health

Fibro Fridays – All About Fatigue

It’s Fibro Friday, kids! I hope that you’ve had a great week, and a wonderful weekend ahead of you.

Today, I’m going to be discussing the one symptom that is my absolute favorite. And, by absolute favorite, I actually mean my most despised symptom. Fatigue has been the most bothersome symptom of them all during my fibro journey. Well, to be fair, pain is pretty high on my list, too. But overall, even when my pain is minimal, fatigue has been a constant companion.

This symptom has been one of the hardest to manage since being exhausted makes it difficult to do many of the things I enjoy. Before fibro became a part of my life, I regularly took long walks around my favorite city in the world – Washington DC – and I could easily work out in the gym and feel invigorated once I was finished. But in the months leading up to my diagnosis, I found it harder to do all of the things that I enjoyed without feeling completely drained.

The biggest clue that my fatigue was something beyond normal exhaustion was when I went on a cruise in 2018. I slept 10-12 hours every night, and I would sleep longer if my family didn’t wake me up. I literally spent more time in the bed than I did exploring the ship (this is completely unlike me: I usually love exploring!) It didn’t matter if I drank 3-4 cups of coffee each day while onboard: I’d still be exhausted at the end of the day, even if it was a day when I didn’t do much.

I’ve been experimenting with a few things and, even though I still can’t get a good handle on my fatigue, I’ve noticed a few things that really work for me.

For starters, taking ashwaganda and melatonin supplements help me get a deeper sleep, which makes me feel more refreshed the following day. It won’t eliminate the fatigue, but it will certainly help me with getting through the first half of the day without needing a nap. And that’s the other thing: I nap, almost religiously. If my body needs it, I carve out a little time to get a quick snooze. Unfortunately, I will occasionally oversleep. But it’s better than trying to push through the fatigue, since being so tired can literally make me achy. Another thing I do is avoid heavy meals unless I know that I’ll be able to go to sleep not long after. I am pretty catatonic whenever I eat really rich or heavy foods for dinner, so I reserve those meals for days when I know I don’t have to be up late.

The true key to managing fatigue is having excellent sleep hygiene, which is wonderful in theory but not always easy to implement. However, I’ve been attempting to make small changes that I hope will lead to major changes in my energy levels. I’ve started by creating a bit of a nighttime routine and trying my best to avoid doing anything at night that will make it harder for me to go to sleep.

Do you have any tips for dealing with fatigue? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

health · Uncategorized

Fibro Friday: Health Updates

Happy Friday, friends! We made it through another week. I’ve been busy, but I feel like I’m finally starting to get over the hump and get to a point where I’m not as overwhelmed. For this, I’m thankful.

So, in yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I had a recent doctor’s visit. During this visit, my doctor confirmed that I had gained some weight. Funny enough, he didn’t mention it, but I saw it when his nurse weighed me. I knew that I’d done some emotional eating over the wintertime, but I had no idea how much it impacted my weight until I saw the numbers on the scale.

Obviously, I’d been soothing myself with food. I thought hard about it, and it occurred to me that 2021, for all of its wins, had walloped me. Losing my grandmother, living with additional family members, not taking any vacations, and having an extraordinary amount of work and other activities have really drained me. I may write more about all of this in an upcoming post, but for now, I’ll say that I’m glad for my newfound awareness. I can make some additional changes to my eating and get back on track to achieving my goal weight.

That aside, I’ve felt pretty good physically. I’ve adjusted some of medication so I’m pain free on most days. My main fibro symptom that I’m contending with now is fatigue. This one is undoubtedly the most difficult to manage, since it slows me down and makes it really hard to function. I’m exploring a few natural options to increase my energy, as well as adjusting my daily routine so that I get more sleep at night.

Overall, I’m making progress, with a minor setback or two. I’m excited to see how things go over the next few weeks, especially when I get adjusted to my new sleep routine. All in all, I have nothing but good news to share!

That’s it for the week. I hope you all have a great weekend. Take care!

health · life curation

Fibro Friday – How I Made Peace With My Diagnosis

Welcome to this week’s Fibro Friday! For those that are curious, I enjoy discussing an aspect of my fibromyalgia experience every week. This condition is more than a diagnosis: it’s a shift in my way of life. But as I continue to learn my “new normal”, I find myself seeing the silver lining every single day. And, if my experience can offer a silver lining for someone else, then I’m delighted that I can make this path easier for another person.

One of the most difficult things about learning that I have fibromyalgia is making peace with my diagnosis. It’s so easy to rebel against the diagnosis and throw myself into a cycle of over-extension, then drastically long recovery periods. I resisted this diagnosis for over a year. I would have one good day, try to do as much as I can, then I’d spend the next week in bed because my body ached terribly and my mental faculties weren’t up to par.

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I resisted the diagnosis because I hated feeling “less than”. I hated the fact that I had limitations. I really despised being face-to-face with my own frailty and, by extension, my mortality. I hated the fact that I wasn’t who I used to be, and there was nothing that I could do about it.

When you hit your lowest lows, that’s the point where you learn to release your death grip on your beliefs and to accept that your own resistance is what’s keeping you in your pain loop. Those lows teach you so much, but, mainly, they teach you to let this moment, and every moment you experience, be enough. When the moment is enough, you no longer obsess over why. You lean into the experience, and, just like magic, the solutions to your problems start to appear.

For me, the moment I started resisting my pain and just allowed it to be so, I felt a measure of relief. After that, the relief increased steadily. I’m not pain-free yet, but being present in the moment and observing my body – its pain, fatigue, mental fog, and inability to perform tasks like it used to – without judgment, freed me up to find solutions to my pain. My medication started feeling more effective, my mind started to clear a bit, and I started taking note of what physical activities felt like “just enough”, and which activities were overdoing it.

Instead of resisting my diagnosis and judging myself, I started approaching my diagnosis like a clinician. I analyzed my symptoms from a neutral standpoint, and, eventually, I started treating myself better than any doctor could. Much of my peace from my diagnosis is centered around the fact that I view it as neutrally as possible, which allows me to accept the symptoms without villainizing them, and to forgive myself for not treating my body as well as I could have over the years. When you know better, you do better. And I’m finally doing better by my body, which only came on the heels of accepting my diagnosis and moving forward.

That’s it for today. I hope this post encourages you and inspires you to make peace with the things that you can’t change, and to allow that peace to open the door for relief and solutions to whatever bothers you. Take care, and I’ll talk to you next week!

health

Fibro Friday – A Tentative Wellness Plan

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m feeling pretty good today, and I’m looking forward to a warmer weekend ahead. I think that most states in the US are anticipating some sunnier, warmer days, and I’m grateful for that. This is a happy Friday for sure!

I recently shared my experience with the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test, as well as my thoughts about at-home tests and their effectiveness. I used the food sensitivity test as a way to gather intel on how my body works. I’m combining the information that I gathered from that test with the results from the myriad other tests I’ve had over the years. I’m thankful for historical data from LabCorp as well as my insurance company: there’s no way I could have kept physical copies of every single test or doctor’s appointment I’ve had over the past three years.

Regardless of where you are on your fibro journey, becoming an expert on your body is a fantastic place to start. I can’t recommend it enough: get to know your own body! It’s crucial for your journey.

Anyhoo, I have formulated a tentative approach to resolving my fibromyalgia pain for good. As evidenced by the food sensitivity test, I’m starting with a diet-based approach, since I believe that this will provide the most immediate relief (as well as other numerous health benefits). I’m starting small, so I don’t get overwhelmed by the process.

I consulted two other sources for information on how to design a “get well” plan. I watched a video from the American Herbalist Guild last year, and I’ve revisited it. This video features a lecture by herbalist K P Khalsa, who has a fantastic herbal/natural approach to treating fibromyalgia. The video also refers to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum’s approach (one of his most popular books, explaining his program for eliminating fibro symptoms is here). This video is a ton of information to absorb, which is why I’m rewatching in small, 20-30 minute chunks of time.

Additionally, I’ll be implementing dietary changes in line with The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, CN. Addressing nutritional deficiencies is key to any wellness program, so I’ll integrate some principles from this book and see how it goes. I’ll probably do a review on this book soon, so watch out for that.

I suspect I’ll feel major changes just by implementing the recommendations from the AHG video and the Beauty Detox book. I’m excited to embark on this journey! If you’re interested in seeing my YouTube video on this topic, you can view it here (I’ve also embedded it below).

That’s it for my Fibro Friday post! I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend, and I’ll talk to you all soon. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Fridays – The Latest Fibromyalgia Research

Happy Fibro Friday! I hope you’ve had a pleasant week with minimal pain and lots of joy!

There are two things I want to share with this post. First, I decided to spend a little time reviewing the most recent fibromyalgia research. I usually get my fibro updates from mainstream news outlets or medical websites. But this time, I wanted to look at what has been published in medical journals during the past year.

Here’s the problem (*steps onto soap box*): most of the journals will charge you anywhere from $20 to $80 to access a SINGLE article. I understand that the publishers need to be compensated, but none of that money goes to the researchers (if I’m mistaken, please let me know in the comments below). Which is why I believe in contacting the researchers directly to ask for a copy of their research, and offering them some sort of gratuity out of appreciation. Many of them complete their research due to grant funding, and they often live off of stipends. And most researchers are happy to share their work for free, which is why I feel strongly that offering some sort of “love offering” is a good gesture. *steps off of soap box*

Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, let’s get to the articles. There are two that I want to share in this post, and both of them can be accessed for free. The first article is all about T cells, the white blood cells that relate to the body’s immune response and how the body reacts to certain pathogens. This article explores the role of T-cells in the “neurological and inflammatory symptoms of fibromyalgia”. This is a long read, but enlightening if you have the time and interest to learn more.

The second article covers current pharmacotherapy options for fibromyalgia, as well as potential future research opportunities. This article does a great job of explaining how certain commonly prescribed medicines (personally, I take two of the drugs listed in the article) work on fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain, insomnia and even depression and anxiety. If you want a thorough primer on how certain fibro medicines work, this article is a fantastic place to start.

Now, onto the second item. Last week, I posted about my Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test experience. I also posted a video about Everlywell on my YT channel. I received a comment that asserted that the food sensitivity test was a bunch of bunk, to put it succinctly. The commenter also provided a link to a doctor’s video, explaining why food sensitivity tests are unreliable. I must thank the commenter for sharing this with me. However, I had a host of other reasons why this test wasn’t a waste of my money. If you want to hear my explanation, you can check out the embedded video below.

That’s all for today’s Fibro Friday! I hope you all have a great weekend and take good care of yourselves. “See” you all on Monday!

health

Fibro Fridays: My Everywell Experience

Happy Fibro Friday! I hope everyone is feeling well and having a great day or evening wherever you are.

As you all recall, one of my goals for 2021 is to minimize or completely eliminate my fibromyalgia symptoms. On this journey, I will do my best to learn as much as I can about my body so that I can formulate an approach that works for me over the long term.

On the quest to gather as much useful information about my body as possible, I purchased the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test. This is not an allergy test: it’s a test that measures how much your body responds to certain foods by testing your body for antibody activity. The science for this is fascinating, which is why I encourage you to check out the website for an in-depth explanation.

When you first receive your test, you have to register it on the Everylywell website. After registration, you can commence with doing the test. My test involved pricking my finger and saturating a blood sample collection card. After saturating the card, I sent it back to the lab in a biohazard envelope.

After waiting a little over a week, the lab sent me an in-depth report, explaining my results. I was moderately sensitive to 3 foods, and minimally sensitive to 7 foods. I’ll be using this information as a starting point for an elimination diet. I will add more details about the elimination diet in a few weeks, but for now, at least I know what I should exclude first.

I filmed a video with a lot more details which I will embed below.

Have you all done a food sensitivity test? How did that go? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

health

Fibro Fridays – My Current Vitamin and Supplement Regimen

Happy Friday, friends! I’m looking forward to this weekend: I will be getting lots of sleep and doing some additional writing. Here’s hoping I can get a good chunk of writing done!

Since I’ve never shared many details about the medication, vitamins and supplements I take, I thought that would be a good think to discuss on Fibro Friday. I believe wholeheartedly that filling in nutritional gaps can improve fibromyalgia symptoms. It doesn’t mean that fibro is a nutritional condition, but having a properly nourished body can do wonders for us and our pain levels.

Let’s start with medication first. Though these aren’t particularly nourishing, these help with pain management and other symptoms. I currently take 900 mg of gapapentin daily: 300 mg in the morning, and 600 mg in the evening. I also take 10 mg of escitalopram in the morning, and 10 mg of amitriptyline at night. These help with my serotonin levels and the nerve pain and discomfort I feel. When my pain is too intense, I may reach for 10 mg of cyclobenzaprine (a muscle relaxer).

Now, onto vitamins! I take organic prenatal gummies from Smarty Pants. These taste really good and cover a lot of my nutritional needs. I also take a vitamin D3 supplement (I purchase one through Melaleuca’a Vitality brand). I also take chelated magnesium from Country Life, calcium with vitamin D3 from Nature’s Measure, as well as the Super B Complex by Nature’s Measure.

Lastly, I also take supplements. I use the Koala Pals protein shake by Melaleuca company. I also like taking Good Zymes (a digestive enzyme supplement) available through Melaleuca. Also, I really enjoy Pacifica’s beauty powders. After sharing information about my two favorite powders, I realized that Pacifica no longer sells them. However, I did find a seller on Amazon for the Slay All Day powder. I also really like Sambucol Elderberry gummies for immune support.

I also made a video about this, if you prefer to hear about the products as opposed to reading about it:

(This post contains affiliate links)

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Fibro Fridays – Pain Management Tools

Happy Fibro Friday! We made it through another week: let’s celebrate!

I’ve been trying some new pain management tools over the past few weeks. These have helped me with some of the chronic pain symptoms that come along with having fibromyalgia. I really liked these items that I’m sharing today, so if you have fibromyalgia, or if you experience chronic pain, these may be worth a try.

First, I have the Nayoya Acupressure Mat and Neck Pillow set. At just under $40 USD, it’s a great item to try for some pain relief. I was going to review it, but Deena of Adventures with Fibro on YouTube (YT) beat me to it! Her review was great, so I’m going to link it here, but I’m also going to embed it in this post.

Now, there’s another tool that I’ve enjoyed using, and not only is it effective, but it’s reasonably priced, too. This tool is less than $20 USD currently, and I’ve loved using it to relieve some of the nerve pain I experience. It’s the La Vie Lactation Massage Roller.

Before you get any ideas . . . No, I’m not lactating! This massager is gentler than many other massage devices, which is crucial when your chronic pain is intense. Here’s the review of the lactation massage roller that I posted on my YT channel:

If you’re curious about the variety of tools that may be needed for those that live wtih fibromyalgia or chronic pain, you should check out Olga Chronics on YT. She is so thorough, and she’s charming to boot. I really liked her video on mobility aids (which I’m embedding below). I don’t use mobility aids, but it’s good information for anyone that has impacted mobility due to chronic pain or fibromyalgia.

Do you have any tools that you can recommend for pain management? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

*Post contains affiliate links.

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Fibro Fridays: Aquatic Therapy

Happy Friday! We’ve been enjoying lots of hot, sunny days in central Virginia and, I’m not gonna lie, I’ve loved every minute of it!

Today is Fibro Friday, and I wanted to move away from discussing the pain and frustration of the condition, and move towards talking about ways to reduce pain and improve our quality of life. So I’ll spend a few weeks talking about treatments that work.

Of all of the treatments I’ve employed in my fibromyalgia journey, aquatic therapy was, hands down, one of the most effective. I spent two days per week in a heated pool, where I did careful stretching and conditioning exercises. The exercises were designed to stretch the muscles gently and to begin restoring flexibility and strength to previously stiff and achy body parts.

Water is a healer

After spending time in the pool, I noticed that my range of motion was better, and my pain was decreased. I won’t lie: those aquatic exercises EXHAUSTED me. I slept so well after each visit. But that was a good thing; as someone that experiences awful bouts of insomnia, a good nights’ sleep is a dream come true.

Along with the physical benefits of stretching in a warm pool, there were other unexpected positive side effects. I find that water stokes my creativity, so my mind felt clearer and rejuvenated after each visit. I also found my confidence in my body’s abilities growing with each session. You see, fibro made me quite unsure of what my body can do, since the condition significantly impaired my energy levels and range of motion. But the weightlessness I experienced in the pool reminded me of what I was like before fibro took its toll.

I haven’t gone to aquatic therapy since last year. My pain levels are far more manageable now so I don’t need this particular treatment any more. However, at the time, this worked extremely well for my pain, and I recommend it for anyone that is experiencing muscle discomfort or chronic pain.

That’s it for today! I hope you all continue to remain safe and take care of yourselves. Have a great weekend!

health

Fibro Fridays: My Difficult Diagnosis Journey

As promised, I’m back to share with you my journey to diagnosis. I’ve discussed some aspects of this journey before, but I really wanted to share additional details of what was involved with getting diagnosed. It’s really easy for me to focus on the immediate months leading up to my diagnosis, but, in all honesty, my diagnosis was a nearly 5-year journey of doctors’ visits and frustrating experiences before I confirmed what was happening with my body.

I had two primary care doctors throughout the time that I’ve suffered from fibro symptoms. My first doctor didn’t see anything concerning on my bloodwork, but she believed me when I said that I felt unwell. She referred me to a rheumatologist for clarity (an appropriate response), because some autoimmune conditions cannot be determined from basic blood testing. I visited the rheumatologist, who seemed to understand that I was experiencing extraordinary stress along with physical discomfort. However, after completing one round of blood tests, she ended up dismissing my concerns (as you all may know, fibromyalgia cannot be determined by blood testing, which is why some medical professionals deny its existence). I was discouraged by my pain but also relieved that I was not suffering from an autoimmune condition.

I continued to battle my symptoms and found myself vacillating between less pain and more pain, but never experiencing a complete absence of pain. After the first doctor decided to retire from medicine, I started working with a second doctor, who repeated the blood work 3 years after my last round of testing. This doctor also didn’t see anything concerning on my blood testing, but she attributed my symptoms to stress and a demanding daily routine. She didn’t seem to believe that my physical symptoms were real and not easily remedied by minor lifestyle changes.

After having a horrible symptom flare, I knew that I had to take my health into my own hands. I directly contacted a rheumatology office that had good reviews and scheduled my appointment sans referral (I have a PPO for this reason: waiting for referrals can be frustrating). I had already been discussing my symptoms with friends, and more than one of them mentioned fibro as a possibility. I did a little research and was able to clearly communicate my concerns with the rheumatologist. Less than one month later, I had a diagnosis confirming that I was indeed suffering from fibromyalgia.

I “fired” my primary care doc and got a new doctor that was far better for me and my condition. I worked with several specialists and finally started to feel better for the first time in years. The journey wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. I’m just glad that it only took me a few months from the time that I took control of my healthcare to get a diagnosis: for that, I’m fortunate. I know intimately how this process can take many years and many tears, and anyone suffering from this condition has my sympathy and empathy. This path isn’t for the weak, which is why some have labeled themselves “fibro warriors”.

If you have a fibro warrior in your life, please send them a little loving energy: this isn’t an easy experience, and many are doing the best that they can.

That’s all for this week. I hope you all have a wonderful and safe 4th of July weekend. Take care!