Choice Words

deckchairs-355596_1280On the last page of InStyle magazine, there is a brief article called, “I am That Girl.” Each month a different female celebrity is interviewed. In the August 2016 InStyle, the actor, Tracee Ellis Ross was interviewed. Tracee is an “outspoken” feminist, according to the article, but I found such a connection to the words she spoke that I had to share.

When asked, “What do you do when you lose hope?” (about the lack of progress of feminism) she replied, “I ask myself, ‘How do I take my frustration and translate it into something that actually helps the situation?'” Wow! Why can’t those words be used for any situation that causes frustration? Like chronic pain or illness? For example, when I get frustrated I could share with my blog readers or I could journal or talk to an empathetic friend. When I was a kid, my mother would tell my sisters and I to “go suffer in silence” when we weren’t feeling well. But by sharing my pain, discomfort or frustration with others I am able to let others know that they are not alone in their suffering and reminds me that I have wonderful readers who understand what I’m feeling.

The interviewer asked Tracee “What do you wish you knew when you were younger?” She answered, “That I was enough. . .I used to think there is a right way to look, there is a right person to become-then I got stuck.” How many of us face feelings of being “stuck?” Life didn’t turn out the way we thought it would. It’s easy to see ourselves as less than whole because of our physical limitations. Yet each of us is enough; we are whole individuals with likes, dislikes, intelligence, beliefs and ideas. Neither pain nor illness defines who we are.

Then there was the question, “How do you deal when you don’t feel 100 percent? Tracee answered, “I accept it. Acceptance does not mean you like it. It means that you agree this is what it is. Once you have that, you can step forward.” This response was related to not feeling like she is “enough,” but it is also a great response to not feeling physically well.  We can take a moment to accept that we are having a bad day, week or month and even accept our feelings about how bad our pain and/or illness is. Then we can move forward. As I am reducing the Lyrica (see Still here. . .), I’ve had quite a few rough days and I’ve been practicing acceptance to get through those days. I first acknowledge that I feel remarkably awful, accept that I won’t be able to workout that day, then move forward towards what I can do. Maybe a little yoga? Maybe making a piece of jewelry? Maybe just some coloring. . .

That’s all for today! I just had to share my thoughts on this article. All the best to each and every one of you.

Deb

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Still here. . .

rose-174817_1920I don’t quite know what is going on with me. What I do know is that I’ve had complete writer’s block when I usually am so eager to post on my blog. I’ve tried, yet seem unable to write a coherent post.

I’m wondering if I bit off a bit more than I could chew with starting to exercise while trying to withdraw from Lyrica. I’m not going to lie; it’s hell getting off of Lyrica. My doctor is on board with me stopping it and is lowering my dosage slowly and carefully. However, each decrease results in days of nausea, diarrhea, body aches, sweats. chills, weakness and a powerful headache. It then takes more days/weeks to regain my strength.

I’m definitely not losing my courage. I can see and feel improvements in my body with each decrease. Last night I realized that the fluid retention has been reduced to the point where I recognized my feet and ankles for the first time in years!

Julie’s last two posts on Counting My Spoons have been about acceptance and making changes. As I was reading her blog, I realized that acceptance does not mean complacency. Recently I’ve needed to make changes to the medications I take and in the way I understand and accomplish self-care. Working out is difficult and uncomfortable when you haven’t exercised in 12 years. Getting off of meds (yes, there are a few I don’t need anymore) that you’ve relied on for many years is also difficult and uncomfortable. Yet, I know with certainty that these are the things I need to do for my health.

I guess I can’t really say I bit off more than I could chew. I’m listening to my body and giving it what it needs right now and of course that affects my mind and emotions as well. To say I have brain fog is putting it mildly. Hopefully, this post is the end of this difficult and uncomfortable writer’s block I’ve had. Please stay with me as I go through this time of transition.

Deb

 

Journaling Your Way

female journaling-865110_1280I’ve never been consistent with journaling. Sometimes I’ve journaled for a couple of years straight; other times I’ve not journaled because I’ve been too busy or my life didn’t seem especially problematic. Lately I’ve seen a couple of journaling ideas that have me determined to start a new, daily writing habit.

Past times. . .

In the past, I journaled during times of particular stress, for example: when my marriage was troubled and when I had a very ill newborn. I continued to journal for a while after the divorce, but life took over and it went by the wayside. When my son, Andrew, was so ill, he and I had been sent over 2,000 miles from home for medical care. I was away from my husband and other three children for five months. While writing certainly helped pass the long hours at the hospital I also wanted to document our time spent apart. I filled two thick journals.

Gratitude 

For several years I’ve read about writing down at least one thing you’re grateful for each night before bed. As I consider myself a thankful person I never felt the need to journal my gratitude. I now wonder why I felt I had too much gratitude to bother. I’ve recently felt that I do need to connect with all that I am blessed with. On my worst days I especially need to write down some of what I am grateful for. Otherwise I would feel hopelessness.

New Ventures

I was recently gifted a free three-month gym membership. I’ll be working with a trainer who has a lot of experience working with people who have Fibromyalgia. Journaling will keep me accountable for going to the gym as well as giving me a way to keep track of my achievements and my difficulties.

I have also reduced the amount of Lyrica I take from three capsules per day(450 mg) to one capsule per day(150 mg). I need to document how the pain and brain injury are affected by this  reduction. Just so you know- today is a toss-up. I feel ever so crappy, but it is cold, rainy and windy. Could be the weather. Could be the reduction in medication.

Stress Journaling

Last week I read an article about “stress journaling.”  The idea is to write down what you are fearful of or what is stressing you out. According to the article, studies have shown that when people write down their fears and/or stressors  the fears don’t look so big and bad.

While I’m excited to start exercising, I am also fearful. Yet when I write down, “I am going to go to the gym to work with a trainer who has lots of experience working with Fibromyalgia” it doesn’t feel so scary.  My mind settles down and I think, “The trainer knows a lot about Fibro, he’s not going to push me too much, he’ll understand when I can’t do something and he’ll understand why I sometimes must stay home.” I’m still a bit nervous, but my mind is no longer a swirl of fretfulness. As the brain injury causes me to have anxiety, this could be a very useful tool for me.

Give It a Try

I do not feel that a journal should be a taskmaster. You can write at the same time each day or you can just jot a few things down when they come to you. You could use it for documenting symptoms, writing down your blessings or saving you sanity. Whatever you want. Don’t feel you have to go out and buy a fancy journal either. I have journaled on notebook paper and spiral binders as much as in books designated as “journals.” I’ve even made my own books(fun!). For that matter, you can journal on your computer.

I’ve decided to use one book to keep track of everything-my health, exercise, gratitude, etc. I’m not sure which type of book I’ll get, but I hear there are some cool new journals that include pictures to color. Sounds good to me! (Refer to Have You Discovered. . ?)

Deb

 

So Far. . .

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This quote is from actor/director Leah Remini.

I love this quote! It is so encouraging. It allows us to turn our truth around and look at it from a new direction.

Brain Fog Ahoy!

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This week I let myself get too tired and too anxious and now I am a blob of brain fog sitting in a chair.

One night I went with a friend to have dinner and shopping for another friend’s birthday. I got home at 11 pm and by the time I got wound down it was a midnight bedtime. The next night I got carried away and colored until 1 am.

Next came the birthday party and it was 11:30 pm before I got home. However, at the party we briefly discussed the bedbug problem we have here at out apartment complex. I got so wound up about the bedbugs that I never went to bed that night. I spent hours on my computer looking up ways to avoid getting bedbugs and then ways to get rid of them. All night I had that anxious feeling at the base of my throat and in my stomach.

Now I’ve got the worst case of brain fog I’ve had since immediately after I suffered the brain injury. The night before last I slept 10 hours after being up for 36 hours straight. Last night I slept 12 1/2 hours. A half hour after I got up this afternoon a friend came by for coffee and laughed about my not knowing what time it was. I had no idea that the clocks were supposed to be moved forward for daylight savings. So while I am a bit rested I am feeling very, very foggy.

Getting to go out to eat and shopping was definitely worth it. Coloring until 1 am was probably not a good thing. Of course my friend’s birthday party was worth it. But getting so worked up over bedbugs was ridiculous!  Even though the woman who lives directly above me has had problems with them since shortly after I moved in eight months ago, I haven’t gotten them. I take recommended precautions and that’s all I can do. Worrying and getting major anxiety will not prevent bedbugs.

I messed up but must move on. Usually when I am confronted by something that could cause me worry, I try to think about what I could do to solve the “problem.” I then take appropriate action or, if there is no action to be taken, I try to let it go. I’ve gotten better and better at letting things go, but obviously I’m not perfect at it. I’m now paying the price with brain fog that will not go away until it’s ready to.

We all deal with worries and we all have different ways of dealing with those worries. The point of this post is to acknowledge how important it is that we don’t allow these concerns to affect our health. Facing them head-on reduces brain fog, fatigue and even pain. It takes a lot of practice and we’ll never be perfect at it, but we can reduce the stress that adversely affects out health.

How do you handle “worries?” I’d love to have feedback from all of you!

Deb

P.S. There is an epidemic of bedbugs across the US and Europe. They are not caused by dirty homes. In my case, I live in a large, clean apartment building. One tenant got bedbugs and then they spread. People who travel are also at risk of getting them, but there are precautions they can take to lower that risk.

 

A Most Satisfying “Wasted” Day

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I’m still trying to take a “time-out” from life’s whirl. Today has been the first truly successful day! No knocking, no calls and no chores were nagging at me. Oddly, it is 7 pm here and I just now realized how good it’s gone today!

Just so you know-I did feed my cats, wash my face and brush my teeth. But that’s about all. I am still in my pjs and my hair is scrappy from bedhead. What did I do all day? I played with my computer. I started out just needing to print my friend’s boarding pass for her flight to Seattle tomorrow. But first an article on CNN caught my attention. Then another and another. You know how it goes! Then I saw an ad for a hair growth shampoo and that sent me scurrying for reviews (every time chronic fatigue flares I lose a substantial amount of hair) and onto Amazon to price it and read more reviews. Then I shopped around on Amazon for a while(no buying today). I dare anyone to look at only one thing while on Amazon! In between sites I played many games of Solitaire. I didn’t get the boarding pass printed until the middle of the afternoon.

I did do some useful things-printed out an article, with illustrations, titled “The 10-minute Gentle Yoga Routine That Can Help You Lose Weight” and another called “7 Best Yoga Poses to Curb a Binge.” They both came from Prevention magazine’s website. I did pet each of my cats every time one of them became suddenly love-starved. And I did eat lunch-hot, delicious  Meals on Wheels food that my friend brought me after he got done with his meal. I usually have to walk over to the kitchen at our apartment complex to eat lunch so I didn’t count Steve’s knock as a door knock today!

My point is not to bore you with the details of my day, but rather to make a point of how a lazy, fooling-around day can sometimes be satisfying. There’s no way I could live every day like I did today, but I feel like I had a true “time-out” day. I feel gratified to have had a quiet day to myself; for once I don’t feel guilty for “wasting” my day; I feel too satisfied and relaxed for guilt to nag me.

What are my plans for the rest of the day? After dinner I’m going to do some coloring!

Deb

Rest and Relaxation?

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I am on day two of a self-imposed “time-out.” Yesterday wasn’t very relaxing, I had: four door knocks, several phone calls, two deliveries and a last-minute dinner invitation. Now I needed the deliveries, the phone calls were related to a medication I’m trying to get pre-authorization for and I had a wonderful time at dinner. So, what’s my problem?!

I keep wondering if there can be such a thing as a total time-out from life’s busyness. Can we holler, “St-o-o-o-p!!” and have it stop? Just long enough for us to get our bearings? Long enough to get even the tiniest relief of the exhaustion that plagues us? Long enough to clear a spot in the brain fog that is so persistent? Are these things too much to hope for?

Some things have to be taken care of. I, for example, need my medications delivered and I must deal with the insurance company. Sometimes we can make our own choices. I could have turned down the dinner invitation, but I wanted to go and spend time with my two closest friends. Then there is the aggravating third classification of disruptions-the people who just don’t get how badly you need the rest. If they can’t seem to understand that you are genuinely ill they won’t respect your need to have some type of time-out from this incredibly fast-paced life we live.

Twice yesterday and once this morning I set limits with people who wanted me to drop everything and take care of something they wanted me to do for them. I was polite but firm. It felt good to stand up for me and for my badly needed time-out. I will probably have to set limits with others during the next two weeks which I will gladly do if it gives me the quiet I need.

Deb