Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fibro Flare -- 10 Things That Help

Hello Everyone!

I hope your day is better than mine! I shouldn't complain....this is really a Small Flare Day and it could easily be much worse. How I'm currently feeling: body aches, specific muscle pain, painful skin, brain "not quite right", and super tired. Even raising my arm takes real energy. Yuck!

I felt a lot like this yesterday, but tried to just push through it. That laundry isn't going to put itself away, ya know!! Being "uncomfortable" got progressively worse throughout the day and by the time the evening rolled around, I was in a full-on Bad Flare!!

Instead of complaining, I thought I'd write a post about some things that work when I'm hurting. Not everything works all the time, and the same things don't always work. Even so, these are my standard go-to's. I'm always experimenting in order to find the perfect formula to alleviate the effects of fibromyalgia.

I'd love to hear about the things that help you!

1) My loving and supportive husband!!!!!

Dave is AWESOME!!! He is so gentle and kind! He has NEVER gotten upset with me, even when my flares impact something we had planned. He ALWAYS puts me first and nothing else matters. I know that sounds cliché, but he has proven it to me over and over. He can take 1 look at me and know exactly how I feel. (I have a love-hate relationship with that particular skill!)

He is always looking for ways to help me and in fact, he's usually the one who insists that I get some rest. (All of those chores that I "had" to do, were self-imposed. He ever asks or assumes that I'll do the dishes. I just like doing things to take care of our home and make it look nice.) Just last night when I was struggling to get my leg into my small SUV, he suggested that we look at installing running boards so it will be easier for me.

I am very, VERY blessed!!

Everyone needs a support system. Living with fibro has a lot of ups and downs. You have to have someone who will love, support, and help you through this!

2) Rest!!

One of the best investments we've made is our Sleep Number Bed with the adjustable mattress. It has honestly made a tremendous difference in the quality of my sleep and just general resting. This picture shows the bed in its "Zero Gravity" setting. I use this a lot. I can still watch tv and work, but the shape takes the pressure off my body. Sometimes I turn on the vibrating feature, and sometimes that's just too much. Have I told you I LOVE this bed?? It's worth every penny. (And it requires more than a few!!)

Rest in general is very important!! It's possible that last night wouldn't have been quite so bad if I had listened to my body and rested during the day, instead of trying to do "just one more thing."
3) Temperature control

This one is tough, because I never know exactly what will work. My body doesn't tolerate extreme temps anymore. Being too cold is The Worst!! I have a lot of pain associated with being cold, especially coupled with a biting wind. Unfortunately, rapidly changing weather with lots of wind characterizes our weather perfectly!

I almost always have a blanket while I'm in the family room. In the bedroom, we have recently added a new comforter to our bed. This comforter came from Sleep Number and we love it. It's very light-weight, so you don't feel like you're smothering in your sleep!

4) Heating pad

This is my favorite heating pad. It's the perfect small size, it's super soft, and it has a great "sleeve" feature. I can easily put my hand or arm through and put the heat just where I need it. I wish it had adjustable heat and a vibrating feature, but that's OK. It works well for what I need it to do.

It's small enough that I generally take it with me on road trips and vacations. Luckily, our pick-up has a regular plug in it, so I can use this heating pad even while we're driving.

We purchased this at Walmart last year. I  haven't looked for it in a long time, so I don't know if they still carry it. It's definitely worth picking one up if you can find it!! 

5) My lavender neck wrap

I received this as a gift a few years ago and I love it. The outer cover is really soft and it feels good against sensitive skin. When you unzip it, you find a muslin sack filled with lavender. You can add your own essential elements to adjust the level of smell to suit your preferences.

You can also place the inner bag in the microwave for about 20 seconds to heat it up. (I don't put the purple cover in the microwave.)

One of my little "quirks" is that I like to touch and feel things, so I'm frequently "playing" with this pillow. I actually find this very comforting, and I think that helps with my fibro, as well.


6) Medication

My Cymbalta has helped a great deal in stopping the Bad Flares (for the most part), but those bad times still happen every once in a while. SOMETIMES, other mediations like Aleve or Tylenol will help. Also, please don't underestimate the power of sleep, even if it is "aided" by medication. We need to do what we need to in order to be healthy!! Our bodies don't function like everyone elses and our ways of coping shouldn't be the same!

7) Chocolate

Well, DUH!! Need I say more????

8) Hot bath

I think this one addresses both relaxation and temperature control. This doesn't always make the pain disappear, but it does relax my muscles enough that I can rest a little easier. The heat is soothing and it also helps my muscles relax. Sometimes it is hard to get in and out of tub, especially mine with the high sides, but it's always worth it. Sometimes the jets help and sometimes they are just too much. As far as my fibro goes, the stuff I put in the tub doesn't always matter. Sometimes I add bubble bath and sometimes I just use plain water. That just depends on my mood.

Some items that almost always help are:
Epson salts
Oil (NOT good for jetted tubs)
A relaxing scent

I have taken detox baths and find they are helpful, but I don't usually have long-lasting relief.

9) Light exercise

When I'm really hurting, just walking is painful. Even with that pain, I know what getting my muscles moving is important. At the very least, I will try to stretch both my upper and lower body for a few minutes. So much of fibro pain involves muscles, so it's important to keep them as flexible as possible.

Don't misunderstand me.....I am NOT a work-out person! I am just talking about doing some very simple and slow stretches. (Maybe after you get out of the tub!!)

10) Time!!

Sometimes, all you can give yourself is time!!! You've tried everything and you still're still're still tired. It's OK!! Just experience it and allow yourself to be where you are. That intense pain will not last forever! You will get through it!!

Well, there you have it......a few things that help me when I'm having a Flare. I would really love to hear what works for you! We can all learn from each other!!

Be Well and at Peace!!

*I was not compensated for any of the above These are my personal items, experiences, and opinions.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

God is Listening.......and Responding

It's no secret that my last few months have been challenging. It's also no secret that I've spent lots and lots of time praying. While I know that God always hears me, He doesn't always answer me...... at least not that I can tell. Every once in a while however, His response is crystal clear. Luckily, I "heard" Him loud and clear last night!

Yesterday, my spirit took a bit of a hit. A friend called and towards the end of our conversation, she shared a different conversation between someone at my former place of employment and herself. My friend wanted me to know that this other person had seriously lied about something and her lies were designed to make me look bad. Interestingly enough, my friend had been directly involved in the situation for over 2 years, so she knew the person was lying. She even told "her" that what she was saying wasn't true. It didn't matter. "She" kept repeating the lies. After my friend and I hung up, I lost it.....again. It felt like things were happening all over again. I guess it's a little like PTSD. I was feeling all  of the same feelings again and struggling with "Is this ever going to end?" and "What am I doing?" and "Why is this still happening?" I never actually used the word "unfair", but if I'm completely honest, that was deep within the thoughts I did express. My friend even texted "You don't deserve this" a little later that afternoon.

After I cried for a little while, I put on my tennis shoes and took off on a long walk. God already knew how hurt I was, so instead of talking about that part, I chose to praise Him. I thanked Him for a friend that stood up in truth and for so many other things. I asked Him to keep guiding me along His path and to keep teaching me what He wanted me to learn. I asked for grace and I thanked Him for the grace He had already provided. Needless to say, I felt better by the time I got back home. Truthfully, I didn't feel "great" and I wasn't "over" what I had just learned, but I did feel better. I know that God promises to be with me no matter how I feel.

Normally, I read my devotion book and my Bible early in the day, but for "some reason", I waited until bedtime on this day. When I "happened" to open my book, look at what I saw....

"Do not expect to be treated fairly in this life. People will say and do hurtful things to you, things that you don't deserve. When someone mistreats you, try to view it as an opportunity to grow in grace. See how quickly you can forgive the one who has wounded you. Don't be concerned about setting the record straight. Instead of obsessing about other people's opinions of you, keep your focus on Me. Ultimately, it is MY view of you that counts." (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young) 

Wow!! That was written for ME!! I wholly and completely heard God tell me not to worry and obsess about what this person had said, but instead to focus on growing in Him. He knows and is working on things on my behalf. My job is to stay focused on Him!!! What a wonderful feeling!! I am blessed to be a Child of a Loving God!!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween House Tour

HaPpY HaLlOwEeN!!

I always decorate our home for Halloween in early October so we have time to enjoy all the spooky (really, just silly) touches! I love how just a few touches can completely change the feel of our spaces.

Immediately inside our front door, we have a hanging coat rack. It's one of my favorite places to put seasonal items.

(Hee Hee.....Did you notice the antique book by Poe??)

This picture is a wide shot of one wall in our family room. We tend to sit in our recliners and watch tv, so this is what we see every night. I like being able to see our holiday decor, no matter which holiday we're celebrating. 

I've been a collector of carousel horses for years and years, so when I found this piece, I HAD to have it!! I love it! The ghosts and goblins are having a ghouling good time on their ride!!
It's only about 7" tall, so I've propped it up on some old books.

I like to change my decorations every year. I never know what extra little touches I want to put out. (Also code for: I never how much time or how creative I feel!!) This time, I used basic Halloween-themed scrapbook paper and my Cricut to make a simple "BOO" display. I used different fonts for each letter, just to give it a special feel.  
I love our "J" pumpkin. I purchased it at Hobby Lobby 2 years ago. It complements our "J" wall nicely. This year, I took 2 books, wrapped them in plain brown craft paper, tore the edges in a random pattern, and then tied the books together with black tule.
(Riley LOVES looking outside!!)

I really love this display!!!  (Even if I do say so myself!!) I framed 1/2 of a plastic skeleton and set it with a copy of DH's Gray's Anatomy book! I put another plastic skeleton on top of the book. It's little things like this that just make me laugh a little when I walk by. I love the reactions I get from my hubby when I do something a little different like this. He never knows what I'm going to put out!

Here's a sweet picture of my brother and his family. It was taken several years ago. It's hard to believe how much bigger his kids are this year! The picture is sitting on top of two children's "scary" books.

I also put decorations in our dining room. Our house is open concept in the family, kitchen, and dining areas, so I like to make sure I have enough decorations for all 3 areas.

The dining room is the SPOOKY center.....full of witches, skeletons, snakes, and potions!

Confession: I know that arsenic is a white powder!! I guess I was having a "blond moment" when I put the label on the bottle. It was stuck too well to remove it, so now we just have
poisoned dragon's blood!!

Confession #2: that bottle actually started out as a mini bottle of red wine. "Someone" had to drink the potion so it looked like the bottle had been used......Wonder which which that was?!?! 

Like my spooky tree with all of the skeletons hanging off of it?? It started out as part of a dead tree down the street. It was destined to be destroyed, so actuallly.....I rescued it!! I spray-painted it a glossy black, and then sprinkled purple, pink, and gold glitter all over it. I stuck it in a bucket filled with sand and voila.....the perfect (FREE) centerpiece! Gotta love that TREAT!
Of course, I had to add some little touches to the hall bath and the guest room/bath. I didn't put out a lot in those rooms, just a few little things to celebrate the season.
I hope you have enjoyed our SpOoKy and FuN home tour!!! The decorations will be up for a few more days and then it will be time to get ready for Thanksgiving!
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

San Antonio

Dr. Dave had a conference in San Antonio and I was lucky enough to get to tag along!!

We rode the boat on the River Walk. I've walked along it several times, but have never done the boat tour. I am terrified of water, so I wasn't sure how it was going to go. It ended up being really fun! We started it at dusk and it became dark when we were close to the end. It was beautiful. (Finding out the river was only 3-5 feet deep helped a lot, too!!) 


Look at this deformed duck. He neck is curved like a 'z'. It sure didn't slow him down in any way!

We spent a few hours at the Alamo. It was a gorgeous (and hot!!) Saturday afternoon. I was here when I was about 10, but there was a horrible thunderstorm. Trust me - this time was much better!!

Hee hee...... This picture should actually be turned with the pole facing down. It's a HUGE tree that has grown completely around the pole. I just think it's looks really funny in this direction!!
Nom Nom Nom...

After the Alamo, we spent a little time at the Japanese Tea Garden. It was really, really beautiful!! See the bride in the center of this picture? She was having her bridal portrait made. This is a perfect location and she was such a pretty bride.

The mall at the River Walk has this MOST AWESOME store!!! I was among my people!!

It was so nice to get away for a few days.
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Weight Watchers failure or "Does this medicine make my butt look big?"

I've struggled with weight and body issues for as long as I can remember. As almost every female, I relentlessly pick out all of my flaws.....especially the one's that are "too big" and "too small". I know you hear me!! Well, it's no secret that I have put on a lot of extra pounds during the past year. I hate it - I really do. I think it's a lethal casserole of: being in my mid-40's, loving sweets and carbs, being an emotional eater, and being diagnosed with fibromyalgia - meaning much less physical activity and starting medication.

It's weird....when I look in the mirror now, I do see someone heavier than she should be...but not someone who is obese. I don't "feel" as large as the numbers on the scale indicate. That is, until I focus in on the pooch under my belly button, the extra dimples in my be-donk-a-donk, and my arms that just waaaaaavveeee a little toooo long! Oh yeah...and who can't recognize that oh-so-fashionable feeling of literally not being able to wear your clothes!

I HAVE been making changes. I've been exercising several days a week. I walk, use some simple arm weights and do light yoga moves. I don't eat a lot of junk. We eat at home a lot more than we ever have. STILL.....the numbers on the scale keep going up. Yes, I can do more....guess it's time I get busy!!

Last night was the final episode of What Not to Wear. I loved this show!!! Stacy and Clinton always said what they thought and lots of people struggled with that, but ultimately, the participants' lives were changed. Stacy and Clinton always saw each woman as beautiful - no matter her shape and size. They didn't care if she had just gained or lost weight.....if she was 20 or 70.....if she was married or single. They (and Tim and Carmindy) saw each person as beautiful because of how she is on the inside. They helped her inner beauty shine through on the outside. That's what I want!!  I've been struggling with feeling "fat and ugly" for a while, now. (Yes, I'm smart enough to know that I'm not really 'fat' or 'ugly', and that those feelings most likely stem from how I left my job and the fact that I've been unemployed for so long. Having that 'head' knowledge doesn't automatically change my 'heart' feelings.)

So, I'm working on it. I'm taking an honest inventory of my closet and getting rid of things. I'm looking through lots of magazines and websites for more age-appropriate and size-appropriate clothing. As soon as I start back to work, I'm going shopping for some new basics that will fit and will allow me to look professional, while accommodating my fibro. (Actually, I will do that the day before I start working so I have something to wear that first day!! I will NOT be working at a nudist camp!!) I guess, I'm going to host my own What Not to Wear....... minus the $5,000 and the awful 360* mirror!!

Maybe this is all part of the healing process I'm supposed to be going through during this time???

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I'm Working Hard ....

.... at trying to stay positive and hold it together.

I've written and deleted this post so many times in my head, but today seems to be the day that I have to let it out.

I chose to say that I'm working hard, because I'm trying to use a very "action oriented" type of language. I am consciously trying to keep my thoughts and prayers on the positive side. The real truth is unfortunately, I'm feeling pretty non-positive right now. I honestly do believe with all my heart that....

It's just that right now, today, I'm scared.

I'm scared that....

- I haven't "gotten over" everything the "right" way, which means that I'm not "ready" for the new hello? How do I know what the "right" way is and who gets to decide that? When it be clear that I've reached that arbitrary point?

- I'm sinning because I still struggle with grief and frustration from time to time. It's MUCH less than it ever was, but those feelings still jump up from time to time.

- I'm sinning because I worry about the future. I make a huge conscious choice All.The.Time to release my worries and stress. I say "Lord, all of this is YOURS" and other similar statements out loud throughout the day. But then, I worry about my next step. I worry about looking for a job. I worry about not looking for a job. I worry about how I'm going to pay my bills. I worry that because I'm worrying about those things, that I'm telling God that I don't trust Him. Then, I say extra prayers asking for His forgiveness because of the worrying!!!! Yes, I come from a long line of worriers and God know that..... Still, I want to please Him! I want to fully trust and I am honestly doing the best I can.

- I won't be able to pay my bills.

- I'm not learning whatever lesson (s) I'm supposed to be learning. There isn't a textbook for this process. How do I know what to study? How will I know that I've learned the lesson?

- I'm not letting God know how much I DO appreciate the gift of time I've been given. I'm trying very hard to not feel guilty for resting and doing things that nurture my soul. Very few people have been given this opportunity and I don't want to waste it. I don't want to look back and regret that I spent so much time worrying and stressing, that I didn't use the time I was supposed to.....for rest and reflection. I have loved being at home! It has been wonderful in so many ways. Yes, there are struggles and there are things I miss about the "outside world",  but there is something very soothing about "Home". I am a true homebody.

I know that things WILL get better. I know that God has a plan for me and I am ready for whatever that may be. I would just like a little vision about what that might be!!! ; )