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

It’s Monday… What Kind of Week Do You Want to Have?? You have the Power to Make it a Good One!!

It’s a Monday night… almost 10:30 and I’m sitting here thinking to myself… “What kind of week do you want, Tamiko?”. I have the control to determine my week. I have to keep remembering this. I can complain and end up discouraged and having a negative vibe or I can praise and feel encouraged with a positive vibe. Hmmmmmmm, seems an easy decision… an obvious decision – but habits are hard to break. I choose to take one minute at a time. I have decided to start tomorrow and only say positive things, not gossip and not complain. I’ll forgive myself if I make mistakes, but at least I know I’m going into it with the right attitude. I just have to wake up and start the day right… right?

A couple momentous events have occurred, even since the last time I posted… First, THANK YOU! My blog reached 20,000 hits. I can’t even say that and begin to believe it. 20,000 hits! That’s awesome!! My second, and I should say equally as momentous event is… and I’m going to write this in bold…. I walked 15 miles last week. Let me say that again… I walked 15 miles last week. I have never done this before. I don’t think I have ever walked 5 miles in a week. I walked 1.5 miles at a time in the beginning, sometimes twice a day and at the end of the week I was walking 3 miles straight through. I still can’t believe it.

Let me tell you what I did differently than before:

photo

Views while walking in the rain…

  • I purchased some new shoes. I had the same shoes for years… I decided to get some good shoes (Sports Authority, $40 Nikes).
  • The first time I walked, I went out by myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a deliberate decision to go alone. I put a podcast on and I walked at my own pace. Which let me tell you… was pretty slow. I walked up the hills with very, very short strides and with my back straight so I wouldn’t put a strain on my shins or back. I took my time. I took in my surroundings and didn’t walk to hurry and get to the end, but I walked to learn how to enjoy being outside and breathing in fresh air.
  • Each time after, I kept the same, slow pace being very cognizant to not go overboard with my pace or stride. Learning from my past… Every time I have started walking like this, I ended up getting shin splints and having to stop for weeks… which then resulted in me stopping all together.
  • I tracked my walks in an app on my phone… duration, pace, distance (uses GPS). I have a couple of friends that see my activity and we encourage each other. Seeing my accomplishment in this app is very motivational for me.
  • I didn’t let the weather stop me… and I was happy that I went out in the rain/ sprinkles… it’s just water!

If I can accomplish these things… YOU CAN TOO!

So, what kind of week do you want to have? I want a good one and it’s in my power to make it happen!

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week!

Gentle hugz.

Tamiko

P.S. Let me tell you… after I finished writing the content for this posting, I went to insert the picture that you see. I have been tested. It has taken me almost 20… TWENTY minutes to get the picture into this post. I am not complaining, I am saying I have been tested. So… I just practiced my breathing and reminding myself the point of my post. LOL!! :)

Practicing What I Have Learned… Pain Management

I have had a lot of training about managing my life with pain over the last couple years. It’s not the learning that is the issue. The issue for me is the implementation. The challenge to change. The challenge to accept.

Instead of getting up and out of bed and going straight to my laptop to start working for the day, I need to make a change. I need to wake up and… with intention, get out of bed and do some gentle movement, read the bible and make time for prayer and meditation, eat some breakfast and take my meds… and then, and only then start working. I know this. Actually practicing this is my challenge. It all sounds great, but even writing it makes me anxious. When I get up in the morning, I am already anxious. Anxious to start my day. Just this morning, I woke up and really made myself do some Qigong. But I was anxious, I couldn’t get myself to get into a calm state and after a couple of minutes I gave up. The entire time from when I woke up to when I sat at my laptop, all I could think about was what I wanted to get done this morning. How do I get to that point where the motivation to change is greater than the anxiety?

I am taking this class at Kaiser and I am reading books and I am working on my deep breathing and some (not all) of my exercises… but at the end of the day I am afraid. I am off work for six weeks and you would think I would be afraid about going back to work. It’s not so much the going back to work that scares me as much as it is the going back to life. I am afraid that this is it. I have these expectations that at the end of these six weeks I will be changed and living a quality life. My fear is that, after these six weeks,  my life will still be “just getting through the day”. I want to live my life, not just get through the day.

I realized this week that the problem is… me. I do not say those words with ease. I mean, seriously, I am not a complete idiot (most of the time). I did and do know that I have to make changes to actually see change or in my case FEEL change… but I am talking about putting in daily practice what I have learned… what I know I know… it’s some hard work. To admit that I am the only thing holding me back… well… it sucks. I might have had this epiphany before. The great thing about not having a memory most of the time… is, well, not having a memory. I realized as I decided to get organized last night with all my paperwork from my classes at Kaiser from 2010 and today – shit! I have learned this before. That kept coming up in my mind over and over again as I was going through my stuff. I am not quite sure why I was so surprised… maybe frustrated and a little irritated with myself are better words than surprised.

So! What am I going to do about it? Well…

  1. Breathe
  2. Put together my Wellness Plan (what I will do on a daily basis)
  3. Breathe
  4. Make an agreement with myself how I will implement this Wellness Plan. Let’s be realistic, it’s been so overwhelming for so long, let’s (let’s?? I mean to say I will) take this in smaller steps so I can be somewhat successful.
  5. Breathe
  6. Take the first step…

Last night I also spent time revising my blog to incorporate more information in my Tools & Resources page as well as the page I recently added, Bay Area Resources. This also reminded me how much I need to incorporate practicing the tools I have learned over the years.

I will be patient with myself. It’s not going to be easy. I love the quick wins. Now it’s time for the long-term thinking and, Lord have mercy… practicing, practicing, practicing!

I can do this (repeat. repeat. repeat.). Seriously, I can do this. I will prove it to myself. I am the only one who matters in this instance as no one else can do this for me.

Thanks for listening and appreciate any thoughts you have from your own experiences.

Stay cool!

Day 8: Best conversation I had this week

I am participating in the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. Please visit WEGO Health’s blog and the WEGO Facebook page to find other writers tackling the same topics—or sign up for the challenge yourself!

 

Rinnnnnnggggg (not really what my phone sounds like since it’s a mobile, but I have no idea how to get that translated here)…

Me: Hello?

Man on phone: Hi this is Dr. X calling, we have a phone appointment scheduled today. How are you doing?

Me: I’m doing okay, how are you?

Dr. X: Well I’m doing good. I understand you had an appt with your primary care physician and she has referred you back to us here at the Pain Clinic. So, it doesn’t sound like you are really doing “okay”.

Me: Well, yeah… I never know what to say when people ask that question, it’s kind of a default answer. I have been in a horrible flare for the past few weeks. I don’t really understand what the trigger was, I can normally attribute it to the weather or an event. This time it’s has come and doesn’t appear to be going away… thus the appt with my dr. Normally I don’t go in or call because I know there’s nothing she can do for me.

Dr. X: Yes, I understand. With your situation, it’s a good thing that we are talking again. I know how hard it is to manage day to day and your right, your primary care dr. is probably at a loss. I spoke to Awesome Nurse (I’ll call her that, because she is) about your case before I called you and she mentioned what the two of you discussed the last time you spoke. We both felt it would be good to talk to you about some of the changes going on here.

Me: Okay.

Dr. X: Since you went through our Pain Program, we have made significant changes. We have a new Psychiatrist here and we have revised the program completely. We have introduced a group support structure and incorporated movement strategies into the program. We have very good results and the success rate so far is pretty high.

Me: This sounds interesting… and the conversation continued for another 15 minutes.

When I first saw this prompt for the Health Activists Writer’s Month Challenge, I was a little wary. More than a little, I was thinking this is one of the days I’m going to miss. No conversation stood out that I wanted to share… no good conversation I should say. My dr.’s appt was pretty disappointing earlier in the week and I’ve been in so much pain I haven’t really been conversing. This call that happened today gave me hope. Dr. X explained this program and how it works, the intake process and really gave me a great feeling. He said he’s seen people that have been in pain for a very long time, people like me he said, that have tried everything and he felt like they had really seen life changing differences after they completed the program.

He said that people on medication and rely on it, people that want to get off their meds, people that don’t want to take meds… basically whatever choices people have made about meds, it doesn’t effect their participation in the program. He told me that they don’t judge or discriminate, at the end of the day their goal is for people to be able to live better lives. A holistic approach, not just to “fix” something, but to change the way we are able to live. Part of the intake process and the program overall is to help determine what each individual needs, whether it’s medication or emotional support or whatever.

Like I said… I have hope and I can feel that sunshine again. I trust these people. They gave me life before. The Kaiser pain program is amazing. If you have one, and you are a member… I really encourage you to get a referral and jump in with both feet. You will be in a pain friendly environment where you will not be judged and most important… you will be BELIEVED.

I’m looking forward to this opportunity. I’d say wish me luck, but I have faith and that trumps luck every time!

Thanks for reading.

Tamiko

Fibromyalgia and the “Why Me??” Syndrome…

So I’m sure many of you have had those hours, days or even weeks where you have the “Why Me?” syndrome. You know what I’m talking about. You are in a flare, you are depressed, you are having major foggy brain… you are just doing what you can to function and get through the day. People around do not really get what this feels like, we look normal – yet we are suffering (God I hate that word, “suffering” – don’t feel sorry for me, I just can’t think of another word). You start to question what the hell did I do to deserve this f’d up thing called Fibromyalgia? For starters… you probably worked your body and mind for years to the point where everything finally just crashed and burned. I have to believe that’s what happened to me.  No, I don’t deserve it. Living with it is not fun… it’s never fun. It’s a struggle to keep my emotions in control. I challenge myself every day with staying positive, smiling and not falling down that deep dark hole of depression. Most days I win, some days I lose.

Working full-time is honestly about all I can do these days. It sucks. Every week I start working on Monday, I get to Thursday and I’m struggling by the afternoon… on Friday I’m struggling all day. Saturday I try to get up and out of the house and do something fun, sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t… Sunday ends up being a day of forced rest. It’s a cycle that I have come to know very well. I’m pretty sure I’ve written this in my blog once or twice (maybe even three times) before. I appreciate that I have a job that allows me to work from home. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to commute everyday. I am thankful for the job that I have, it’s not the job as much as it is working in general. I get resentful that it takes all my good energy. What’s left at the end of the day is like the warning message you get when your laptop/phone is about to die “Warning! 10% remaining…”. Lately I’ve had to just “shut it down” and go to bed and try again the next day. I am a professional TV viewer. Well, maybe not professional, if you ask me what I just watched I can probably tell you the name of the show, but not what happened IN the show. I’m too anxious to read, no energy to go out and a lot of the time I sit and think “what should I be doing right now?”, yet as many times as I ask myself this question, I hardly ever get an answer. It’s crazy. I should know what I want to do and how I want to spend my time, yet each day it’s the same thing.

How am I doing this week… The dreaded question… or better yet, “What’s wrong with you?”, “What’s going on with you?”, “Is something wrong?”, you get the drift. Hmmmmm, so many ways to answer that question. Yet, I can’t come up with any new material. I’ve used up all the standard answers… and yes, I’m in pain all the time… and yes, most days I am depressed and I totally get that I’m not always that responsive. I really am doing my best. My best isn’t always good enough, I get that. Thus, the “Why Me?” syndrome. I really don’t want to live like this, it’s not a choice. I’m well aware of my mental and physical state… all the time.

What does it mean to live with pain? Well, the obvious answer, to those of us living this dream life, is I need help (I apologize for the sarcasm, but this damn “Why Me?” syndrome really brings out the worst in me). I need a lot of help. I need help washing my hair, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, cooking the food, shopping, walking the dog, worst of all – driving… the list is endless. It’d be easier to answer what I don’t need help with. I need help thinking, processing information, remembering. When I’m feeling like this, I can’t remember my name sometimes. Don’t look at me like I’m crazy because I can’t remember something… I already feel crazy. It means, what takes a healthy person 30 seconds to do will sometimes take me ten times that… hell 50 times that on a really bad day.

This past week-end I decided I wanted to do some things around the house. I thought I’d surprise my husband, who was gone for the day, and do some laundry, wash the sheets and the duvet thingy. Well, I got up and did some cleaning, took all the sheets off the bed and the duvet thingy off the comforter. Did I mention I have the easiest bed to make? I did two loads of laundry and I started to make the bed when WHAM! My body was like “OHHHHH, HELL NO!! You are not going to do that!!” Awesome. The fitted sheet is on 1/2 the bed. I’m laying on top of the bed in excruciating pain. So! Now it just looks like I made a mess and I’m too lazy to make the bed (and the real topper is you can’t even tell the sheets were washed). The best intentions… I did manage to finish making the bed, but not before my husband came home. Surprise! What a fail. I was exhausted, in pain and frustrated that I couldn’t finish what I started (I did mention I have the easiest bed to make, right?). Ever had one of those days?

Annnnyyyyyhoooooo, as you can see, I’m having one of those weeks. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I just want to express what I’m going through. I want to know my normal is normal to others with Fibromyalgia and Depression. I want people who are in relationships with people like us to understand… you know, really get that we appreciate the help but most of all we need you to support us by understanding. Plain and simple. Understand life with FMS/Depression is what it is. We have to accept it, we want you to as well. There are no miracle cures. We may feel good today and not be able to get out of bed tomorrow. Don’t act surprised or wonder why… we have no answers. Trust me, we want answers. We want a cure. We want our independence and freedom back.

Please let me know how you are doing. Share your experiences with me. Most of all, relax.

Thanks for reading.

Stay cool!

Tamiko

Track Your Progress: Fibro Journal Template

I have been meaning to post up another one of my fibro journal templates. I hope that you are tracking your progress, we all have bad days, but it’s the good days we want to remember. If we can’t remember (Lord knows remembering is not my best skill!), it’s always useful to be able to review where we’ve been, what didn’t work and most importantly… what did work! I know most days we are all just trying to make it through, I believe journaling helps us stop and take a moment for some “me” time. Time that helps us review the day and realize “hey! my day was pretty good!”.

Try it out and please let me know what you think.

Have a most marvelous day (as one of my closest friends always says to me)! Relax and take some time to journal.

Keep on reading.

Tamiko

This is a preview of this template, you can download either or my templates in my Awesome Resources page.

The Progress We Have All Made… Fibromites Unite!

I woke up this morning thinking about my blog. I cannot believe I started writing this 2 years ago. I realized, from reading my old posts, that I have come a long way. When I say “Fibromyalgia“, I don’t get as many blank stares, my doctors at Kaiser all “get it” now and I feel like my support system is pretty good. Not just pretty good… Damn good! I hope if you take some time to think back… you can see the progress you have made, that your support system is good, that you can see more blue skies days than dreary grey days.

I cannot believe that I have had over seven THOUSAND, seven HUNDRED hits on my blog!! WTF?? I mean, seriously, if you only knew. When I first started writing, I remember looking at other blogs and seeing how many hits they had and just wishing I could get someone to read my blog. I was so happy when I hit 100! To have had so many folks stop by and read for the last two years is truly amazing. I really appreciate it, I love to get comments and read what other people’s lives are like. It’s so important to me to know I’m not alone. I’m not crazy (okay, the jury’s still out on that), I’m not in this crazy painful world, going through these always new and UNexciting pains, on an island by myself. I am very sorry for you that join me in this world… wait, let me be clear… not sorry FOR you, just plain sorry. I wish none of us had this f’ed up thing we call FMS. But! It is what it is, and I, you, we …. are not alone, we are in this together. Fibromites Unite! (we need a good kick ass theme song  in the background when we say that)

I looked back in my blog and came upon this letter that someone else posted on their blog. It still holds true and I wanted to share it again. I hope you all are having a great day… foggy brain and all. It’s the last shopping week-end before Christmas, don’t overdo it. Take some time to reflect on the progress you made and give yourself a big round of applause and smile. Most importantly, smile. We don’t do it enough… find someone to laugh with today and think positive. Throw the negative shit out the window, hug you family, your four leggeds and be thankful that we have another day to face the world. Make it a good one!

Best holiday wishes to all of you!!

Hugz.

Tamiko

Letter to people that don’t have Fibromyalgia (FMS) and/ or MPS (Myofascial Pain Syndrome):

By Billie Chainey

These are the things that I would like you to understand about me before you judge me…

Please understand that being sick doesn’t mean I’m not still a human being.
I have to spend most of my day in considerable pain and exhaustion, and if you visit I probably don’t seem like much fun to be with, but I’m still me stuck inside this body. I still worry about work and my family and friends, and most of the time I’d still like to hear you talk about yours too.

Please understand the difference between “happy” and “healthy”.
When you’ve got the flu you probably feel miserable with it, but I’ve been sick for years. I can’t be miserable all the time; in fact I work hard at not being miserable. So if you’re talking to me and I sound happy, it means I’m happy. That’s all. It doesn’t mean that I’m not in a lot of pain, or extremely tired, or that I’m getting better, or any of those things. Please, don’t say, “Oh, you’re sounding better!” I am not sounding better, I am sounding happy.

Please understand that being able to stand up for ten minutes, doesn’t necessarily mean that I can stand up for twenty minutes, or an hour.
And, just because I managed to stand up for thirty minutes yesterday doesn’t mean that I can do the same today. With a lot of diseases you’re either paralyzed, or you can move. With this one it gets more confusing.

Please repeat the above paragraph substituting, “sitting”, “walking”, “thinking”, “being sociable” and so on … it applies to everything.
That’s what FMS/ MPS does to you. Please understand that FMS/ MPS is variable. It’s quite possible (for me, it’s common) that one day I am able to walk to the park and back, while the next day I’ll have trouble getting to the kitchen.

Please don’t attack me when I’m ill by saying, “But you did it before!”
If you want me to do something then ask if I can. In a similar vein, I may need to cancel an invitation at the last minute, if this happens please do not take it personally.

Please understand that “getting out and doing things” does not make me feel better, and can often make me seriously worse.
Telling me that I need a treadmill, or that I just need to lose (or gain) weight, get this exercise machine, join this gym, try these classes, take this pill/ supplement… may frustrate me to tears, and is not correct… if I was capable of doing these things, don’t you know that I would? I am working with my doctor and physical therapist and am already doing the exercise and diet that I am suppose to do.

Another statement that hurts is, “You just need to push yourself more, exercise harder…”
Obviously FMS /MPS deals directly with muscles, and because our muscles don’t repair themselves the way your muscles do, this does far more damage than good and could result in recovery time in days or weeks or months from a single activity. Also, FMS/ MPS may cause secondary depression (wouldn’t you get depressed if you were hurting and exhausted for years on end!) but it is not created by depression.

Please understand that if I say I have to sit down/ lie down/ take these pills now, that I do have to do it right now -
it can’t be put off or forgotten just because I’m out for the day (or whatever). FMS/ MPS does not forgive.

If you want to suggest a cure to me, don’t.
It’s not because I don’t appreciate the thought, and it’s not because I don’t want to get well. It’s because I have had almost every single one of my friends suggest one at one point or another. At first I tried them all, but then I realized that I was using up so much energy trying things that I was making myself sicker, not better. If there were something that cured, or even helped, all people with FMS/ MPS then we’d know about it. This is not a drug-company conspiracy, there is worldwide networking (both on and off the Internet) between people with FMS/ MPS, and if something worked we would KNOW.

If after reading that, you still want to suggest a cure, then do it, but don’t expect me to rush out and try it. I’ll take what you said and discuss it with my doctor.

In many ways I depend on you… people who are not sick…
I need you to visit me when I am too sick to go out…
Sometimes I need you help me with the shopping, cooking or cleaning…
I may need you to take me to the doctor, or to the physical therapist…
I need you on a different level too… you’re my link to the outside world…
If you don’t come to visit me then I might not get to see you…

And, as much as it’s possible, I need you to understand me…

I would also like to add a personal note to this that isn’t listed above that would be a tremendous help emotionally.

Please don’t make my disease about you… .or say things that make me feel like I let you down. Things like, “Oh, I was hoping you were better today.” make me feel guilty and that I have somehow disappointed you. I understand this disease effects everyone involved, but the last thing we, as the sick ones, want is to burden anyone. We have plenty of guilt for being so dependent on others as it is, we don’t want to feel like we’re disappointing you or making you feel bad by saying that we don’t feel good. We don’t expect you to say anything about us feeling bad as a matter of fact. Just be there… hold us when we need to cry from the pain or frustration of being so limited. We know you care… otherwise you wouldn’t come around or even ask how we’re doing, but please don’t make us responsible for your emotions too. When the bad days hit… we’re doing our best to deal with our own.

If you must say something it’s ok to say you’re sorry for what we go through.. but please don’t make us feel like we’ve killed your hope.  You are our source of encouragement.