Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I thought I'd mentioned this before, but I didn't find it in my blog posts.  I think I might be dealing with Costochondritis.  Here is another fine page about Costochondritis.

Looking back through my journal and blog entries, it seems the stabbing pain in my back, on the left side, has been going on since at least early March - almost two months now.  Before that, I had stabbing pains in the right side of my front ribcage.  The slightest movement seems to cause the pain to increase, including breathing.  The deeper the breath, the "louder" the pain gets.  If I sneeze, even just once, the pain is aggravated for hours or days.  It seems to make progress between sneezes, but with allergy season upon me, I can't keep the sneezing down very well.

Readers, if you've been diagnosed with costochondritis, tell me how you were diagnosed and what you do to treat it.  I see my doctor in a couple of weeks, but I'd like to know if he'll be able to help me, or if this will be yet another one of those conditions that just gets chalked up to Fibromyalgia with no possible treatment options.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wagon 1.2: Strength Training

I've been busy working on my little self-improvement plan, as you may recall from last month's post "I Think I Fixed my Wagons".  

I gave myself a full month to get on Wagon 1.1: Stretching. I'm trying to re-establish my daily habit of stretching each morning.  One of my pitfalls is that, due to hypermobility, and probably also due to my personal tendency to be a perfectionist, I tend to stretch too much, which, in turn, causes me pain for days or even weeks following.  The pain, in turn, prevents me from doing stretches because I'm afraid to hurt myself further.  With all this in mind, I've been dutifully doing my little stretches each morning - sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on how I feel.  After a month of this, I think I'm ready to move on to the next mini-wagon, which will focus on building back my lost muscle mass.

I've started mixing in a few of the isometric and other exercises that help with muscle tone and strength already, so I know I can do them.  I wrote down a few, to remind me in case I get fibrofog.  Among them are these:
  • Place palms together and push both arms together, resisting motion
  • Hook both hands together in front and pull arms apart, resisting motion
  • Put hands on forehead and move head toward hand, resisting motion (repeat on sides of head and back of head)
  • Put hand on lap, in sitting position and move leg up, resisting motion (repeat for other leg)
  • Wall push-ups at a slight angle (I can increase the angle as I get stronger)
  • Use the wall as back support and slide down to sit on a pretend chair
  • Leg squats
I did some of these after stretching this morning.  I am going to give myself another month to get this new habit going and see if my muscle strength starts to return a bit.  I am expecting some soreness and setbacks from overzealous days, but I hope to do better in the long run.

I'll check back in another month to report on my progress and embark on Wagon 1.3: Endurance Training.

Friday, April 16, 2010

If you could go on vacation for the next month with an unlimited budget, where would you go?

Ooh, that's a tough one! I long to return to New Orleans, and I'd love to get there by train. The airports are ridiculous these days. French Quarter of New Orleans has awesome food, booze, and people, all in walking distance. Since I'd have a whole month, I could explore outside the Quarter and visit some of the surrounding areas and explore new things in Louisiana.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

MaryAnn, Our Neighbor

I was out touring our yard and cleaning up the branches from our rain garden this morning, because I couldn't resist.  Anyway, when I was done with the branches, I came back to the corner and looked around a bit.  To my surprise, I noticed our elderly neighbor came out her side door and walked toward me.  I said "hi" and thought she might have something to say to me, but all she wanted to do is fill her bird bath, which happens to be right on the other side of our fence, next to her birdhouse (which is frequently occupied by non-native sparrows).  So, I jumped in and introduced myself to her and try to make nice with her a bit.  That's how I learned her name was not Mary, as I thought, but MaryAnn - she corrected me.  She knew my name was "Bonnie", since that's how I introduced myself to her husband when we first moved in.  I also made an effort to shake her reluctant hand and smile.  It was a genuine smile, as I was pleased for the opportunity to finally speak directly with her after five years of living next door to her.  She remains indoors about 99% of the time.

After the niceties, I bravely asked her what she thinks of our yard.  I didn't want to assume she loathed it as much as her late husband, especially since I had her right there at my disposal.  She jumped in with a "no" and a slightly soured face.  "It looks like a buncha weeds - to me," she said.  She further explained that it's nice for "out in the country", waving her hand toward the west and looking out as she said this, but not here, right next to her "nice grass", meaning her own sterile landscape, which, unfortunately, is the norm in my neighborhood.  I bit my tongue, validated her opinion, and explained a bit about our Native Suburbia project and our goals.  Not surprisingly, she didn't care about natives or biodiversity or anything about our project's goals, because in her mind, this type of landscape simply does not belong in suburbia.  Old as she is, I'm not surprised that she couldn't be swayed on this point.

I maintained my polite and understanding demeanor with her, to keep the dialog open.  As a last ditch effort, I pulled out the big guns and asked her if she's noticed more hummingbirds and butterflies in the neighborhood.  Her face loosened up slightly.  I could tell she was surprised and intrigued.  No, she has not seen hummingbirds.  Her daughter, who does live in the country, gets hummingbirds and she's seen them there, but not here.  I informed her that we have several species of plants that attract them, and that we get lots of them each summer.   I told her to keep an eye out this summer for hummingbirds, as they love our hyssops and columbines.  I also asked her to notice the many butterflies that visit.  (I didn't even go into the milkweed/monarch symbiosis, as I thought that was too much for today.  Plus, I think hearing "weed" would throw her off.  What an unfortunate common name the milkweeds have for native plant awareness.  But I digress.)

As our brief conversation ended, I stepped away and tried to stay cordial, adding that I didn't want there to be any hard feelings between us. She could not confirm that this was the case, but at least she hesitated a bit so she wasn't completely a dick about it.  Besides, I'm hoping the relationship will soften while she ponders the conversation later, on her own.  I'm also hoping that every time she sees a butterfly or hummingbird, she'll think of our yard and how we made this possible for her.

I take this conversation as a win.  I didn't want to shut her down completely, because I knew that I could appeal to her, as a woman, by mentioning the undeniably beautiful points of interest in having a yard like ours - hummingbirds and butterflies - and hoped to rely on her avoidance of social awkwardness and requisite friendliness.  She's obviously been influenced by her late husband Ray, who, as you may recall, had nothing but harsh words for us and hatred for our River Birch tree.  And I assume that our tree is not dropping its branches in a strange pile 20 feet away from it in our rain garden all by itself; she or her relatives are most definitely behind this stupid behavior.  However, I am glad that she listened to what I had to say without cursing me out and being uncivilized, which is more than I can say of Ray.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NFA 2010 Walk of FAME: Fibro Fliers

I have signed up for the 2010 Walk of FAME because I want to “Make Fibromyalgia Visible” now!

In honor of National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day (May 15), I plan to participate in and raise funds for the Walk of FAME in order to support ongoing research and programs for fibromyalgia.

The National Fibromyalgia Association develops and executes programs to improve the lives of people living with fibromyalgia worldwide.

The Walk of FAME is hosted by the NFA on May 15 and by other dedicated groups around the world at other times on or around National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

Together, we hope to “Make Fibromyalgia Visible” one step at a time.

View my page or my team’s page and current donation status and please make a donation (in any amount) by clicking the Make a gift! link.
Thank you!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Up, Down, Up Again...Wee!

Aren't the cycles of chronic illness just SO much "fun"? ;)

Anyway, since I'd left you all with a downward trend, I wanted to report that I'm moving back upward again today.  Despite the ongoing back issues and seasonal allergies kicking in (which means more sneezing, which means more back pain...), I do think I'm doing better - at least today.

My back seems to be healing up, slowly, whatever the problem was.  I am also sleeping better, which is great news.  I've noticed more tiredness and morning issues, but I believe it's related more to the seasonal allergies draining me and drying out my throat during the night.  

Last weekend I (finally) visited with my parents and my niece, who also has Fibromyalgia.  I gave her a bottle of my Magnesium Malate, since she is most likely deficient and it may help her with her symptoms, too.  I sure hope so.  I wish I'd remembered about my mom needing Magnesium, too, since she has Type 2 Diabetes and this is one of the conditions I'd read about also needing magnesium supplements.  I may have to send her some as a surprise.

In other news, I'm noticing some weird dynamics going on between other family members and me.  I want to call it a snubbing, but I'm not quite sure.  The people in question are not like me at all, so it's possible they are just different and I'm not comprehending their behavior.  Assuming the worst, however, my theory is that there is a problem with my atheism, and possibly some other of my personal opinions or lifestyle choices (being child-free has also been a point of contention) and they either don't know how to express themselves, or choose to be passive-aggressive about it.   Either way, it's quite childish.  I wish people could muster up enough balls to bring up things that bother them and discuss it like adults.  People are different and I try to accept them they way they are.  Why must others keep trying to change me?  

Anyway, it's their loss.  I'm an awesome person, so they're missing out.  I'm just glad my parents got over their fears and confusions about me and love me regardless.  They are always warm to both me and my husband and welcome us frequently to visit with them.

Thank you, Mama and Tata for loving me the way I am.  I love you, too.  Don, Annette, and all my other understanding friends and family members, the same goes to you, too.  I appreciate you all!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Oh What a Night

Well, wouldn't you know it?  The very day I declare things are improving for me, I start feeling shitty again.  

I developed a headache while still at work yesterday and it progressed into a monster migraine overnight.  I woke up about a thousand times last night, just to feel the pain in my head.  Of course, after waking up, I also got to feel that peculiar back pain - you know, that spot on the left side that kills when I sneeze.  Each time I woke up, I felt the need to flip over to the side (or other side) but first I had to deal with my back hating every second of the movement.  In anticipation of my back screaming at me for moving, I'd first try to adjust a bit by stretching out my ribs.  (I've been doing this for the past few weeks, hoping for that *click* in the sternum or back or wherever in the chest/back area so the pain will feel slightly better for a little while, but it's never enough.)  Anyway, flipping over hurt my back and my head was just looking for a different side to be touched by the pillow.  I'd sleep for a short time and have to do it all over again.  What a shitty night.

I have way too much to do at work and can't afford to recuperate at home (again), so today ought to be "interesting".  I just hope the Aleve helps the headache, the way it usually does.  Come on, Aleve!  Wish me luck.  :P

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What's Better with Me & Magnesium

We, chronically ill folks do a lot of focusing on the things that go wrong in our worlds.  I think it's time to address what's actually going right, despite my health problems.

Firstly, I've noticed that the tinnitus has improved recently.  My ears are not "ringing off the hook," as I like to say, the way they used to for weeks on end.  I had a very hard time hearing and concentrating with all that racket in my head.  I also worried, however illogical it may be, that the increasing instances and volume of the ringing meant that I would eventually progress into a single, solid, ring - deafness, essentially.  I would hate to miss out on all the great sounds I am able to hear now.  Having sustained a concussion, along with having Fibromyalgia, I'm not exactly certain why the tinnitus got so crazy, or why it's better for the moment. 

Next, my migraines have finally calmed down enough that I'd forgotten a bit about them.  Several weeks ago, they were coming and going so frequently I might just consider them one, long migraine with off and on pains.  I blamed them on weather changes, hormonal fluctuations, and some other factor that was the straw that broke the camel's back and triggered them.  

Another problem I'd been having for weeks on end is an underlying nausea.  I blamed the meds and supplements.  I take lots of both of them every day and can only imagine I have a bunch of little pills sitting around in my stomach after taking them.  I take my supplements right after breakfast, so they have a bit of a softer landing in my stomach, in the hopes that I won't be so nauseated.  Sometimes, though, I still have that awful feeling that I might have to vomit.  I've learned to recognize the "fake nausea" feeling - one that will not likely result in any vomiting - and distinguish it from the "real nausea" feeling - one that gets progressively worse until some vomiting is done.  The latter recently came with a terrible migraine headache, and I sure did puke from it!   

When I switched up my medications last February, it seemed the adjustment period affected many of my symptoms, including the quality and quantity of my sleep.  There were a couple of completely sleepless nights, and many nights of only half a night's sleep or less.  However, today, I feel that my sleep has finally improved for the past few weeks.  I'm taking Sonata instead of Ambien, because the Ambien seemed to keep me sleeping far too long in the mornings.  I could just blink and start dreaming in the mornings, but in the night I was still kind of wide awake until the drug kicked in.  With the Sonata, however, it seems the morning "hangover" is not a problem for me any more.  (Of course, this morning was an exception - I felt so sleepy, but I had a full night's sleep.)  My body is finally adjusting to all the medication changes and able to sleep.  It's lovely to be able to sleep again.

The pain in my upper back on the left side is finally starting to feel better, although I'm not quite through with it yet.  Each sneeze sets me back with excruciating pain that lasts several hours all over again, but after those episodes (I had one last night) I seem to be doing okay with it.  It's there, but it's diminished.  I'm still not sure if there is or was a crack in my ribs, but with my FM pain amplification, I wouldn't be too surprised if it was simply a minor muscle issue.  Perhaps a pulled muscle in a specific spot, between a couple ribs is causing this problem.  At any rate, it seems the treatment for either of these is pretty much a wait and see thing, especially if it's not an emergency situation.  I'll continue to wait and see on this.  Hopefully I won't be sneezing too much. For some reason I can't get away with a single day without at least one or two sneezes, but at least I'm not dealing with all the allergies or a cold, like my poor husband is right now.

I would like to claim that taking the Magnesium Malate twice a day is helping me with these and possibly other symptoms.  I've been on it for months now - perhaps it's finally making a difference.  I've been researching magnesium recently and there is a lot of relevant information about it, especially with relation to various health problems, including: Asthma, Migraines, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, various heart problems, high blood pressure, Epilepsy, Autism, ADD & ADHD, various digestive disorders (including IBS and Crohn's Disease), Multiple Sclerosis, and Premenstrual Syndrome.  
I can only wonder why magnesium supplements are not the first order of treatment for all these health conditions!
My guilty pleasure, a daily spoonful (or so) of natural peanut butter is also adding to my magnesium intake as well, along with a healthy fat to help my body absorb it, too.  I also like olives and olive oil, avocados, and salmon, which also contain healthy (unsaturated) fats.

Certain conditions deplete magnesium in the body, causing a deficiency and further problems.  Calcium supplements usually include some magnesium as well, to help you absorb the calcium.  Calcium is apparently an antagonist, which means that if you have too much of it in your body, your magnesium levels get lowered, so I also stopped taking the calcium supplements recently, as a little experiment to see if the magnesium I'm taking could be put to better use in my body and help alleviate some of my symptoms. 

I am no doctor, but I know that I'm most responsible for my health, so I do research on my own and do my best to interpret and apply it, with the help of my professional medical team.  Nobody is going to care more about me than my own self and I don't expect anyone to.  Everyone has to look out for Number One before they can help others.  Do your homework and see what works for you.  

I share whatever I learn with my readers, so they can start thinking about the things that might be helpful for them.  Use those search engines and definitely discriminate based on the motives of the writers.  If they are trying to sell me a product, I move on to the next resource. 

If you have any information you'd like to share, please feel free to comment and provide your links.  I'm eager to learn how best to take care of myself.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hey there Benia! I got your question and decided to ask you the same one. How did you come to be an Atheist? Were you raised to be an Atheist or as a religious person?

I was born of Polish-Catholic immigrant parents, in Chicago. They baptized me and put me through Catholic school up to eighth grade. As I went through my teen years, I continued to believe and attend church regularly with my parents. As an adult, however, I started realizing that there was more to the world than what I had known, and, slowly, my mind expanded. I met new people, learned new attitudes, and became less fearful of the big world and started owning it. Getting over God was a milestone for me. By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I had considered myself Agnostic. Only a short time later, I decided to stop hedging my bets and boldly considered myself officially atheist. It's the only explanation that makes sense to me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dyslexia & Dyscalculia

I've been accidentally flipping numbers around at work like mad lately.  I'm finding myself spreading "sorry"s all over the place because I keep referring to the incorrect reference numbers in messages. 

What's up with this? I've never been plagued with dyslexia as a kid.  In fact, math was probably my best subject through high school.  (I aced every year, including the AP Calculus I took in Senior year.)  I can only wonder if this is yet another way my concussioned and fibrofoggy brain has decided to vex me.  With the supposed ADHD affecting my concentration, should I consider this number flipping an extension of that problem?

During my self-analysis, I found this interesting term and article: Dyscalculia. Particularly, I notice "Dyscalculia can also occur as the result of some types of brain injury."  Under the symptoms listing I also notice difficulty with judging time, which I have also noticed in myself lately (or for all I know, maybe it's been going on for years now).  I also noted in my journal recently that I had repeatedly noted the right side, instead of the left side, had been bothering me lately.  Repeatedly.  Who gets left and right confused as an adult?  I guess it could happen to anyone. 

I could be reading too much into this.  I'm one of those kind of people who tries to be vigilant, but sometimes ends up being neurotic.  That's all a matter of opinion, though, right?  Can you relate?  What's your feelings on this?