Fibromyalgia at Fifty!

50… wow. I can’t believe that I am 50. I can’t believe how quickly the last 50 years have gone by. Damn! I have to make my life better. I realized lately that I spend a lot of time living for another day or another moment. On Sunday, my mind is stressing about having to start work Monday morning. During the week… “Lord have mercy, when will this week be over.”. On Thursday, I’m thinking… Just one more day…”. There’s a lot of, “I can’t wait until… XYZ“. When that moment or day arrives, my mind has already moved on. I really envy people who can just live for the moment. I want to train my brain to enjoy the now. In order to do that I have to somehow shut my brain off. It’s constantly processing… whether it’s curiosity about something going on 5 feet from me or thinking about a project at work or what will I do when I retire or what are my kids doing right now or what should I eat… I mean seriously. I could have kept typing until my fingers got numb because my mind started going 100 mph just thinking about what I think about!! Oh man, you have really entered into my world… Danger! Danger! Warning! Get out as fast as you can!! Once you enter this crazy ass place, I’m not sure if there’s a way out. At least I haven’t found a way out yet.

I keep looking at myself and thinking, when am I going to grow up? I have so much growing to do mentally… although I am pretty confident I way overachieved on the growing physically so maybe that’s why my mental side is so far behind. I used to be so independent and able. With all this medical bullshit, I have lost my way. The last few months have been really hard for me. Sidebar, how many times do I say that? I feel like I say that all the time… “The last few months have been really hard for me.” It’s as if I want to believe that it really has only been the last few months, when in fact it’s been so flippin’ long I can’t remember what feeling good feels like. If you ask me how I’m doing, I will give you the standard, “I’m good” or “I’m alright” or “I’m fine”. I’m not. I’m not any of those things, I’m feeling like shit… a lot… end of sidebar. Anyway, I have not only lost my way in general, I also got completely caught up with that sidebar. (I did warn you in the first paragraph that my brain was a scary place.)

Well… maybe I should start taking my own advice. OUCH! Damn! That really hurts to say that. I mean, I’m great at giving advice, but taking it? Crazy talk. I recently advised my daughter what she should do to sleep better. On another day I advised her on keeping a food journal so she can get a picture of what she’s putting into her body. I am always telling her what she should do when she’s stressed or angry… do I do any of those things? Welllllllll, I definitely do some of them, but for the most part… Not really. It’s hard! It’s really hard to make healthy choices. This is a typical conversation I have with myself…

Smart brain: “You should exercise today.

Emotional Me: “Hmmmmmm, I am in a lot of pain, I’m thinking maybe later… how about some coffee?

Smart brain: “Caffeine is not good for you and that shit you put in it to make it taste good is really not good for you.” (although the word good shows up a lot in that sentence, we all know there’s nothing good about this train of thought)

Emotional Me: “Just this once… last time, seriously, this will be the last time. I really want to be healthy” (followed by a cup of coffee and a carb)

A couple of hours later…Emotional Me, “I’m hungry.” (followed by me standing in front of the open refrigerator or cupboard)

Smart brain: “You should eat something healthyand before you pick something to eat… take a moment to answer this question, are you hungry or are you bored?

Emotional Me: “Screw you, I deserve to eat whatever I want.”

It’s basically all downhill from there. Sentences that start with “I deserve… ” come up a lot in my mind when it comes to food. Well, trust me, I have “DESERVED” (she says with a very sarcastic tone) a whole lot because as I said earlier, I way overachieved on the physical side of growing up! I need to come up with a better reward system in my mind. (Preferably one that doesn’t involve spending money or else I just open myself up to a different problem!)

I am a pre-diabetic 50-year-old woman with Fibromyalgia, Depression, ADD, Essential Tremor, GERD, Anxiety, IBS… shit I’m stopping there, that’s enough disclosure for one blog post. Why was I saying that? Oh yeah, I said all that because with all that going on, if today is not a good day to start getting healthy, what will it take? Do I really want to go to the doctor and be told I am diabetic? No.. no I don’t.  I definitely don’t want to hear that come out of my doctor’s mouth. I think I have heard her say enough already.

Today… right now, this very moment. This needs to be the moment I start taking better care of myself. I have a goal of 5,000 steps a day. (Don’t judge, I barely hit that once a week.) How about if I challenge myself to hit that 3 x a week? It’s not much, but it’s a good start. I actually went the entire month of April without any desserts/ sweets… then May hit and let’s just say, I didn’t just fall off the wagon, I think I fell off and have been getting dragged behind it for weeks. I’m telling you… as I write this, right this second, my emotional side has already started the fight. It’s telling me to go cut a slice of that chocolate cake in the fridge and eat it… it’s basically screaming at me to go do it. Bitch. Why do I have chocolate cake in my fridge you say? Because the other night I craved it so bad, my husband went out and surprised me with it. I will overcome that stupid Emotional Me and make better choices. I should not let my emotions influence my decisions. It never ends well when I do that.

I will choose to eat healthier. I will choose to move more during the day. I will choose to live in the moment and not worry about tomorrow. I will have faith that tomorrow will work itself out. I’m not in control of it anyway. I will think positive  thoughts. I will meditate to calm my brain. I will believe in myself. I will be healthy. I have to believe that with hard work the outcome will be less pain, less depression, less digestive issues.

My moment starts right now. I can do this. And now that I’ve said it out loud (or written it for all to see), I hope I can come back with some results in a future post.

Before I go, I want to say a huge thanks to Healthline for including me in the Best Fibromyalgia Blogs of the Year for the 6th year in a row!! It’s an amazing honor to receive this recognition. Take a moment to go check out the other blogs on the list.

Thank you so much for stopping by today. I wish you a pain-free day and feel free to join me in this quest for better health.

Gentle hugz.

Tamiko

PS. My girlfriend gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers for my birthday. In the bouquet were these ginormous peonies. When these flowers start to open up and bloom, you really have to pay attention because it all happens in a day or two and once the flower opens up, the period of time to enjoy it is very short. This is what I mean by living in the moment. I put the bouquet right next to my desk so I could enjoy the beauty of these amazing flowers. Now you can enjoy them too!

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Where Do You Go for Inspiration?

Warning! You may be tired of the word “inspire” by the time you get to the end of this post…

There is a lot of bad, uncomfortable, messed up shit going on out there in the world. Current events sometimes make it hard to see the good in people and looking into the future can be pretty scary.

Finding inspiration is not easy… but for me these days I don’t have to look far.

My son moved into his own place and let me tell you… his spot in no way compares to the 450 sq foot studio that was my first apartment (and I’m not counting my actual first place away from home). His first weekend out, we all went over to Ikea and I watched him pick out and buy furniture for the first time… and then? I watched as he and my husband put it together. For those of you that have gone through this, you know watching a father and son work together like this is a memory I won’t soon forget. For all the years that we battled while he was growing up… to get to the point where we are now…WOW! I can remember in those early years wondering what our relationship would be like once he became an adult… He is the most intuitive, forgiving, selfless person I have ever met. The decisions and changes he has made since he graduated from college… inspiring.

My daughter has had one heck of a freshman year. Through the challenges and experiences she has had over the last 5 months, she inspires me with her resilience. It can’t be easy being so far away from home, and although she has made a lot of great friends, it’s not the same as being at home with her lifelong besties. Yet she does what she has to, to be successful. And she has been rewarded for her hard work with some amazing opportunities.

I know I say it a lot, but even if I said it every day… shouted from the mountain tops… it would never be enough…  I AM BLESSED TO HAVE THIS AWESOME FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!. They inspire me all the time. My mom is dealing with health issues that are much more taxing than what I go through every day, yet she makes it work… and her life story alone inspires me. I know we are supposed to raise our children to be better than we are… but it will take me a lifetime to be better than her. I guess that’s the point…

My dad has decided to share his story in the Japanese internment camps by going and speaking at churches, schools and local events. He’s the last of a generation that is living to tell this story. The people who have come to his presentations will walk away learning about something that we never want to see again.

I have watched my parents make a difference in so many people’s lives over the years, I can remember moments growing up when I was jealous of how generous they were of their time with other people. Yet they taught me to be just like them… and it’s one of the things I am most proud of. So inspiring!

My friends who have overcome the deepest, most incredibly sad losses in their lives. They amaze me with how they managed to carry on. It wasn’t easy, but their ability to work through the pain to become stronger individuals is so inspiring to me.

My husband who every day takes care of me. He inspires me to keep going. He teaches me how important it is to live life and not just let it pass by. He pushes me to be creative and works damn hard so I don’t go down that black hole of depression… You know as well as I do that sometimes nothing can stop the spiraling, but the fact that he tries means so much to me.

I could go on and on. Just sitting here writing this makes me see, once again, how blessed I am. What inspires you? I will bet that if you just sit right where you are and take a moment to think about the people around you today or those that have crossed paths in your life, you will feel just as inspired as I do.

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Yachats, OR… if you look close at this photo, with a little bit of positivity, you can see a heart in the ground!

I had someone tell me the other day how inspired they were by my ability to work through my pain. She wasn’t feeling well herself and she found herself thinking about what I must go through and it seemed to give her the strength to keep working. She has no idea what her words meant to me. For those of you with chronic pain, you know it’s rare for people to recognize how difficult our lives can be. Just the recognition and understanding for how challenging it is every day… that was inspiring to me!

I have been meaning to blog for the past few weeks. It’s important to stay positive and keep moving forward. With every reason to be negative and down these days, I need to remember the good. I hope this lifted your spirits a bit.

Be inspired! Best wishes for a pain-free day.

Gentle hugz.

Tamiko

It’s December… Give Yourself a Break!

where-does-the-time-goHappy December!!!!! Wow, where the heck has the time gone? For 11 months this little voice in my head said, “You need to start working on your Christmas list so you don’t have to rush in December and make yourself crazy and stressed out.“. I mean I honestly had this little voice talking to me almost every day… while at the same time this big booming voice responded with, “December is so far away you have plenty of time!“. Awesome. Well, guess who won. That big booming voice is so annoying.

It’s December and here I am, with a ton of projects to complete and… wellllllll….. I started three weeks ago. Brilliant! I mean, I haven’t been feeling great a lot this past year but that just goes without saying. How many really good days do we have on a continuous basis? I can usually get through a couple days and then I have a couple days that aren’t great. And seriously… it’s been a crazy year!

Kiyomi comes home today… YES! This kid away at college thing is great for them… freedom, free room and board, lots of free time… a lot of “free” going on. For me? Not so much FREE happening and my mini me is no longer here to hang out with and let’s be honest… she helps me with a lot. I am still trying to get used to the quiet. I am not sure I will ever stop missing the sounds of all the laughter from her and her friends. I can’t wait to hear those sounds again in the coming weeks!

The college experience hasn’t been all awesomeness. When your baby calls to tell you someone yelled an ugly racist name at her… on top of the national news of the law professor who dressed in black face and then the kids running around in black face on campus… it’s not so awesome. As a parent who is 9 1/2 hours away by car, you basically send an email to a bunch of people with “President” in the title and jump in the car and go support your baby. There’s nothing more important than ensuring your child feels safe… and IS safe! Well, the campus has a long way to go towards dealing with the race issues overall, but they have done an okay job helping Kiyomi. It takes time.

There’s that word again… time. Everything takes time. It’s so hard for someone like me who has the patience of … well I have no patience. I fully admit I have no patience and the anxiety doesn’t help at all. I’m not going to blame anxiety for all of it… I’m just going to blame anxiety for NOT MAKING IT EASIER! You know what I mean. Anxiety is always instigating, I swear it’s telling my body things like, “Make her sweat… good! Now make her heart race… great! Now let’s see…. what can we do to really make her want to scream at someone for making her stand in this long line… hmmmmmm, how about make her stomach hurt really bad!!! Yeah!!! That’s the one!! Perfection!“.  Thank you Anxiety. After all that, if I fall into Anxiety’s trap (which really doesn’t happen very often) and kind of lose it, Depression pushes Anxiety away and stands tall. Depression is always lurking around. Depression likes to remove all the color from my life and turn everything grey. Ironic that I always tend to go for clothes with grey. You gotta love mental illness! Okay you don’t have to love it, but you do have to live with it… so learn how to manage it so it doesn’t take over your life and control it. I am learning every day.

I am all over the place this morning. What else is new? Don’t get me started with ADD… hahahahahaha! Squirrel!

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Buddy’s To Do List

I really just wanted to say to all of you out there who are dealing with pain, wh\ether it’s physical or mental or like me both, the holidays are very difficult for us. Let’s get through it together. Give yourself a break. You may not get through your long ass to do list. Let folks know that their gifts may be late this year… that although you’d love to, you can’t join every event… that this year, you are doing your very best to make sure you are healthy and happy so you can enjoy the holidays with family and friends. We don’t want to just give presents, we want to be present. Being present is the hardest thing for me. My mind is always racing with all the things that I need to do… I’d love to actually be present in the moment and enjoy it. That’s my challenge for December.

I have made it this far. We made it through Kiyomi’s senior year in high school, the search for the perfect prom dress, the search for the perfect college, the search for the perfect dorm stuff and the start of the freshman year in college a state away. If I can make it through the search for a perfect prom dress, I believe I can make it through December. :)

I’m off to get ready for another beautiful day. Thank you for dropping by!

Gentle hugz.

Tamiko

pinball

Do you remember playing these machines? this is what the inside of my head looks like!!

P.S. Okay I read through this a couple times and it truly is all over the place…  in the end I will leave it as is. It will give you a tiny glimpse (that is such a strange word) of how my mind works. It’s like a pinball bouncing around from thought to thought… and as a matter of fact it’s already moved on to stressing out about needing to pack for this business trip I’m leaving for in the morning. Oh yeah! Did i mention that I have to travel to the east coast for business for five days? Well, I’ll leave that little piece of information for the next time we meet.

Happy Fibromyalgia Awareness Day!

Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. For me, it’s a reminder of how far I have come since I was diagnosed. From that day (let’s call it D-Day) many years ago to today the amount of resources and information available at your fingertips is infinitely better. I remember going to the bookstore every month or two and literally purchasing every book there was available on Fibromyalgia… I couldn’t get enough information. These days I am not such a voracious reader of the subject. I just live my life to the best of my ability… it’s a part of me. I realize I will have this for the rest of my life and for the most part I have accepted it.

There have been days (like yesterday) where I get so frustrated I want to walk away from this life and just keep walking into the sunset never to return. Seriously?? How far would I get? After about 1000 steps I’d have to call someone to come pick me up and ask them to drive me into the sunset… which defeats the purpose… and takes away all the dramatic effect. But you get it. It’s like Day 90 of feeling like shit every other day.

Disney-Pixar-Inside-OutHmmmmm… could it be the stress? There is a lot of that to go around. I know what I should (and shouldn’t) be doing. I have all the information and tools at my fingertips but I am struggling with the motivation. I have no energy… did you see that movie Inside Out? Sadness has taken over… Anger and Fear are fighting to take over. Where the hell is Joy?? She needs to find her strength and come out of hiding.

There’s so much going on in my head all the time I can’t remember having a moment of quiet. I know part of my frustration these day is the constant high pitch tone that never goes away. I lie down at night and there it is. I wake up in the morning and it’s like “Good MornEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE…” and it never gets to the ‘NG’.  I’m like, JUST FINISH THE DAMN WORD! How hard is it? Good MornING, say it with me… GOOD MORN-ING!!! And then I realize I am yelling at myself… in my head… and I have only just woke up. Wow. And for a few moments Disgust walks in and just shakes her head. But this high pitch sound… it’s stuck, like a needle skipping on a record player (remember those? God I miss my old stereo with a record player and tape deck!). If I could just pick up the damn needle and stop the madness… andddddd let’s give a warm welcome to the latest diagnosis to join my life… Tinnitus!! (I really tried to slam the door in the face of this most recent guest, but Tinnitus just planted themselves on the doorstep and wouldn’t leave… RUDE!)

When I got out of bed this morning… that’s the other thing, when did 5am become my normal wake up time? Geez how easily am I distracted this morning!! Anyway… when I got out of bed this morning I thought about how it’s Fibromyalgia Awareness Day and I thought it’d be a great day to remind folks of the Tools and Resources out there. There are a lot and I quite honestly haven’t searched for new sites lately… but here’s a reminder to check out what I have found and feel free to share what your favorites are. I also have some tools that I have created that you are welcome to use:

It is a day of celebration! Fibromyalgia can be overcome… it’s frustrating and obviously very painful, but it’s not a death sentence. Do better than me! Eat right, exercise your body and mind and most important… laugh, smile… find your blessings throughout your day and be grateful. Today I am grateful that the medical field is more accepting that Fibromyalgia should be treated by a medical doctor, not a psychiatrist. It’s not in your head people, this is real. I am grateful for my family, my friends and the wonderful weather. I am grateful for those of you that have taken the time to read my post today.

I wish you all a pain free day. Be blessed!

Gentle hug,

Tamiko

Be Blessed… Accepting Your Limitations

Soooooooo…. another doctor’s appointment come and gone and once again I left the office with no answers. Today I went to the audiologist to see if there was any reason why I have this constant high pitch tone flowing through my head 24×7. OF COURSE I waited many, many months before going in… and OF COURSE I left with the same answers I have 90% of the time I go into the doctor’s office… and that is OF COURSE — NO ANSWERS!! Oh wait, I did get one answer… a referral back to my PCP. Woohoo!! Well, let me find the positive in this. I do not have any loss of hearing. And trust me, no sarcasm… I do appreciate that something is working the way it is supposed to! There’s a positive for every negative, right?

What a time in our lives… our daughter is graduating from high school in about six weeks. Damn. SIX WEEKS!! (I have no idea why I am using so many caps, I’m really not trying to yell at you.) I forget how much is involved with these graduations. We are in the process of selecting a college. When I say “we”, I actually mean “she” with a little help from us. She just had her senior prom… she’s planning a senior trip… we are planning her graduation party… senior pictures… college commitment/ housing/ budgeting… CALGONNNNNNNNNNNNNNN take me AWAYYYYYY!!!!!! (only those of you that are on the older side will remember that commercial… here’s a link for your viewing pleasure.)

IMG_4270It’s times like this when I tend to forget I am not physically able to do it all. For every one busy day, I tend to have two days where I’m down. Lately it’s been a lot more down days, than able days. We drove up to Eugene, OR to check out the University of Oregon. An amazing campus. The drive up was very nice, but sitting in the car is not easy for long periods of time. We knew it was going to be tough so we made several stops along the way… we took our time. Accepting my limitations in this instance made all the difference. When we arrived in Eugene, I was doing okay. Whew! The next day, however, was a bit trickier. We had scheduled a tour of the campus for 10:00am. We arrived early so we wouldn’t be stressed out, again planning in advance… what we couldn’t plan for was how fast the walking tour was. This tour guide was very enthusiastic. To make things even more challenging it was very cold outside. So just picture a very brisk walk for 90 minutes in and out of buildings, up and down stairs and in the cold… This is where I tend to not speak up. I don’t want to be a burden or slow a group down so I stayed the course and I made it through. I was really proud that I made it. The rest of that day IMG_9659and the next morning… MAN DOWNNNN!!!! What can I say? I did my best and we actually accomplished everything we wanted to. We just did it in our own time and tried not to stress. We made it home and I was able to rest up for a couple days before going back to work today.

I know there’s a lot coming in the next couple months. I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay if everything is not 100% perfect. It will be the best we have to offer and as far as everyone is concerned it will still be great! The thing is… it’s not about me. It’s so easy sometimes to just get all engrossed in how crappy I feel, I have to remind myself that it really is NOT about me 99% of the time. It helps to remember that although I am in pain and struggling with depression/anxiety… it could always be worse. Like I could be losing my hearing!

It really has been a rough year. I have struggled with my depression/anxiety a lot this year. For one reason or another, my flares are closer and closer together and they seem to last longer. I know I can do better with taking care of myself, but as you all know, it’s damn frustrating living like this. To have a week without any kind of pain would be amazing. To be able to take time off work for vacation and not be sick… what a concept!

Listen, I realize each day is a challenge living with Fibromyalgia and Depression and Anxiety and Essential Tremor and GERD and ADD and… oh wait, sorry, lost my train of thought. Anyway! I realize every day is a challenge living with all the crap we live with, but we just have to remind ourselves to accept our limitations and remind ourselves of the blessings we have each day.

Which leads me to … I am still journaling every day! I haven’t missed a day without snapping a picture or journaling. There have been a few days where I have just put a picture because I was too sick to do any more than that… but I have kept up the practice of journaling every day! Find something that helps you think about the positive in your life. As I look back through the pictures I have snapped since the first of the year, I can’t help but smile.

Thank you so much for stopping by and please have a blessed day!

Gently hugz…

Tamiko

 

Welcome 2016!! Hello Happiness!!

 

Stress takes a toll… relationships… health… sleep… diet… PAIN!! Stress takes a toll.

What do you do when you are stressed? Me? Some days I manage well… other days? Not so much…

2015 was full… I mean FULL of stress and challenging times on a personal level (honestly… what would it be if not personal)? I can take classes, read  books, gather tips and best practices for managing stress… but the problem is, as many of you well know… you actually have to PRACTICE those things that one learns. WTH? No magic pill? No snap of my fingers? No twitch of my nose? Damn! I actually have to work to make it WORK.

Every year I write down my goals… each year, kinda the same thing. I want this year to be different. I want this year to be better. I will do better. I will set and achieve my goals. No more, “I will lose 50 pounds in one month.” … maybe something like, “I will exercise once a week.“… (damn, even that sounds hard to me… Crazy!! Full confession… I don’t exercise at all right now, so exercising once a week is going to be very challenging). Maybe I will set goals to achieve each month. For examplgoalschangesm.jpge, in January I could… eat less sugar! Hmmmm I need specific achievable goals… so in January I will reduce my sugar intake by not eating sugar 1 day in week 1, 2 days in week 2, 3 days in week 3… that will be damn hard, but changing fro
m bad to good habits isn’t meant to be easy. Accountability! (I really need to figure out a better word to use as my mantra.) Most important…  I will do my best to be happy about small successes.

That’s a challenge in itself. Being happy. For those of you with depression, you know exactly what I mean. Happiness does not come naturally for me, it requires me to take meds and accept things and not be sad or down about shit, not get upset – I am super envious of people who are able to “take things in stride”. What the hell is that anyway? How does one do that? What’s the key to happiness? I’m quite sure it all goes back to exercise, eating right and acceptance. It’s everything. These three things solve stress, pain, depression, anxiety, self-confidence, self-esteem… the list is infinite! These three things. Exercise. Diet. Acceptance. Three words. How can there be so much behind three words?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if I had one of those believe it and you will do it minds? Well… I don’t. I have one of those… “Jussssssttttt one more See’s candy… I deserve it!” minds. “CALLING ALL SELF CONTROL TO THE FRONT OF MY MIND!! … PLEASE … COME TO THE FRONT OF MY MIND!!” Wait.. what? It’s gone in hiding? Can’t find it? Damn thing is never around when I need it. I really have to work on that. Self Control has to replace “I deserve it!” as my BFF… that’s going to be a hard one. My current “I deserve it!” BFF has a box of See’s candy in one hand with a Nordstrom bag on her shoulder and the remote control to the TV in the back pocket and of course, an “I will start tomorrow on… (you fill in the blank)” attitude! Replacing her is going to be tough… I mean I have to kick her to the curb HARD to make this work.

Well welcome Self Control to 2016 and g’bye “I deserve it!“!

I hope you are saying hello to all good things this year and g’bye to the bad.

A big gentle hug and I wish you all the happiness, good fortune and pain-free/ improved health in 2016!!

I leave you with one of my favorite pictures of 2015… Three generations! Happy new year!!

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Tamiko

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!!