Lessons Learned in Diagnosing Chronic Pain

“Sometimes the curiosity can kill the soul but leave the pain.” ~Alice

Perhaps that title should read “Lessons Learned from Attempting to Diagnose Chronic Pain” since I still don’t have answers…  I haven’t written much lately due to some chronic neck pain/shoulder/arm that has been plaguing me for months. I come home from work exhausted and drained, and spending more time in front of a computer is the last thing I want to do.biscuits

Down the Rabbit Hole

Do you ever feel like the hassle and expense of getting to the root of a medical problem might outweigh the benefits of finding out what the problem is? For the last several months, I feel like I have gone down the proverbial rabbit hole in “Alice in Wonderland”, where everything is not as it seems!

Alice-Looking-Down-the-Rabbit-Hole-in-Alice-in-Wonderland    Live_action_reference_photo_alice_at_the_bottom_of_the_rabbit_hole_screenshot_blog

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How to Sleep Better

“Sleep is the Golden Chain that binds health and our bodies together.”

I fully intended to get this blog posted back in May during Better Sleep month but, as is often the case, life got in the way. I have struggled for years with getting good quality sleep. There are nights where I just cannot fall asleep, and others where I just can’t stay asleep. While the ideal amount is between 7-9 hours for most, I still average about 6 hours a night. More than 7 hours of sleep, and I feel out of sorts. Lately I have been much better about sleeping through the night, since incorporating some simple strategies.

Those who suffer with fibromyalgia syndrome know how difficult it can be to get a good night’s sleep. In fact, sleep disturbances are one of the common symptoms associated with the condition, which then compounds the daytime fatigue. But allowing the body to rest and recharge at night is so critical to everyone’s physical and mental health, not just those with fibromyalgia.counting-sheep-1

“Sleep is the Golden Chain that binds health and our bodies together.”

~ Thomas Dekker

Health Benefits

That old saying “early to bed, early to rise makes your body healthy, wealthy, and wise” is more than just an old wives’ tale. Here’s a list of health benefits from getting adequate sleep:

  • It can help you fight off diseases
  • It can help improve your mood
  • It can lower your risk for obesity and help you lose weight
  • It can decrease inflammation
  • It allows the body to repair itself from stress and ultraviolet exposure

“By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are. And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.”
Arianna Huffington

Getting those Zzzz’s

While you sleep, your body is working to heal itself, build up your immune system, and recharge your brain cells. Now the struggle is that people with fibromyalgia have trouble falling and staying asleep. We often don’t reach that deep sleep stage required for all of the restorative health benefits. There are a myriad of underlining conditions that could be preventing you from getting a good night’s rest:

  • Health Issues such as allergies, sleep apnea, asthma, narcolepsy, or hormone imbalance
  • Physical Issues such as chronic or acute pain, or certain prescription drugs
  • Mental Issues such as depression, stress, or anxiety
  • Environmental Issues such as too much light in your room, drinking alcohol or caffeine, or performing shift work

So assuming you don’t need to have a medical condition checked out, how do you improve your sleep, to reap those benefits? Getting into a routine helps. Here are some simple strategies that might help you establish that routine:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  • Set a regular bedtime routine.
  • Curb the electronics in the bedroom, that is no TV, iPad, etc. before bed.
  • Keep your bedroom comfortable, quiet, dark and cool.
  • Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime, and don’t eat 3 hours before bed.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Do not use tobacco.

“Golden Slumbers fill your eyes. Smiles await when you rise.” ~ The Beatles

Bedtime Routines

As we age we need less sleep, but we still need good quality sleep. Uninterrupted sleep. One of the best habits is to take a warm bath or shower before bed. This raises the body temperature, and then allows it to cool down faster, which helps you reach that deep sleep. Couple that with some aromatherapy, and you should feel relaxed and calm for bedtime. I developed my routine after reading Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive that discussed redefining success and details her wake-up call. She has another book called The Sleep Revolution that undoubtedly has more information on the subject of sleep as well.

Here are some of my favorite bedtime and bath aids:

So go draw a bath, sip some tea, rub some lavender oil between your toes and get a good night’s sleep. These are my tried and true methods. You’ll thank me in the morning!

For more sleep strategies, visit the National Sleep Foundation,”The F Word” blog and Sarah’s Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles series, or listen to JJ Virgin’s podcast with Arianna Huuffington – two big proponents of sleep!  Do you have other sleep strategies you use?

Cheers!

Cynthia

Reblog: Fibro Friday #128

Loved this quote that was shared on the Fibro Blogger Directory‘s weekly link-up, so I thought I would share it. Sharing is caring, after all. I often link up my relevant blog posts here (although there haven’t been many lately!). You will find many great bloggers who write about fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, Lyme disease, et al. I hope you will check them out!

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength
to body and soul.”
~ John Muir

via Fibro Friday week 128 — Fibro Blogger Directory

Cheers!

Cynthia

Shining a Light on Fibromyalgia

Every day is Awareness Day for those who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Every year May 12th has been designated as “Fibromyalgia Awareness Day” to shine a light on this invisible illness. Most of us who suffer from this chronic condition feel that every day is our awareness day, as we often have to explain what it is to people. Trust me when I say it is more than what you see in the pharmaceutical commercials on TV.

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Self-Care Self-Check

“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.”

Back in January I wrote about the importance of self-care and some things I vowed to work on myself. As May is Fibromyalgia Awareness month, I decided it was time to check in and see just how good or bad I am doing on my own self-care. Practice what you preach, and all. I have found more success following strategies for healthy living, than I ever did taking a pill that the doctors prescribed. So taking care of myself has to be my number one priority, in order to minimize my fibro-flares. You cannot, after all, drink from an empty cup, and having a flare can often feel like you are running on empty.Cannotdrink

Here’s what I wanted to improve on: Continue reading “Self-Care Self-Check”

Quote: Life in Balance

balance-quote

“Life is like riding a bicycle – to keep your balance you must keep moving.”

– Albert Einstein 

Some days this is my mantra, because if I stop moving I will lose my balance, my momentum, and my energy to get anything done. That is life with Fibromyalgia…

Cheers!

Cynthia

Mindset and Fibromyalgia

I have fibromyalgia, but it does not have me.

I made a conscious choice a long time ago to not act like a victim and to deal with this illness known as fibromyalgia with positive attitude and healthy habits. But to be perfectly honest, some days it is tough to maintain the positivism when you absolutely feel like you have been hit by a mack truck. I am not going to lie and say I don’t have bouts of crying and “why me?” moments, but they are few and far between since a shift in attitude.Ihavefibro.png

So how do you cultivate a positive mindset when you are dealing with chronic pain?

Continue reading “Mindset and Fibromyalgia”