Pain is decreasing….

November 7, 2012

I have been experimenting with my food a bit, trying to eat more healthy and focus on a vegetarian and gluten-free diet.  I am filling up a water jug each morning of 64 ounces of water, and most days I drink all of this.  I decided to try this for a couple of reasons.  One was that I am planning on becoming a health coach in December to help others in their health and wanted to try out the food, and second I wanted to see if my food might make a difference in my health.  Hearing I would lose some weight didn’t hurt either.

I was skeptical.  Actually I am still skeptical.  Years and years of trying different things to reduce my pain level, and give me more energy.  Many things help – such as exercise, ice and heat, yoga and reducing stress.  I even was able to reduce my medication this summer to about 10% of the dose I was given.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to cut it off completely, and any reduction caused too much pain.

So far the past week and a half I am feeling more energized.  My body is still tired, yet I am so much more alert.  I feel like I have an extra hour or two each day.  I am still stuffed up, which is probably due to dairy which I haven’t cut out.  My pain has also been reduced some, so I am reducing my medication a little more for the first time in months.  I can feel more discomfort in my knees when I walk, and sensitivity in my hands (the tingling sensations are greater).  The pain in my body and back are less, and I am still able to sleep at night.  I have also lost about 6 pounds, so my clothes aren’t so tight – always a good thing.

I am learning a lot.  I feel like I am understanding more what my body needs.  I don’t expect a miracle, yet it is great to see some hope and improvement.


veggie and gluten free experiment continued…

November 2, 2012

I have been trying a veggie and gluten-free plan this week to see if I have any allergies related to gluten and if certain foods might reduce my symptoms.  So far I am feeling a little less pain, but more fatigued (probably because I am eating less).  I don’t have the stomach-ache I was having earlier, and do feel healthier overall.  Because I still feel somewhat stuffed up in the morning, I doubt I have allergies to gluten, so grateful for that.  I have also lost about 3 pounds, so my jeans don’t feel so snug.

I will continue with what I am eating for the next week, and then start adding back some gluten products.  I don’t care that much for most meat, so will wait on adding meat.  I also might try reducing my dairy intake.


New food plan experiment

October 26, 2012

Next week, I am planning on trying a vegetarian and gluten free plan to see if it affects my symptoms in any way.  I have heard various people share of miraculous recoveries because of a particular diet plan, yet have been skeptical.  Even though I don’t expect drastic results, I believe I will feel better if I make some improvements in my food choices.   Anything that has the potential of helping me, especially with little cost, is worth trying.  I have most of my food ready to go!

I have been continuing with the 15M plan most days.  I have been able to do some form of exercise each day for at least 15 minutes.  Most days I do more than this.  On the days that I have really struggled, I utilize Netflix to watch something of interest.  I do best being consistent when I schedule something with a friend, other days I have to result to more procrastination tactics on my part.

I am also trying to make my top 5-8 items I need to accomplish each day.  I find it is really important for me to feel a sense of progress, especially when life feels more routine.  The check-off sheets remind me that I am doing well, making progress, even if I can’t do everything.


Plan 15M – A life of adaptation

October 1, 2012

Last week I was really sick with some stomach bug.  I am hoping it is just the flu and not some new chronic condition.  Fibromyalgia has a way of stealing my innocence.  I am aware that many chronic conditions seem to take place after regular illnesses and stress.  This was the case for me with fibromyalgia.  I initially had a cold virus and was dealing with some stressful situations in my life.  The antibiotics might have also contributed to my body shutting down.  Unfortunately now when I have an illness that lingers, I go back down memory lane (somewhat like pstd) and feel fear.  Though I have recovered somewhat (meaning I can leave the couch), I still am struggling to eat.

Often when I start some exercise routine, I seem to get sick.  Though if I probe closer, I generally fight infections regularly anyway, and have many allergies that can bring me down.  A regular cold may hit me a bit harder than before fibromyalgia.  I could pretty much function ok, but scaled down some.  Because my life is already scaled down, and my body running with less energy, a cold can knock me out.  I decided my body needed some rest, and limited my exercise last week.

Fortunately life always has many plan Bs to choose from.  This week I will go with plan 15M.  My goal is 15 minutes a day of some exercise even though I still feel sick.  My neighbor needs her dog walked as she is recovering from surgery.  This is a great place to start.  I will also continue the P90X plan.  As I anticipate more illnesses in the future, whatever time I miss for illness, I will extend to my plan.  The P90X plan is geared for making changes every 3 weeks.  So if I miss a week for illness, I will spend 4 weeks in that particular area.  I might add a few sprints into my dog walking, but will take it easier on the running for now.

The good news about having stomach aches is I am forced to eat better.  It seems I do better with healthier food – who knew?  I even cooked up some tofu that didn’t taste too bad.  Next time I will google how to cook tofu before cooking it.  I don’t know why there isn’t instructions on the package like every other food you buy.

There is a good possibility the stomach pains are partly because of my medication reduction.  Though I haven’t reduced my medication in weeks, it feels similar to what I experienced when going off other narcotics.  For now I will continue to maintain my current level of medication.

Well off to call my neighbor about the dog walk.  Wish you all a great week…..


Another day…..let the scales tip

September 23, 2012

In my dream land I would find the balance – perhaps that would be all too boring.  I am happy to report I did great on my exercise this week – yoga class, P90X yoga, cardio and 3 resistance training at the beginner level, 3 days of running/walking and 2 days playing racquetball.  Ok – perhaps I am over the top, and paying for it.  For this I take the weekend off – well sorta – 4 games this weekend where I am the assistant coach.

I look at the piles on the coffee table.  At least 20 books waiting for me to read/review.  About 6 of them I haven’t returned to the library because I want to blog about them.  Thankfully with renewals I can have about for about 12 weeks, unless others are requesting the book.  The laundry is in the dryer, so some housework is being done.  My husband even made the bed, something in which is on my “what’s the point” list.  I hate tucking my blankets in anyway.

I hate the idea of scaling back on the exercise.  I feel really good as far as energy level and outlook on life.  There are some moments I feel really up, bubbling with energy, talking a bit excessively, and radiating joy where I go.  Love that!  Fortunately I can keep up – though my skills in racquetball need some work.  On the down side, my poor knees are going in revolt.  What is preventing me from forging ahead isn’t fibro but my pathetic knees.  I tried to limit the hill running, though I think when the endorphins kick in I can’t feel the pain, so what I do is push myself a little too much. Ooh yeah, love the sprints too.  Doing the squats that seem to strengthen my knees, may not help either.

My dream of being medication free is still on the back burner for now.  I am hoping to reduce again, if I can keep myself active enough without putting myself in bed for a week with illness and/or injury.  I am content with the level for now, but in the general health outlook, the exercise and food seem like the best place to focus for now.

I am learning to use my laptop as intended – on the lap. This is helpful when I continue my ice and heat treatment.  The ice really helps with the healing especially in my knees.  I am trying to ice and heat 3x a day, though 2 seems to be more accurate.  A great way to gain down time.  My cat Jet, loves it.

One other benefit to exercising with fibro, is it forces me to eat better.  It appears that my stomach can tolerate less unhealthy food when I am more active.  I crave food like salads, which to me is a rare thing indeed.  Still love ice cream, but tends to make me sick the next day.

So the week ahead awaits me.  Another opportunity for balance in the life of the fibro patient.  I may need to attempt some modifications to my exercise routine this week, such as more walking and less running.  If I am not able to have enough cardio, I may want to try some swimming one of the days.  I will need to push myself a bit to do the needed but less thrilling chores.  Though at times I feel a need to rest, other times I just hate cleaning the kitchen every day.

Thanks for reading – time to change the ice.  Like everything else, moderation isn’t always my forte.


Exercise for people with fibromyalgia

September 17, 2012

It seems that many experts on fibromyalgia do not recommend intense cardio exercise.  Perhaps the assumption that more jarring on the muscles will increase the pain.  This may be the case for some people, but has not been my personal experience.

In general my favorite ways of exercising have been running, weight lifting and aerobic classes.  When I began experiencing chronic pain I tried yoga, more walking and swimming.  Before chronic pain, my philosophy was to make the most of my time and the more intense the cardio the better.  When doing weight lifting, I would lean towards less reps and more weight, versus a lighter workout.  I was surprised that yoga was not as relaxing as I had envisioned, much more physically demanding when my body wasn’t prepared for it.

Regardless of what exercise I do, if I push myself beyond my fitness level in any capacity I will generally experience pain later on.  I have experienced this with running, walking long distances or with lots of hills, light or heavy weights, yoga, or even gardening.   When I didn’t have fibromyalgia I would also ache the next day, but it feels more intense when I have fibromyalgia.  My body can take longer to adapt to new exercises.

The advantages of doing a higher aerobic exercise is that the endorphins also help in reducing my pain.  I have noticed that many times after a run my pain is drastically reduced for the 3-5 hours.  I also have increased energy to do other activities and my mood is elevated.  I have started to add some sprints into my run to produce more endorphins and raise my fitness level.  Sometimes the increase in exercise may bring a crash if I overdo it.

Personally I prefer a variation of exercises to keep myself fit.  I am trying to increase my higher aerobic exercise to keep the endorphins kicked in.  Currently I am aiming for 5 days a week of running or racquetball (15 minutes at a higher intensity), as well as other strength training like weights and yoga.  I find that warm up and cool down are important as well as icing and heat to calm the muscles.  Lots of walking and stretching seems to help prevent more pain later.

Last week I checked out a book, Bring It, by Tony Horton on the P90X exercises.  I have the videos on hold at the library, but it could be another 6-9 months before my turn comes up.  I have heard many people rave about this program, and figured it could be helpful since the beginning routines are geared at 20 minutes of exercise at home.  They have cardio, resistance and yoga routines.  They have some great exercise routines for all levels of fitness.  Though according to the quiz in the book, I am more intermediate, I thought it would be better to start at the beginner routine until I can develop the consistency.  This is a great book for anyone as it gives great illustrations on different exercises and routines to follow.  I put the page numbers for the exercises on a sheet of paper (don’t know them all by name yet) so I can quickly go through the routines.  Having a book allows me to go at my own pace (longer or shorter) and tends to be more relaxing than a video. If an exercise is too painful I can modify or skip it entirely.  I will eventually purchase the book for my own library.

Well I think I am awake enough now to attempt some exercise.  I will start with a run/walk then maybe do some resistance training.  Eventually I will need to find some time for the laundry piles and mopping the floors.  When I figure out how to keep the house clean and exercise I will let you know.  There is always tomorrow :).


Time Management

September 10, 2012

School is back in session for my two middle school daughters.  We have had a great summer, and I miss them already.  I love the carefree summer days, and the extended family time.  September brings us back to schedules, homework, more soccer and routines.  It is a time I start evaluating my priorities and thinking about what to do with my extra time.

I have been doing well with my new exercise routine.  I am trying to do something at least five days a week.  I coach soccer in the evening, though this entails less physical activity most of the time.  I am trying to walk/run 3 days a week, and play racquetball once or twice a week.  I hope to make yoga class once or twice a week and do some weight training.  If I am able to keep up with this routine I know I will feel better.  I will have more energy, feel more positive, have less pain generally, be more fit, and look better.

The ice and heat routine has been helpful.  I am typing today with a heat pad on my back. I find that the ice and heat are reducing my pain level, and I have been able to continue to run a few times a week without too much knee pain.  In order to cover most of my body it takes about 3 hours a day.  If I am lying around, I will add in more time.

As much as I am enjoying my healthy life and the benefits it brings, I am wondering about how I can keep up with my other responsibilities as well.  It can be hard to keep up with family members and do the daily chores at home.  I also have a couple of opportunities that have come up that I am considering.  One would involve a significant amount of time but could make a huge impact for many.  The other could possibly improve my health.  Much of life seems to be about making decisions on the best course of action that balances taking care of myself and being with others.   I was looking forward to this period of health focus, but perhaps there is something else in store for me.

Wishing you all a good week…..

 


Adaptations to pain management

September 7, 2012

Making adaptations to pain medicine can be difficult.  I have been in a long process of attempting to go off my medication.  I have gone from 20 milligrams a day to about 1/4 a milligram a day.  I have switched from the slow release oxycontin to the 4 hour tablets so I can cut up the pills for smaller doses.  Amazingly my body has adapted fairly well.  My pain level has increased, but generally it is tolerable.  I have traded the extra pain for more energy and ability to focus.

Last week I tried to go down to 2 doses instead of 3.  This is the second time I have tried to eliminate a dose.  The weird thing is I can continue to make my pills smaller, but once I eliminate a dose (about 1/8 of a 10 mg pill) my pain level increases drastically.  My whole body ached where it was difficult to do much of anything.  I decided to go back to 3 times a day, and take about 1/16- 1/12 of a pill each time.  So far my body adapted.

I am also attempting to add in more intense exercise to increase my endorphins.  I notice when I do this I have less pain for awhile.  The down side is my body aches more and my knees hurt later in the day.  I am also noticing more pain in my hands and feet.  I am trying to find a balance in keeping the intensity up without adding injury to it all.  Running is the best exercise (especially sprinting) for kicking in endorphins.  Instead of my preferred way of running – basically a light jog until I am tired, than walk for another 10 minutes, I am doing a light jog to warm up, walking up the tougher hills when my knees hurt, and doing about 5-10 walk/jog/sprint sequences.

In many pain management/injury books I have heard about icing and heat to aid in healing.  Though I have done this occasionally, I have decided to be more active in this method.  I am trying to ice and apply heat to my knees, neck, shoulders and back three times a day.  This seems to help temporarily, but is very time-consuming.  I wish there was some kind of all over body wrap that was cheap.  For now I just move my ice and heat pads around.  I notice my back shoulders/neck feels less tight from the myofascial pain but the sensations can cause a more tingling pain.

In many ways I feel better than I have in years.  I love being able to focus more and to have more relief from the fog.  The exercise helps my emotional and mental state, bringing greater positive energy and reducing my stress level.  Each day it brings more hope.  It just feels good to be doing something that is effective.

 


The Long Run Book Review by Matt Long and Charles Butler

August 28, 2012

I love reading books about physical recovery.  It inspires me to keep healthy and fit in spite of challenges and continue to move forward even when I have set backs.  I also learn new medical information, resources and coping methods.  The Long Run is a great read about an elite athlete and firefighter who was involved in a bike accident (he was hit by a bus).  Even though he wasn’t expected to live, he miraculously began the road to recovery.  Matt shares both his struggles and milestones in an honest and compelling way.  I was captured by his story, moved by his pain and encouraged by the people who supported him.  I was also amazed by the body’s ability to not only heal itself, but how Matt Long was able to still push his body to the limit.  Though the struggles didn’t end, he found a way that helped him continue to live in spite of his new circumstances.

Though I personally haven’t seen the healing that I would hope for, I believe that growth is essential to my well-being.  I must strive to move as much as I can each day to help my body heal.  Even if my day or my week makes it difficult to exercise or accomplish what I wish, I must avoid dwelling in self-pity for too long.  In general I love being active when my body is feeling well.  I enjoy a walk, a run, a hike, playing soccer with the kids, lifting weights, doing yoga and racquetball.  What can be harder for me is finding the time and energy to exercise when so many things in life seem to jump in the way or I have too much pain.  The most consistent way that I am able to exercise is when I involve my friends and family in my activities.  This keeps me from being isolated and becoming depressed.  When involved in personal exercise like running, it is generally best done in the morning.  Rarely do I come away feeling worse than I did before exercising.  At times the pain can increase or my symptoms will intensify, but overall I will feel better in the long run.  It is always helpful to remember that others have been here too, and I can press on.  Thanks Matt for sharing your story.


Withdrawal – 2 a day – drug free within reach

August 20, 2012

Still on the withdrawal plan.  The good news is I am down to about a 1/8 of a pill 2 times a day.  It is harder on my body to take out a dose (from 4 a day to 3, etc) than reducing the amount I take.  I started increasing the times between doses when I would either forget to take it, or my pain level hadn’t increased.  Yesterday I reduced it down again to 2x a day when I was so busy coaching during a soccer tournament I forgot to take my afternoon dose.

This morning I woke up feeling really sick to my stomach and had a headache.  Not sure if this was from coordinating positions for soccer players for nine games this weekend or from the reduction on medication in my system.  Most likely it is a combination of the two.  It may take a few days for my body to adjust.  Fortunately after my morning dose the symptoms gradually disappeared.

I am excited to be on less medications and back to 2x a day for medication intake.  I hate having to take medication with me in the day, especially when out on the field or with other people.  I feel inspired that soon I may be completely drug free.  I am amazed at how much better I can focus and the increase in my energy level.  Unfortunately some of my symptoms were intensified with the medication.  My pain level is higher, but not to a unbarable level.

So thank you for listening to my progress.

 


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