Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Writing Poetry Helps My Fibromyaliga

Dealing with fibromyalgia on a daily basis is messy business! It can be maddening and infuriating. Your friends and loved ones often doubt you and hardly understand what you are going through. Sometimes, you even doubt yourself or have a difficult time understanding this chaotic condition (even though you deal with it firsthand all the time).

It can be lonely and full of grief. Fibromyalgia can leave you mourning friendships, intimate relationships, and careers, which were once the center of your life. Your inability to be as mobile, energetic, and available robs you of people and things you love. Before you know it, you wake up and find your life is now a shadow of the full and robust existence it used to be.

And it can be overwhelming and stressful. During a fibro flare, even the smallest of problems and obstacles can seem insurmountable. Because your symptoms require so much extra time and fibromyalgia leaves you forever exhausted, you are always feeling pressed for time--as though you are running weeks, months, or even years behind. Even the smallest of task can be impossible on bad days.

Fibromyalgia can create so many negative and strong emotions, so it is imperative to find a way to purge yourself of all this emotional turmoil on a regular basis. One of my favorite outlets for my fibro’s emotional baggage is writing poetry. Composing all the words and lines gives me a constructive way to purge myself of the negativity that loves to haunt me. In my poems, I may start out dark and dismal, but by the end, I find hope and strength again. I feels amazing to work that all out on paper!

I also love writing poetry about my fibromyalgia because my finished poems serve as permanent reminders of how I’ve wrestled with my chronic illness and still always manage to end up on top. By writing down the little insights and encouragement I find while composing my poems, I can ensure I will have more positive insights to fall back on during future setbacks and bad days. Ultimately, writing poetry is a wonderful way to cope with fibromyalgia now AND in the future.

What helps you to cope with your chronic illness?

Check out my latest fibromyalgia-inspired poem here.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weather Woes

My poor body is in total shock. It has been sunburned, then frozen, then soaked, and finally roasted--all within a matter of two weeks. (And now it looks like it will have to deal with scattered thunderstorms again for the next few days.) The weather has been completely bipolar this month, and my body is suffering.

As many of you may already know from experience, fibromyalgia doesn’t like extreme weather. And it especially hates sudden and drastic changes in weather. These changes make the body severely sore, stiff, and unable to regulate its body temperature. And the worst part is weather is a fibro trigger that we can’t do much of anything about.

You may argue that we can always move to a more tolerable climate or simply stay in the house. However, weather can be pretty unpredictable anywhere you go. And hiding indoors does little to silence the chaos outside our door.

In the end, we are forced to muddle through the best we can. When we experience a weather flare we should try to get plenty of rest. Also, stocking up on anything that helps soothe our flared symptoms is a must. Finally, we can’t allow ourselves to do too much. Pushing ourselves when we are already under a lot of strain from the weather will only makes things worse. Using common sense and pacing ourselves during these difficult times could be the difference between a flare that lasts only days to one that goes on and on for weeks.

Which one would you prefer? I, for one, would much rather spend as little time laid up as possible. Because of this, I’ve learned to listen to my body and only do what it is capable of doing at the moment. If it says to sleep, I sleep. If it tells me that I’m pushing myself too hard, I take a break and later return at a much slower pace. Ultimately, we must all learn to listen to our bodies. That, my friends, is the best treatment we can prescribe for ourselves!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sometimes I Run...Sometimes I Crawl

Hiking with my children
The normal progress of life is you learn to crawl as an infant. Then, you gradually learn to walk as a toddler. Finally, as you continue to grow, you gain the balance, strength, and agility to run. This progress leaves you with the mobility needed for the prime of your life. However, life doesn’t always like to follow the rules and it is filled with exceptions.

I am an exception. I’m 29 years old, but sometimes I still have to crawl: literally and metaphorically. As some of you may know from reading my past posts, I now realize I probably have had fibromyalgia since I was a young child. I never felt quite ‘normal’ and wasn’t as energetic or resilient as most kids. I was frequently sick and had many aches and pains. But through it all, I still managed to live an active and full life…until four years ago.

Four years ago, fibromyalgia crept in and became a permanent resident in my life. No longer was it content to come and go. It wanted to hijack my life and try to steal it away from me. For about a year, I allowed it to do just that. I was so exhausted, overwhelmed, and filled with pain that I stayed in bed much of each day. Of course, I still wanted to get better and I tried everything I could think of to treat my symptoms and figure out what was wrong. However, I virtually gave up on everything else in my life. Essentially, I had two things left: motherhood and my mystery illness. All else was stolen away from me.

Now that I’ve grown wiser and more accustomed to life with a chronic illness, I know now I cannot allow fibromyalgia to leave me in such a sad and unbalanced state. I must be a mother, and I must cope with my condition. But I also must be a daughter, a sister, a friend, and (soon) a wife. I must do what I love, set goals, find purpose, and enjoy the simple things in this world. I must hope, dream, believe, aspire, and grow. Sometimes I may run towards my future. Other times, I may crawl at such a slow pace that some may think I’m not moving at all.

Regardless of my speed, I must always be actively living this life. Life is far too short and fleeting to sit around waiting for things to change or to feel sorry for ourselves. Instead, we should be embracing the present and living right now the life we so desire…before the chance passes away!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Side Effect Warning: Sun Sensitivity

Since many of you may be taking medication (prescription and/or OTC) or supplements for your fibromyalgia, I wanted to share a little warning.  Last weekend, I ended up with a severe sunburn on a partly cloudy day, cool day.  I've never burned so easily in my life.  Consequently, I set out to find out a possible explanation as to how I could suddenly burn so easily and so horribly.

On the suggestion of a friend, I researched the OTC medications and the supplements I take daily to see if any of them cause an increase in sun sensitivity.  I was shocked to find out that Aleve (and other NSAIDs can have this side effect).  My doctor was the one that prescribed this OTC pain medication to me, and he didn't mention this possible side effect.  And I've never read such a warning on the packaging.

Read more about my surprising and painful ordeal here.

To avoid the excruciating pain I went through this past week, I'd suggest that you research any and all medications and supplements you are taking.  And if sun sensitivity is a possible side effect, please, don't take this symptom lightly.  Don't think that you are okay simply because you don't burn easily.  Use sunscreen, wear a hat and/or other protective clothing, and spend more time in the shade if you are going to be outside for long periods.  A little caution could help prevent this from happening to you!

Friday, May 10, 2013

May 12 Is National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Fibromyalgia has vastly affected my life for over four years now. However, it was not until last year that I realized that there is a National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. I accidently stumbled upon it on Facebook because one of my friends with fibro shared a photo about it. Before I knew that such a day existed, I didn’t consider how important awareness days are to illnesses, especially chronic ones. But now I see that with so much misinformation and lack of understanding out there, every person with fibromyalgia should remember and share this date!

The more we get accurate info out there and the more we talk about our chronic illness, the more likely that those around us will start to understand and support us. It seems like everywhere we go people are talking about cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. But what about fibromyalgia? No, fibromyalgia isn’t a terminal disease, but it’s still a killer. It’s a killer of dreams, of careers, of friendships, and of relationships. Just because we technically can’t die from this condition, it doesn’t mean we should suffer in silence and not try to find a cure—or at least a treatment that actually works for every fibro sufferer.

Yes, I’m relieved that pain-in-the-neck fibro isn’t a death sentence, but I often feel alone and rejected. So many people think our symptoms are in our heads or can’t possibly be as bad as we make them seem. I am a homebody—not by choice but because fibro is robbing my quality of life—so I often feel like I’m kept out of sight and out of mind of the public’s eye. I don’t want to be famous or get pity for my medical condition. Rather, I seek understanding and proper medical treatment. There are still so many doctors out there that don’t believe fibromyalgia is real. And there are far too many fibro warriors that suffer alone because their loved ones fail to see how debilitating this chronic condition can be at times.

Let’s spread the word about fibromyalgia this National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, on each future awareness day, and all the days in between. The first step to reclaiming our lives is helping ourselves, each other, and those around us to recognize and thoroughly understand this invisible condition. Let’s show the world that yes, we are struggling and yes, we are in pain. And let’s put a face to this invisible syndrome. Let’s show everyone that we are fibro warriors! We fight today and always for ourselves, our fellow warriors, and an end to fibromyalgia.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A to Z April Blogging Challenge Reflections

With chronic illness looming over our heads every day, it is so easy to go into survival mode. All we start caring about is making it through one more day, hour, or even minute. Our main purpose in life becomes trying to find relief for our symptoms and a way to cope. In reality, though, if we allow ourselves to remain in survival mode, we actually cease to live. We forget to laugh, enjoy, and dream. We forget that life has a purpose and that we have an obligation to discover that purpose.

The A to Z April Blogging Challenge has helped me realize that I have been losing faith in my future and in my dreams. Fibromyalgia hijacked my life over 4 years ago, and a part of me is still there. I am still in shock that I am now disabled. I am still left wondering what is left for me since my body no longer can handle even everyday chores at times. And a part of me is too afraid to dream and hope for a better tomorrow again.

I guess I had assumed that if I rested and did this or that that I’d get a handle on my fibromyalgia and I could go back to living again. I had assumed that once my symptoms were more under control, I could go back to finish my education, start my criminal justice career, and pursue my writing dreams. But for whatever reason, my fibromyalgia is still going strong—and unwittingly, I’ve allowed it to convince me that my dreams are no longer valid.

Well, the 2013 A to Z Challenge has given me an addictive taste of freedom. I may be a prisoner in my body at times and fibro fog may interfere with my mind, but I am meant for more than this. I am meant to dream. I am meant to imagine. I am meant to share my thoughts and ideas. I am meant to stay true to myself and to write to my heart’s content.

From now on, I promise myself to not allow my chronic illness to sabotage my dreams and deepest desires. I long to write every day and that’s what I plan to do. Some days I might only manage a few minutes, but I won’t allow my fibromyalgia to steal another part of my life away. This is my life. No matter how much I hurt or how fatigued I become, I choose to actively live it.

Will you join me today and tell your chronic illness that enough is enough? Will you once again dream with me and embrace again the things that you love? Chronic illness may have changed the way we must live, but let us never again allow it to keep us from living!