Friday, September 30, 2011

Drugs: Loaded for the Week

Benia's Weekly Pills
I just loaded up my weekly pill organizers for another seven days.  Here's a lovely photo of all the pills I'll be taking in the next week.

The white box is for morning pills and the blue box is for bedtime pills.  Pretty crazy, eh?  There are both medications and supplements in here.  This picture doesn't even include the inhaler, nasal spray, eye gel or cream I use daily. 

My body requires a lot of maintenance, as the basic functions are not working as they should.  I have always been the type of person who would avoid taking medicines if possible, and let my body's natural back-up systems do their work.  As a kid with allergies, I almost never took anything for them - just tried to avoid the triggers and always have tissues on hand.  As I became a teen, I developed asthma and the inhaler became a necessary part of life.

With myofascial pain and fibromyalgia dragging me down in my adulthood now, the need to assist my body's defective functions with medications has culminated into this weekly regimen of pills, along with other treatments and habits not pictured.

Such is the life of a fibromite...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Foods Affecting IBS - FODMAP

As you may already know, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the many coexisting conditions that I experience as part of Fibromyalgia.

My understanding of IBS has always been that when a person experiences seemingly random bouts of abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and/or constipation and other digestive maladies, and no medical reason can be found for these symptoms, the diagnosis is IBS, meaning that person's digestive tract is basically stamped as being "fussy" for whatever, unknown reason.  Treatment usually focuses on addresses whichever symptoms are most bothersome, though there is no cure for the condition.

Since Fibromyalgia seems to make our bodies very sensitive to the world in many ways, it seems logical that the coexisting conditions and symptoms that tend to come with the FMS package have a lot to do with sensitivities.  We are extremely sensitive to pain or stimuli that should not even evoke pain in normal people, such as touch.  Our bodies are sensitive to activities, as we are easily fatigued.  Certain sounds, sights, and smells can cause us pain and trigger migraines or flare-ups.  Many of us have allergies and various other sensitivities to temperature, airborne particles, and foods.

I have many allergies, including some that affect my nose (allergic rhinitis), some that affect my breathing (allergic asthma),  some that affect my skin (dermatitis, dermatographism, delayed pressure urticaria and various other hives triggering conditions), and some that affect my digestive tract (food allergies and oral allergy syndrome([OAS]).  My food-related sensitivities seem to have started only in the last few years.  Among them is a mild apple allergy that was confirmed after OAS symptoms began to get progressively worse after each apple I'd eat.  Since birch pollen allergy is associated with being sensitive to apples, I checked the OAS list associated with birch pollen again, recently, when I noticed that eating a handful of almonds seems to have given me some sudden digestive distress.  It turns out almonds are indeed included in some OAS lists for birch pollen, but I feared that drinking almond milk with my cereal most workdays for breakfast may have caused a new, legitimate food allergy.  I'm not thrilled about the possibility of having to avoid another food due to allergies, especially since nuts seem to touch a lot more food than apples do.  This is the part where I start to wonder if I'll keep adding new food allergies until I eventually can't eat anything without histamines flooding my system and making me miserable.

Well, during my recent research on OAS and foods that can cause problems for people, I came across an article that discussed new studies being done on IBS being linked to foods with a high FODMAPs.  I'd never heard of this term before, but learned that it has to do with fructose and the types of sugars contained within the foods.  These characteristics have been grouped to help determine which foods might trouble a sensitive digestive tract, especially as the quantities eaten from the wrong category (high FODMAP rating) get higher.  Apples seem to be at the top of "bad" list, even though lists vary according to the publishing source, because of their high level of fructose.  However, not all fruits are high in fructose, as bananas seem consistently on the "good" list.  I find this new categorization of foods to be interesting and worth observing.

Do a search on the term FODMAP to find the exact definition of the term and the criteria used to categorize foods as having high, low, or questionable levels of the troubling substances.  I'm no expert on this, but I do remember noting that foods with lots of fructose (vs. glucose) can be troubling in the gut because fructose must be digested in the large intestines, rather late in the digestive tract.  The reason that late digestion is troubling is that it allows food to ferment and cause gas and other digestive problems.  There's a lot more to it, of course, and talking to a dietitian  is recommended, since eliminating foods from a diet can cause inadvertent problems with nutritional deficiencies.

For now, I'm sort of continuing to eat most of what I have normally been eating - a generally healthy diet with allowances for some less-than-healthy foods and treats now and then.  However, I am being cautious about almonds and switching to rice milk and soy milk for a while, to see if that makes a difference.  When IBS symptoms appear, I also have the good and bad lists of foods on the low FODMAP diet printed and handy, just to see if I've been eating perhaps too much from the bad list and not enough on the good list.

There are many lists online.  Here are some pages that I liked because they explain things a bit and have printable images listing the foods in each category and they are logically grouped.

Here is the page I found that introduced me to the FODMAP concept and informed me about the IBS connection.

I'm hopeful that this research can be helpful to IBS sufferers like myself and give them more power to help control or at least minimize their symptoms.   As always, if you have knowledge or experience relate to this topic, please comment below.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What's your favorite app on your mobile phone?

Astrid. It's a task management application. There are enough options to help me manage it all and I love checking things off as done.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

ow oW OW!

I just got through telling my fibro doctor last week that I don't want to treat my sciatic pain with medication because it's so unpredictable and quick, that I am just trying to cope with the pain as it occurs as best as I can and wait until the lightning pains subside. I never know if it's going to last for seconds, minutes, or hours, but most often it's seconds. Most frequently, the sciatic pain is in the back of my right thigh and buttock, no lower than my knee and usually no higher than my butt. I take enough pills and meds for the fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, sleep problems, asthma, and all that stuff. I figured one more pill might not be a big deal, but it's money I likely won't be able to judge as well spent if I can't tell whether it's preventing or reducing these quick pains. Not worth it unless it starts firing constantly again, like it did right after the car accident that seems to have started all these ills.

My sacroiliitis, however, is more on my left side, and in my hip, around to my lower back on the left side. Well, right this second, my left hip and lower back are firing lightning-style pains into me and making me jerk in surprise, much like the sciatica usually does. This is not good. The left hip usually aches in a dull, inflammatory kind of way, sometimes more than others. What is this new, intensely painful shock-like pain now? Is this sacroiliitis or is this some variation of sciatica on the other side? Can sciatica fire upwards from the buttocks, rather than just down into the leg? I've had my left leg feel the same kind of lightning pains as the right, but much less often than the right. And right now, the leg is not being affected. It's very much nerve-like pain and I feel it deep in the pelvic bone and up a bit in the back.

When my doctor and I discussed both of these problems a week ago, he poked and prodded me a lot to see how my nerves, reflexes, strength, and tenderness are in the piriformis and sacroiliac areas, down through my legs and feet. The tenderness testing supported his left-side sacroiliitis diagnosis and the sciatic nerve impingement on the right by the piriformis muscle (a thin muscle that stretches diagonally across each buttock). (Wow, I've never the word "buttock" so many times in one post before.) Anyway, he also made a passing suggestion, before all the poking around, that I may want to get (another) MRI or scan of my sciatic nerve areas, in case there is something really wrong.

Since this isn't really a new symptom, and since tests are a pain in the buttocks (hee) for chronically ill people like myself, I declined. Now I'm not sure I should have declined so quickly. I guess I'm tired of having to go through all the trouble of making the test appointment, scheduling my work around it, enduring the IV poking (which almost always takes multiple tries) and waiting around for the results, which usually find nothing of any interest. You other fibro people reading this, I know you know where I'm coming from. You want to hear something other than "everything looks fine" after being tested. I don't think they have the right tests out there for us yet. Until then, it feels like a bunch of trouble for nothing.

Anyway, if you can relate to these new, shock-like pains that are firing from the hip up into the lower back, toward one side, let me know about it. If I have a hint of what it's called or how to sit or what to do to ease or prevent it, I'll be happy.