Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tell the FDA What You Need

A while back, I posted a comment to this article asking fibromites to share our experiences with Fibromyalgia with the FDA, in preparation for their upcoming four-hour discussion on December 10, 2013, in Maryland:

After I commented I was contacted by the editor, Pat Anson, via email, asking me for more detail on my experience with Cyclobenzaprine, for another, related story.  That article was just published yesterday:

Please feel free to comment on either or both of these articles with your own experience with Fibromyalgia and treatments that may or may not have helped you.  The FDA is asking for our input and is ready to listen.  Even if you do not reside in the USA, your experiences are helpful in finding proper treatment.  

Be sure to mention what was most and least effective for you, including any details regarding any side effects, (like weight gain, dryness, mood changes, sleep issues, etc.) which are very important when attempting to treat a very symptom-heavy condition like Fibromyalgia.  Talk about the symptoms and side effects that are most bothersome and those that you find to be tolerable.  Include your thoughts on any supplements or herbal treatments you may have taken.  Share what you can.  This is your chance to be heard and inspire the focus for future Fibromyalgia treatments.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Just What Any of Us Needs: A New Symptom

For the past few weeks, I've noticed a new kind of pain.  It's headache pain, but the odd part about it is that it comes on suddenly, hurts a very small point on my head for about 1-3 minutes, then is gone just as suddenly as it arrived.  

The first time, I just assumed the weather changes might have triggered some migraine action.  Then, of course, because it was so sudden and intense, I worried the worst about strokes or tumors or whatever horrible thing might be responsible for sudden pain in the head.  I believe the first one was in my left temple.  I remember because I immediately started pressing into it with my finger to lessen the pain.  Then it went away.  Magic finger?  I was glad it was gone, anyway.  

Then another one occurred maybe a day later, but in a spot behind my left eyebrow, near the nose.  I wondered again about this new troubling symptom and the awful possibilities.  Then I stopped myself from going too far down the and was just grateful when it was gone.  

But then it kept happening.  I am not positive, but thus far, all of them have been landing on the left side of my head, though in about four different spots: the temple, the eyebrow/eye area, behind the ear, and near the nape.  These are all spots that have all been affected by migraine and other headaches I've had in the past.  They may be places where muscle spasms and trigger points have done their dirty work and caused pain.

Because I could not get the thought of disaster out of my mind, I did some research to see if I should worry.  What I discovered was that this quick headache thing has a name.  Two, actually.  The nickname is "ice pick headaches", but the clinical name is "primary stabbing headache". After Googling a description of what I was experiencing, and expecting to find ties to strokes or aneurysms, I found the names on this helpful page (note there are 3 pages to the article:

It was a relief to find that people have been having this fleeting head pain and although it's cause is poorly understood, it does not seem to be a serious threat to my health or my life.  Apparently, this is something that a lot of migraine sufferers also experience.  Check and check.

Armed with both the clinical name and the nickname of this symptom, I thought I'd try to learn more about it from others.  First, I posted about it in a Fibromyalgia group asking if others were dealing with this.  I also had a doctor appointment recently and brought it up to her.  What I found in both of these cases, is that this is not a well known symptom, even in the medical community.  Despite my explanations, people seemed to see or hear "headache" and go right into discussing migraine and other typical headache experiences and treatments.  

This is not something I am treating, other than applying pressure for a minute, because it comes and goes inside of five minutes.  The doctor had not heard of it either, and shared a personal story about her own troubling headaches that turned out to have an unexpected cause.  She suggested going to my primary doctor about it, but I'm not sure what help he would be if he hadn't heard of this either. I'll see how it goes.  It's only been a short time that this has been happening.  If it gets ridiculous, I'll check with the doctor.  I just hate going through all that to get a shrug and a guess.  I get enough of that with the Fibro.

Have you experienced these quick, minute-long "ice pick headaches"?  Have you been able to figure out a trigger or cause, or a way to prevent them?  Feel free to leave me a comment.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Temps Drop, My Pain Rises

We had our first snowfall of the season yesterday.  To me, that's the official beginning of the winter... and the beginning of my yearly flare up.

For the longest time, I noticed that I had a problem regulating my temperatures.  As a child, I would frequently have to stop practicing piano because my fingers just got too painfully cold to continue.  When home computers came around, I noticed a similar issue with my mousing hand.  My mom used to tell me "cold hands, warm heart" whenever she found my hands so cold for no good reason.

These days, I notice I can't seem to escape cold temperatures, even in the summer.  There's always plenty of folks turning the A/C down because they are sweating in the office or wherever I seem to go - even at home.  I frequently bring an extra sweater or layer of clothing if I am going anywhere there is bound to be air conditioning.  Just this last summer, I remember having to have a building worker close the damper that was blowing cool air directly onto my hands at work - twice.  Most people didn't know what I was bitching about, because they prefer cooler temperatures.  For me, I had to fight to keep my hands warm while still getting my work done.  The stiffness would sneak up on me while concentrating on my job, and then the distracting pain would trigger a host of other unpleasant symptoms.  I seriously don't know how I'm able to keep a job with what I brave every day.

I don't think anyone can truly grasp just how difficult my personal challenges are.  I keep doing my best and I don't know how to feel about this, but people forget I have any kind of illness at all.  You'd think everyone would be able to understand at least pain.  Everyone has had pain of some kind at one time or another.  Some of my coworkers have painful conditions, too.  Yet they ask me to do things I can't do without making difficult decisions between my own health and my source of income.  Time and time again, I choose income over my health and deal with the consequences later.  I suppose this is part of my problem.  But, anyway, I have digressed.

As I write to you, I'm noticing how very cold my feet are.  It's not unusual for them to be cold.  If they are ever warm by bedtime, my husband jokingly asks me what I did with the real Benia.  Thankfully, he welcomes my icy feet and shares his heat with me, but I still can't seem to escape the pain.  Last night, long after the time I should have been asleep, I was just feeling this chill crawling over my skin.  Just over and over, these washes of shivering cold just kept me far from comfortable, and unable to rest.  I was balled up under 3 layers of bedding that seemed like flimsy doily as far as I'm concerned.  I would love to add 2 more thick quilts on top of me for bed.  I shivered and shivered last night, getting little sleep and dealing with new, stabbing pains in my back and head.  Eventually, I got up and braved the short walk to take some pain medication.  By morning, I was in no shape to get up and go to work.

I am about to take a warm shower to try and warm up for a bit, and I will use my heating pad to help keep me warm afterwards.  In the meantime, I want to share this short article that talks about why cold can be so painful.  It also lists several great tips for keeping warm.  I do some, but I will be trying others as well.  It's going to be a long winter for me.  Stay warm!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top Fibro-Flare Triggers

I came across this list today and thought I should share it with you all. While reading it, it all makes sense. Of course these things can cause a flare-up! However, knowing how complex our symptoms, treatments, and lives are, it sure doesn't hurt to have a handy list like this to help you pin down causes and maybe help you plan to avoid some of these, if possible.