Thursday, September 26, 2013

Brain Crashing in 10...9...8...

My brain will be crashing in 10...9...8...better make a mad dash under the covers! Even though I was having a great time tonight writing blog posts and working on a compilation of short stories, I’m on my way out, folks. My fibromyalgia was acting up with severe itchiness over my entire body--like it likes to do every now and then. I was forced to take two pills of Benadryl, and that stuff always throws me for a loop!

I’m seeing every color of the rainbow. My eyes are trying to wander off in different directions. I can’t even type the right keys because I can’t concentrate. Oh, and don’t get me started about how my head is buzzing like I drank WAY too much tequila.

I’m trying to push through it a tad bit longer so I can wrote a little old post stating that I’m thinking of and praying for all my fibro warriors tonight. My road is horrible right now. My symptoms are on a major flare up because I’ve already overworked myself and it barely is Thursday.

My friends, may the rest of your week be fruitful but still allow you rest. May your happiness be plenty and your symptoms few. May your body act as strong as I know you are in spirit. And may life surround you with blessings from above. Take care, everyone, and keep fighting the good fight!

Friday, September 20, 2013

I Ran Today!

Ok, break out the banners and balloons. Unleash the confetti and white doves. And cue the band for some awesome celebratory tunes...and don’t forget to clap your hands off, people. I ran today! No, it wasn’t a dream. I was wide awake, running on the two excruciatingly sensitive balls of nerves that fibromyalgia has made out of my once fit and active legs!

I am tempted to overdose this post with excessive exclamation points because on my darkest days, I assumed that my running days were over. Since some days I can’t even walk, a part of me convinced myself that I would never run again...except for in my dreams. But after 25 days of walking at least a half of a mile every weekday, I finally ran again!

It WAS for only about 4 minutes. I DID have to stop twice for a few seconds. It WAS on a slightly downhill part of my walk and gravity helped. And I DID feel like I was going to vomit and faint at the same time. However, I didn’t vomit OR faint, and I successfully hobbled back home beaming!

I doubt I’ll be winning any races anytime soon since my 11-pound dog and my 7-year-old son were beating me down the hill. But I ran! Yes, I ran for the first time in about 5 years!!! Can you feel my excitement and accomplishment I’m feeling here yet?

When chronic illness takes over our lives--especially when chronic pain is involved--it’s so hard trying to find a balance that works. Our minds want to live like we used to and mourn the days gone by. The illness strives to make us crash and burn, trying to convince us life is over. Consequently, our bodies are stuck in a kind of tug-o-war, violently turn back and forth between our mind and our chronic illness. If we focus too much on life before our illness, we will only run ourselves into the ground trying to be something that we aren’t anymore. On the other hand, if we focus too much on our health problems, we will be left wondering why life is still worth living.

Ultimately, it comes down to determination, moderation, and baby steps. Instead of focusing on what we used to do or what we no longer can do, we need to focus on what we CAN do right this very moment and make little goals to challenge us a bit further at a slow and steady pace. When I decided that I was going to add a little walking each weekday morning into my schedule I never imagined that I would be able to run today. Instead, my goal was to make it around the block in my neighborhood each weekday. I wasn’t concerned with how fast I was going or how many breaks it took me to make it around the block. I simply wanted to make it around the block Monday through Friday to increase my physical activity and to build up the strength and stamina in my legs. And I did that...and so much more!

If you are out there struggling in your life (like I and so many chronic illness sufferers are every day), please don’t give up. Our roads are not the same, but I understand so well that the journey with chronic illness is a hard one. Still, we canNOT allow our health problems to win! Even if our daily successes are tiny (i.e., getting out of bed, making dinner, washing laundry), they are still victories in our war against chronic illness and they should be celebrated! I know it’s so easy to only see our failures and inabilities. I do it so often with myself. But join me in taking a moment each day to reflect on the victories and to focus on the blessings in our lives. Then we can go to bed each night knowing that we fought the good fight, gave it our all, and are determined to wake up and do it all over matter what. Stay strong and determined, my friends! I am always praying for you.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A New Week: I Am 6 Pounds Lighter!

Our beach vacation reminded me that I miss walking!
I’m not even going to pretend to understand it, but I weighed myself for the new week and I lost those 6 lbs. that I gained during the first 2 weeks of my weekday walk challenge. That puts me down 2 lbs. from my starting weight. Yay!

Maybe it was because my body was struggling to adjust. Perhaps being on more of a liquid diet this week from dealing with a cold helped. Or maybe my scale was just messing with my head. Regardless of the reasoning behind this gain and now loss, I’m proud of myself. Expect for this past Friday (because it was chilly and rainy and I didn’t want to make my cold worse), I have been dedicated to my goal of walking a half of a mile every weekday morning. Even when my legs got all incredibly sore and cramped up, I pushed through it.

In the end, all the added pain and discomfort is well worth it! If losing weight and getting more fit has a chance of lessening my fibromyalgia symptoms, I am going to be there every morning that I can. This is MY body. It isn’t under fibro domain and never will be. Here is to taking back our bodies and our lives from chronic illness, one baby step at a time!

What are you doing to help ease or reverse some of your chronic illness symptoms? How well are you doing with sticking with it and pushing through the hard days?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sudoku Puzzles: A Distraction and a Reminder for This Fibro Sufferer

Photo Credit: Public Domain
Since I can remember, I’ve always been a puzzle lover. Jigsaw puzzles, brain teasers, word searches, and crossword puzzles have gotten me through many sick and rainy days. They’ve also helped me to relax and combat insomnia on more occasions than I could count. And now, as an adult, I’ve grown to love and appreciate the unique challenge and fun of Sudoku puzzles. After completing thousands of Sudoku puzzles in last 10 years, they have easily become my favorite type of puzzle.

However, I’ve come to realize that Sudoku puzzles are a wonderful way to gauge just how much my fibromyalgia is actually affecting me, particularly the brain fog part. On a normal day for me in life with fibromyalgia, I can complete a medium-level Sudoku puzzle with a little careful thought. On my better days, the numbers of these medium-level puzzles come easier. On a great day or at least a moment of clarity, I actually have a good chance to finish a hard-level Sudoku puzzle or two. But on my difficult days, I’m lucky if I can make heads or tails of a beginner's Sudoku puzzle.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep. I’ve been sick with a nasty cold, and I slept about 12 hours the night before into yesterday morning. By the time bedtime rolled around, I was tired but my body wasn’t ready to sleep. So, I logged onto Facebook and decided to play a little Sudoku. I was so in the zone and so clear of mind (even with a head cold and it being after 1 am!) that I actually finished a difficult Sudoku puzzle and scored the highest points in my entire history of playing that Facebook app.

But not even 12 hours later, I tried to play Sudoku again on Facebook, and now I can’t even finish an easy Sudoku puzzle. I slept for nearly 8 hours. I awoke feeling fairly refreshed (well, at least for a fibro sufferer). But the clarity is gone again. I’m back to struggling to think through the brain fog that normally lurks in my head. Gone is the feeling that it all makes perfect sense. Gone is the sensation that I’m finally myself again. Gone is the almost effortless thought process that so many people take for granted every day.

If you are a fibromyalgia warrior like me suffering daily from brain fog, know that you aren’t alone. If you are a friend or a loved one of someone with fibromyalgia, this is especially for you. The fibromyalgia sufferers in your life are not faking it or being negligent or lazy. Their memory and cognitive problems are real and overwhelming. During one of their bad days, they are going to need your support more than ever. Just imagine how you would feel if you temporarily forgot names or phones numbers you’ve known for years. Imagine how difficult it would be for you to suddenly be unable to properly express yourself to others because you can’t find the right words at the moment. Imagine how frightening it would be if you forgot where you were or how to get back home for a while.

The worst of these scenarios are usually short lived and only happen occasionally, but just take a moment to imagine how unnerving and awful such an episode would be. And try to fathom how difficult and frightening it is to know it will probably happen again, but you have no idea when or how it will affect you next time. You can’t prepare. You can’t prevent it. The possibility is always lurking around every corner. That, my friends, is what it is like living with fibro fog. Please keep that in mind the next time the fibro warrior in your life forgets something important or does something that seems completely ridiculous. Living with fibromyalgia is a lot harder than most healthy people assume.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Weight Loss: Sometimes a Gain Is a Gain

This morning I entered my new weight on my MyFitnessPal profile.  I have been putting it off this week because when I stepped on the scale Tuesday, not only did I gain back the 2 lbs. I have lost so far, but I also gained 4 more lbs. since my renewed fitness starting point.  This was a blow to me because for almost 2 weeks now, I have been walking a half of a mile every weekday with my son and our dog, Honey Bear.

I have cut my time from an hour to as little as 20 minutes for this distance.  Walking doesn't hurt me nearly as much as it did at the beginning (at least, usually).  I can swear I see a difference in my thighs and hips already.  And my jeans are definitely looser in the front.  So, to see the number go up so far in so little time was shocking to say the least!

However, I have decided that sometimes a gain IS a gain with weight loss.  (1) I have proven to myself that when I put my mind to something, fibromyalgia can't stop me.  There were some hard days...and I know there are going to be plenty more.  Sometimes, I creep back a lot closer to needing an entire hour to walk a half of a mile.  Sometimes, I'm tempted to give up.  But I've decided that weight loss is an important step towards reclaiming my life.  As long as I remember this, fibro may slow me down, but I CAN do this!

(2) My mobility has improved already since I started walking regularly again.  Yes, I still get terrible leg pain and muscle spasms.  No, I won't be running or skipping any time soon.  Still, my balance and coordination are a little better, and I seem to be having less issues with my lower body.  It would appear my legs and feet don't get painful and achy as quickly now.

(3) I may have gained 6 almost 2 weeks, but I'm definitely seeing some change in my thighs and hips.  I won't even pretend to understand what is going on with my body right now, but if I must gain a few pounds to start seeing some slimming, I'm all for it!  Who am I to argue with progress, even if it is disguised as a defeat?