Tag Archives: fibro fog

Cause it makes me that much stronger, Makes me work a little bit harder

I have been a member of the Spoonie community for a lot longer than I realised, I was diagnosed with a chronic liver condition (autoimmune hepatitis) when I was 24, and will be taking medication to keep it in check for the rest of my life. But as long as my liver behaves itself it really doesn’t have a huge impact on my life, you wouldn’t know I was unwell at all, no time off work, no physical difficulties, but then I became really sick a few years ago and I became a fully fledged member. Hello, chronic pain and chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and arthritis!

It often feels like these are impossible conditions to live with and I really do mean ‘live’, because at it’s very very worst it doesn’t feel like you are living. You barely exist and often feel like you are actually dying, of pain or exhaustion, of memory loss, of the inability to think at all. It is utterly and completely soul destroying and you don’t even need the wee small hours of the morning to impress upon you the isolation, the unending trauma and the fact that no one at all can tell you when and if you will ever feel any better than you do right now. Draaammmmaaaa! Well, no, not really. I have often heard people refer to different phases of their lives, such as before children and after children, but my life is defined by before chronic pain and after it started. I cannot impress upon anyone how completely my life has been altered by this condition, I have no control over my own ability to function. Told you I wasn’t being dramatic.

But I am a very practical soul and have spent, and continue to spend, a great deal of time reading up about developments in my conditions The British Medical Journal is always a great source of info for latest studies and research and I have seen some of the doctors I have found through this research. I refuse to believe that this is it, that the medical profession has reached their conclusions and that there will never be a better way to treat my illnesses. I have investigated and tried many medications and assistance aids over the years and, while I am not going to write about the meds right now, I thought I would share some of the assistance aid purchases that I have made that have actually helped.

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My faithful Yuyu

First up is the Yuyu, a long hot water bottle that you can sling around your neck, it comes with a tie at each end so it can tie it security around your back and walk around quite happily. Why no one has thought of this before I have no idea but I quite happily wear mine under my coat on old winter days when I collect Lu from school, I suffer from excruciating pain around my right shoulder blade so I can manoeuvre this like a jaunty sash and it eases the pain. Cold is a real issue for exacerbating my pain so this has been a godsend. They are a little dear, starting at £33, but to me, mine has been worth every single penny and maybe something to ask for as a Christmas gift.

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Multitasking. Please excuse my terrible taste in Tv programmes. Catfish is a real weakness of mine.

My second useful item is a bed desk on legs, specifically made to use with a laptop so it has holes allowing the computer to cool down. No more hot laps and wondering if your computer is going to go into literal meltdown as you binge-watch Netflix as sometimes when bedridden box sets are the only thing that one can do to pass the time. I got mine from Amazon.

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All the hospital glamour.

My next recommendation may seem slightly odd but works for me. Soft blankets, the fleecy type, when my skin hurts and I ache inside the thing that helps the most is lying on one in bed and having one to cover me, its something about the softness that I find comforting, a bit obscure, maybe its a infantile cozy security issue that one needs to fulfil when feeling so so sick but it does help my pain. I took one to hospital with me to lie on when I had my last procedure and I tell you it made it more bearable, even if I did get odd looks. I have a few of these ones and a few of these. They are relatively cheap, Primark does good ones as do most supermarkets.

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This doesn’t come with a cover, the thing you can see to the left is part of the Starship Enterprise that Lucia has been making out of a cardboard box.

Next is a lightbox. Being inside so often, not always able to do the obligatory go outside and see the daylight means I suffer from SAD, and actually I have for an awfully long time so to address this I got myself one of these and it has made a huge difference to my mood, I’m not composing poems to the beautiful sun but I am feeling less blah. I pop it next to my bed, in my living room or on my desk, whenever I go it comes with me and I have it one for maybe an hour a day.

Finally, let me introduce you to the thing has diminished my physical pain by the most. It is a neck support memory foam pillow which has a large or small hump, depending on which side of the pillow you use. I don’t really know how to describe it, so when you put your head on it your neck is supported and your head almost dips back to what would seem a much more natural position when sleeping, it is hands down the best thing I have ever bought and the thing that I cannot be without. I take it on holiday with me, I take it everywhere I will be sleeping. See the photo for the humps and a soft blanket thrown in.

It is worth noting that all of these aids are portable and the fact that I can take them with me places means that I can go places without having to reap not only the tiredness of travel but also the setbacks caused by compromised comfort.

Amazon also deserves a shout out for those of us who are housebound or lead lives of unpredictable ability. I pay the subscription for Prime next day delivery and it has been my saviour, my contact to the outside world. Let’s face it chronic illness means our best-laid plans are often thrown into turmoil within a matter of hours and something that was as simple as a drive to shops to pick up a gift for someone’s birthday becomes an impossibility. So it has enabled me to order everything from birthday gifts for my daughter’s friends parties to straw for our house rabbit, all delivered in a timely manner. Mostly.

I have no affiliation to any of these companies but thought others may find this information useful, either for yourself and or someone you know.

We’re not broken just bent

So, I got my fibromyalgia diagnosis earlier this year when things were just awful health wise and it has been with me ever since. I have done a lot of research, spoken to lots of doctors, sought advice from social media and this is what I have learnt;

Fibromyalgia is a disease that affects the central nervous system.

There is no cure.

The main symptoms that I personally experience are exhasution, chronic pain, joint swelling, insomnia and brain fog.

The pain never goes away.

Powering on through the tiredness is not the thing to do.

If I rest for a few hours in between tasks I can get things done.

I have a full time job and cannot rest between tasks.

I have a small child   – see above about rest.

I am a single mum – see above about rest.

I am doing a phd – see above about rest.

I rarely get very much done.

Orange juice makes the swelling and pain worse.

Refined sugar makes me hurt and bloats me up.

Aromatherapy oils in my vaporiser and massaged onto my painful bits really helps.

Dry heat helps (another holiday to Grenada for health purposes?……).

I am allergic to lots of pain meds.

I feel very guitly abut not being able to do simple things.

I feel like a failure as a mother and as a friend and as a girlfriend.

I have to cancel plans at the last minute because I just cant manage to do them.

I have stopped making plans.

 

Ooh aah just a little bit, oooh aah a little bit more

Hello world, it has been ages since I last blogged and it hasn’t been due to lack of desire but merely because I couldn’t think of anything to write about that may be of interest to anyone, including myself. I’ve been off work poorly again with my latest diagnoses of fibromyalgia and am still waiting for my Pain Clinic referral so each of my days are a bit like groundhog ones. I am exceptionally tired, constantly. If I do nothing but rest all day I am beyond tired and could sleep for days, if I do ‘things’ then I am physically exhausted by 5pm and can barely speak. This is the most difficult illness to manage that I’ve had to date, in my mind anyway.

The generally accepted wisdom is that exercise creates energy so off to the gym I go for gentle exercise, I pace myself but the next two days are always a write off, this illness isn’t one of those that works that way and I find it incredibly frustrating. I feel like I am constantly having to think three days ahead all the time. If I go for a swim today will I be able to get up tomorrow to take Lucia to school? It goes against everything I am, I am a single mum, with a full time job, a puppy, about to commence a Phd, I am the one that does lots of stuff, and I enjoy that, I fit it in and I manage but Fibromyalgia is standing on the sidelines mocking me. If I am planning on driving anywhere I have to consider that I won’t be able to take my painkillers as I cant drive on them, so I have to calculate how long it will be until I can take them and then accept that I will be in a lot of pain for that time.

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I massage my hands and knees and elbows with frankincense aromatherapy oil before I go to sleep – its good for inflammation. I take turmeric and ginger tablets, as well as a B Complex (can help with mental health), primrose oil for ‘that’ time of the month and cod liver oil for healthy everything. I have fresh juice each day with fresh ginger, I have a smoothie with berries, soy milk, banana, nut butter, dates, a spoon of acai, and a spoon of maca for energy. I have overnight soaked oats with chia seeds and linseed for breakfast. I drink water – though I hate it. I am doing the things that I should, and these are things I like. My mum bought me up eating tofu and brown rice in a time when people who did that were thought of as cranks (anyone remember the restaurant Cranks? amazing baked potatoes rolled in oil and rosemary before baking). I take the puppy for walks in beautiful locations that feed my soul, I’m trying my absolute best to ignore my cravings of Cadburys Big Chocolate Buttons, but I am also being kind to myself,.I am lucky that I have positive people in my life, my daughter is always the light at the end of the tunnel, she is my joy personified.

But, isn’t there always a but, I am back to work tomorrow and I am frightened. My biggest fear has always been the inability to cope. In my mind if I can’t cope then that’s it, game over. Like a house of cards, it will all come tumbling down around me. And I am feeling guilty, all the time. Guilty that I am tired and don’t go to the gym everyday, guilty that I am tired and am not up with the lark chasing the day, guilty that I let Lucia eat her favourite meal of fishmongers and chips everyday because I don’t have the energy to try and make her eat something I have created for her, guilty that some times I am so tired that I don’t have the energy to argue with Lu and I let her skip her homework for a night, guilty that when Lu wakes up at 6am on a Saturday morning I give her the iPad to watch so I can get some more sleep, guilty that when her dad collects her every other weekend for her Saturday night stay that I am relieved that I will be able to go to bed and not have to cook or play or have a bath if I don’t want to, guilty that I bought plants at the school fete and they have been sat in their pots for days because I am too tired to weed the veg patch and plant them, guilty that I want to be bathed in my pjs (thats if i have actually got out of them) by 7pm and that I just can’t muster the energy to go on a ‘date night’ with my partner. I worry he’ll think ‘this isn’t what I signed up for, what happened to the woman I met two years ago?’

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This illness is depleting me, the ‘me’ of old is fading, I’m not a good mum, friend or partner anymore, I don’t have the energy and to ask other people to live with that is extremely selfish of me, it makes it seem like the ‘Miriam’ show, and that’s not what I want. It isn’t the ‘me’ I want to be, it isn’t the ‘me’ I was  months ago but I fear it will be the ‘me’ from now on. I have become defined by my illness, restricted and curtailed. None of my other illness have ever done this to me, though they are medically more serious, but whats a liver transplant between friends.

But I must tell you a secret, something I quite dislike myself for feeling, something I am really unhappy about and that is how much weight I have put on. I hate that it bothers me, I hate that I cant seem to lose it, it makes me feel like I have no self control, why can’t I make myself exercise everyday? why can’t I curb my appetite? why does my weight bother me? It is so superficial but when I see myself in the mirror, which I avoid like the plague, I think ‘oh god, you look bloody awful’. If I was talking to a  friend I would say ‘FFS get a grip, you are dealing with so many things, the steroids increased your appetite, you suffered  a bout of depression, you are suffering from chronic fatigue, shut the fuck up abut your weight, you are a strong woman, a mum to a wonderful daughter’ but for the first time ever in my 42 years I am thinking ‘If I was thinner I would be happier’ I mean, what the hell??? Anyway thats my shameful secret, I feel like a failure.

Apart from all of that I’m ticking along quite nicely, you?

Ps the blog title refers to using up my energy a little bit at a time, slightly convoluted but I’m feeling the Fibre fog at the mo.