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.

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I Just Wasn’t Thinking. . .

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As I’ve shared, the last two weeks have been pretty rough for me. Last week the Chronic Fatigue(CFS) flare was subsiding, but the Fibromyalgia (Fibro) flare was still going strong.

This Fibro flare was really scaring me. It was almost as bad as when I first came down with CFS. Back then, I spent a year and a half  in bed.  Last week I could hardly get myself out of bed some days; one day I couldn’t get up until 1:30 in the afternoon. A friend patted my back and about sent me through the roof!

Wednesday I saw my doctor for a regular check-up. She was puzzled as to why I felt so bad, asking, “What caused this to happen?” I was so surprised that she didn’t know that Fibro does what it wants. Of course we can overdo it or be experiencing a lot of stress and get a flare. But, just as likely we get a flare for no fathomable reason.

Once my doctor got past the ‘what caused this’ part, she started to work on what would help me feel better. As we were talking she asked if I thought my muscle relaxant was working. I had wondered that myself as I’ve been on it for 12 years. We decided to change to a new med. Over the weekend I noticed I was having less pain and muscle spasms. I feel the new muscle relaxant is really helping.

I take a lot of meds. I’m always so careful to know what medications I take and what each of them is for. Yet, I haven’t been very good about evaluating whether or not they are each doing their jobs. At this doctor’s visit I needed an increase in one med and a complete change of another. I knew the meds weren’t working (very swollen hands and feet AND muscle spasms galore!) and yet I didn’t call and talk to my doctor. I just blamed it on the Fibromyalgia and CFS.

I made a mistake that is fairly easy to make. It’s a mistake that I think anyone with chronic illness and/or pain could make.  We need to evaluate the medications we take. We must think about whether they are working well or even working at all. Then, we need to discuss with our doctors what other medications might better control our symptoms. It’s an important aspect of self-care.

I’m Fine, Thanks

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This morning while I was doing my volunteer work for Meals on Wheels, the manager asked a gentleman how he was doing. His reply was, of course, “I’m good.” A co-worker and I teased him about the flat look he had when he said that. He grinned and said, “We all lie when people ask how we are. None of us says, ‘Oh it hurts here and here.'” I thought, “Boy is that true!”

I live in a three story apartment building that is for 55 years and older. I have many friends and acquaintances here so I’m asked how I’m doing whenever I come out of my apartment. I smile and say, “I’m fine thanks. How are you?” I’m not about to say, “Oh my God! I am having the worst flare of Fibromyalgia and CFS! My throat is so sore and my legs hurt so bad. The muscles in my eyes even hurt.” Yet that is how I really feel today.

People who know me well enough to know I have numerous illnesses, will come up with concerned faces and hushed voices to ask, “How are you doing today?” I can’t even bring myself to say the truth to them. It just seems boring and self-centered. I only have three friends with whom I feel I can be truthful and two of them are also chronically ill.

I think that these days, “How are you doing?” is for the most part meaningless; it is just a long form of, “Hello.” Yet we sometimes do need to talk about how we really are. For me it’s close friends, journaling, blogging and social media that provides a safe, comforting way to share without being seen as whiny or boring.

Deb

PS. Who or what is your way of sharing how you are really feeling? Please leave a comment. Other readers and I would really like to know how you share your pain and illnesses!

 

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