My Foggy Brain… Awarded Healthline’s Best Fibromyalgia Blog of the Year Award!!

It’s an amazing honor. I checked my blog over the week-end and I noticed my stats were off the charts… My initial thought was that the spam was completely out of control. As I took a closer look at the referrals,  I realized that http://www.healthline.com awarded my blog one of the best of 2014… for the 3RD YEAR IN A ROW!!!! WOOHOO!!!! It’s awesome. It’s amazing. It’s super cool. It’s so many things to me, I can’t believe it. I’m honored.

Please take a moment to visit all the blogs awarded this year: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/best-fibromyalgia-blogs#1

Thank you for supporting me all these years.

15 Best Fibromyalgia Blogs of the Year

15 Best Fibromyalgia Blogs of the Year

And the Acting Award Goes To…. YOU! Yes, You with the Chronic Pain!!

These days I feel like I should be going for some kind of acting award. I don’t compare myself to those true to the art, but I certainly feel like I am “on” most of my waking hours. You know what I mean. If you have a chronic illness, you know exactly what I mean. Let’s see… when someone says to you, “How are you doing?”, what’s your response? Me? Well, there’s always the standard response:

“I‘m doing alright...” or I may say”I feel okay…” or

I’m fine…” or sometimes I’ll say

Theatre-stage-curtains-an-001I’ll be alright…” or… or… the list goes on. All of which translates to… “I feel like crap, but I live to get through another day.“.  I depress even myself when someone asks me the question. And, trust me, I’m not saying I don’t want folks to ask how I’m doing, it’s just I never know what to say. Honesty is not the best policy in this case. I don’t really think people should have to hear my truth. In addition, I don’t want to say out loud multiple times a day that I feel like crap. I imagine it would only make me feel worse mentally. Which leads me back to my original statement. I think I am pretty  good at acting. Most of us don’t want the whole world to know how much pain we are in or even that we are in pain at all. To get through the day, we have to put on a happy face so folk see us as functioning people and not just people with pain or disabilities. I don’t want to be the one that people look at and feel sorry for. I want to be the one that is looked at as strong and responsible, caring and able.

Sometimes I think I am so good at this acting stuff, that I convince even myself nothing’s wrong… I can literally act myself into thinking there is nothing wrong with me. Until, of course, I try to live without paying attention to what my body/ mind are telling me. Those are the days that reality slaps me in the face, basically saying, “WAKE UP! Stop just thinking about right now”. I feel like I have to go through the acceptance process of all my medical conditions at least once or twice a week. I know what the diagnosis is (trust me it’s difficult not to know), but when you act like your are completely fine… you act like you are completely fine. If I acted like I was fine while also managing all my medical conditions better, I’d actually be almost fine!

So! What has happened since the last time I blogged?

Damn. Damn… DAMN! I have had tests, more MRI’s, CAT scans, many appts… I did the Prednisone thing. This was the first recommendation to see if it would alleviate the pressure/ pain in my neck (reduces the inflammation). That actually really helped the pain for a few days. I was like a new person, literally tons of focus and energy. It was crazy how good I felt… for a FEW days. Awesome, very much like when I had a epidural while in labor with my son, which literally worked for ONE contraction. There really is nothing worse than feeling the awesomeness of no pain… when you should be in a lot of pain. Only to have that awesome feeling snapped right out of your reach in an instant. So! The Prednisone worked for a few days and then slowly stopped working, but I did end up with the bonus of more pounds on my body. JUST WHAT I NEEDED! yay… (she said super quietly with a lot of sarcasm…)

I had many discussions with the spine surgeon and two separate neurologists and have come to the conclusion that surgery is definitely in my future. With that in mind, I needed a solution for this tremor. None of us want my head to be shaking just out of surgery… that would seriously dampen the entire post-surgical bliss that I’m looking forward to. So! I started a new med. I had a handful to choose from and I made a decision and tried the only one that seemed like it might work with the least amount of side effects (or cause me to have to change my antidepressant)… Well, again, it was good… at first. And then… the side effects kicked in. The kick was a big one. My depression tanked. Tanked as in I fell into that big f’d up black hole. You know, the one that has no bottom and there’s no light at the top to give me hope. It took me a bit to see what was going on. By the time I realized what was happening, I was in too deep. That feeling of hopelessness and despair completely overwhelmed me. I started to back off the meds and ultimately decided I would stop completely. The thoughts going through my head are not worth the benefit of the relief from the tremor. Which sadly, the med did stop the tremor… It’s the choice of bad or deep black hole I’ll take bad any day. That is the end of meds to address my tremor (for now).

So for the last few weeks I’ve been a mess. Working has been like walking through wet cement for hours. (I’m full of analogies today) Attempting to focus with this mental state and my pain levels going through the roof has not been fun. But! I made it through. Today was my first day off the meds and I believe in a couple of weeks I’ll feel much better.

In the meantime, I prepare for my surgery. The mental and physical preparation will take a while for me.

I know God is on my side. With all this stuff standing in front and on top of me, I am blessed with the most wonderful family and friends who stand beside me and on many days who hold me up. I have a job that allows me to work from home, which in turn makes me feel like I am contributing and adding value both at work and at home. I have a plan to address the neck pain/ weakness in my arms and legs. The future is not grey and bleak, it is in fact looking okay. I may be in pain every day and I may suffer from severe depression from time to time, but I am blessed. I do not take the great things in my life for granted.

DSC_0353We just celebrated my daughter’s 16th bday. A celebration that would not have been a success without the help from those closest to me. From the hand-made decorations, to the made from scratch awesome tie dye yummy cake and caterpillar cupcakes, to the candy leis to the cotton candy machine to the best food in the world… this celebration was one to remember… and in less than two months, my son graduates from college. You were all with me when he graduated from high school! Every day is a blessing.

40,000+ visits later, my blog is still going strong because of the support from all of you. I say it again. I am blessed. Thank you for taking the time to read this and leaving your comments and sharing your personal experiences with me. It means a lot to me.

You all win the award for best acting! You do it every day… all day long. It’s not a good or bad thing, it’s just what we do.

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.

frozen

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.

its-not-happy-people

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

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!!

Bestof2013

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