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.

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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.

 

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

January’s Organization Challenge: Mid-Month Updates

You all may remember a few weeks ago when I stated that I was going to start a January organizational challenge. I use the outline provided on a website that I visited, All Things Mikita. This post is just a brief update of how that organization challenge is going.

Well, I stopped the challenge. What I found was that I had to substitute too many of the items outlined in the challenge. For instance, Day 9 of the challenge called to get rid of nine skirts or dresses. However, since I have made it a habit to regularly streamline my wardrobe, I didn’t have any items that I wanted to get rid of. I wear skirts regularly so removing them from my wardrobe would have left huge gaps. Day 15 of the challenge calls for getting rid of old jewelry, but most of my jewelry is high-quality so getting rid of 15 pieces did not appeal to me at all. Day 20 calls for getting rid of 20 pajama pants, but I don’t even own 5 pajama pants!

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I’m envisioning organized spaces, like this

This challenge is excellent for a few reasons,  especially for someone who is attempting to upgrade their wardrobe and get rid of many excess clothing items. But in my case, I realized I did not have an abundance of the items mentioned for the challenge. This is a good cautionary  example for me, because it’s important to look carefully over a challenge before committing. Next time I do an organization challenge, I will be sure to note whether I can complete the tasks as listed. And, if I can’t complete the tasks listed, I need to prepare myself in advance of the challenge start date to substitute appropriately.

I’m sure I’ll do more challenges in the upcoming months, but this one fell flat. I wish I had some good results for you, but I stopped after I got a few days in. It just didn’t fit in my life at this point. The next challenge I select will be a better fit for me and my lifestyle.

Enjoy your Thursday, friends! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

life curation

Will My 2019 Goals Fail?

Happy hump day friends! As I look at my beloved planner, I think to myself how, every week, I set out little goals that will feed into some of that bigger goals for 2019. I’m only a couple of weeks into the new year, but I noticed something that I wanted to share with you all. I’m concerned that maybe my goals don’t have enough “umph” to them.

The problem with tepid goals is that they’ll usually fall flat. That isn’t intentional, of course:  no one sets a goal with the plan to fail. But in my experience, goals that don’t fire you up rarely have enough steam to be fully realized.

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So I had to ask myself, will my 2019 goals fail?

I’d like to think that they won’t:  I’m beyond the phase of life where I’m at I’m okay barely making the mark. At this point, only success or major progress will do.  That brought me to the realization that, for my 2019 goals, I have to find some fire for them.  Specifically, I have to make them bolder and bigger. Everything will have to be taken up a notch if I want to ensure that the goals will be accomplished.

Last year’s goals had a measure of success to them.  Nothing was a complete failure, but they did not have enough fire to keep me working hard on them all year long. I figured that might be somewhat normal:  working non-stop for an indefinite period of time on anything is nearly impossible. One of the reasons that I was really thankful for getting the 21 Day Challenge book was that I figured I could work on anything fervently for 21 days.

But after I took some time to examine my current goals, I don’t even think that 21 day challenges can keep me lit up all year long. So this year, I’m going to take a little more time and figure out exactly how to make my goals bolder than they were last year. I want goals that light me up and that excite me as I discuss them.  I start my first 21 day challenge in February, and I want to make sure that I’m ready and raring to go at the beginning of the month so that the 21 days I pour into a project will be some of the most inspiring days of my 2019.

So I’m going back to the drawing board for my goals, and I’m going to make them bigger and bolder than ever. I can’t wait to share them with you all soon!

That’s all for today. Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

life curation

Resuming My Gratitude Practice

I didn’t mention this at all on the blog last year, but I meant to, because I was eager to resume one of the practices that made 2016 and 2017 especially magical years for me. Several years ago, I kept a gratitude journal. This journal is good for capturing the little things that I appreciate throughout the day. I got away from this practice because, life being what it is, I got distracted. I really wanted to resume the practice, and even begin using my journal again in August 2018. But, soon I found myself again skipping days and forgetting to do my entries. So my journal went unused for most of last year.

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This year, I wanted to start things on a different note. I decided to begin using my gratitude journal again because well, why not? I don’t have many pages left in this particular journal but I will use it until it’s full, then I’ll start a new one. I focus on capturing the great things that happen each day. I don’t worry too much about expressing gratitude for the same thing multiple times within a week. If there’s something great that I appreciate on more than one day during any given week, I take no issue with noting this more than once. I do, however, try to focus on what truly makes me happy each day and I make an effort to find the moments that made me smile, no matter how small. 

So we’re eight days into the new year, and I’ve  already know that more than 24 things that I can be grateful for this month. I’m happy to be recording the things that I appreciate, because I tend to lose sight of what’s important. Now, I like to think that I am very appreciative on a daily basis. But, I am human and I’m not always as mindful as I’d like to be. Sometimes, I forget how much I have to be grateful for. So this exercise has been great for getting me to focus on what really matters.

Are any of you keep a gratitude journal? If so, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear more about your personal practice as well as how long you’ve been doing this.

That’s it for today. I hope you all are enjoying your day. Have a great afternoon and 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

Welcome 2019!

Welcome 2019!

I love New Year’s Day! It’s my favorite holiday because it’s symbolic of new beginnings and innumerable opportunities. There’s nothing quite as exciting as looking out and seeing a limitless horizon: that’s what every New Year’s Day feels like to me.

I’m filling in the first few weeks of January in my new planner, starting my organization challenge, and catching up with friends today. I hope you take the time to envision all of the fantastic things you want to experience in 2019 and then set your intention to have a year that exceeds your wildest dreams.

Thanks for an incredible 2018, and I can’t wait to journey through 2019 with you all! Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!