Saturday, October 3, 2015

How Are You?

Somehow those three innocuous little words have become one of the most dreaded questions in my existence. One would think "How old are you?" would rub me much wronger, given the youth-obsessed culture we feed off of like vampires here in good ol' America. Strangely enough, given all I've survived in my younger years, I'm actually quite proud to confess to my thirty-nine years of existence. "How much do you weigh?" should hit me as pretty offensive too, but considering I'm down about 100 lbs. from my all-time prednisone/Lyrica high, and pump so much iron I can easily stuff my folds of remaining elephant skin into a svelte size six, I'll gladly tell the world I still weigh in at a walloping 148 lbs. 

But "How are you?" is a different matter entirely, because I'm seldom fine. Yet this little pleasantry is how every single encounter starts, with every single person I cross paths with, every single day of my life, forcing me to either lie or complain, neither of which I'm comfortable doing. In fact I'm not just uncomfortable doing so, I kinda refuse to answer. Not to a customer at work, where I'm being paid to represent the company, not my personal problems, but pretty much everyone else. For to lie is to betray myself and my reality, which after ten years of living sick every day I just can't do anymore, but to complain opens an even bigger can of worms.

Complaining makes me weak. It makes my problems everyone else's problems, which they aren't. Grumbling about how horrible I feel, or bad I slept, or the amount of pain I'm in only makes my reality more horrible, tired, or painful. Living with chronic illness means in order to get through life I have to ignore the internal alarms my body is blaring and instead talk about things I couldn't care less about, like Donald Trump or how badly my hair needs a trim. Therefore, the very last thing I can do is answer somebody's pleasant, mindless inquiry into the status of my state of being. "How are you?" is far too personal of a greeting for polite conversation, in my book. When I see you, tell me you're happy to see me, or that it's a nice day outside, or how pissed off you are at your husband, but please, for the love of all things holy, take pity on this sick girl and don't ask me how I am. 

Thanks for joining,

#fibromyalgia #chronicillness #fibro #fibroblog            

Friday, September 25, 2015

Attack of the Super Bug

Last week I about came undone when my fibromyalgia symptoms decided, out of the blue, to take over my body again. In addition to feeling awful, I was panicked. The last thing anyone who's wrangled some sort of a life back from chronic illness wants is to give it up again. Of course, my melodramatic mind usually goes to worse-case scenario, so that's exactly where I went. With every muscle on fire, my body aching so bad it hurt to sit, and feeling like someone's snapping me indiscriminately with rubber bands in thirty-second intervals, Chicken Little over here got myself so worked up I decided the sky was indeed falling. I was so flipped out I didn't even realize what was actually wrong with me until I was walking through the air-conditioned living room both sweating profusely and shivering violently at the same time. That's when it hit me, I have the flu!

First reaction-- thank God! The flu doesn't last forever, so I can deal with the flu, right? Second reaction-- are you kidding me? The illness I do have that lasts forever feels exactly like this, which is pretty much as awful as a person can feel. No wonder fibromyalgia made me go so crazy! Because the last thing in the world I was capable of doing was getting up and living life, even after my fever broke. Yet that's exactly what I was expected to do when I was caught in the clutches of chronic illness-- figure out how to get up and go live life like nothing's wrong. Except everything is. What an absurd predicament.

Almost as absurd as what happened when that fever actually broke, because that's when I got the stomach flu! A week later and I'm just gearing up to go back to work, praying I can make it through the day even though I'm much improved, but not entirely better. Trying to clear up my, ah-um, bowl problems has me doing all sorts of odd things, like drinking clay and not eating before I have to leave the house, which clearly won't work once I resume my regularly scheduled employment. Unless I want to pass out on the sales floor, that is.

But there is some good that has come from this week. It certainly renewed my commitment to get my immune system working as best it can, which I had kinda slacked off on. It also reminded me that I only got to where I am by seeking health as a lifestyle concept, not just a way to get better from illness. So deeper into holistic, clean living I go! But perhaps my biggest revelation by far is how truly awful being so sick really is. There is no life around it, there is just being sick. I didn't care about my relationships with people, how I looked, social pleasantries, my fiscal survival, or anything else the Western world values. All I was trying to do was endure feeling like my body had served me with the ultimate betrayal-- imprisonment in never-ending misery. And that, to me, is living with fibromyalgia in a nutshell.

Thanks for joining,

#flu #illness #sick #fibromyalgia        

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Blame It On The Moon

Things aren't exactly stabilizing over here in managed-fibro land. In fact, despite my most determined efforts, my health seems to be rapidly declining. Well maybe that's a bit dramatic, but I'm certainly experiencing a persistent flare-up of symptoms that has me marching down a road I've been down many times before-- leading straight to the land of "too sick to do anything but be sick." I'm canceling plans, calling in sick to work, and trying not to spiral into a panicked fit of paranoid PTSD that this stupid illness nobody understands and no one can cure is taking over my life again!

I mean, it can't! No no no no no! I refuse to let it! I've fought back so hard and won, right? It took me many years to get here, but now that I'm here I own it, don't I? Sadly, as someone who's lived with fibromyalgia for a number of years, I know the answer to all of the above is "wrong." Because the bottom line is at any time, despite my rabid determination or outright refusal, this illness can do whatever the hell it wants whenever it feels like doing it. I can suck down kale juice, pump iron, pop supplements, and practice yoga to my heart's content, but until science and medicine can tell me why I have this disease, let alone how to treat it, all my efforts simply manage my symptoms, they don't cure what's wrong with me. And right now my efforts are failing miserably.  

Clearly, any control I have over my life is really just an illusion. Psychologically accepting this nightmare as my reality almost took me down, a few times. Going through another resurgence of this misery reminds me exactly why I've become what I've become. An alien. How on earth am I supposed to relate to people and their first world problems when I hurt so bad it feels like I'm being crushed into the earth for no explainable reason? All I can really do is gulp massive bottles of acceptance and surrender, because getting uptight, bent out of shape, or pessimistic about my potential outcome will only hasten my downfall. And I'm really focused on the upcoming lunar eclipse. I mean, if a rainstorm is enough to send me into an epic flare, maybe all this misery has something to do with the pull of the sun, earth, and moon falling into perfect alignment? Well, a girl can dream. But only if she can fall asleep.

Thanks for joining,

#sleep #insomnia #chronicillness #chronicpain #fibromyalgia #fibroflare      

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Love Affair With Joe

Here I sit, the victim of yet another involuntary 7:30 a.m. wake-up call. Which in and of itself wouldn't be so awful if I had actually gone to sleep at midnight when I got in bed, not screwed around on social media until I wasn't-so-sleepy at one-thirty in the morning. Regardless, that was my choice then, and this is my reality now, so what on earth do I do with my racing brain that simply won't turn off once it gets flipped on? Since all this funny business started, my flares are getting worse and ability to cope is degrading...

I absolutely suck at meditating. Although I know full well the mind is a muscle and exercising it into relaxation is both important and takes practice, I haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet. What I am doing, however, is looking at my coffee consumption. My relationship with coffee is a dependent and joyful attachment, but we have a bit of a history. I had to give up coffee entirely when I was first sick with CFS/ME. Since the caffeine's stimulation of my adrenal gland destroyed my fragile grasps of energy, it had to go. Once I got my virus managed and went back to work, coffee became a necessary way to get through the day again. We quickly fell back in love and have remained so ever since.

When I got on my clean eating kick what I put in my coffee changed, but I alternative-health researched until I felt confident the benefits of consuming the controversial brew outweighed the risk. Phew! I woulda probably stayed on this train forever if a lady I work with hadn't told me about Dr. Perricone and his belief that the oils in coffee store caffeine in the cells which when built up over a lifetime, contribute significantly to middle-aged insomnia. Of course I ignored her, until this latest round of unexplainable sleeplessness reared its ugly head. I researched her claim, but Google couldn't find anything about it using the search terms I entered. It was just more stuff about inflammation and cortisol, which I am already well versed in.

But I am far more willing to turn to my lifestyle when problems with my health arise than rely on the limited ignorance of conventional medicine (i.e. the drug trail to side-effect city), so I decided to give this green tea thing a whirl. Yesterday was my first day. I brewed one tiny little leveled-off spoonful of coffee beans (as opposed to two heaping) with a bag of coconut chai green tea in my French press. I still added my stevia, teaspoon of raw sugar, coconut oil and dash of half and half, and it was delicious. Around mid-afternoon I may have encountered a bit of the "afternoon slump," but it was nothing to stop me in my tracks. I'll have to wait and see if this makes a difference before deciding to do away with the small amount of coffee I still add, but figured this is a good place to start. Baby steps got me here, and baby steps will keep me going until I find a way to live successfully with this illness.

Thanks for joining,

#sleep #insomnia #coffee #chronicillness #fibromyalgia      

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Serenity Now!

I've been fighting for survival for so long, sometimes I forget there's another way to live. A path of gentle acceptance that's much easier to walk down. Of course, I hate where that path leads, hence the constant and pervasive fighting, but sometimes the struggle becomes all too real and I can't override my inclination to bury my head in the sand. Today is one of those days. Thankfully, the "I absolutely cannot do anything but crash-and-burn" moments have been hitting on my day off, for the most part. For trying to force myself into a push-up bra and eyeshadow when I feel this awful is an exceptionally disrespectful experience. But who on earth has free days to just while away the misery? I mean I did for years, when I was too sick to do anything but be sick, but now I'm stuck on the "contributing member of society" train and simply don't.

Except the path of gentle acceptance doesn't allow me the luxury of getting all bent out of shape because I skipped the gym and barely even bothered to walk my dogs. It requires me to accept. So while I'm over here feeling like George Costanza yelling "Serenity Now!" at the top of my lungs, I write. Finishing my final edit on this behemoth of a manuscript I've spent the last four years concocting is exceptionally hard. It requires me to reach down deep inside and make sure I've left all my guts lying on the table. And then second, third, fourth, and fifth guess the effectiveness of my delivery. 

So while I'm struggling along on my noonday walk, it hits me: What a great chance to make sure I've represented this awful illness in all its infinite awfulness! I mean, how can I really be sure I've captured the not only the physical agony, but devastation and heartbreak that accompany losing everything one holds dear to unexplainable chronic illness, if I'm not tangled knee-deep in the evil clutches myself? And just like that, I found purpose in both my suffering and my surrender. I keep looking for ways to find opportunities out of my challenges. It's the only way I've moved forward in life. I suppose today this is my way.  

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Slumber Power

The first step in getting my fibromyalgia managed was to start sleeping. Between the pain and my racing brain, this was no simple task. While I was certainly still popping my share of pills, doping myself into a slumber stupor stopped working years before and wasn't a lifetime solution to cure my ever-worsening insomnia. But I had no clue what was. Sleep hygiene, meditation, supplements, positive thinking, desperate freak-outs, none of them worked. What did? Drinking fresh vegetable juice. Shortly after Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead inspired me to start juicing regularly, I started sleeping. It was glorious! Not every night, but with increasing regularity I would wake up refreshed, well-rested, and a tiny bit more stabilized than I was the night before. 

In hindsight, I can see this was the first building block that got me back to living. Not walking around like a zombie trudging through quicksand for the majority of my days did wonders for my ability to engage in this frivolous little game healthy people call life. Once my deficient immune system was getting both nutrition and sleep, the virus that created all this mayhem in the first place didn't have nearly as much control over its host, i.e. me. Exercising with any kind of regularity, making plans and actually keeping them, being able to focus on something other than how awful I always felt, it all became possible for the first time in many years.

So here I sit, after all this progress, with another sleep transition being thrust upon me. For the last month or so, my eyes have been popping open between 7 and 8 a.m., regardless of what time I went to sleep, which is usually somewhere around 2 in the morning. Needless to say, I will not keep my tenuous grasp on both my sanity and my illness by getting five hours of sleep a night. I'm trying so hard to frame this latest challenge as an opportunity to get on a normal schedule, not a sabotage of my entire existence. It's hard. Luckily, with an extra-strict application of all that sleep hygiene poppycock, falling asleep isn't nearly as challenging as it used to be. So here I sit, at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, having gone to sleep at 12:30, trying to figure out what on earth to do with my well-rested self. What do normal, responsible, not sick adults, who don't have to work, do so early on a Saturday morning? I suppose I'll go find out.

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