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

I’m Feeling Optimistic!

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I started going to the gym this week. Aside from it being a strange, new world to me, I did way better than I thought I could. Some exercises were so-o-o-o-o difficult! I am quite sore! But, I feel more alive than I’ve felt since the car accident in September of 2004! ( I know. I’m overdoing the exclamation points!)

Nobody’s There to Judge

While waiting to see my trainer, Luke the first time I went, all I could see were people and their water bottles in constant motion. If they weren’t running, biking or on the elliptical, they were working on a machine or moving to another machine. It all seemed so orderly and everyone seemed so adept at whatever exercise they were doing. It was only when Luke started me working on the machines that I was close enough to see the grimaces on many people’s faces and see men and women with sweat pouring off them. At that point, all my inhibitions disappeared. I realized that nobody cared about my somewhat lumpy, overweight self. They were all there to work on themselves.

I May be Slow, But I’ll Get There

Tuesday I rode the bike for one mile and I got through all of the upper body exercises Luke showed me. Friday, I rode the bike for two miles and did the upper body workout I learned on Tuesday. I then met with Luke to learn the leg, hip and tummy exercises. Those were tough, but I got through them all. Afterwards, Luke went over my workout plan with me and talked about how I needed to get my heart rate up to the appropriate level while training on the bike. I must keep my heart rate up for 30 minutes. I’ll get there.

So Sore

Luke has experience working with clients who have Fibromyalgia. He is not pushing me hard, but is teaching me to push myself. Wednesday my arms and back were really sore. I didn’t baby those muscles, just tried to use them normally. Thursday I was barely sore and realized I only was sore from my workout and not in much pain from fibro. Today I am quite sore from the lower body exercise I did yesterday. I am trying use those muscles normally (sitting down and getting up are especially difficult) and again I only have muscle soreness rather than fibro pain.

What’s my Motivation?

Luke asked me how motivated I am to getting in shape and why I am at that point now. Truthfully, I’ve been doing a great deal of reading and thinking the last two months. I’ve been able to rid myself of some old emotional baggage I’ve been carrying around. Once that was gone I was left with one emotional issue; I’ve become angry and resentful of how Fibro, CFS and the brain injury have limited my life. I hate taking all the medications I take, along with all the side effects I have to deal with. I cannot stand the food I have to eat since I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis. It’s basically the opposite of a healthy diet. So I decided to test the waters. I want to see what I can do to feel more control over my body.

This is Happening at the Right Time for Me

I kept this decision to myself; I didn’t even tell my closest friends. Seemingly out of nowhere, a friend offered me a free three month membership at her gym. Then I ran low on Lyrica and instead of three per day, I only had enough to take one a day for about five days. I did so well on the one capsule that I called my doctor who gave me permission to stay on the lower dose. I began adding more nutritious foods back into my diet and that’s going well. When I got to the gym and was weighed, I had already lost nine pounds since my doctor’s appointment three weeks before. Everything is coming together marvelously.

I’m Suffering from Complacency

I know many people wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now. I don’t believe that everyone with chronic illness should jump up and try to fight against their illness. That would be silly of me. What I do believe is that over the 12  years since the accident I have become complacent, feeling I had no control over what was happening to my body. Lyrica has helped tremendously with fibro and nerve pain, but the price is a 30 pound weight gain. I’ve accepted having to take meds to fight the side effects I get from other meds. I accepted the fact that if I squat down to pick something up I can’t get up and will have to crawl to a piece of furniture and drag myself back up. I want to shake off that complacency and see what I can do.

Alive and Awake

Having sore muscles has made me feel alive and awake in a way I haven’t felt for many years. Working to rid myself from emotional garbage that was decades-old freed me to take as much control as I can over my life and body. I’m stretching emotionally and physically and finding my boundaries for myself. I’m also journaling about this new adventure. It’s a great feeling!

Deb

 

 

I’m Not Feeling Very Well

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The other day a neighbor said to me, “I haven’t seen you for a while.” (translated for your convenience: “You didn’t go to our coloring get-together this week”) I told her that I haven’t been feeling very well. Her reply was, “Well don’t forget we’re meeting on Sunday afternoons too.”

Now it’s Sunday afternoon at 3 pm. I live right next to the lobby where we have a large table and chairs as well as big, comfy armchairs so we can meet to chat or to have parties or have, for example, coloring group.  I can hear everyone talking and laughing while they’re coloring. I’m at home feeling teary.

There are a couple of reasons I’m feeling so teary: I am in so much pain I can barely stand it and because my neighbor did not appear to understand why I couldn’t go today.

Yes! I am having a bit of a pity party! I haven’t had a flare this bad for several years. I’m used to having pain every day of my life, but today I couldn’t even get myself out of bed until 1:30 pm. I’m hunched over, stiff and heaven help me if I sneeze or yawn. I feel like a big lump of whiny!

The second reason I’m upset (and the point of this post) is that my neighbor seemed to not understand that I’m REALLY not feeling well. She has chronic Epstein-Barr virus and she and I have talked several times about flares, pain and terrible, terrible fatigue.

Was it my fault she didn’t understand? I did say, “I’m not feeling very well.” when maybe I should have been more forthright, “I’m having a terrible flare and I feel like crap. I hardly had the energy to get my clothes on today.”

It’s interesting that this topic should bite me in the butt considering what I wrote about in my last post (I’m Fine, Thanks.) For sure I don’t want the entire building to know that I’m hunch backed, barely able to walk and scared to death to get into the shower until my caregiver is here tomorrow. However, I realized today that I need to trust some of my friends and neighbors more. Fibro, CFS, and traumatic brain injury are a fact of my life and a part of who I am. When necessary, I have to be truthful about why I can’t leave my apartment.

Almost immediately after I posted “I’m Fine, Thanks” I got the most wonderful comment Two Thoughts on “I’m Fine, Thanks.”  It was written by the blogger of  Outbursts of a Spoonie. She is right on point. Now I’ve just got to work on being as  brave and truthful as she’s trying to be. We all are certainly works in progress, aren’t we?!

Deb

PS: How do you handle telling others how you feel? Is it something you also struggle with? Share your thoughts with us. We’d love to hear from you!

Excuses, Excuses

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After a month of being MIA, I’m back! I’m sorry to have abandoned you all, but I have some good excuses!

First, I started to do some research on how to improve Peering Through the Fog. I was just starting to read and study this research when my cat, Gracie, became very ill.She was vomiting A LOT and I went around behind her cleaning up vomit A LOT.

I took Gracie to the vet and he thought she had kidney disease, especially since she is 15 years old. He put her on Pepcid(Yes, people Pepcid!) and did some lab work. She absolutely got better on the Pepcid and her lab-work came back really good. I have been so relieved that Gracie is well and equally relieved not to be stooped over cleaning up barf anymore!

Meanwhile all the bending and scrubbing and worrying caused both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue to flare something fierce. I’ve had crippling pain; it even hurts to move my eyes.Sometimes I just want to sit and cry.

However, I’ve still tried to occupy my mind as that is the only way I get a little relief from the pain and fatigue. I’ve been coloring, went back to reading and studying my blog research and even took  an online class.

As you can see, I’ve also updated Peering Through the Fog with a new design that I know will allow you to move around the site and easily find what you’re looking for. I will soon be on Pinterest so will be letting you know when that is up and running.

Even in the midst of one of my worst flares, I’m so excited to be stretching my mind and starting new ventures. I wish you all a little excitement in your lives; excitement somehow keeps me in charge of my life and wins a couple of battles in the war against chronic illness and pain.

Deb

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.

 

Emotions and Pain

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Two days ago, I had something happen that was terribly emotionally upsetting. I got the typical headache from crying, but was so relieved I could cry that I was willing to deal with the headache. Whenever I’m taking an antidepressant I am unable to cry. Right now I’m not only on Cymbalta, but also aripiprazole which enhances the Cymbalta. I couldn’t even cry when my mother passed away last September. Anyway, I went right upstairs to see a friend so I could talk about the situation, crying the entire time we talked. Afterwards I felt a bit better for having cried and “unloaded” on my friend, yet I was still very upset.

The next day I woke up feeling as if my body was in a trash compactor. Everything  from my head to my toes was stiff and painful. I knew the excessive pain and stiffness was due to the stress of dealing with a serious emotional issue. Before Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and a brain injury, I was a person who got tension headaches and neck pain when I was upset. Now I feel like my entire body has been crushed.

There is such a link between our pain and our emotions. Over the past eight years or so I’ve learned to be a calm and easy-going person and I have found that to be such an asset in controlling my symptoms. Yet we all have to deal with emotional issues in this life. During those times of emotional duress we can do nothing to stop our symptoms from getting out of control. In this case, crying really hard and sharing with an empathetic friend didn’t help.

I believe we can learn to control our day to day emotions by learning to only get excited when an issue really warrants it. We can also learn to accept our illnesses/symptoms and thus have a calmer outlook on our lives. Yet, unfortunately when we are in a situation where we are hurt, sad and/or angry we can look forward to a maddening flare of symptoms. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Deb