Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Not Always That Easy

I regularly get email updates from WebMD.  Depending on the title, I either delete it quickly or take a few minutes to read.  I got this email today:

12 Tips for Coping with Fibromyalgia

After reading this, my first thought was "Duh!"  Then I thought to myself "I really know I should be doing these things, but it's not always that easy!"  Let me break it down:

1. De-Stress: I'm married and have 2 sons! One son is looking for a job and getting ready to start college (stressed about the cost), the other son is obsessed with learning how to do tricks on his bike (emergency room anyone?).  I'm a teacher in a state that is big on assessments (nope, no stress there)!

2. Jot it Down: We all know about Fibro Fog. I try to jot things down, but then I forget what I wanted to jot down. I guess I could carry a small notebook around all the time.

3.  Exercise Regularly: No excuse, I just hate exercise! Guess I could dust off the treadmill and quit using it as a clothes hanger!

4. Do some serious soaking: This I can do, but I have to lock all doors to keep the children out (they always need something or want to talk when I want alone time, other than that they usually ignore me).

5. Reach for Decaf:  How about half and half? I really do like my morning coffee, and it's the only time I get any caffeine at all.

6.  Take some me time every day: see #4!

7.  Make Work Life Better:  Flexible planning? Hello? Teacher!

8.  Talk about it!: I definitely do this (my poor hubby)! Thank goodness for blogging!

9.  Just say NO!: This is hard when you get guilt from the person asking.  I'm getting better at it though!

10. Make Your Bedroom a Sleep Sanctuary: I like my TV and computer time! I don't know if I can give this up. Will have to sleep on it!

11. Keep a Daily Journal: Does blogging count?

12.  Join a Support Group: There are none in my city, and when I tried to start my own the only people who showed up were my family! After 4 months of this I gave up!

So, there you have it! 12 Tips for Coping! How do you do when it comes to this list?

Gentle Hugs!

My Husband

The man in my life is a very complicated person.  He was never the type of person who showed his emotions often.  He always kept everything in, and wouldn't share what he was feeling.  My father-in-law passed away 7 years ago from unnatural causes (can't get into it here, but it wasn't good).  My husband and his dad were really close when he was younger, but fell out of regular communication as he got older (living 2,000 miles apart didn't help).  When my father-in-law's wife (not my mother-in-law) called to give my husband the news, she was very callous about it.  She actually waited an entire day before she let anyone in the family know.  Anyway, as usual my husband kept his emotions inside, but it changed him.  He became a quieter, angry person.  It got to the point where I considered taking the kids and leaving if he didn't get some help. 

Getting help for him wasn't easy at first because he didn't want to accept that he needed it.  When he finally hit rock bottom (again not something I can share here), he realized for himself that he had to get help.  Once he got in touch with his anger, it was like a whole new person emerged.  He still tries to keep his emotions in check, but it's not always easy for him.

During his recovery period, I really began to feel the effects of the fibro.  At this point I didn't know I had fibro, but I knew something was wrong with me.  I have to say that even through his darkest period, my husband always put my needs first.  I knew it was hard dealing with my issues while trying to deal with his own issues, but he managed to do both without slipping back into that dark, angry person.  He kept me going when the depression set in, and helped me through it.

This past year was rough on him as I dealt with my latest health crisis, and his emotions actually got the best of him during this time.  It frustrated him that they couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, and I think the thought of something possibly being wrong with my heart or lungs really freaked him out.  But once again he was my rock when I needed him the most. 

Anyway, my husband is no longer that person who can control his emotions so easily anymore.  Case in point, I made him a new profile picture for his facebook account last night.  I thought it would be nice to make a picture that included his grandfather (he passed away right before my oldest was born), his dad, him, and our two boys.  He became really emotional when he saw it, but it was a good emotional.  It's nice to know that he can see a picture of his dad now without going into his dark place.  Here's the picture I made him:

Grandpa Claude at top, Gene (FIL top left), Brian (top right), Spencer (bottom left) and Shane (bottom right)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chronic Pain and Weather Changes

Trying to get doctors and scientists to agree on whether or not a change in weather affects those of us with chronic pain may never happen. 

Dutch researchers say no:
Weather Conditions Do Not Affect Fibromyalgia Pain or Fatigue

Several Doctors Who Contributed to a WebMD article say possibly:
How the weather can affect joint pain, and what to do about it.

All I know is that we are in monsoon season where I live, and I have been hurting for the past 2 weeks.  I'm actually glad that the weather is supposed to clear up soon and we will have sunny skies once again.   If you didn't know, the weather channel actually has an aches and pain index on their site.  All you have to do is type in your zip code and it will tell you what level of pain you might encounter according to the weather.

Aches and Pain Index

I'm happy to see that my aches and pains should be subsiding real soon!

Gentle Hugs!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Poked Again!

Went in for my first round of allergy shots today. They did a series of 3 shots, spread out over 30 minutes each.  I have go again next week for 3 more, then 2 weeks of 2 shots, then 2 more weeks of 1 shot, and finally I go to monthly shots!

The inhaler seems to be helping some, I'm able to do short distances without having to lug the oxygen machine around, but long distances are still a problem. Doctor says it should get easier once my allergies are under control.

I don't mind the shots as long as they fix the problems.  I'm just glad I'm not being poked, prodded, and scanned anymore! 

Gentle Hugs,

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Great Weekend/Big Pains!

My cousin and her 4 kids decided to come into town for a quick weekend visit on Friday.  I haven't seen her in over a year so I was happy she decided to come down.  Unfortunately, it had been raining for 2 days before her visit and continued to rain into yesterday.  I was hurting pretty bad, but didn't want that to ruin our visit so I "sucked it up" so to speak. 

It was a very loud couple of days (did I mention she has 4 kids and I have my 2).  The 5 youngest kids had a blast running around playing and screaming (her 2 youngest are 3 and 4).  I didn't mind the fact that they were having fun, and it did my heart good to see them connecting. It made my head throb, but I dealt with it.

We left the kids with Spencer last night to babysit and went to a birthday party for my friend's daughter.  After the party, we decided to drop Brian off at the house and headed out for a late night movie.  It seemed like everyone in the city was at the movies, so we had to park a little further than I would of liked.  Lugging my oxygen tank is always a pain, but I'm glad I had it because we also had to wait in line for about 30 minutes, and then we had to sit close to the top in order to find 2 seats together. 

They have gone home now, and I'm really hurting today, but it was worth the pain to see my cousin and her family!
Shaney and Bubba
 Spencer and Ammie
 Stasi and Theeny
 Me with my favorite cousin Christy!

Gentle Hugs,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oh What Fun it's Been! NOT!

The last several months have not been pleasant! School was fine, but very stressful, and I couldn't wait for Spring Break to arrive.  I was looking forward to some family time and a dose rest and relaxation!  Spring Break was great! We went up to the mountains and rented a cabin.  Just the 4 of us enjoying time away from everything. We went walking around the small town, we rode the go carts, we played board games, and we just enjoyed time being a family.  THEN WE CAME HOME!

We came home late Saturday afternoon (March 23), unpacked, ate some dinner, then chilled until bedtime.  I woke up the next morning to get ready for church and realized I was short of breath every time I walked from one place to another.  I went to church and continued with the shortness of breath. I decided to go to an Urgent Care Clinic close to our house since it was Sunday, and after an x-ray they said I had pneumonia.  Gave me a couple of shots, some antibiotics, and said I could probably return to work by Wednesday.  I returned to work on Wednesday, and by lunch time I knew I wasn't going to make it through the rest of the week.  My doctor was out of town and couldn't see me until Monday.  By Sunday I started getting chest pains, and returned to the Urgent Care Clinic.  They took more x-rays and did an EKG. They determined the pneumonia was still there, but they were worried about my EKG and sent me to the emergency room.

The doctor's at the emergency room did a full work up (including a CT Scan) and couldn't find anything wrong with me.   They said they didn't find any pneumonia, and my heart seemed fine.  They did recommend that I go see a cardiologist since they couldn't explain the chest pain. This is where everything started going down hill.

I saw the cardiologist who then scheduled me for all sorts of tests and sent me to a pulmonary doctor.  Between the 2 doctors, I had every test known to man done on me.  I was poked, prodded, and scanned until I thought I would glow in the dark from all the radioactive material they kept putting into my body.  The only thing the 2 of them could agree on was that my oxygen levels dropped when I walked (I now have an oxygen tank I have to lug around), and a couple of my labs were elevated (probably due to the fibromyalgia).  By now it was the middle of June and we still didn't have a solution.  I convinced my cardiologist to refer me to the Mayo Clinic. They accepted and we headed off to Arizona on June 23rd!

Luckily for us, my brother and his family live about 20 miles away from the Clinic so we had a place to stay.  The 4 of us and my parents quickly settled in for our stay with my brother, sister-in-law, and 2 nieces.  We were a very cozy 10 people. Fortunately for us we are a very close family, which came in handy since we ended up staying for a whopping 16 days!  I spent every day (except weekends) getting poked, prodded, and scanned again!  I was bounced back and forth between the pulmonary doctor, the cardiologist, and the heart surgeon. 

Turns out I have a small hole in my heart (5 mm) that allows blood to go from the right upper chamber to the left upper chamber whenever I bear down, sneeze, cough, or hold my breath.  Apparently the blood is supposed to go into the right upper chamber, then out again and around to the lungs.  They aren't going to fix the hole, because  they say it would be more dangerous to go in than to leave it alone.  Besides, they said this wasn't the cause of my shortness of breath because I was born with this hole.  They did put me on aspirin so that I can keep from developing any clots.  So now anytime I sneeze, cough, or bear down I can picture the blood rushing to the left chamber. GOOD TIMES!

After 16 days, the only thing they could come up with was that I had asthma! Seriously! ASTHMA! My local doctors couldn't figure that out? Man they suck!  So it was time to head home! The good thing to come out of this trip was the fact that we spent a lot of time together.  We celebrated the 4th of July and my birthday while we were there, and spent a lot of time talking and laughing.

I'm back home now, and have been to the allergist.  They have done my allergy testing (I'm allergic to every tree and piece of grass in my town), and I am scheduled to begin my allergy shots next week.  I now have my inhaler, and the doctor thinks I should be able to walk without the oxygen sometime in the next 6 weeks.

Needless to say, by the time I go back to work next month my Spring Break will have lasted 5 months! I have definitely gotten my share of rest and relaxation.  Most of my teacher friends are dreading the summer coming to an end already, but I can't wait to go back to work. So happy this nightmare is finally coming to an end! 

Gentle Hugs!