health · life curation

Fibro Friday – Do You Have Fibromyalgia? Getting Properly Diagnosed

Welcome to the very first Fibro Friday! I’m hopeful that this series will provide valuable information and tips for other fibromyalgia sufferers, and it’s my sincere desire that my experiences with fibro will help someone else get back on the track to wellness.

*** Disclaimer – none of this is intended as medical advice. Please consult a licensed physician for a professional opinion. ***

The singular toughest part of my fibromyalgia journey was getting a proper diagnosis. There are still a lot of care providers that don’t know how to properly interpret fibromyalgia symptoms, and as a result, patients spend a lot of time suffering before there is a conclusive diagnosis. Even once patients receive a diagnosis, there are some care providers that treat fibro as some “strange” illness that only requires antidepressants and stress reduction to “clear up”. There is even a subset of care providers that deny the existence of fibro altogether.

researcher

On your health journey, you may end up doing a LOT of research.

Let’s be clear: fibromyalgia is a REAL condition, with devastating symptoms. There is still a lot of mystery around why it occurs and how to best treat it, nonetheless, it is real. The challenging part is, again, diagnosing it.

So, how can you determine if you may have fibromyalgia? If you have any of the following symptoms for at least 3 months, then you may suffer from the condition (an asterisk beside the symptom means that I personally experienced it as a fibro sufferer):

  • body aches , soreness or general pain, especially in the back, neck and shoulders *
  • morning stiffness *
  • exhaustion that doesn’t seem to let up *
  • sharp pains or pins and needles sensations *
  • feeling “sick” but not suffering from a cold *
  • may experience virus-like symptoms (feels like the flu) but can’t seem to get better *
  • suffer from extra tiredness and muscle pain after only slight exertion *
  • sensitivity to heat or cold *
  • anxiety, depression, nervousness, moodiness *
  • headaches *
  • sleep problems (can’t get to sleep, can’t stay asleep) *
  • forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating *
  • stomach issues (bloating, nausea, constipation, excessive gas) *
  • painful cramps
  • restless legs syndrome

You may have just one or all of these symptoms. I know that I often felt like I had the flu: I’d often complain of feeling like I got “hit by a truck” and, while the feeling lessened as the day went on, the overall “sick” feeling never went away completely. I was so tired that I couldn’t get out of bed on some days, and the headaches would occasionally be so intense that they could stop me mid-sentence and have me holding my head and I’d seize up from the pain. Nausea, sensitivity to heat and cold (I can’t go into the frozen section of some stores without a jacket because the air makes my body ache), and sleep issues (waking up every two or so hours) are just the tip of the iceberg.

If you have any of the symptoms and suspect you may have fibromyalgia, your best bet is to start with your primary care physician (PCP) and ask for a referral to a neurologist or rheumatologist. Your PCP can do preliminary testing to rule out other conditions (anemia – which often exists concurrently with fibromyalgia – or thyroid disease come to mind), but an examination by a specialist (like a neurologist or rheumatologist) will give you more conclusive results. If your PCP’s testing reveals that you have some other condition, try the treatments for that first, and see if you get some relief/improvement of symptoms. If not, it may be time to see a specialist.

Fibromyalgia is diagnosed through the process of elimination. After autoimmune conditions and other diseases are determined to be nonexistent, then a patient can be diagnosed as having fibro. If it takes you months or years to get to this point, take heart: I started having the worst of my symptoms at the end of October 2018, and I was diagnosed by February 2019. However, these symptoms first showed up (in a milder form) back in 2014/2015, at which time I went to a rheumatologist. The rheumatologist tested me for lupus, and when the tests came back negative, she sent me on my way and didn’t bother to examine me for any other conditions. Imagine how much further along I could have been if this had been addressed properly back then! Ah well: here’s hoping my experience helps you to shorten the time on getting a proper diagnosis.

In short, take a look at your symptoms, and see how long you’ve had them. If it’s been more than 3 months, ask your PCP for a blood test and, if that comes back okay, then ask for a referral to a rheumatologist or neurologist for additional testing. Let the specialist know that you suspect that you have fibromyalgia: they’ll know which tests to do, in order to rule out other conditions.

I know this is a pretty long post, but the next ones will probably be a bit shorter. I just had to let it be known that you’re not crazy, your symptoms aren’t just “in your head”, and a proper diagnosis is the first step on your path to wellness.

 

art · travel

Getting My Art Fix in Raleigh, NC

While I haven’t personally driven a long distance  since late 2018, I still travel via plane, train or as an automobile passenger. A few months ago, my family visited Raleigh, NC, so I tagged along. One of the days while we were there, we got a chance to tour the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA). I mentioned NCMA before (back when I toured the sculpture garden) but the last time I was there, I didn’t have enough time to tour the inside of the museum. I was delighted that I finally got a chance to see some of the artwork housed at NCMA!

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Exterior of the museum

I had a great time checking out the contemporary art, and I finally got to see Amy Sherlad’s award-winning painting, Miss Everything. You all may remember how much I love Amy Sherald’s work: I’m always excited when I can see one of her paintings in person.

I also got to see some pieces from artists I’d never known before. I love how I always learn something new when I go to a museum!

Gerhard Richter’s Station (577-2) (1985)

Sean Scully, Wall of Light Peru (2000)

Skunder (Alexander) Boghassian, Night Flight of Dread and Delight (1964)

One of my favorites referenced the three graces, some of my favorite mythological beings. These goddesses rule realms such as charm and elegance (some of my favorite topics!). Three Graces, Les Trois Femmes Noires, by Mickalene Thomas, was a show-stopping piece that was both grand in size and impression it left upon me. It was probably my favorite of this trip.

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Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires (2011) Mickalene Thomas

Those are my highlights from my most recent trip to NCMA! I hope you enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to returning and taking some more pics for you. Take care!

 

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art · life curation

My (Not So) New Hobby – Painting!

During my time away, I had a chance to resume one of my interests: painting! There is something so therapeutic about applying paint to a canvas . . . The brushstrokes, the blending of color, the magic of taking a concept and turning it into a tangible work of art. I love to paint and I can’t wait until I have more time to devote to my craft. Until then, here are a couple of pieces that I’ve created:

Me with a piece I completed earlier this year: I premiered it in Los Angeles in June 2019

Recent piece in progress

I’m so eager to see where this curiosity leads me. I would love to continue developing my skill, take a few classes, and work with some new techniques and materials. This hobby relaxes me and gives me a much needed creative outlet, so I’m sure I’ll have more paintings to share in the future!

 

 

life curation · Uncategorized

It Feels Great To Be BACK!

Hi my dear friends! I’m so happy to be BACK on the blog! As you may recall from my last post, I’d been experiencing some health issues that were making it difficult for me to keep up with my blogging schedule. To be honest, I didn’t feel like getting out of bed on most days, and even little tasks felt like huge chores, so blogging fell WAY down on my list of priorities.

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Smiling because it’s great to be back!

After experiencing some pretty dreadful symptoms for several months, I was relieved when I finally got a diagnosis. I have fibromyalgia, a disorder that affects your entire body and causes widespread pain, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and a host of other symptoms. I’ve read countless articles and found that most doctors agree that this is a neurological disorder and not a joint/muscle issue. I often find myself needing a lot of rest and even small, stressful situations can lead to a “flare up”, where my symptoms are more intense and I find it difficult to function. When I experience “flares”, I have to rest more and use stronger pain medication in order to get some relief.

Through all of this, I feel truly blessed. Yes, this condition is annoying and I wish I didn’t have it. But, I have a wonderful support system, and I recently moved into my first home, which is much closer to my care providers. My new home is beautiful and serene, and being in this setting has contributed tremendously to my overall health. I’m so fortunate that I have an understanding workplace that allows me to work from home as needed. And now, after making a few changes with my providers, I finally have a healthcare team that has given me the treatments and tools to feel better daily.

This experience has taught me SO much and I am excited to share these lessons with you all. I feel like I have a new lease on life! Now, I still have pain occasionally, and I have to monitor my symptoms daily so that I know what I need and how to best care for myself. But simply KNOWING that I’m not just tired or stressed has been such a relief. Knowing that I have an actual condition that is medically recognized and treatable means that this isn’t “all in my head”, and if other people are experiencing this, then that means I’m not alone, and there’s a good chance that that are treatment options that can really help me minimize my symptoms.

So I’m BACK! All of my posts won’t be about fibro: I’m going to leave those discussions strictly for Fridays, which will be (for now) Fibro Fridays. I’m excited to share self-care tips, lessons, and more information that I’ve gotten since learning about this condition. I look forward to sharing this journey with you all, as well as resuming my art, music, luxury, and lifestyle posts! Take care!

life curation

What I’m Intending for 2019

2019 is still so brand new and full of potential: I’m seriously still “buzzing” about the new year!

2019

With all of this excitement, I almost forgot to tell you all my intentions for 2019. My intentions are different from my goals, though my intentions support the goals that I have for the year.

My intentions for 2019 are to enjoy abundant and complete health, create incredibly satisfying experiences every day, and to continue designing a life that gives me joy and that blesses those that interact with me. For me, the most important thing is to live well: the components of my version of a well-lived life are excellent health, daily satisfaction, and an uninhibited ability to do the things that bring me joy.

That is my intention for the year, and I’m looking forward to enjoying the year as it unfolds. I hope that you all have set your intentions and are ready to live well!

Talk to you all tomorrow!

life curation

2018 Goals: Final Update

It’s the last Hump Day before the New Year: can you all believe that we’re already so close to 2019? This year has flown by, but it’s my sincere hope that you all got to see some of your dreams come true during the year or, at very least, made some progress toward achieving your big goals. Remember, taking one step is better than staying still, and you still have time to take one more step before the year end.

Woman writing and planning business strategy

As you all know I had three big goals I was working on this year. While I did a tiny update a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to do one final check-in before the new year. Quickly, here were my goals:

  • Publish some of my writing
  • Travel more
  • Dabble in an art career

Here are the updates on each goal up to this point:

Goal 1: Publish some of my writing

writing

My previous set of goals were as follows:

  • Complete edits on my novel
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo in November
  • Publish my how to book

I didn’t complete the edits on my novel, though I did make some progress on it. I’m cutting myself a lot of slack with that because edits can take quite a bit of time and mental energy. So, just doing some edits is progress enough for me. Over the next year, I’ll work on it in increments, until the edits are done. This isn’t a priority for me, so I don’t anticipate this being completed until Summer or Fall 2019

I participated in NaNoWriMo, so that goal was achieved (yay!) I didn’t finish my novel but I did say that I would participate, and I did. I will resume working on my NaNoWriMo novel in the upcoming year, with the hopes of finishing it before March 2019.

My how-to book still isn’t published, but I explained why in this post. I haven’t worked out the layout stuff yet, but that’s something I’m focusing on in January 2019. The aim is to have the book published in February 2019.

Goal 2: More travel

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My 2018 travel-related short-term goals were as follows:

  • Plan out 2019 trips
  • Film at least three travel-related videos for my YouTube channel
  • Get TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry

So, I’ve already started planning my 2019 trips, and I’ll announce my finalized plans next month. I wrote about my 2019 trip planning in this post. Planning travel for the upcoming year is always one of the highlights of my pre-New Year ritual.

I actually began tinkering with some video editing software for some travel related content for my YouTube channel. Now that I’ve gotten a little familiar, I’ll be able to publish some videos in the upcoming year. I have the content, but the formatting and “polishing” needs to happen next.

I researched the TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry requirements and determined that I don’t need it just yet. It’s a great option for frequent travelers but it is a multi-step process that takes more time than I’m willing to devote to it right now. However, it’s something I’ll be considering in 2020, when I anticipate I will be doing far more international and domestic air travel.

Goal 3: Dabble in an art career

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In 2018, my mini-goals for transitioning into an art career were:

  • Clarify what kind of art-related career I desire
  • Create a preliminary career “plan” for my target career
  • Attend at least three art related events so that I can meet more like-minded people

I’m still not completely clear on the kind of art-related career I want. I’ve considered a few paths and have eliminated some options, so that has clarified my desires somewhat. I’d prefer a singular, clear “yes” rather than multiple clear “nos”, but some clarity is better than nothing, right? I take it that this clarification process will be a gradual unfolding as opposed to a lightning bolt of inspiration. And that’s fine: the fact that this is coming to me gradually is actually kind of exciting. I anticipate that the end result will be better than I could have ever hoped for.

Well, without a target, I couldn’t come up with a preliminary plan. So that has to be put on hold until the actual desire is clarified. Again, that’s fine: I know that getting clear on what I want is going to be key to completing my plan.

I wasn’t feeling my best over the past few weeks, so I wasn’t energetic enough to handle the art events I wanted to attend. However, for January, I have two art events scheduled, and a third event is on my calendar for February. Since I’m still recovering, I have to pace myself as I plan to attend different art events. But I’m eager to get back into the mix, so it won’t be long before I’m out and mingling again.

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Those are my final updates for my 2018 goals. I’ll have a few target goals that I’m working on throughout 2019, and I’ll be sharing those soon. Until then, take care!