Monday, November 23, 2009


In my brain's apparent quest to make me appear insane and constantly in mental anguish, I find that I cannot seem to stick to a single method of organizing myself. I am constantly revising the way I handle reminders and ways to keep track of appointments, tasks, and projects. The last 15 ways I've invented were supposed to each be THE ONE best way that I could use from then on. However, I keep thinking I can improve my methods by trying something new.

As a result, I feel discombobulated as I keep having to transition from one method to another. Is the computer calendar and task list the best? Or is jotting down a note wherever and whenever it comes to mind a good idea? Should I try to maintain the calendar with updates from those notes? Do the notes go in my pocket, or my purse, or do I send myself an e-mail or a phone reminder? Am I journaling my symptoms or posting them in my blog? I also have a dedicated notebook for my doctor-related notes and questions, so I can take it with me during appointments.

Sometimes I feel calm, cool, and collected about juggling all my responsibilities. Other times, like today, I feel frustrated at my lack of organization of my organization methods.

Got any tips on the best way to keep all the organization methods from overwhelming your senses?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Stress and Bad Habits

I've been noticing some icky trends in myself lately.  I've been picking at my fingers like mad, lately.  I am trying to quit, but I'm worse than ever these days!  I am hoping that announcing this the public will help me to quit this terrible habit.  I also just found a website that addresses this problem.

I've also been having cravings and overeating, or at least I think I am - so then I try to balance things out by skipping meals if I can stand it (not very often).  I've got this insane addiction to natural peanut butter that has had me reaching for the jar every morning after breakfast.  (Luckily, we ran out!) A few days ago, I grabbed a bag of chips and really had at it.  I was not hungry, but I craved the salt and was unstoppable!

My fibrofog has been worse than usual this week.  I noticed more than a few times when I had to eat crow for bonehead oversights at work and have had a particularly difficult time staying focused on the more involved discussions.  Working in IT, there are plenty of abstract ideas that require careful following along in order to be of any use to the project.  Too often I have found myself just "la la la"-ing through the hard parts, only to have to ask for concepts to be reviewed.  I don't feel too badly, though, because my asking for "a clean run-through" of a concept helps the other participants to understand the plan and their roles.  I just wish I didn't HAVE to ask because I missed something important.

As you may have guessed by now, I've also been yearning for some down time.  I have been stressed at work and wish I had more sick/vacation time (I'm all out for the year).  I feel like a day at home, alone, being quiet and still, would be helpful in recalibrating my system.  I already have plans for tomorrow, but I am hoping maybe this Sunday I can finally relax at home a bit and find a couple more spoons.

I don't like the feeling of not being in control of what I'm doing.  I think general stress is pulling me in too many directions at once.  Does this happen to you, fellow fibromites?  Can I blame Fibromyalgia or my drugs, or is this just some ugly side of myself that I have to admit to?  How do you get through these episodes?

I will not give up fighting these unhealthy habits, but I do seem to be weak lately.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Heart Problems

I declared yesterday a "good" day and invited my husband for a dinner date while I'm feeling good.  So what happens?  Not long after the soup arrives, my heart flipped into a pounding palpitation that ended up lasting through most of the night.  It made me feel like there was this pressure on my throat and chest, and the beat was visibly moving my body.  I continued to eat dinner and hope it would flip back to normal soon.

We got home and went to bed a bit early so I could rest.  As the hours wore on, I started to develop pains in my left shoulder blade and left arm, and endured that odd, pounding discomfort in my chest and throat.  Sleep would not come for many hours.  I had been able to focus on the proper rhythm before and have the heartbeat return to normal, but it just wasn't happening this time.  All through the night, I wondered when I would have to make the call to get up and head to the ER to try to fix it.  Ultimately, I decided that if I still had the palpitations in the morning, I would go to the hospital instead of work.

After a fitful night of mostly unrest, I finally found relief in the early morning hours - probably somewhere around 4am or 5am.  Thank goodness.  I was finally able to get a couple hours of sleep so I could get to work.  I have already used up all of my sick days for the year, and have alloted my few remaining vacation days, so taking a day off right now is not an easy option.

I assume the type of heart arrythmia I experienced was atrial tachycardia, since that's the diagnosis I got after my first episode at age 17, when I went to the ER to have the proper hearbeat rhythm restored with IV drugs.  I went to a cardiologist not long after that first episode and was checked out with EKG and an ultrasound machine.  Everything seemed normal.  There was no diagnosis.  I was sent home with "some people seem to be born with a tendency to have these" sentiment, and instructions to avoid caffeine.

After 30 years, I've had maybe about 50 episodes total, but most of them only lasted a few seconds or minutes.  I remember one major one that lasted through a movie about 10 years ago.  Another one that started after jumping rope.  Now this one.  I don't know how long to wait until going to ER for these things, because I always expect them to be short.  On top of that, last spring I went to the ER for breathing issues (not heart) and they made me take a stress test with ultrasound - and of course, everything looked just fine with my heart, even though I was having trouble breathing.

I have decided to see a cardiologist anyway.  I figure at least they can see if things have changed, take tests I hadn't had before or that may be more accurate today than they were back then.

Today I am feeling the after-effects of the episode: my throat and chest hurt as I breathe in.  They feel like their elasticity is lacking.  Maybe the fibro is making my muscles "remember" what they endured for so many hours.  I noticed that my body remembers pain for a long time.  Pokes and little dings hurt for minutes after the contact is done.  It's the same with sounds.  Sometimes sounds hurt, and it continues to hurt or echo in my mind after it's over. 

Anyway, I'll post an update once I get an appointment for a heart specialist and receive any test results.  I hate to hope for a diagnosis of some sort, but it's frustrating always having everyone tell me I'm fine and shouldn't be having problems.  (Fibromites should know exactly what I'm talking about.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Spoons: Lost and Found

Most of us Fibromites and chronic pain sufferers (aka "spoonies") are familiar with the Spoon Theory.  If you're not, click on the link and read the little story that helps explain what it's like to have a rationed amount of energy each day.

Last week, there was a lot going on at work, and I started using up too many of my spoons here and there.  By Friday, I was dealing with a deficit.  I was out of energy and couldn't wait to go home and just crash.  Luckily, my boss recognized all the extra work I'd put in and urged me to leave early on Friday.  I left, ran an errand, and crashed on the couch with my heating pad and my blanket, zoning out to reruns in my Tivo's Suggestions.  I was tempted to do some reading or journal writing, but I was so wiped out and dizzy that I could hardly remember my own name, so I knew that would be a waste of effort.  I got as comfortable as possible and zoned out for several hours.  Lying still minimized the vertigo that was plaguing me at, literally, every turn.

When evening came, I too my half Ambien and slept as long as possible.  When allowed, my body will try to sleep for about 11 or 12 hours.  I was still exhausted on Saturday, but the weather was nice, so I took advantage and took a little walk with Don around the neighborhood.  I had to stop a couple times, and I felt old and feeble about it, but I made it and got some sunshine.  I was able to read and pushed myself to do some minor cooking and cleaning that evening.  Then I slept as long as possible again that night.

By Sunday, I must have found some of my lost spoons because I was ready to actually shower and go out. :)  I noticed less vertigo/presyncope on Sunday morning, so I jumped at the chance to go out for brunch and beer.  We enjoyed the sunshine and walked around town a bit, too.  We even had ice cream and played chess at our local Oberweis before doing the grocery shopping and heading home.  It was a very full, but worthwhile day and I'm glad I was able to partake.

Sometimes those missing spoons are just put aside for another day, I guess.

P.S.  Thanks to NicnBill for the teaspoons photo.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Wizard of "Ow!"s

This morning, from bed, I told Don that I feel a lot like many of the main characters from The Wizard of Oz.

I feel like:
  • The Tin Man - because, although I do have a heart, I am so stiff that I feel like I need oil to move
  • The Scarecrow - because my fibrofog leaves me wishing for a brain (I could hardly remember this character's name to explain)
  • The Lion - because, although I put on a brave face, I am scared
  • Dorothy - because, I was still in bed and could not bear to leave to get up and get ready for work in my condition.  "There's no place like home!"
  • All of the above, again - because I want to go see the Wizard, who will cure me of all my "ow!"s
 Don was very quick to add that the lesson learned from the entire story was that that the Wizard didn't have any magical powers, that it all came from inside.  It's true - it's all in the attitude and perspective.  I hope to improve my outlook.

Thanks, Don!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Friends in Need

I'm a big proponent of reaching out to others for the somewhat selfish goal of feeling good oneself, and for the altruistic goal of making someone else feel good.  I'm also a big proponent of killing two birds with one stone.  I have found the secret to happiness.  It lies with the spirit of giving and getting at the same time.

Yes, I have unmet needs, and there are times, when I feel especially shitty, when I seem to have nothing left to give anyone, not even to my own self.  These are very low days for me.  But I also have some reasonably okay days, too.  What I've discovered is that there are some things that I can give someone while I am able that can help me feel better on my worst days while also helping someone else at the same time.

Giving something to a friend in need is actually a gift to my future self!  It's a gift I can rely on to help keep me out of that low pit of pitifulness when things seem to be falling apart in every single way and then some.

Now, I'm not talking about giving millions to charity or buying someone a requisite* birthday gift.  (*I'll share my philosophy on gift-giving holidays in another post.)  The kinds of things I'm talking about are:
  • a laugh
  • a hug
  • a few minutes of kind understanding
  • a massage
  • an inexpensive but useful and appreciated physical item (like a journal)

So, this blog post is my gift to some of my fibro friends who really, really need right now: SarahBear & Coffeesister.

Sarah is young and has Fibromyalgia.  She's had this condition for years and is not getting appropriate treatment.  Anyone with Fibromyalgia knows how challenging it can be to stay motivated while in constant pain and exhausted (not to mention dealing with the myriad other symptoms that FM brings).  She lives in a remote area with no health insurance, and also has very limited funds.  But she's a go-getter and she has a plan.  She believes that a Fibromyalgia & Fatigue Centers, Inc. treatment center a few states away can help her significantly, if only she could raise enough money to travel there and pay for the treatments.  She knows it's not a cure, but it's better than the care she's getting now.

I believe it's a good plan, but it's one of those long shots.  She can't do this alone, so if you're reading this post and have a drawerful of change reserved for the vending machine, please consider giving just a buck or two to Sarah.  Here is the Facebook page describing her mission.  She has a PayPal account set up just for this goal and she is extremely grateful for any bit she gets.  She's also on Twitter if you're interested in following her tweets.

Coffeesister is the alias to a vibrant woman named Dorian.  As you can guess, she loves coffee...

...but she's also another victim of Fibromyalgia.  She and her honey are on a mission to move.  For most folks, moving is a bit of a pain in the ass, but it's not that big a deal.  It's a lot more challenging and complicated when you're broke and time is not on your side.  But I believe they can do it.  Dorian is creative and wise, and she's eking out usefulness from every idea and penny that comes her way.

Like Sarah, she's very grateful for all the love, whatever form it takes.  Again, if you can spare a couple bucks to help Dorian and Rhodester get to San Francisco, you will definitely be thanked profusely for it.  Here is their lovely PayPal account.  And here is Coffeesister's Twitter account.

Give your self some cheap love.  No, no - not like that!  Make a donation, or simply reach out to these wonderful people and share something personal and useful with them.  It does not have to be money (though they sure won't mind some) - even a kind word or two will do.  They both have blogs and every blogger loves getting supportive comments.  (EVERY blogger!  *wink, wink*)  They're both fine individuals and just need a bit of a boost.  Anything you can offer them now will go a long way toward keeping them afloat and will help you feel all warm and fuzzy inside at the same time.  Win-win!

I hope I've inspired you to look for opportunities to feel good about yourself and help someone when you can.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Table Dressings - Part 2

So... I've made some changes to the way my blog looks.  I managed to maintain the same overall format while trying some new colors and stuff.  What do you think?