Sunday, July 19, 2009

Romance Writers Conference (Careers and Fibro)

The Roman Writers of America held their conference in Washington D.C. this year and I had a really good time.

My Fibro held up decently well. I only had a few times where my stomach was whacked out but I managed to maintain my composure. I had a migraine but it went away after some rest which is new. I had lots of muscle pain but kept on pushing myself anyway so I could sight see, and I only felt wigged out by the crowds a couple of times.

Not bad!

All-in-all, I proved that I can juggle my writing career with my Fibro. And that is important for all of us!!

We can juggle, as long as we can dictate our career instead of have it dictated to us. Being unable to stand up and walk around or sit down to rest whenever we need to is a big factor in finding a job.

Unfortunately for us, there aren't many jobs out there that will let us pick our own hours and let us change them at the last moment when something hurts.

These factors have to be taken into consideration and as a sufferer of Fibro you have to figure out how to make your vocation bend to you, or to bend your vocation enough to be able to continue to do your chosen profession with your limitations.

We can only push ourselves so far before we do more harm than good, so if you push and you still meet with resistance with your profession and you hurt yourself in the is time to reevaluate.

Starting over, or creating a new way to utilize your learned skills is daunting, but with a little bit of creativity, you may find an idea that gives you exactly what you need as a Fibro patient, and as a human being who still needs to put food on the table.

I'm extremely tired from the trip and may not be making a ton of sense so I'll leave it at this...You can do it, I believe in you.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Cracking Bones and Rash Lovin'

Well, it is summertime, even though it doesn't feel all that summer-y yet this year. And typically, I'm exercising more which means more aches and pains.

I've had two appointments this week; one with a chiropractor, and another with my dermatologist.

Last month I had two emails asking about rashes and boils. Most people know I suffer from rashes of various sorts and have had to go to the derm a few times to figure out what the deal was. My Derm, a Dr. Julie Byrd, is a wizard, I'm sure of it. She's in and out and diagnoses me with barely a glance it seems.

So here is what I found out! As promised. Those little red bumps? (and sometimes little white bumps!) Possibly Keratosis Pilaris. It is a common condition where 40% of the population "suffer" from it. Okay, it isn't much of a "suffering" condition. It is ugly, it itches sometimes, but in truth it does nothing, it means nothing. Some rashes are the beginning sign of a worse condition but this is normal. It is basically, ticked-off hair follicles that react poorly to dryness. Which is why the condition is usually worse in the winter, because with summer comes humidity. Unless you live in the desert, then you're screwed year-round.

How do you tend to it?

My derm gave me a premixed bottle of lotion-type stuff to rub on my arms 2x daily. I have no idea what is in it and the bottle doesn't say. That's some trust I have isn't it? Rare for me. ::grins::

Okay, so if you can't get this mystery lotion...what can you do to minimize the appearance?

- Avoid hot water. Hot water removes natural skin oils. Cool down your showers ladies and gents and while you're at it, make them shorter! According to the AAD American Academy of Dermatology: "Prolonged showers or baths hydrate your skin, but the process of drying your skin after the shower or bath with towels or evaporation can leave your skin less hydrated than before you started. Keep showers between 5-10 minutes in length and with WARM water.

- Use mild soap. I was given a list of "mild" soaps. Quoted from Dr. Byrd's list: Dove White, Oil of Olay, Aveeno, Cetaphil, Basis, Purpose, CeraVe,Vanicream, Eucerin Calming Body Wash. (Common drying soaps include Ivory, Dial, or Irish Spring.)

- Do not rub your body dry. Pat, pat, pat, pat.

- Moisturize immediately after showering. Personally I love using a combination of Skin So Soft from Avon and Eucerin but Skin So Soft wasn't on "the list" from my Dr. Derm. "Healing and Hydrating Lotion, Aveeno, Cetaphil, Eucerin, CeraVe body lotions." (For hands Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream was recommended to me.)

- Do your laundry differently. Also from my doctor's note: "Use fragrance-free, dye-free laundry detergents and avoid using fabric softener sheets in the dryer." (Sheesh!)

-Shave for comfort not speed. Okay Speedy Gonzales. We all have probably done it in the past. We shave with soap in the shower or using only water. Big...big no no for dry skin sufferers. Do towards the grain, not against it when shaving and use the lube ladies!! (and gents of course.) Gentle creams and gels are the best and change the blades like you would a dirty diaper! Often!

For severe dryness use non-prescription urea or lactic acid based products...and smack your parents. Apparently, this is inherited.

Boils! Boils are more often hormonal. Are you going through a life-change? Pregnancy? Started a new birth control pill? Feel them coming in around your period? There is treatment. Ziana is what my derm recommended. There's a website for saving money on the medicine. (I have NOT been to the webbie yet to check it out so do so at your own risk.)

Okay, now for my Chiropractic experience.

Dr. Bone Cracker is a great guy and part salesman. All Chiro's have to be since half the population feel as though they are quacks. I'm going into all of this treatment stuff with an open mind. I've seen things and disagreed with a lot of "real" doctors have said in the past so what do I have to lose?

He took X-rays and poked around on me to find the trouble areas and told me to give him a day to come up with a game-plan. The next day I watched a video (yippy!) and he took me in a room to show me just how messed up I was. He talked a lot about the way things were supposed to look and calcium deposits, etc...but the truth is, I was being logical and using my brilliant powers of deduction while looking at an Xray where my spine was so far over to the right I thought.. "that can't be good". I remember biology and the big skelly in the corner of the room and I don't remember the spine ever looking like that.

My spine is kinda...straight. It isn't the angle of the Xrays or some hokey crap he's spewing at me. It is logical. I have tons of pain in the small of my back and the more I walk the worse it gets. Pressure from a straight rod as opposed to a curved rod. Now all of this was covered in Dr. Bone Cracker's lecture but as I mentioned before, I zoned him out and used my own knowledge of physics (which granted, isn't extensive) to deduce that perhaps if I could fix my posture a little bit, I might be able to alleviate some pain that I experience as a Fibro Sufferer.

Now, according to that one study done on Fibro patients that discovered all or nearly all of Fibro patients seemed to have a lower flow of blood to the brain...perhaps fixing the spine could help with that. Then I could feel for myself whether or not that study held merit.

Okay so...bring on the Guinea Pig that is Gin. I'm actually quite terrified of getting my bones cracked. You always hear of horror stories how someone walked into the office and never walked back out because of permanant damage. I'm disabled enough, I don't need to add paralysis to the list. But I swallowed down my fear and let him crack my bones.

My hips, my back, my neck (OMG did that feel good), my feet, my wrists and he jerked my shoulder around a bit because I complained of neck pains every night when I sleep. He said I'd sleep better, and feel no pain...but I might be "sore" from the newness of the adjustment. That's the salesman in him talking.

For me, he was partially right. My neck didn't hurt me...and it hasn't hurt me for the last two days, and considering the injury is a nightly thing, I'm pretty excited. HOWEVER, that night, the foot injury I discussed a few posts ago in regard to my nightly walk, worsened. It throbbed, it ached, and I had to put a heating pad on it just to get to bed. But that was the first night. The second, I was right back to "fine".

Typically, he has suggested 36 visits. Three a week to start.. then down to two.. then one. This is normal and considering that night, after I had been popped, most of my bones popped again (probably putting themselves back where they feel they belong), I can see the need to go every few days to get the bones used to being back where they belong. And slowly wean myself away from the process.

I don't know. I'm reserving judgement on the whole thing, but I have to tell you my friends.. the fact my shoulder isn't keeping me up all night (nope, just regular Fibro and meds are doing that) I'm cautiously optimistic. If I go in being negative, I will unconsciously make sure it doesn't work. If I go in there gullible, I'll make myself believe it works. So I'm simply documented what hurts when and comparing it to my pain diary from before. I'll let the truth speak for itself.

All my best my friends!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Yeah! I know I'm Limping! So What?

Speaking of working out and bettering our health with exercise, I feel it is my duty to reiterate constantly just how hard it is to do by giving an example from my own exercise world here.

I don't want anyone walking away from the keyboard rolling their eyes with the thought that I am just another health nut trying to do my part for society by claiming everything can be fixed with a little bit of exercise, grape leaves, and vitamin B Complex and that the experience is all wine and yellow roses.

Sure, I like to put a positive spin on everything and keep my blog and my advice upbeat. But I also want to be realistic.

Exercising with Fibro is really, really hard. I will say this until I am blue in the face and digging my grave. I don't like to say it because it deters people from trying but at the same time, I have to make it known so that everyone who tries to exercise and has to throw in the towel at times, knows that their response is NORMAL.

Every few months I stop exercising, and I start the decline in my health again. I have to go back and read my journals where I felt great and had 24 days 98% pain-free in a month to remind myself why-oh-why I exercised in the first place.

So why is it so hard to do something so simple as walk a half-mile a day or do 25 jumping jacks?

Because Fibromyalgia tells us it hurts. Fibro gives us more symptoms the MOMENT we try and fight it back. Our brain makes something hurt and hurt bad and our depression saps our ambition and spiritual happiness.

It is no surprise then, that less than 10% of Fibro Mates exercise daily. Why should we bring on the pain? Well, I'll tell ya.

I know I talk a lot about vitamins and exercise and eating healthy and the truth is, when I do all of those things, I feel GREAT!

The other half of that truth is...I fail a lot. I get busy with my career and eat a cheeseburger a few times a week. I wake up feeling groggy and miss a walk. My fibro fog makes me forget I was supposed to walk or maybe it fools me into forgetting for so long I think I already walked the dog. ("Didn't I just put that leash there?") And speaking of Fibro Fog... I can't tell you how many times I forget to take my vitamins. "Set an alarm," they say. Well, in theory, that works. But how about the times I hear the alarm...shut it off and then POOF...I instantly forget all about it. From one nanosecond to the is gone. Nothing makes me more annoyed than when people tell me to set alarms like that is a guarantee.

"How is it possible you forget that quickly?" "Then don't shut it off until the pills are in your hand." (That would mean I would have to remember to walk over to the pill counter and put them in my hand instead of caving to instinct and shutting the alarm off first.)

My point is that none of us are perfect. With Fibromyalgia, we have to do our best and not beat ourselves up when we fail.


We have to be honest with ourselves too. Am I using Fibro Fog as an excuse to slack? Is there anything more I can do to help keep track of my activities. Remember: Whatever you implement has to be done BY YOU. Only you know what will be effective. No one else.

"Every time I exercise it ends in pain. Why would I want to do that to myself."

I received a letter a few months ago that said just that. The sentence is very telling. It has the frustration she feels in it, the excuses we all use, and fear.

Fear of the unknown.

Why exercise? Because it can make us feel better even while causing us pain. What can you expect? Only the unexpected.

Every ache and pain I get because of my daily walks/exercises...changes.

For example: From yesterday to today I've gone for four dog walks around my suburb.
Yesterday Walk #1. The top of my right foot hurt and continued to do so for hours. It pulled an encore tonight.
Yesterday Walk #2. My right calf felt like it was going to have one of those OH MY GOODNESS muscle cramps only a few houses down from mine. Last thing I wanted to do was roll around in one of my neighbors front lawns while I held my leg and moaned pitifully, but too stubborn to give in and turn around... I made it all the way.
Today Walk #1: My left hip ached midway through my walk and towards the end my right shoulder.
Today Walk #2: My right hand, where I hold the leash, throbbed so bad I couldn't type for a while and my head started to pound.

Instead of allowing those aches and pains to get to me...I truck through them. It is no easy feat considering the pain isn't just a small ping...its a massive owwie, but as a Fibro Mate.. I *have* to push through it all...or I'll never do any of it.

Expect to be hurt, expect to give up, expect to have slip-up days but always.. ALWAYS remember to get back up and start all over again. You'll feel better from exercising eventually, sure. But the best benefit is knowing that you're fighting and, My Friends, that is what being a human is all about. Fighting for ourselves!

All my best,

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Twitters!

I received notification via Facebook, that a friend of mine and fellow fighter of Fibromyalgia, has been working on developing a low impact exercise regimen five minutes every day for 22 days!

Her progress is in journal form on Twitter so I have decided to try and Twitter so I can keep up with her. Anna! I'm so very happy for you and your fight for wellness.

Those of us with Fibro know just how hard it is to stick to a schedule. Everyday things take us quadruple the energy of normal folk so five minutes might sound like nothing to some people who stumble upon this page...but for Fibro Mates, we know just how hard it is to exercise at all!

That is why I always smile when someone tells me they have managed to stick with exercise longer than 10 days. By the 10 day mark, most of us are ready to stop and let our arms or legs fall off...sure that with all the pain, that is exactly what the appendages will do. LOL

So, Anna, I salute you in pushing yourself near the thirty day mark and hope you will keep going each day.

Remember, and this is not just for Anna... Do NOT push yourself harder than your body can go to try and "feel the burn". While this is great for people without Fibro.. WITH Fibro, you could feel the burn for a few weeks and destroy your pattern, which we all need to get in the habit of sticking to our exercise regimen.

For me, Fibro Fog can gum up the works, so I have to make sure I walk my dog twice a day around the same time. Luckily, because my exercise is a brisk walk through the hood with my puppy...she serves as a reminder. "Okay, Gin...time to go for that walk now!"

All recap.

Exercise is good.

Don't over exert.

Kudos to Anna for the update.

And I've made a Twitter which may not see much use. I still recommend the emails as opposed to tweets since 1) not too many people use Twitter. 2) I check my mail more often than I do Twitter.

But, it the choice is up to you, Dear Friends!

All my best hope for great days of exercise and 98% pain-free weeks.

**disclaimer on all typos that are well within my control but outside of my ambition.