Nothing Like Aging… A New Day… A New Diagnosis

aging

Ten years ago, when I was just a youngster… ummmmmmm RIGHT! Well, let’s just say I was younger than I am today. I strongly believed that aging was no big deal. I couldn’t understand why people dreaded getting older, this never-ending search for the fountain of youth. Today… I understand. As I get older, the days are not necessarily getting brighter or lighter or easier or more relaxing or… geez, I’m depressing myself.

Let me help you understand what I am feeling, I’m sure it’s not that foreign to many of you. Over the course of the last decade I have lost family, friends, and bits of myself. My fear that I will lose more family and friends is greater now than ever before. I also fear losing myself. To clarify, losing my ability to do things on my own (not that I do that much on my own these days), but seriously… physically taking care of myself, my sanity, the everyday things that a lot of people take for granted. It’s pretty frightening.

I look back a year ago when I was walking miles daily and then I look at today when I can barely walk to the car. There is a reason for the change… let’s just say that I have been diagnosed with yet another flipping irreversible condition. Cervical Spinal Stenosis. Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s true, the hits keep coming! I have had two MRI’s in the past few weeks, 3 appointments with a Neurologist and the “what’s next?” question is heavy in the air in my house. Let me just say… a few weeks ago, I did not start my day saying… “I’m going to go in to ask my doctor, YET AGAIN, about the constant pain in my neck or the fact that I’m super weak.” We all know what happens when we do that… the “You have Fibromyalgia” card gets pulled out. I made an appointment with my primary care physician to check my tremor. It’s really been bothering me so I decided to re-confirm the diagnosis and look into treatment. I was quickly referred to the neurologist.

My appointment with the neurologist was one of the best appointments I have had in a long time. We started talking about my tremor and ended up going off into a completely different direction. This doctor spent an hour with me. An hour. That is almost unbelievable to me… and she’s a specialist doctor! I believe that she understood right away that I walked into her office as an informed patient. I knew what medications addressed Essential Tremor and I knew which ones I was willing to try and which ones I wasn’t (based on interactions with what I am already taking). As soon as she started to take a look at me, she did a bunch of strength tests on my arms, wrists, legs, ankles… had me stand up… asked me a ton of questions and did all the tests over again. That’s when she said she wanted me to go in for an MRI. She had read my medical history and noticed I had been diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease years ago and wanted to see what my spine looked like today. She wasn’t questioning my Fibromyalgia diagnosis but she felt like something else was going on to cause the weakness in my limbs.

To cut this story short… I went back, she showed me my MRI results and it’s not a great picture. That’s when she asked me to go back for another MRI, which by the way, have I told you how claustrophobic I am? Lord have mercy… I came out of the first one a complete wreck. Barely made it out of the room, walked halfway down the hall with my husband before the tears started rolling. The pain of laying on that damn MRI bed while it vibrated for 30 minutes… and let’s not even talk about the sounds or the fact that I was in a tight space (and I was in the large machine). Anywayyyyyy…. I fully prepared for the second one. I prayed for a full hour before we left the house. I took a little more than the prescribed dose of Ativan to help me relax, closed my eyes and prayed for the hour. You heard me… the HOUR I was in the machine this time. When it was all said and done, God was with me all the way and I made it through much better this time.

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Anxious for my results, I had a call with the neurologist late Friday afternoon and she confirmed that the Degenerative Disc Disease has moved down the rest of my spine. That’s not surprising considering the constant pain. Given that diagnosis, I wasn’t so concerned, I’ve been living with this pain for so long. What I wasn’t really prepared for was her recommendation that I get surgery in my neck to address the Cervical Spinal Stenosis (which she said is also a form of arthritis, also known as bulging discs). I had done a lot of reading and I knew this was one of the potential outcomes. I just refused to go there in my mind. Well, as always “denial” never lets me get away with shit. I’m not saying I am having surgery, but I will keep an open mind. I’ll take surgery over paralysis any day. With the level of pain, weakness and numbness in my hands and feet… this is something I can’t ignore.

Next steps… well, I’m off to my next set of specialists. One to address the tremor, as now addressing it is important since the constant shaking (or in my case I do my best not to shake… I’m happy I can still use muscles to reduce the shaking so it’s not so visible… which leads to increased pain… don’t you love this vicious cycle!). The second referral is to the spine clinic where we will talk about whether or not surgery is the right option.

And… guess what’s decided to come back right now? Insomnia. THANK YOU! I mean… seriously? Is this absolutely necessary right now? (Pause for a moment) Of course it is! Anxiety, stress, nerves… this is what happens. This I should have control over. I am doing my best to give all this over to God, but … well, but nothing, I have no excuse, it’s a struggle.

So. My conclusion is aging is a b*tch. I was so blissfully ignorant all those years ago when I thought people were crazy to complain about getting older. And… it’s not that I want to relive any of those prior years. I’m all about going forward, it’s just I’d like to go forward with everyone I love in great health and with me forever. I’d like to age gracefully… not feel like my body is breaking down bit by bit.

And on that note… I think I’ll go attempt to sleep. Thank you so much for stopping by. I realize this wasn’t the most uplifting post… I hope with my next post I’ll have some better news to share. Remember tomorrow is not promised so make the most out of today. Spend time with your loved ones, laugh and remember what’s important in your life and make it a priority.

I hope you have a pain-free day!

Gentle hugz.

Tamiko

“Frozen” in Time… A Day to Remember…

This past week-end, I did something unbelievable… I went to see a movie with my mom and my daughter. I never imagined this was a possibility. I can’t remember the last time I went to see a movie with my mom. Her vision has declined over the years and she has never been a “go to the movie” type of person (unless we go WAY back to the drive-in days). So I’m sitting at dinner with my family last week and I hear my mom and Kiyomi talking… my mother is telling Kiyomi she’d go see this movie with her… I thought I was hearing things. No WAY did she just tell Kiyomi she’d go INSIDE a movie theatre and watch a movie. What? I stopped asking to see a movie with her because she was always worried about not being able to see. This was an opportunity I was not going to miss out on.

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So … on Sunday, my girlfriend, my mom, my daughter and I all went to see Frozen. I honestly had no idea what I had signed up for. I hadn’t really seen previews and had no clue what the movie was about. I was really nervous about getting my mom inside the theatre and seated so we went early (or we attempted to go early but the theatre box office and doors were very late opening). The theatre near my parent’s house was perfect. In fact everything worked out perfect! The handicap parking was literally yards from the entrance… the handicap seating was perfect… the popcorn was awesomely delicious… I was sitting behind her and Kiyomi during the movie and I would keep looking to make sure she was okay… it was a little emotional, if I’m being honest (which I always am when I blog!). Seeing my mom and Kiyomi sitting next to each other watching the movie was a beautiful thing. Just seeing my mom enjoying herself as she watched the movie… well, like I said, I was a little emotional. I wanted to bottle it up so I could remember the moment… the feeling… forever. AND let me tell you what made that day so… welllll… the only word that describes it is… PERFECT! My mom said it was the best movie she had ever seen (it was a very good movie). There’s nothing more satisfying (or emotional) than seeing my mom happy.

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That day made me start to think… My life has been crazy. There’s no doubt I need to get back to a healthier/ happier me. It’s so easy to get caught up in the wrong priorities… to forget what’s important in life. And, not just what’s important, but what is a privilege and a blessing. Being able to spend time with my parents is definitely that. Having my children spend time with their extended family is a blessing. The fact my brother and my father rarely miss any soccer games and they make our kids a priority… we are blessed.

2014 has just begun… one of my goals for this year is to take 30 seconds out of each hour to just stop and remember what I am thankful for in that moment. It’s not easy to remember to do, but I have the rest of this year to be successful!

I hope that you all have many blessings in your life and that you are making positive changes to make you a healthier and happier person. One day at a time, right? Or for those of us that are dealing with chronic pain… one minute, one hour at a time. Don’t let stuff get you down, look for the good and let go of the bad.

Big hugz!

Tamiko

My Most Memorable Moments of 2013… THANK YOU!!

Wow… even though it’s not unusual for me to go a long time in between blog postings, I have to say, I’m always a bit disappointed in myself for being so out of touch. The last three to four months have been challenging, tough, crazy, emotional… and so on and so on and so on! Just another day in the life, right? I know that I’m not the only one who goes through these ups and downs in life. I firmly believe that those people who are just always going through life without any struggle at all… well, for one they are the exception and for two (is that really how you say this grammatically?), for two… they aren’t human. Everyone has to have some amount of struggle in their life, some people are just wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better at handling it than I. I get it. I’m my worst enemy. Well, me and my medical crap. No excuses! (Me yelling at myself)

So we are approaching the end of 2013. My annual family project to create a scrapbook page reflecting my most memorable moments from this year plus goals for the upcoming year is just days away. My husband helped me to start thinking about my most memorable moments and I thought to myself… why not blog about it! So… here we go!

My Most Memorable Moments of 2013

  1. New addition to the family… baby Annabelle!
  2. Fabulous vacations to Santa Barbara and Tahoe
  3. Watching my son at my husband’s show… one of my favorite memories of the year
  4. Completing my first 5K with my closest friends and my god-daughter and daughter!
  5. Moving houses… again
  6. Changing jobs… new manager… new team
  7. Being listed on Healthline’s Best Fibromyalgia Blog for the second year in a row
  8. Experiencing life as a freshman in high school through my daughter’s eyes
  9. Watching my son mature into an incredibly amazing adult
  10. and…. this is a good one… being published for the first time!

I was contacted back in August to submit content for a collection of stories for a book about living with Fibromyalgia. I didn’t think that my submission would actually get published, I figured with everyone out there that had something to share… pick me? No. I was completely surprised when I was told that my story was going to go in the book and even more surprised to see that we all received author credits on the front of the book! How cool and exciting is this?? I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write something about this in my blog.  I’m excited to share with all of you my first entry into being published!

fibromyalgia journeyBig props to Shelly Bolton!

Well folks… I’m exhausted and ready to go get in my bed and attempt to get this essential tremor under control and my body into somewhat of a relaxed state.. I do appreciate all of you out there more than words can express. Your support over the years has allowed me to share my life experiences in an honest and open way, without judgement.

I wish you all the very best for 2014… and hopefully we’ll see some wins in the medical field that will help all of us lead less painful lives.

Stay cool! Gentle hugz.

Wellness Workbook – Journaling your way to a healthier life!

It’s finally ready!!! I have been working on this Wellness Workbook for a while now. To be honest, I created it over a year ago and I am just now finalizing the document and sharing with all of you. Like many of you, I have tried many different medications, diets and I’ll call them “gimmicks” to alleviate my pain. At the end of the day, what works is what most of us already know… diet, exercise and most important (in my mind)… the ability to relax and manage our stress.

I originally created the templates in this workbook for myself as a way to document my goals for better health and, as important, hold myself accountable to working towards achieving those goals. I pulled it together from all the various books and materials I have read over the course of the years, various classes I have taken, and my personal experiences.

wellnessworkbookIncluded in the workbook:

  1. Wellness Wheel: tool used to help you discover opportunities for an improved quality of life and create goals based on those areas.
  2. Wellness Plan: worksheet for documenting your short and long-­‐term health goals and listing up to four key goals in the areas that you want to work on that will help you achieve your overall short and long-­‐ term goals.
  3. Flare Plan: worksheet for documenting the tools that help you, both physically and mentally, when you are in a flare. It helps to document these so you can just flip to this page and use the tools that you know will help you.
  4. Exercise Quick Reference Sheet: there are countless exercises you can do to help with your pain, these are just some of the stretches and strengthening exercises I use on a daily basis.
  5. Reference Information: information to help you better understand how to use the daily worksheets.
  6. Daily Wellness Journal: worksheet for you to document each day; your exercise, food, pain level and how you addressed your pain, gratefulness and memorable moments.
  7. My Priorities for Today…: worksheet to document your personal and work priorities on a daily basis.
  8. Automatic Thoughts Worksheet: template to help you manage your stress and negative thoughts.

I hope that it helps you as much as it has me. Please feel free to share with whoever you feel might benefit from this type of resource, I would just appreciate if you would send them to my blog to pull down the latest version. You can either click on the image above or go to my Tools & Resources page to download the workbook.

I would also love to get your feedback so I can continue to make improvements. You all know best what it takes to manage your health and I love to hear new and creative ways to have better days.

Stay cool and keep on smiling!

Hugz.

Tamiko

Do you know the definition of insanity? I’m ready for calm…

Do you know the definition of insanity? If you agree with Enstein (which I do), insanity is… “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” These days, I feel like I am in a constant state of insanity… of my own doing, which, in and of itself, is INSANE! I am talking about a level of unacceptability (is that even a word) that is, well, it’s unacceptable. [Is it me or does it feel like this posting is in a different language? Even I am having a hard time following myself today...] So, what was my point? Oh yeah… insanity. I am making choices these days which has put me on a path of mass destruction (cue dramatic music). Oh man, I apologize. Although in my sometimes overly dramatic world, the term “mass destruction” may be appropriate, I think we all know it’s just not true. My life is never that bad. Dramatic much? Lord have mercy. Okay, how about “I am making choices these days which are leading me down an unhealthy path”. Better? I think that sounds a little more truthful (okay a LOT more truthful, give me a break here).

rottenecard_45937984_p8rdhw6pn5We have all been there. Okay, it’s true, I am saying that because I don’t want to be the only one who feels that way… but, we have all been there, right? I realize as each day passes, the choices I am making are not very smart. I said it. I am accepting it. I’m not proud, but it hasn’t always been like this. On the roller coaster that I feel my life tends to be, right now I’d say I’m going down… almost hitting the bottom. It’s time for me to get my shit together and ride this to the straight away so I can get the strength to climb back where I should be.

I am a little too embarrassed to tell you all the stupid shit I have been doing. Seriously? You really want to know? Hmmmm, let me think on that a moment. And during this time of deep thought, I’ll digress a moment to share something with you.

My dad reads my blog each time I publish a new post. My mom has a difficult time seeing these days so my dad reads them all out loud to her. Now, the thought of my dad (or anyone for that matter) reading my thoughts OUT LOUD makes my stomach twist up a little bit. BUT! After he finishes reading my latest post, he never forgets to send me a note to let me know he read it and sharing his thoughts with me (which I always appreciate). Have I told you how amazing my parents are? A-MA-ZING! From my last post, he sent me an email and said, “Just a thought, your readers would be interested in how you went from being in an episode and being able go on a significant walk (a miracle?).  What are the signs that you are able to make a change?” He always makes me think. I admit, at first I revert back to a teenager and my habitual response to commentary from my dad kicks in… which doesn’t deserve to be said OUT LOUD (which I know he’ll do when he reads this to my mom). After a few minutes of processing, I always realize how blessed I am that my mom and dad are actually paying attention to what I am writing. So, today’s the day that I respond to his feedback. Smile dad! I bet you are laughing just a little bit right now.

My dad’s question and my response to his question play into this whole insanity phase I’m going through. It makes me think WHY did I stop all that walking? WHY did I start? Well… I started walking one rainy day when I was really upset. I needed to get some air so I put the leash on Tani (ummmmmm reminder to the readers out there that Tani is my dog and not my child so don’t call child services just yet…), anyway I put the leash on Tani and we walked out the door and I kept walking… and walking… in the rain… That day somehow motivated me to walk the next day… and the next… and I continued to walk until I was averaging three to four mile walks on a regular basis. Sometimes I would walk TWICE in one day… what? TWICE? Damn, typing that both impresses and depresses me, given the state I am in right now. There was no miracle involved in this change, it was purely out of my need one day for some fresh air… and to be honest, nothing beats walking in a little bit of rain to get some clarity.

quoteNow… why did I stop? Life. I let life get in the way, and more specifically me… I have been allowing ME to get in my own damn way for months now. It’s bullshit… and INSANE. I allowed all the shit going on in our lives to affect me to the point I am making all these stupid unhealthy decisions. So what stupid decisions you say? The kind that take awhile to turn around… let’s see… unhealthy eating (I just seem to think I deserve some kind of desserty thing before I go to bed every night, and yes I did mean to say “desserty”) and don’t get me started on chips and movie popcorn (how many movies can a girl see in a month? we are going broke from the cost of all the movies and buying up all this popcorn)… very little to no exercising… OBSESSED with Facebook games (if it’s a match 3 game, I’m playin’ it!)… tv, tv, tv…

The worst part of all this is that the smallest things seem to bring me to my mental knees (is that a saying or did I just make that up… mental knees…) My anxiety is so bad, handling even the most normal or non-stressful things are making me crazy. If something doesn’t go the right way (translation=my way), my brain shuts off and I can no longer function. ARGHHHHHHHHH!!!

I have wasteRoller_Coaster_Tracksd enough time in this land of insanity. I’m ready to go back home. I’m ready for calm and I’d like a huge side order of CONTENT to go with that calm.

So, what are the signs I am able to make a change? Well… in almost every case, it’s when I hit the bottom of the coaster ride and I realize the state I’m in. It’s today. The signs are there. I’m spiraling out of control. My pain levels are intolerable and my mental health is… well, let’s just say it’s not healthy. Today’s the day… okay tonight’s the night (it’s still just before midnight). I am going to start making good choices.

moviepopcornTomorrow is a new day and it’s going to be a good one. I will be positive. I will eat better. I will exercise. I will turn off the damn computer and stop playing these damn games… and well tv? I can’t give that up, but maybe I’ll watch it when it’s on and turn it off when I’m not (instead of just having it play in the background all the time). The tv thing… that’s going to take some work. Oh yeah, and I’m not giving up movie popcorn, but maybe I can work on the obsession.

I am kind of all over the place today. I appreciate you sticking with me through this posting. I hope you are having a good day/ night and you are making healthy choices. Sometimes that word “choice” really sucks! Makes accountability (another favorite word) so hard to deny. Those youngsters really don’t understand how good they have it… once they have to start making their own decisions, life becomes so much more challenging. My ADD is at its best in this post… that was a slight distraction from my normal closing… although it’s true… having choices is a very good thing… making choices? Well… not so easy. And on that note!!! Time to say g’night.

Thanks for stopping by today! Stay cool, calm and relaxed.

Gentle hugz.

Tamiko

What is Your Identity? Best Fibromyalgia Blog of 2013… THANK YOU!

What is your identity? I am really struggling these days trying to figure out what it is or rather, who it is I want to be when I grow up.

So, is my identity in what I know or what I share? Is my identity in the work I do, how I raise my children or how I spend my time? Am I invisible or is my true identity visible? Lordy… am I having a mid-life crisis?

I admire people who know exactly what they want in life … and then go for it. I have never been one of those people. I have pretty much lived my life with the Pretty Woman motto as my own… “I would say I’m a kinda fly by the seat of your pants gal, you know moment to moment.

seejanerunI have had a challenging six months. We have moved and I have changed jobs. I have been going in and out of flares the last few months. My walking streak stayed behind with the house we moved from. BUT! On the positive side, I did complete an awesome 5K with my girlfriends and my daughter and god-daughter (I walked, my daughter ran). I went on a couple fabulous vacations to Santa Barbara to spend time with my son and enjoy family time right on the beach. I also went on vacation to Tahoe with family and had the most relaxing time with everyone, while enjoying delicious home-cooked meals in a beautiful location.

I am blessed and I realize there will be challenges, I just need to remind myself that so far, I am still standing (literally, I’m not in a wheelchair or using a cane). I have my children and my husband who always support me, my parents who never fail to lift me up and the rest of my family and friends who surround me with love. As far as my identity… let’s just leave that for another day… when I have more energy (or let’s be real… when I have some energy).

And… on another awesome note… I just realized that I received this award for the second year in a row!! I am very thankful to everyone who visits, follows and subscribes to my blog. THANK YOU!!

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Wishing all of you a pain-free day/ evening. Thank you for visiting! Please feel free to leave a comment, I love hearing from you!

Tamiko