Great Fibromyalgia Resources Available!

Today I was reading an article in Medscape entitled, “Fibromyalgia: The Latest in Diagnosis and Care“.  I, like many of your I’m sure, have an extremely short attention span. For one reason or another I actually read this entire article… and thank goodness for that! At the very end Dr. Clauw states, “FibroGuide is a free CBT program for FM patients that has been shown to be effective in a clinical trial and can give patients access to CBT treatments to which they might not otherwise have access“.

While reading I realized it’s a good time to remind every one of some resources that have helped me and may, in turn, help you. So enjoy and I hope this information helps you in some small or even better BIG way!

All of these resources, and much, much more, are available on my Tools & Resources page:

FibroGuide: Take the time to check out this link, it’s not just a guide, it’s an application that provides personalized steps to help resolve the specific symptoms you are struggling with at a given time (including tips, worksheets and audio exercises!). This  Symptom Management Program for People Living with Fibromyalgia was adapted from the ongoing work in patient education for Fibromyalgia led by David A. Williams, PhD, within the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center (CPFRC) at the University of Michigan.

Knowledge Center: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain & Depression

Here are some “best of” compilation pages:

wellnessworkbookI created a couple different journal pages to help me track my progress, you are welcome to use… I hope it helps you!

For pain relief… laughter is the best medicine! @TheBlogess is AWESOME and when I am down, nothing makes me laugh more than when I read her blog…

Life is Only Getting Better from this Point…

Lord have mercy!

Those three words basically sum up everything I need to say for today’s post.

Tomorrow marks the two-week point after my Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion (level C5-6 ) surgery. September 4th was a momentous day as my husband and I also celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary (a total of 28 years together). I figured only good things could happen if I scheduled my surgery on that day. As I look back on the last month my surgery is only a blip on the screen of events that have occurred. I had a close friend and second mother to me start chemo, a couple of family friends have had scares with what we thought initially were strokes (thankfully the final diagnosis was not as serious), another friend had to fly over to Hawaii to move her mom to a senior facility, a very close friend’s mom had a stroke and we lost her shortly after, my folks lost a friend and a cousin in the same week… another very close friend suffered a loss in her family… the hits just keep coming. It’s all a reminder that tomorrow is not promised. A reminder to live everyday like it’s your last. I can’t imagine supporting my mom through chemo or putting her in a senior facility (not even mentioning the fact that a flight is required every time you want to visit) much less suffer the loss of her passing. The fact that she is 15 minutes away and her health is somewhat stable is a blessing.

I know that my surgery in  no way compares to the life changes other folks are going through. I am going to get better. The surgery is going to make me better, whether it’s mentally or physically. By mentally, I mean I know that the pain I experience is not related to the cervical stenosis. That issue is resolved. Any pain I experience going forward is likely going to be due to my Fibromyalgia. I don’t have to spend any mental energy wondering about it. That said, I thought I would share some of my experiences with you Fibromites in case you face the same surgery. It’s not something to take lightly. I had some very difficult days post-surgery (my husband can attest to this, I think he’s still recovering from it as well). The weeks before the surgery my insomnia decided to drop in and pay me a visit. I would fall asleep and wake up a couple of hours later and sometimes I could go back to sleep, other times I would either read, just lie there and stare at the ceiling or get up and start working… nothing like starting my workday in the middle of the night!

As I started to type this the other day, I was looking at a clock that said 2:58am (ummmm when I actually typed this sentence it was in fact 2:58am). Instead of sleeping I ended up watching the Dreamgirls movie and attempting to draft this post. When I came home the first few hours were okay. Fast forward to the night and things starting to spiral… first I took a shower, which completely depleted my energy. Then my husband tried to change my bandage… this was a mistake.

Let me just digress for a moment. While in the hospital everything was okay. I had an IV that they kept shooting antibiotics, anti-nausea and pain meds in for the first 24 hours. I didn’t get much sleep the first night but it wasn’t for lack of trying – the nurses and dr.’s kept coming in every hour or so to check on me. I was sooooo tired on day 2, when the PT person came in to get me up and walking and teach me exercises – I literally fell asleep in the middle of an exercise. I had to finally ask her to come back later. Since I didn’t complete the PT, they couldn’t release me so I ended up staying another night. The second night the nurses left me alone most of the time so I slept for hours and hours. On Day 3 I woke up feeling pretty good and I wanted to come home. This, my friends, was my first mistake. I should have waited another 24 hours. I wasn’t ready.

freak-out-catBack to the first night at home… as soon as he started to take the bandage off, I started going into a full-on panic attack. I freaked out… and when I say freaked, I mean F-R-E-A-K-E-D out!! I had to literally talk myself off that cliff, use every coping skill I knew to calm down. I had so many places where they had used tape at one point or another that my skin felt raw. The pain I felt as the tape was getting pulled off literally felt like my skin was getting peeled off (sorry for that super gross reference). Okay. I know I’m being overly dramatic, but that is honestly what was going through my head. In my mind, the tape was going to pull all my stitches out and I was going to have to go back to the hospital and have them fix me up. Okay, I now accept the award for drama queen with pride (okay not pride, I’ll just take the damn award).

At this point my nausea went into full swing. This was my biggest issue from the moment I got into my hospital room and they had my pain under control directly after the surgery. They had tried a couple of anti-nausea meds until they gave me one that worked. When I went home, I didn’t have any anti-nausea meds… BIG F’ing MISTAKE! Oh my Lord. My husband tried calling the advice nurse to deal with it and they gave me a prescription… for something… that didn’t work! ugh.  I called again the next night because I was miserable and the advice nurse talked to the spine dr. on call who advised me to go to the emergency room. Ummmmmmmm… that’s not gonna happen. Tip: If you are having surgery on a Thursday or Friday and you go home over the week-end… make sure you have all the meds you need BEFORE you leave the hospital.

schlaflos

The picture I finally decided to go with…

Day 3 – miserable… called the charge nurse for the spine clinic and asked for the drug I had been taking in the hospital for the nausea and my husband went back to the pharmacy for the second time in 24 hours. I also decided to back off the pain meds a bit and stop taking the stool softener (okay, I apologize again for too much information). The combination of these three things finally resolved my stomach/ pain issues and things started to get a bit better… except… except… well except for that damn insomnia. (Okay, seriously… I went to go look for a picture to put in my post to represent insomnia and as I did that I was in a group text with some friends… then for one reason or another I decided to go look at Facebook, which I never do anymore and ended up going through my timeline and sending my mom a life on one of those FB games which resulted in me actually playing the game… and then I checked my email… and then I realized I was in the middle of writing this post and I need to finish it! Geez Louise… ADD at its best!!!!! Annnnndddddd of course, the best part is I still need to find the picture I want to include.) As I was saying… the insomnia was kicking my ass.

Days 4, 5 ,6 – let’s just say that being up at 2:58am was normal for me. I would do whatever it took to finally fall asleep sometime after midnight… I’d wake up an hour or two later and basically that was the extent of my sleeping hour(s). Miserable doesn’t even begin to describe how i was feeling. Walking zombie… very frus-us-trated (that’s how my daughter used to say it) walking zombie… but I was trying not to complain because my nausea and pain was pretty much under control. I watched a lot of bad tv… walked around the house, moved from the bed to the couch to the other couch to the recliner to the couch… you get my drift (I love to say that).

Days 7, 8 – I gave up… called the charge nurse again for the spine clinic and she referred me back to my primary care physician. Ummmmmm, can I just tell you that I almost lost it on the phone with her? Not her fault, she did the right thing, but my frus-us-tration was getting the better of me. I am very thankful to Kaiser and their staff, they really do an excellent job. My PCP got back to me within an hour on a Friday… at 4:30pm… and by 6:00 my husband was back on the road for his 3rd trip to the pharmacy since I came  home. My PCP gave me two different meds to try (I love that she gave me options). I tried the Restoril out and on the first night… I slept for 2 1/2 hours. On the second night I took the Trazodone and at 4am I gave up and took the Restoril and slept again for 2 1/2 hours… this was the night I watched Dreamgirls.

Rainbow womanDay 9 – SUCCESS!!!!!! I doubled the dosage of the Restoril and ladies and gentlemen… taadaaaaaaaa!!!! I slept through the night. Everyone in the house celebrated. That’s a lie. My husband and I celebrated… all day long I walked around the house shouting, “I SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!!!”. It was like the first time the kids slept through the night… you know the joy I’m talking about? I felt like a brand new person. It had been months since I had slept through an entire night.

So… this is a super long post, I hope you don’t mind. I’m now on Day 13 and I’ve been sleeping pretty well, managing the pain and nausea and basically feeling a bit better every day. I’m on my way. Tomorrow I get to leave my house and go in the car for the first time in two weeks. I am going for my first post-op appointment. I’m hoping they clear me to at least ride in the car for short rides. I hope to go back to work sooner rather than later (I mean in a perfect world I would not have to work and I’d just scrapbook and go to the beach and swim in my olympic size infinity pool at my beach house big enough so all my friends and family could stay with us at the same time… “and now we return to our feature presentation - Reality“). I’m not ready to work just yet, I still lay down most of the day. But I feel pretty good.

In addition, I’m proud to say that in the last month, my son got his driver’s license and started a new job, my daughter started her junior year in high school and she got her driver’s permit and I am surrounded by the most amazing, supportive, loving family and friends a girl could ask for!

Thanks for hanging in there and sharing this experience with me. Things are only going to get better from here. I believe it.

Stay cool, stay chill, stay calm and pain-free.

Gently hugz!

Tamiko

PS. Did I mention… I officially started menopause this month. Watch out family, here I come!!

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

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

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

Happy 2013!

Is it really 2013? Where has the time gone… I have found myself thinking about my blog over these past months and having this strange adverse reaction to coming back to it and writing (or honestly, even looking at it). It’s a new day, a new year… sooooooo I decided why not a new theme? Personalizing a blog is not as quick and simple as I ever think it will be. In my mind… “hey Tamiko, how about working on your blog today? let’s change the theme and post a blog today!”. Ever so excited, I go about starting the process and about 1/2 through… hours later… my mind is now wondering what the hell I was thinking. So, I push myself and repeat over and over, “Persevere! I can do this!”.

I’m not totally thrilled with the themes available in WordPress, so I start thinking… “I should be able to create my own.” Seriously? I sit and think about this for a bit and then realize I am over complicating things once again. So back to the drawing board. Just pick a theme! Okay, check! Theme selected… now I have to customize it. Oh, honestly, I could drag this out for paragraphs. The thought process of implementing a new theme to my blog page and how this brain of mine works. Some scary stuff! At the end, without going into all the crazy details, you can see what I’ve done. Even more challenging is the actual writing. I mean I can attempt to make this thing look as good as I want, but without content, what’s the point? I have had writer’s block for months (as evident by my complete lack of posts for 4+ months). That is not to say I haven’t written anything. I have started many, many posts. Let me say that again, just so you know I really have tried… I have STARTED. Unfortunately, I get an idea… so far so good… I think on it for a little bit… and then POOF! Gone. Sometimes, I even get to the point of sitting down and typing… usually about 25% into it, I completely lose my train of thought. I re-read what I have and just feel like it’s BOOORRRRR-INNNNGGG. So, I shut my laptop and walk away. Frustrated. I decided when I first started to write this blog, that I would not write just to fill the page and post. I only want to share when I actually have something to say. When I need to vent or I feel like information would be useful to others or when I don’t want to feel like I’m the only one with these crazy thoughts, feelings, emotions!

Where has the time gone? August was when I last posted. I have had my good times and bad times over these months, but on the whole… I must say I am doing my best to live. I haven’t had to walk with a cane much and the wheelchair? Getting dusty. Life is always going to bring challenges. The weather is always going to change. There will always be some sad days. I have no control over that stuff. I can only control how I manage my stress, my emotions, what I eat and how much I exercise. The eating part still makes me want to jump off a cliff more than I would like, but I am trying to accept I can’t eat whatever I want. I mean… just because pizza, ice cream, spaghetti, garlic bread, mexican food… let me stop… wait, just let me finish this thought… just because my favorite foods are all enemies to my body… that’s no reason to complain, right? Wellllll… alright, I wont’ complain. Well… I will, just not to all of you. Especially since you are all facing the same stuff I am. I really am trying to find other foods to get excited about. I am not quite there yet… but I have hopes! Soy yoghurt… yay! Kashi Honey Almond Flax chewy granola bars… yay!

Well, at least one thing hasn’t changed. I am still soooo easily distracted! I started out this post with an objective of taking a moment to wish all of you a happy 2013 and congratulate you for making through 2012. Remember to pat yourself on the back for the small wins as well as the big ones. I am happy when I can get out of bed and shuffle to the bathroom in the morning… lol!

I hope you have your 2013 goals all ready to be achieved!I completed my new year’s project in January… new year, new goals:

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Until next time… have a pain-free day!

Tamiko