adversely affected by FM.

Other key findings:

  • 85% said pain was the #1 symptom impacting their daily life.
  • 85% said they had missed important events in their life, including holidays, birthdays, vacations, and social engagements.
  • 72% say they are hesitant to plan social activities out of fear they’ll have to cancel.
  • 54% say it’s had a negative impact on their friendships.
  • 48% say it’s had a negative impact on their family life.

FM patients were very pro-active about their treatment. Nearly half said they were currently discussing with their health care practitioner ways to improve day-to-day life. And nearly all (97%) had done something to improve their ability to live with pain, including minimizing stressful situations and setting more limits.

From NationalPainReport.com

Looking to improve your love life? Check out Fibromyalgia, Fatigue and Sex

Valentines’ Day Special

Valentines dayPersonally, in my (now) 42 years, I don’t think I have EVER had sex on Valentine’s Day – whether I was healthy or not. I may not have been in a relationship or I may have been and it just didn’t happen that day. But I know that, given the opportunity, I would love to ‘make lurve’ on Valentine’s Day (and, of course, decorate accordingly!)

I know that some of you cannot even think of having sex without bringing on a flare – Me? I’d put up with a flare at the moment for a little loving!

Imagine this:

It’s 9pm tonight. You’ve just put the kids to bed. It’s been a long, exhausting day. It feels like 4 in the morning and you’re ready to fall over. Suddenly your other half looks at you in that way, smiles and strokes your arm, and you know he/she wants to ‘make lurve.’

So, what’s your reaction?

Decreased sexual interest is not considered a common characteristic of FM. Nonetheless, a 2003 Brazilian study, involving women in their 40s and 50s, half of whom had FM and half of whom did not, found that the healthy group was likelier to have had a regular sexual relationship in the last six months than those with FM. The FM group members were less satisfied with their sex life, had more pain during intercourse, experienced more fatigue during sexual intimacy, and were less likely to initiate sexual intimacy than healthy women.

We already know that FM is more foe than friend.  While many of us are too tired for sex, it is the muscle pain that leads to pressure and a squeezing of the pelvic area and lower back that ultimately result in muscle cramping during sexual intercourse. This naturally causes a great deal of discomfort, making it difficult to engage in certain sexual behaviours.

Sex may eventually become something that is no longer pleasurable (I can’t believe I said that!), but a negative experience. One’s natural tendency is to avoid such physically intimate situations, especially given that one is too tired or sore for sex.

sex 1

So, who can be bothered? (Pick me! Pick me!)

Further, taking a toll on one’s sex life are FM medications that decrease libido and a man’s ability to attain or maintain erection. Anti-depressants can also take a toll on a person’s sexual functioning. A person living with FM may react negatively to bodily changes, like weight changes and the loss of muscle mass.

As lovers feel less connected in the boudoir, their sexual relationship takes a hit (ie: unless you take steps to stay mentally and spiritually connected while attempting to be physically intimate). It’s important to realise that the release of hormones and endorphins, natural opioids, during sex can help to relieve FM symptoms, like pain and depression, and boost well-being. This double-sided sword is that while sex can relieve symptoms of FM, FM itself may result in a decreased libido, and, definitely, fatigue and pain that hinder a person’s desire and ability to engage in sexual intercourse.

Maintaining your sex life is vital to your health and well-being. In order to have a healthy sex life, why not try some of these pointers:

  • Practice acceptance. Adapt. Make peace with the fact that you need to deal with this condition, and then allow yourself to reclaim your life in every way.
  • Maintain a routine that helps you to feel good about yourself – not necessarily just grooming. Sometimes you need to treat yourself to feel good. Take yourself off for a hot oil massage or a manicure.
  • Stay physically active, preferably with your partner, as much as possible, as another way to feel better about yourself, possibly boosting your sex drive.
  • Manage stress with relaxation techniques like meditation.
  • Talk to your doctor about how your condition is affecting your sex life, including any medications that may be at play.
  • Arm yourself with information. Become educated about your condition and how FM impacts your sexuality and sexual expression. This is a must in talking to your partner about everything that’s taking place. Being informed can also help to alleviate your lover’s concerns, helping both of you to stay emotionally connected.
  • Allow your partner to be more active during sex if possible (Absolutely nothing bad about THAT!)
  • Plan for sex after luxuriating in a warm bath or using a moist heat application, both of which ease FM pain, inflammation, muscle spasms, and stiffness.
  • Experiment with different sexual positions. There are plenty of activities and positions that are ideal for fatigue; and many ways to avoid painful sex. And have fun trying them ALL out! (see the attachment)
  • Enjoy each other despite flare ups. Part of this is not being so goal-oriented during a love-making session. Allow things to happen as they can.
  • Stay physically connected by just cuddling (unless such is not made possible by allondynia, where the brain misinterprets neutral or pleasant stimuli for pain).

Finally?

Don’t give up. It might feel like you’re never going to want to have sex ever again – but that’s the fibro talking, not you. Lust strikes at the oddest moment, and people can have sex in a myriad of ways. So have fun exploring what works best for you. and you’ll feel IT again.

And when you do, take advantage of it, and enjoy it! Happy Valentine’s Day!

For those grown-ups among us (and those NOT easily offended), please check out these recommended sexual positions that require less physical exertion. This is adult content –  By clicking “I Agree” below, you are agreeing to the following:

  1. You are an adult, at least 18 years of age, you are familiar with and understand the standards and laws of your local community regarding sexually oriented media. You represent that, based on your familiarity with the standards and laws of your local community, you will not be violating any applicable standards or laws by requesting, receiving, downloading or possessing any of the video, audio, graphics, images or text (“Adult Material”) available on this Website.
  2. You hereby acknowledge that any use of this Website is at your sole risk. You understand that by accepting the terms of this Agreement, you are agreeing to hold the Publisher of this Web Site harmless from any responsibilities or liabilities related to your use of this Web Site and the Adult Material contained herein.
  3. You will not permit any person(s) under 18 years of age to have access to any of the Adult Materials contained in this Web Site.
  4. You are voluntarily choosing to access this Web Site, because you want to view, read or hear the various Adult Materials that are available. You agree to immediately exit from this Web Site if you are in any way offended by the sexual nature of any Adult Material.
  5. If you use this Web Site in violation of these Terms, or use this Web Site where such use is illegal, you may be in violation of local and/or federal laws. You agree that you are solely responsible for your use of this Web Site and agree to indemnify Publisher against any claims arising out of such use.

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FibroMAGIC Sex

If you have FM, you may also be having problems with your sex life or relationships (if you have one!). You could be experiencing loss of libido or having difficulty with sexual performance. It’s also possible your libido is healthy, but the pain and stiffness of FM stops you from enjoying sex the way you used to.

It’s not unusual for people with any chronic illness to complain about having problems with their sex life. But a healthy sex life is important for many reasons:

  1. Not only does sex strengthen an intimate relationship, but sexual intercourse boosts endorphins. Those are the body’s natural opioids that help decrease pain and increase well-being.
  2. From my point of view (and many single FM sufferers), you are very lucky to have one – so you need to keep it up!

Talking openly with your doctor and following a few practical tips can help you resolve problems associated with FM, pain, and sex. Then you can begin to enjoy this aspect of your life again.

What Causes Loss of Libido With FM?

Some of the medications, such as Paxil and Zoloft, used in our treatment may cause reduced sex drive. If you take an antidepressant and have problems with libido, talk to your doctor. A simple change of medication or a reduction in dose may improve your sex drive and allow you to enjoy your relationships more.

Further, for some of us, having to deal with the uncomfortable symptoms of FM, including the ongoing pain, fatigue, anxiety, and stiffness, is difficult enough without thinking of being physically active with sexual activity. Learning to self-manage these symptoms with medications, exercise, and lifestyle habits may help to boost your sex life.

How Can I Have Sex if I Hurt all Over?

Some FM patients give up romantic aspirations for fear of further injury and pain. Yet being intimate with your partner is still possible. With FM pain and tender points, you need to work with your partner to find the most comfortable position during sexual intercourse. For instance, if you have FM with low back pain, you may find that having your partner on top or lying on his or her side is most comfortable for you. Or, if you’re a woman who has FM and hip pain, you might use a pillow between your knees to stabilize your body during sexual intercourse.

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(FYI: In the next issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA, there will be a ‘sealed’ Valentines’ Day section, showing specific positions (don’t worry, they are NOT photos of me!) that may help with different pains)

Just because you have always had sex in a particular way does not mean that’s the only way. You need to be patient, take it slowly, and find the best sexual positions that allow you to be intimate without causing further pain. Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to be intimate with your partner. It may be time to bring out that 1970s copy of the Karma Sutra that you have hidden at the back of your bookcase or night table – find the positions that work for you.

Can Soaking in a Warm Bath Before Sex Help?

Moist heat, including soaking in a warm bath, can help ease FM pain and may allow you to enjoy sexual intercourse – or any exercise – without added pain. Heat increases blood flow to the site and decreases stiffness.

When using moist heat, make sure it is not too warm or you can burn your skin. You might soak in a warm bath for at least 15 minutes before sexual intercourse or other physical activity to get the full benefit. You may also soak in a warm bath after sexual intercourse or other physical activity. Other popular types of moist heat include a warm shower (sit on a chair, if needed), warm whirlpool or hot tub, heated swimming pool, and a moist heating pad.

Is Stress Linked to Sexual Problems and FM?

Stress may trigger FM symptoms. Yet managing stress may help control your symptoms and balance your daily life, which can boost your libido. Stress management may include a combination of exercises, relaxation techniques (deep breathing or meditation exercises), a good sleep routine, and proper nutrition.

Exercise (including sex) releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural stress-fighting hormones, so any type of physical exercise is a good stress-control measure. Relaxation therapies such as deep abdominal breathing, visualisation or guided imagery, and meditation are also helpful in managing stress.

What Else May Help my Sex Life With FM?

If you have FM, talk to your doctor and see if medications can boost libido and/or sexual performance. Improving your overall health by treating any other medical problems may also help.

For the Love of…Writing

The art of writing is being lost. Perhaps the most significant sign of this is that, for the first time in 35 years, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was not awarded.

I am not talking about the act of physically putting pen to paper but, rather, the expression of one’s thoughts, feelings and experiences. This art, like law, is something to be practiced, never to be perfected.

I preface this post by not professing to be a master of the art. I am merely a great aficionado. I love to read (although my ability to concentrate on extended pieces of prose has diminished in direct proportion to the period of time that I have had fibromyalgia). But, I had forgotten that I also love to write. I loved to write fully referenced and foot-noted essays of law directed at academia. AND I also love to write this blog. Perhaps I simply love to write for a specific audience.

I always attempt to ensure that my syntax and spelling are correct; I try to make sure that my writing is easy to follow (except when I am trying to give you a perverse glimpse at the internal workings of my mind – then you gets whatever happens!); and, mostly, I try to keep to the topic (that one doesn’t always happen, either!)

I may be showing my pre-technology age when I say that I cannot stand reading pieces with lazy abbreviations, for example: 2 instead of to or too; U instead of you; da instead of the (although, having recently joined TWITTER, I can vaguely understand it – all posts must be under 140 characters long); or too many spelling mistakes; or, especially, the mis-use of homophones (that’s a new word for me, too – a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning).

For us, FibroMAGICians (this is my new word), writing is a blessing.

  • Writing allows us/me to express what is going on in our heads. If I need to search for a word, because it is lost in the eerie recesses of my addled mind, I can use the thesaurus or, better yet, I can leave it out until I remember later (ummm…if I remember to return!)
  • I can choose the audience for whom I am writing (at least when I first started. Now, I ‘know’ some of you and, although it may not always seem like it, I try to write so that YOU can understand and/or enjoy what I write).
  • I can write about anything – it is not often that I am given an opportunity to discuss ‘poo’-ing and sex positions in the same place.
  • I can edit what I have written at a later stage. This medium allows me to re-read what I have written, omit parts that are REALLY boring and insert the stuff that I forgot.

Can you think of a better place for a FibroMAGICian to dwell?
Glitter Photos
[Glitterfy.com – *Glitter Photos*]

Ten Hours Sleep…and more

I slept 10 hours last night!

Was it the melatonin? Was it the Pilates class (and in case you’re wondering, yes! OW again!)? Was it the afternoon meditation session? Was it babysitting Z for a couple of hours? Was it taking my Lyrica earlier? Was it a mixture of CoQ10, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Eleuthera Root? Was it all my sex and fibromyalgia research? Was it because I had such a bad night’s sleep the night before?

Was it a mixture of all of the above and more?

See? That’s the problem – as FM sufferers, if we hear about something that helps another sufferer, we try it. Nothing wrong with that.*

If we hear about a multitude of things that help, we try them all. Nothing wrong with that.*

The problem arises when we try to work out what actually helps us, and what just happens to be coincidental… You won’t find me having a month in which I take melatonin, then stop to take only the Pilates class for a month, then do a month of Pilates AND melatonin, etc. and recording each result in a methodical and scientific way. I did try this for a short time – but I don’t have the time to waste. I want to feel better NOW!

If something helps some-one, I’m going to try it ASAP – don’t you? If I spent a month trying each ‘remedy’ alone, then a month doing them in pairs, then a month…any-one good at equations?

And, ultimately, it wouldn’t actually help… Somewhere along the line, I would have a night where I slept 10 hours – but this couldn’t be applied to anyone else because, as we all know, everyone’s fibromyalgia experience is different. Lucky us!

My point: don’t give up looking for what might work for you – it might be alternative and wacky, but it might work!

And don’t envy my 10 hours sleep – I woke up still wanting more!

* As long as we consult the appropriate health professional first!

P.S. Can you tell I’m trying to avoid doing the clothes washing? How many posts is that today?