Tuesday, December 29, 2015

So I Rebuild

Life has stopped working for me a couple of times. The only way I got it going again was to take a long, hard look at the lady in the mirror and decide to change. Not my circumstances, or my associations, or my reality. I'd already beat my head against the wall 500,000 times trying to change those things, with sorry little improvement. No, this time the change was me. It was my perceptions and attitude, and more to the point, the way I choose to experience my experiences. Since it was the only thing that was flexible in my life at the time, that's where I started. And after a hell of a lot of hard work, the results were staggering.

Another huge change is upon me. This time it isn't juicing or weightlifting I'm looking toward to revolutionize my reality. The changes I seek are of a far more internal nature. It's not bulging biceps I'm after, but internal peace. Having to quit my job made me swallow a huge dose of acceptance all that juicing and weightlifting allowed me to ignore. I'm a sick girl with limitations. It is what it is. But I can also have a fabulous life. And the things standing in my way this time aren't my physical ailments, no matter how God awful I may feel today, but my mental patterns.

The time to rebuild physically isn't mine for another couple of weeks, but I'm not waiting one more moment to begin walking toward mental freedom. Hindsight is so sweet, and allows me the perspective to recognize I built my house of health on sand, with my frantic, take ultimate responsibility for everything, no excuses approach to managing my fibro. Then my immune system crumbled and my house got swept out to sea. So this time I'm being kinder, gentler, and far more generous with myself. I'm recognizing how I'm different from everyone else, not just trying to be the same. And I'm looking deep inside to create a life of intention-- because of the circumstances that have been thrust upon me, not in spite of them.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Leap of Faith

Please click this link to visit Healthline's Best Health Blog Contest and enter "Chronicles of Fibromyalgia" in the search box. Thanks for all your support!
Thanks for nominating me for Healthline's Best Health Blogs of 2015 contest! Last year we made it all the way to 16th place, which is really quite remarkable. I started this blog in 2010 full of fervor and determined to change the world-- or at least the way fibromyalgia patients experience it. Then two things happened: I realized what a supremely difficult place fibro patients hold in society and I completely fell apart. It all seemed too huge, too big, far more insurmountable than anything I had ever fathomed, both my life and fibromyalgia awareness. So I narrowed my focus, kept blogging, and set about trying to fix the mess that was me.

The last five years have shown me more ups, downs, and sideways progress than I ever dreamed possible. I learned more about myself, constantly having to pick me up off the floor, than five lifetimes should have taught me. Who I am today is an all together different woman than the one who introduced herself to the world five years ago. I am strong. I am powerful. I am incredibly capable. And I've worked extremely hard and am ready to soar.

I sit here on the cusp of 2016 bursting with excitement. As I prepare to conclude my department store cosmetics career in these next few weeks, I am setting my sights on the future. A future unknown, of course, but a future I have toiled to the bone to make happen none the less. My quest to raise the awareness of what it's like to live with this illness is finally coming to fruition. Although not always physically strong I am spiritually, mentally, and emotionally clear and focused, which allows me to keep my sights firmly set on the future. A future that is requiring me to take a giant leap of faith. But a giant leap of faith is movement in one direction...forward.

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Friday, December 18, 2015

A Simple Choice

It's astoundingly easy to decide what I have to do next. Not because of what may happen, but because of what has happened. Unfortunately, my fibro got on top of me. I went from spending my days off of work at the gym to being too sick to haul my sorry ass into work-- in the span of a few short months. In order to make it in on the days I'm not too weak and dizzy to stand up or drive, I've had to re-start two medications I'd previously discontinued. For me, this is necessary in a pinch but unacceptable long term.

What I want is to be off all medications. For someone who juices as much as I do, eats so freakishly clean, and used to exercise with such dogged determination, it should be a no brainer. Unfortunately, all my lifestyle efforts keep my illness managed, but whatever is broken inside me is still not fixed. And right now, my lifestyle efforts ain't doin' jack squat to manage much. Now, I've gone down this road many times before. The illness gets on top, my doctor prescribes more meds, I get sicker, push myself harder, get even sicker, take more meds, and before you know it...I'm in the hospital with pancreatitis or, heaven forbid, two strokes. Like I said, it's not because of what may happen, but because of what has happened that requires me to make this choice. 

I made a decision in 2010 to live. By 2011, I was so broken down I tried to renege on that choice a couple of times, but by the end of the year found a way to move forward. In 2013 I discovered juicing vegetables, which stabilized my immune system enough for me to start lifting weights again. Suddenly a whole world, a world I thought I permanently vacated--the world of the living--existed. Sadly, few things last forever, and my upswing is currently faltering. I'm now being faced with the same choice I had to make before. How far do I let fibro sink her fangs? Or do I push the pause button and decide, as I did once before, to live?

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Monday, December 14, 2015

A Girl Can Dream

Eureka! Great Scott! Heavens to Betsy! I did it. Not only has my two-month-long monster flare ended, I somehow survived it without succumbing to the mental madness being so sick for so long inflicts upon me. While I can't imagine this is the first time I didn't get all crazy and "chicken little" about the state of my reality, it sure feels like it. It's like I won a prize, achieved the unachievable, conquered the impossible! It also tells me I can do it again. Especially considering the symptoms I was experiencing were so strange and severe, they're what sent me to the doctor freaking out in the first place, ten long years ago. But this time I didn't freak out. 

Ten years with no answers, no solutions, just a culture intent on blaming the patient when they don't understand the problem. Ten years of being so sick, life as I knew it ceased to exist. Ten years of becoming estranged and alienated from the people, expectations, and accomplishments I defined myself by. Ten years of beating the proverbial crap out of myself for getting sick with something unexplainable. Ten years of trying to earn a living, hang on to a marriage, and keep a friendship or two, when all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole and die. It's been a long journey, these last ten years. 

Strangely enough, this last decade has made me who I am. Some days I like that person, other days I do not. Today I'm extremely proud of her. These last five years have perhaps been the hardest, even though they're when I started finding my way out of the abyss. If fibro has taught me anything, it's that you're only as good as surviving your last flare. So as I celebrate not being in pain and being able to sleep, I'm trying not to remind myself it will probably end in the next few days. Logic tells me my immune system is at an all-time low and needs a lot of work to regain her strength. The flare cycle is far from over. But the victor in me, the one who spent the last ten years getting really sick and freaking out, but somehow didn't this last round, well, she's praying it lasts forever.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Gift for Myself

I feel like a victor. Sure, my health may be crumbling down around my feet and I've had to pull the trigger on my exit plan well before the right time, but I still feel victorious. Because I am not freaking out. For months all I've done is freak out. Then I realized most of it is past-based fear. More precisely, I've been railing against my fear of the present getting sucked back into the reality of my past. My past sucks, and it's the last place I want to revisit. So much so, I've spent the last few years racing around doing everything I possibly can not to wind up there. I don't regret my efforts, but know the combination of taking SO much responsibility for my circumstances and pushing myself too hard were grand contributors to my current situation.

Everything in life is a learning experience, if I allow it to be. Usually I'm so wrapped up in reacting to the explosion of my expectations, I don't learn half of what I could from any given situation. But this time something's different. Me. First, I refuse to beat myself up or blame myself for my fibro becoming unmanaged. I have a complex illness, an illness so complex doctors don't even know how to effectively treat it. So it's up to me to make sure I have the best quality of life I possibly can by taking care of myself. And I have to admit I was doing a pretty darn good job. But sometimes life takes over and the excessive amounts of self-care required to live a decent quality of life aren't possible. It is what it is and certainly isn't my fault. 

Second, I refuse to believe my future is condemned to become my past. The only thing linking the two is me, and I am a fluid being, not a fixed entity. This means I can change, and change starts inside. It starts with a choice to be gentle and kind to myself. To accept and do the best I can. And perhaps the biggest change of all is to leave my anger, panic, and fear at the door. I am choosing to walk into the future charting a new path, one where my emotions don't sit in the drivers seat. One where I have faith in myself, the future, and can finally give myself the greatest gift of all-- a peaceful path forward. Even if I ain't movin' very fast.  

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Acceptance Revisited

I am a female who lives with invisible chronic illness. It is a frustrating reality, one I have devoted years of my life to disputing, discrediting, denying, fighting, proving wrong, hating, and railing against in my quest to still have a life despite my disability. All my bellyaching and determination got me pretty far in managing my fibromyalgia. By completely changing everything about how I experience health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition, I tamed the beast so it was pretty darn undetectable. It took epic amounts of work, and suffering through a lot of pain and agony, but I am one of the fortunate with this illness who found a way to survive, and at times even thrive.

And then, after four years of exhaustive efforts, I went back to work. I knew the transition was going to be tough, and it was. But by staying true to my lifestyle commitments of juicing vegetables and exercising regularly, I managed to stabilize. In fact, my efforts to manage my fibro worked so well, I began to wonder what all the fuss was about. My relentless commitment to juicing and exercising started to make me feel a bit neurotic and self-obsessed. However, whenever I stepped off the train of healthy choices, the physical consequences of fibro smacked me around hard enough to hurl myself back on the wagon again.

I existed in this state for a few months. Then I got a pretty bad cold, which I pushed myself to work through. Shortly thereafter, my number one nemesis reared its ugly, thorny, life-destroying head: INSOMNIA. A few weeks later I got sick again, this time a little worse. Barely a month later I got the second-worst flu of my life-- three days spent in sweating and shivering hallucinations followed by four days of raging stomach flu. And that, my friends, is when fibro got back into the drivers seat of my life. I sit here hardly four months after that first cold hit me too fatigued to exercise, in horrible pain because I haven't exercised, burdened by a sore throat, achy body, headache, confusion, difficulty forming words, incontinence, and utterly incapable of duplicating a decent night's sleep. I'm still gulping down my kale-beet-asparagus juice, but one leg doesn't hold up a three-legged stool, and without the exercise and sleep, I'm only getting sicker.

I am a female who lives with invisible chronic illness. It's a frustrating reality, one I've spent years of my life trying to overcome. Right now I'm at a crossroads, and it's requiring buckets of acceptance to figure out how to proceed. Rising up above the immediacy of my circumstances is the only way I've endured up to this point, and I'm not about to give up now. Yet finding the faith to take the giant leap forward required to make that happen is extremely flippin' difficult. All I can do is breathe deeply, tread slowly, and stay focused on my ultimate destination. For once I tasted health, it's now the only thing that matters.    

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