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!

beauty · culture · life curation · luxury

Five Easy Ways to Be More Like Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

Happy Monday, friends! I hope the beginning of your week is pleasant and everything that you need it to be.

Recently, I reviewed Archewell Audio, the podcast project started by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan. I’ve been fascinated with Meghan for quite some time: I love that she is graceful, elegant and intelligent, and she uses her influence to create positive changes in society.

As part of learning more about this brilliant woman, I read a bit about her and found that there are many things that she’s done to position herself as a woman of status and influence. I made a video highlighting five of those qualities.

The qualities I discussed are as follows:

  • Learn a foreign language
  • Take up a luxurious hobby
  • Eliminate or reduce meat from your diet
  • Wear blush
  • Start a blog

By engaging in one or more of these activities, you can live a little more like Meghan.

Do you have any Duchess-worthy tips? Let me hear about it in the comments below!

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.

 

life curation

Do You Know Your Black Art History?

In honor of Black History Month, I want to share some of my favorite Black women artists. These gifted creators established themselves during a time when most Black women were relegated to the roles of maid, cook, or caretaker. I love that these women dared to share their gifts and provide a diverse representation of Black womanhood.

Because I’m a geek for 3-dimensional art, I’m focusing on Black women that created sculptures. At one point, I was interested in sculpting as a profession: I even competed in art contests (and won a prize to boot!) So today, I’ll provide a list of notable Black sculptresses and then I’ll include some photos of their most famous works. There are literally too many of them to write mini-bios for each, but please take the time to check out a few of them. Their stories and their works are fascinating.

Tina Allen

Camille Billops

Erlena Chisolm Bland

Selma Burke

Fern Cunningham

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller

Ruth Inge Hardison

May Howard Jackson

Harriet Forte Kennedy

Edmonia Lewis

Winnie Owens-Hart

Alice Patrick

Nancy Elizabeth Prophet

Augusta Savage

Beulah Woodard

Here are some of my favorite works by a couple of the artists above (I’m skipping Edmonia Lewis because I featured her in my Current Favorite App post, that I’m sure you all read and enjoyed):

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George Washington Carver, by Tina Allen (In the Missouri Botanical Garden)

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Bust of an Ethiopian Woman by Tina Allen

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Sojourner Truth by Ruth Inge Harrison

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Maudelle by Beulah Woodard (1937-1938)

The Talking Skull, 1939, Bronze

The Talking Skull by Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1939)

 

If I left out any Black women sculptors that you think should be added to the list, let me know in the comments below! I’d love for this to be a comprehensive list with lots of good links to information on how Black women have contributed to the world of sculpture.