Monday, March 29, 2010

Feeling Barfy

I don't know if I have enough to say to justify this post, but I have been sliding back into a terrible flare up for the past week now.  There is a pain that started in my upper, left back, near my shoulder, about a week ago.  It felt like a really bad trigger point knot, so I worked it by leaning against the smooth, rounded corner of our fridge, trying to loosen it up.  I may have done either too good a job or not good enough, because the pain has changed and spread to the entire vertical back on the left side, and around to the left side, under my arm, especially when I breathe.  The pain is like a soreness (which makes sense from the pressure I put into it) and a sharper, knife-like stabbing pain that prevents me from taking full breaths because the pain increases as I breathe in.  I believe all this pain (along with my meds and supplements) may be what has been causing me to feel nauseous much of the time, which is not fun, either. 

I'm getting crankier by the minute and I don't know if I should just let it happen (the bad mood) or resist and play nice, so I don't cause more relationship problems with people.  I have remained as calm as possible for the past week, even managing to enjoy some distractions here and there.  Yesterday, however, while other issues pressed on and added to the stress pile, I let a few tears go.  I hate the crying.  It feels like a weakness, though I know it's part of the human limitation to have to cry at terrible crap once in a while.  When I cry, what little sense I have left is out the window.  I can try to talk myself out of it, but it doesn't go well.  Don tries to help me cross that river of despair, too, but it is infinitely more difficult to understand and deal with under the duress than afterward, when my logic starts to come back to me.

Fibromites, how do you handle the more devastatingly painful times when the last straw finally breaks the camel's back and you feel the tears of pain well up in your eyes.  Do you have any tips or tricks that have helped you?  I've been looking at my little caterpillar magnet and remembering and knowing that I will have better days, but this pain is really testing me.

If 3 strangers came to your house and their names were Sucess, Wealth and Love. And you could only invite one in.Who would you invite?

Well this is definitely a creative way to ask something. I might invite all 3, but since I'm limited, I guess I'll have to be rude to 2 of them.

Hm... Love I think I have already, and I'm okay with the amount of Success I've had so far (outside of luck with health problems, of course).

As shallow and disappointing as this may sound, I would choose Wealth right now. I'm not looking to be rich, I just want to ensure financial security for myself and my husband. Since we are both chronically ill with painful and incurable conditions, it would be most comforting for us to know that we would not have to struggle with working and bills when we need to rest. We could live the rest of our (quite possibly short) lives not trying to pursue the material things we need to survive. Instead, we could focus on being comfortable and enjoying what life has to offer.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Think I Fixed my Wagons

Since I was up since midnight this morning, I had some time to do some journaling. While writing, I pondered my "Wagons" problem and I think I've finally figured out my priorities, with subpriorities.  Here is the priority of things I'd like to do to improve myself.
  1. Exercise
    1. Stretching
      I need to get back on track with the daily stretching routines to keep my muscles loose.  If I don't stretch, my myofascial trigger points will likely act up, causing pain and a cascade of other symptoms (including these sleepless nights).

    2. Strength Training
      Once I am able to do stretches regularly again, I'll start adding back some of the isometric exercises and concentrate on building up lost muscle.  My scale measures body fat percentage and it's gotten very high - 33%. 

      Muscle atrophy is definitely contributing to my weakness, fatigue, and pain, as well as my slowed metabolism, fatness, and some lowered self-esteem, I'm sure.

    3. Endurance TrainingOnce my muscles are built up a bit and I'm able to handle the strength training exercises, my next exercise goal will be to try to increase my tolerance for doing any activities.  At first, this will be walking and doing chores, but hopefully, some day, I might actually be able to more, like biking or maybe even play a tennis game or something. 

      This is a lofty goal for me right now, but it's good to have something to shoot for, right?  Besides, some of my fibromite friends are reporting to me that they are running and doing all sorts of things.  (Color me jealous!)  Of course, others in my FM-ily are on the opposite end of the spectrum, bedridden and on the brink of despair.  I am in the middle right now, and I am hoping that by putting this goal down in writing (and in public) that I remember to do what I can, while I can, to try to stay ahead of that worst case scenario that I fear may once dominate my life. 

  2. Weight Loss
    Get back online at Calorie Count and start back up logging calories eaten, calories burned, track my weight, and work toward (gradually and responsibly) losing at least 10, if not all 20 of the pounds I gained since last year.  I'm going to concentrate on eating healthy foods and healthy amounts. 

    This site really is helpful, but I'm taking a break from all the detailed logging for the time being, because... well, I'm not ready to get on that wagon just yet.  Now, that doesn't mean I'm giving myself the green light to eat crazy amounts of crap!  I do enjoy all sorts of foods, but if I don't eat at least one vegetable every day, I instinctively start looking for them, just to help balance things out.  When you have a chronic illness, getting the proper nutrition from your food is especially important. 

    I feel like doing the calorie logging I've already done was like the practice, or training I needed to get a feel for the way I should eat and feel during the day.  The training wheels are off for the time being, but I'm still sort of doing okay, I like to think.  I'm just not making it a top priority (yet).  I put this goal below the others for good reasons.  It will be much easier to lose weight once some of my lost muscle mass returns and I'm able to exercising.  I also imagine I will be in less pain, thus less stress.

  3. Reduce Medications
    I'm on a lot of meds at the moment.  Despite the number of medications I take, the fact that I've been flaring up pretty frequently and severely enough to interfere with my work and social life leads me to believe that some or all of them may not be doing what they should.  Why am I ingesting so many expensive chemicals into my body if I'm still going to be flaring all over the place? 

    Since I have decided to do as much research on my health conditions and medications as possible (so I can be primarily responsible for my health, with my doctor's assistance), I am also aware that there are many side effects and possible drug interactions or other problems associated with taking them. is truly a great resource for researching all the possible information that exists on any medication, but if you're not ready for the scary bits, it can be a bit overwhelming.  I have to trust that my doctor understands all the precautions (dosage limitations, listening for new and relevant symptoms, etc.), but I am also not bashful about picking his brain about certain troubling drug combinations if I'm worried about them.  I urge you all to share any worries or questions with your doctors as well.

  4. Stop Finger Picking
    Where did that one come from, right?  I'm stressed.  I also have obsessive-compulsive tendencies.  One of the ways I am expressing this combination of mental challenges is a terrible habit of picking at the edges of my cuticles and hangnails, and the rough skin around my fingertips.  The more picking there has been, the more tempting it is for me to continue, since the picking results in rough edges that heal up a little, and hurt less.  I'm noticing that the longer my nails get, the worse it gets.  I have also used tweezers and cuticle nippers, always with the intention of smoothing out or perfecting the surface.  But it never seems to work; it usually makes things a lot worse.  I have pulled and picked until I hurt and bled.  I don't understand why I continue doing this, but I have tried and tried to quit many times.  I know I have to.  It's disgusting and crazy!

    It's a strange, but apparently not uncommon habit, as I have discovered.  Band-aids are helpful, but so wasteful, and they are also very annoying, especially when they get wet.  I figure this goal is the last priority of these because I believe the stress from not having the above issues under control is greatly contributing to the underlying stress that makes me need to pick.  Hopefully, once I get to this final wagon, the final leg of the journey will be much shorter than it would be otherwise.
So there it is.  All my ducks are in a row and I'm ready to start my journey, one little inch at a time.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?  I'll keep you all posted on my progress.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Beercation 2009 - Photos!

The Fibro Frog strikes again!

I'm so sorry, dear readers.  I recently realized that I'd neglected to share the link to all the photos Don and I took on our Beercation (beer + vacation = beercation) during the very end of 2009.  I see that I posted a little something about it, but the photos were not uploaded at the time.

Well, without further ado, here are all the photos, with my captions added. 

I hope you enjoy them.  As always, feel free to comment, either on the photo pages themselves (via Picasa Web by Google) or here, at The Table.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What traits do you have that make you a good friend?

This questions is probably best answered by my friends, of course, but here are the traits I have tried to develop in myself over the years:
- I'm honest and don't pretend
- I am true to my word (I don't make promises lightly)
- I give when I see a need and am able to give
- I keep my expectations of others low
- I strive to keep an open mind and look at situations from all perspectives before making a judgment about someone (sometimes I frustrate with my "Devil's Advocate" questioning)
- I try to be sensitive to other people's moods and mindsets
- I share my feelings (I like to be open about my moods and opinions, so there is little misunderstanding)
- I know I'm not perfect and neither is anyone else

Having listed all those wonderful qualities, I feel compelled to add that I stumble and make mistakes now and then. This is how I learned and adapted in life, noting consequences and regrets, as well as successes. My goal as a friend is to make you feel accepted for who you are and offer comfort and encouragement when it is needed.

Friends, I wouldn't be opposed to your honest feedback on any of the above. Feel free to leave your comments in my blog, Twitter, or FB page. I am interested in everyone's thoughts.

Friday, March 12, 2010


I'm sure this has happened to others.  January came around and I was determined to turn over a new leaf and improve myself.  This year, I'd really make a difference.  I would lose that extra 20 pounds I'd gained (did you notice the ladybug on my blog hasn't crawled much yet?), take charge of my health and figure out how to better manage my symptoms, do more exercising, get organized, and finally take steps to get going on a few big projects that have been on my mind.  I would be a better person and improve my health, looks, and self-esteem.  Why wait, right?  I knew it would certainly be a challenge, but not impossible for me.  I mean, ME - I'm a determined person, always looking for improvements, and I've got plenty of character.  I could surely get a few things going.

Of course, you know what's coming.  I tried to get on too many wagons at once.  Silly me - I set myself up for additional stress and problems by forgetting that I'm merely human.  We would love to think of ourselves as at least better than average, wouldn't we? 
I'm better than most.  I can handle this AND that... and that, and that, and ooh, let's throw in that, while I'm at it....
Oh sure.  Throw it on top of the pile.  Put it on the list.  I can do it.  I can do anything I set my mind to.  Ugh... hasn't Fibromyalgia taught me anything?  How could I have missed this one?  I have limitations.  Even "normals" have limitations.

So, here's what I've learned about all this.  When I get on a wagon, I'm on THAT wagon.  I can look at other wagons while I'm on one, and I can plan my transitions to other wagons, but I can't ride them all at the same time.  Once I get to my destination on the first wagon, I can transfer to the next wagon and hop on it for a bit.  Eventually, I will get to my destination, and the riding may be slow or bumpy.  

I am the driver of these wagons.  I've driven wagons before, but it's been a while.  I will have to account for a break-in period and get accustomed to my new wagon.  I may make some wrong turns or get lost, but eventually, I'll get back on track and make progress on my journey.  I will see new and interesting things along the way.  I will see some old friends and meet new folks, some helpful, some not so helpful.  The road may be smooth or bumpy.  If it gets too bumpy, and I'm not prepared, I may fall off the wagon, but the wagon will not ride off without me.  It will be there when I'm ready to get back on and keep going.  These stumbles will help me learn when to brace myself and where I might expect more bumps.  Each time, I will be better prepared than the last.  I will make slow and steady progress toward my next stop.  I'll journal about my trip and take pictures, so I'll remember interesting experiences.  I'll share some of my experiences with other travelers I encounter on the same roads.

I plan for real trips in great detail, choosing routes, stops, and any transfers.  I do my best to estimate the timing, with plenty of cushioning just in case of unforeseen delays and problems.  I also pack extra necessities, just in case.   I prepare for the entire trip as best as I can.  If I forget to pack something I need, I may be able to substitute by buying or borrowing things along the way, or find creative ways to make do without them.

Now, which wagon should I choose to drive first?  Sometimes, the most important one should come first, but sometimes it makes sense to make a shorter, easier wagon ride first.  Once I've planned my entire "journey", I can fine tune the details of which wagon is closest, a reasonable distance to travel, and how to get to the next wagon.  This is going to take some thinking.  I don't have all the answers now.  All I know now is that I need to think about what I want and plan this out before taking my progress seriously.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I Will Have Better Days

I've been inspired by my own recent flare to create this very meaningful reminder that "I will have better days."  It's a photo of a very teeny, tiny monarch caterpillar that I took in my yard one day, as he munched on the leaf of one of my common milkweed plants.

This little critter was so small, (roughly this small: ====,) I could barely see its characteristic stripes.  Luckily, I was out looking for monarch caterpillars that day, looking under milkweed leaves all over the yard.  It was slightly breezy, which made for quite the challenge to photograph my little friend using my tripod and macro lens, as the plant swayed in and out of focus.

This photo is the result my hard work and determined effort, so it's a very personal reminder for me.  However, any of my fibromite friends, or anyone dealing with any chronic illness or difficulties, may find having this little reminder around helpful.

Just think: Each butterfly starts out as a teeny, tiny caterpillar that munched, hid, and survived until it was time to fly!

I'm going to make sure I order one of these and keep it in plain sight, so I won't lose hope during my next fibroflare.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'll Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

I'm doing much better today, thanks in part to my fantastic friends who were brave enough to contact me despite my gruff demeanor this morning.  A few kind words do go a long way, especially when things seem dire.  

I learned to appreciate the fact that I'm managing to handle the adversity I have, even though I sometimes get a little lost along the way.  It's a bit of an ego-boost to say I'm better than average because I'm so constantly challenged, but hey, it works. :)

Lastly, I want to remind myself and everyone else of something I'd forgotten: 
"I will have better days."
I had this little note jotted down on a post-it for a while, but I guess I thought I had it down pat because I got rid of it.  Well, I don't.  When shit hits the fan (like yesterday and the day before), all logic seems to go with it as well.  A small reminder like that one (or "don't panic") will probably do wonders for me when I can't think clearly enough to remember that I'm just dealing with a temporary flare-up.  Today is proof that it was temporary.  I do feel much better and even managed to laugh and smile a bit.  I'm going to have to come up with a clever way to make sure I can see this reminder when I need it most.

Thanks everyone.  Just knowing you are reading this is helpful to me.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Not Feeling Wonderful Yet

Today is my second sick day in a row.  I've been feeling awful in just about every way, lately.  Among the usual symptoms, I've been dealing with something new, since last Saturday morning.  It's a feeling of pressure in my upper abdomen, and I notice it is more uncomfortable when I breathe in deeply and just after eating (even just a little).  I'm also feeling more burning in my throat again lately.  I'm taking TUMs now and then, but it's still there.

I did some digging online and have narrowed it down to two possibilities: GERD and hiatal hernia.  I am taking it easy and resting as much as possible so my aches and pains may at least improve by tomorrow.  I have a job and cannot afford to slack.  The job/illness conflict has been weighing heavily on my mind lately.  I need the income and the insurance.  I really don't know how to proceed if things fall apart for me with work.

I'm off to bed now.  I started on the Sonata last night and I'm not sure if it was the drug change or the flare or both, but I kept waking up in pain all night.  Ugh, I need to get away from this computer for a while and really rest.