November 5, 2009

What is "Normal" anyway?

Howdy. Sorry I haven't written for a while. Things got pretty rocky and stressful here, but as they say, sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you can start climbing back up.

Between being in constant pain, not sleeping, not healing, being angry and frustrated and disliking my job- well I was just a train-wreck. So over the past few weeks, I've been working hard and separating out the pieces. While I haven't actually changed a lot of things, I have changed my attitude and my outlook. You have probably heard the phrases "attitude is everything" and "life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." I used to think that kind of stuff was a load of you-know-what, but now I finally see what people meant with those phrases. I created the total downward spiral I went through all on my own. Sure, I didn't choose to get Fibromyalgia, I didn't choose to live life in pain, but I can choose what's next. I can choose how to live each day.

I admit, I am, by nature, a fairly negative person. I'm not one of those happy-go-luck people who always have a smile on their face and a skip in their step. And honestly, I don't want to be that kind of person either. What I do want to do is live my life. That's right- simple, plain as day. I want to live life. So the question is, how do you live life?

For a long time, I had it all wrong. I thought that living life was being perfect, and that if I could just be perfect, that then I could finally be happy and content. I just wanted everything to be normal. I often thought to myself that I could just get a week where everything was normal or even a few days... No problems at work, no pain, no frustration, just things would be normal and perfect and then I'd be good....

Well, I bet you can guess how well that worked out for me....

I began to take count of what I really wanted to do in life. I finally reasoned with myself that I should just do what I can, and that is good enough. I had to realize that I was the one who was putting all of the unrealistic expectations on myself. I am a pretty amazing person, and I was the only one who was holding myself to a bar so high in the sky that no-one could attain, let alone maintain a place there.

I have become my very own coach. I remind myself, quite often, of what is reasonable, what is realistic, what I can do, and what I cannot. I keep the thoughts going about moving at a reasonable pace, and that if I push and push, that nothing will be left to give- and that won't do anyone any good. I give myself time to breathe. I take nice long soaks in a hot tub. I think about all of the things that I did accomplish throughout the day. Mentally, I have accomplished so much, and I know how to keep going in the right direction, finally.

Yet one thing has still discouraged me: I am still in a lot of pain. Somewhere in my mind I thought that when I reduced my stress and got myself mentally in a good place that the pain would at least somewhat subside. Unfortunately that has not happened. In fact, the pain has persisted, and gotten worse (or at least it feels that way) since I was diagnosed back in May. I spoke with my therapist last night about this issue at length. She put a thought in my head that had not occurred to me before: Instead of feeling that I need to fight this and the pain will go away, it's time to accept it. It's not like Fibromyalgia is some disease where if you take the right medication it will be cured. This is a chronic syndrome, and it will be with me forever. So instead of going to the doctor over and over and wondering when I will feel normal again... it's time to manage this. Time to accept this is part of me. Time to live my life and know that I may never feel "normal" again, but that doesn't mean I can't feel good and it doesn't mean that I can't live. Things may be different than they were before Fibro, but so what. That's okay.

The work for me now begins on reminding myself and coaching myself of that. It's actually kind of nice knowing that 'acceptance' is the last in the stages of grief. I feel good about that. I think that once I stop focusing so much on wondering if I'll ever stop having a flare or if it'll get worse, that I honestly might feel better because I don't have to worry about it anymore. I've noticed that with many other things- once I'm not obsessing over them with worry, they really aren't such a problem after all. Funny how that happens...

In thinking about all this, I started really thinking about what "normal" meant anyway. How often could I even say that things were "normal" at any time of my life? What does that even mean? In reflection, I'm thinking that a state of flux, learning, growing, sadness, happiness, etc. IS in fact "normal." And quite frankly, probably a lot more interesting than a life of absolutely nothing happening. I don't really want to sit around in a catatonic state all day, after all.

What I'd really like to do is help others who are going through this as well. It's rough, and I understand what it's like when people try to give you the answers, but the answers don't seem like something that will work for you. I know what it feels like to put so much effort into trying to do what the others suggest, but you just don't know how to make it work. I know it might be the same coming from me as well, but what I can do is give you hope. It takes time, self-reflection, and desire. We all have bad days, but have faith. In as much to help any of you, I'm also writing this to remind myself to have faith when I have one of those bad days, too.

In closing, I'll leave you with a quote I recently read that I really liked:

"If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it." ~Mary Engelbreit

August 27, 2009

Rock Bottom. Help.

It's happened. I've hit rock bottom. I guess you have to hit it in order to move back up. I have to make some changes and fast.

I always liked this phrase: If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got. And then there's the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

So the real question is, being as that I know those things, why do I live that way?

I had an appointment with my therapist last night. It's really hard to hear the truth. Especially when the truth is that I'm literally killing myself by trying so hard. She said I'm having that fight or flight response- and my body is fighting like hell and it's killing me. She said those words, many times. It's killing me. Then later, my husband sees me depressed and writhing in pain, and he says that it seems like my pain has increased a ton since I got diagnosed with Fibro, and then he asked if I thought maybe it was all in my head. I know he's just asking a question and not trying to be mean, but that really hurt. I could go on about all the reasons my stress has increased and my ability to manage it has decreased, but really, what's the point. I need to move forward.

So here's where I really need help. I need to figure out how to not over-invest myself in things, particularly work. I want to do a great job, but I need to stop feeling like I own the place and that all of the problems are my burden. The thing is, I'm the office manager. I've always felt that it was my responsibility to make sure we made money and that things ran smoothly. The bigger issue now is that we are in financial trouble. We are really down to skin and bones staff. I'm the only administrative person left. I answer phones, I do the mail, I call for collections, on top of all the things I'm supposed to be doing as manager; I do it all.

How does one separate themselves to not bleed the company's colors, yet still be a great employee? I truly feel lost at this. I cannot go on like I have been though. I'm going to get swallowed up from the stress. It's killing me. I wish I could figure out why I feel such great responsibility for this and yet I'm completely irresponsible when it comes to actually taking care of me.

If anyone has any ideas, or any websites I should look at or books to read... anything. I'm open to suggestion.

I cannot go on like this. I have to make a change. Now.

August 26, 2009

Title Goes Here 8.26.09

I hate trying to come up with a title for my posts. I'm just not that creative.... I guess that's why I'm married to a professional writer then, huh? lol

So, just checking in. My apologies in advance for the bummer post... Yesterday was one of the worst pain days I've had in a while. Everything is seizing up on top of the normal aches and pains and then amplified. It was a 'let's take vicodan all day long kind of day.' Despite the Lyrica and an Ativan last night, I still couldn't sleep because I was hurting so much. Today I feel like I got beat up. I'm exhausted, I can barely walk (though I'm really not supposed to anyway...). This just plain sucks. My right arm is hurting so badly I could barely get my teeth brushed as a two-handed effort and I couldn't brush my hair (though unfortunately that seems to be a regular occurrence lately- that goodness for ponytail holders). Today's not shaping up to be a better day yet. :(

So I'm taking a couple of deep breaths and willing myself to get through the day as best I can.

August 24, 2009

Living and Lyrica

Update on Lyrica. I'm feeling exhausted. It's almost impossible to wake up in the morning. I stopped taking any sleeping pills, so I guess I should try adding them back in... who knows. I'm having weird dreams, and while I don't remember waking up throughout the night, I haven't been this tired for a while.

I felt a bit less pain over the weekend, but now that I'm back at work, I'm really hurting. So is it the stress? Or having to wake up and not take naps? I'm also feeling really depressed. I'm really tired of being in pain, and I'm tired of wearing this stupid boot.

I realized that I don't ever do anything fun, but when I try to figure out what I'd like to do for fun, I have no idea. I think this is all wearing down my husband too. His mom has Chronic Fatigue, so he's used to being around someone who's sick a lot, however he's eluded to me that she was in good spirits moreso than I ever am. But really... she didn't have to work a full time job, and be basically sole provider for the family. She can just rest when she's not feeling well. I have to go to work. And work is more stressful than ever right now. Money's not coming in, we've had to cut lots of staff, so while I'm the office manager, I'm also the one who does everything. I'm trying to hire a part time receptionist to help out some... but my god, the resumes are horrid. And what is this all for? I just don't feel like anything I'm doing makes a difference to anyone, let alone myself. I'm definitely not where I thought I'd be at my age. I tried thinking about making some benchmarks for myself- I'm trying to remember that life is a journey, not a destination... but seriously... I have no clue what to do in this journey, but it just feels like I keep getting a flat tire over and over and I don't make it anywhere.

I admit, I am not good at seeing things I have accomplished, because I'm always trying to push farther ahead. But what can I do now? Who wants to be around someone like me? I don't. But I feel lost on how to change. I feel like life has passed me by and now I'm just stuck here. I worry so much about what my plan should be that I never actually do anything. And I'm honestly not sure I even have the energy to do anything. I completely use myself up at work every day. The worst part is, that I never meant to have a career. I meant to be a stay at home mom. I'm 32 and life is just passing me by. I'm not living. But how do I start?

So the big question is... is this the Lyrica talking, or is this something I really need to address? I have thought these things for years, but I feel a lot more down about it than usual. I guess it's real, but maybe amplified.

August 20, 2009


One of these days I'll post my back story... but not today... I'm too tired to think that hard...

Skip to the not too distant past. Me + Cymbalta = floopy (or that's what my husband lovingly referred to it as...) couldn't focus, couldn't think clearly, crashed the front of my car into a giant stationary pillar in a parking garage... you know... floopy. ;) So I told my Rheum that I just couldn't deal with it and that it didn't help the pain anyway.

Cut to a few days off Cymbalta... holy moley, maybe it was helping with the pain... because now it's back, with a vengeance... and it has spread :(

I read a post somewhere the other day that described fibro pain as this: a sunburn under your skin with spikes in it poking out through your skin, which is also sunburned and then an elephant sitting on top of it. Well, I'd say that sums it up. Maybe add setting it on fire somewhere in there too. I mean I have a few different types of fibro pain, but I think that pain that radiates out from my bones is the worst. I used to only get it in my legs once or twice a week. And now we're up to every day, sometimes several times a day and it's not just my legs but also my arms. I sure hope the Rheum is up for calling in some vicodan refills because that's the only thing that even remotely takes the edge off. Fun stuff...

Oh and speaking of the Rheum, I saw him on Monday, and since I revoked the use of Cymbalta, he wants to put me on Lyrica... my mind immediately goes to Lyrica = weight gain, and lots of it. (or so I have read) I mean, I really can't afford to gain another ounce, and since I can't work out because of my ankle *music stops* oh yes- to top all of this other fun stuff off, I twisted my ankle, walked on it for 6 weeks because I figured it was just fibro pain and not really injured, before I let anyone convince me to go to the doctor about it... which resulted in a fracture of my leg bone, a bruise inside of my ankle bone (which is a surprisingly serious deal) and a completely torn ligament. Ohhh fffffuuuuudge... so I have to wear a boot that goes all the way to my knee (my husband has deemed me "Robo-Wife" and loves to sing the Robo-Cop theme whenever I enter a room), an ankle brace under the boot, walk with a cane... well not really supposed to even walk... and see a physical therapist. And they tell we this might take upwards of a year to heal. YEEHAW! The fun never stops...

(like the picture? That's the picture from the website of the boot maker. Suuurreee.... I'd like to see a guy with a broken whatever that requires the use of a boot get out of that hammock. Ha!)

*music starts back up again*
where was I? Oh yes, Lyrica. So as much as I don't want to take it and am completely paranoid about gaining more weight, I'm still trying it. I started it Monday. I'm not feeling any better as far as pain episodes yet, though I will say that it has helped with the sleeping problem. (you know, the whole waking up a million times throughout the night thing...) Though it's reeeeeaaaallly hard to get up in the am.

I really loathe the fact that I have to trade one set of problems for another. I mean, really- either be in horrible pain or be floopy; pain or gain lots of weight. The pain really gets to me, but I'm not sure if it's worth not being able to function, or gaining more weight. If it even works... It's not like the Cymbalta was even making me pain free.
Ah, fibro. <3

Anyway, that's it for now. I'll keep you posted on how the Lyrica does. Tah Tah!

August 18, 2009

Just A Girl...

Just A Girl. That's me. I have a husband, a dog, a job, a car, and a freight train full of stress... you know, your typical average female.

So I've had some drama, well lots of drama, all throughout my life. And here I am, 32 and recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (FMS). I've been in a constant flare since February. I got diagnosed in May. And here we are at mid-August. I've been to see a multitude of doctors, read far too many articles on the Internet, and I'm still sitting here at square one. (actually I think I took a few steps back from there...)

At any rate, I thought it was high-time that I started chronicling this experience to help myself see where I'm headed, where I'm at and where I've been.

So this part of my journey begins, a journey of a girl with Fibro, just trying to find a way to lower her stress, reduce her pain and lead a successful and prosperous life. I hope you'll join me, as any journey is always more pleasant with friends at your side.