Fibromyalgia is a common condition characterized by long-term, body-wide pain and tender points in joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, morning stiffness, sleep problems, headaches, numbness in hands and feet, depression, and anxiety.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What is Depression?

What is depression?
The actual definition of depression is:  a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.

For some, it's a feeling of hopelessness and despair that can't be defined by a specific situation.  They know the normal activities that used to give them joy no longer holds any interest for them and much of the time they would rather just sleep. I would suppose this type of depression might be caused by ongoing problems or feelings that haven't been resolved.

Then there is the situational depression.  This one comes and goes with life's ups and downs.

I know for me much of my depression comes from not being in control of things and people that affect my life.  If my kids do something really foolish, there is really little I can do but stand on the sidelines as they are all adults and have to make their own way in the world.  You can offer advise or opinions but it's really up to them whether they choose to heed it.  It can be heartbreaking to watch and if it happens often enough you can spiral downward.  It feels like being trapped. 

For others it could be a relative that insinuates themselves in your life and makes you miserable.  Sometimes it has to do with how well things are going at work.  These are all factors that you may have little control over and it can get downright frustrating and lead to depression.

 Of course, financial worries can certainly make one depressed, but again, I think it's more about not having any way to change things that truly cause the depression and not the fact that money is tight or nonexistent.  If you can think of a way to change things or come up with some sort of a plan then you have a way out, but if it is out of your control then you can become depressed.

Many of us who have a chronic illness that affects our daily lives can find ourselves depressed from time to time.  It can be the illness itself that keeps us from doing what we would like to do or it could be the constant lack of understanding of family and friends, or a combination of both.  I know that there are times when I get down if I think about having fibromyalgia on a large scale.  You know, when you realize this is how it's going to be for the rest of your life and you have to learn to adjust constantly.

Each of us have our own way of dealing with our illness and each of us has limitations we must learn to live with.  I truly believe that if we can just keep our attitude as positive as we can and not allow circumstance to alter our day, then we have a winning chance of leading the best life we can.

I read. Lots.  This is my way of dealing with whatever comes my way.  Currently I am reading a book written by Max Lucado called "Fearless, What Your Life Would Be Like Without Fear" and it has helped me tremendously.  My faith is the most important part of my life and sometimes when I get down I forget their is someone greater than me that is always there.

I hope that you will seek help if you find you are experiencing abnormal depression.  Don't let it take one more day of your life from you.

Until next time :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Today is "Fibromyalgia Awareness Day"

Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, a day that we recognize fibromyalgia as an actual illness and help to make the public not only more aware of it but also to a better understanding of what sufferers experience. 

It is very difficult and many times lonely living with this disease because it isn't something that can be seen so others don't always understand.  Many sufferers won't complain about pain because they don't want to be labeled a whiner.  Believe me I do know how that feels but sometimes we just need to speak up and better educate those around us.

My sister, who lives in a different state than  I do, has often brought up the fact that I don't work outside the home.   She mentions that if I just had a job that I wouldn't have all this time to think about my problems.  I can't tell you how difficult it is at times not to get very defensive and angry with her because she has absolutely no idea what fibromyaligia is.

That is part of the problem; most people don't really know what in the heck fibromyalgia is because no two patients suffer the same degree of pain so it's hard to pin down exactly what it is.  Telling someone that you just have pain or ache doesn't seem to satisfy them so explaining how your brain neurotransmitters confuse the signals regarding pain may make them roll their eyes at you.  I can just here my sister saying "So, you mean you don't really have the pain, so what's the problem?" Ugh!

I think the key is having a supportive friend or group that you can go to that will understand exactly how you feel.  I have a sister-in-law who has fibro so we "get" each other and it really helps when we go out together.

My next post will be some tips to better sleeping, so stay tuned.

Until next time:)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Boot or No Boot?

Some of you know that I fractured my right foot about 8 weeks ago and finally got to a point where I could actually walk around my neighborhood again.

I have no idea how it happened but I managed to fracture the side of my little toe on the same foot and just had it x-rayed yesterday as confirmation.

Well, my doctor thought it looked like a stress fracture from the change in my walk from the original problem so he decided I needed a "boot". OMG, this thing looks like what you might wear if you were going to go skiing or something. It has 5 different Velcro straps to keep it tight on your foot and half way up your leg. All this for a fractured toe?

On top of this lovely little fashion boot is the price you pay for it. Now, I am not sure if my insurance is going to pick up the tab of $160.00 or not. They weren't sure either so they charged me 25% just in case. I can think of several pairs of shoes I could buy for that.

They strapped me in this thing before I left the office so I had to hobble on it to get to my car where I had to take it off anyway as there is no way that can be safe to drive with.

I get home and put it back on and within half an hour I can feel my neck and right shoulder giving me fits with the uneven posture and gait you get wearing this thing.

So, my choice is this: Do I wear the boot and hope it helps to heal my toe more quickly and just spend the extra money at the chiropractor's office to keep realigning my shoulder or do I just wear my slippers around the house like I've been doing and save the boot for long distance journeys?

Honestly, when you have fibromyalgia absolutely anything and everything out of the ordinary can upset the balance and cause you pain but most doctors don't recognize this or take it into consideration when prescribing. My doctor asked me all kinds of questions about what vitamins I take, whether I still had periods or not, what types of surgeries I have had, etc. He even prescribed a Dexa scan to check on bone loss, but never once addressed my fibromyalgia and how this change in posture wearing this boot may increase pain and create other problems.

We are still in the dark ages when it comes to this chronic illness. Very few believe it exists let alone recognize how it affects a person when prescribing treatments for unrelated ailments.

Even my chiropractor gave me a whole list of exercises to start doing to keep my sciatic nerve from acting up while I am waiting for this fracture to heal. If I did all of those exercises at once and every day I would be in constant pain that even the Tramadol couldn't help.
I decided to take on a few at a time and increase as I go along and it seems to work out fine.

I have said it before and I will continue to say it "We must play an active role in our health because we know our bodies better than anyone." What works for some may not work for you, so ask questions, research what you can and pay close attention to what your body is telling you.

Until next time :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Listening In

I was at my chiropractor's office and in one of his waiting rooms when I overheard a conversation about fibromyalgia.

Now, I don't eavesdrop as a general rule, but the layout of his rooms leaves an 18" or so gap at the top of the common walls so I may as well have been in the room with them.

His patient was asking him what he thought about being diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the tender age of 21 and his comments concerned me. He told her that he thought that fibromyalgia is overly diagnosed for just about anyone in pain and that it sets them up to fears that are unfounded. He said that it is proven not to be muscular-skeletal so it's hard to treat, which is true. What is confusing is that I have seen it lumped in with Lupus, Chronic Fatigue, Diabetes and the like as a very serious illness.

I guess I just don't choose to see it that way. To me it is just an obstacle in the way of what I want to do sometimes and I have to learn to pick and choose what I can and can't do or suffer the consequences.

If it really doesn't affect our muscles and it primarily a neurotransmitter that's gone haywire, why would it be in league with lupus and other diseases that actually do attack you physically.
Fibromyalgia certainly feels like physical pain but our muscles aren't really overused so it's a bit confusing.

The patient was talking about her 21 yr old nephew and she couldn't believe he could have fibromyalgia so she wanted an opinion. I am sure for some people this diagnosis could have serious repercussions especially if they have an attitude of giving up.

We just can't give up. What we have to do is find another avenue that works for us. There is always a silver lining on the other side if we journey long enough to find it.

Even in the depression I have been experiencing I look for life lessons because I believe there is a reason for everything. It doesn't necessarily make it any easier but at least I can tell myself that things will get better.

Until next time :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Savella Not For Me

I was supposed to keep a daily diary of being on Savella, a fairly new drug to the fibromyalgia world, but I really didn't like the side effects it had on me so I opted to quit taking it and start on some St. Johns Wart from my local drug store.

The Savella is a bit of a bugger to be on as you are to eat a full breakfast before taking it and I am just not a breakfast person. On top of that I take Tramadol for pain and the net sites I visited to research Savella led me to believe these 2 are not to be mixed. That was a bit alarming as my doctor prescribed both for me at my last appt.

The side effects were just a feeling of being unfocused and tired. I already deal with that anyway so the added problem wasn't for me. Usually once I take the Tramadol in the morning the first several hours of the day are pretty good so being tired by 11 am was not working.

I don't know if my doctor will like this choice, but I know my body and I would rather deal with the depression my way.

It's been tough and I don't feel like doing anything constructive. My mosaic has sat on my work table for over a week now and I can't seem to get into it so I don't push the issue or I will just make mistakes.

I have been reading my bible and doing a lot of soul searching and praying to find out what is in store for me and what direction I should go next. I even played a game of spider solitaire on the computer which is something I haven't done in over a year as my online business uses up all my time on the computer for the most part.

So much has changed in my life over the last year that I think the grieving and accepting will take some time.

I still plan to keep plugging away here on this blog and will post any news I hear regarding research on fibromyalgia as I always have my ear to the ground on that front.

Until next time :)