Nothing More.

I am a blogger. A simple blogger that happens to have fibromyalgia and a few of its cronies. I blog about chronic illnesses, mostly fibromyalgia. Sometimes a few additional “surprise!” pieces come together and grace this blog. But. I am a blogger. I just want to blog. I have things to say. I have “opinions.”

I run a Facebook support group. A group of women who have come together to question, answer and share about anything really. If you have an issue, we will do our best to help. Other strange things that come up are discussed. Basically, nothing is off topic. It reminds me of a quilting bee, each member presents a handmade square, and when we start sewing these beautiful squares together, we have a magically woven quilt of beautiful stories and tales. We are a part of something! I am an admin of a wonderful group of women who make my day, every day.

I also run a page on Facebook. I repost my blogs on that page as some find it too difficult to find my blog on WordPress. There is nothing wrong with that. Who isn’t tech savvy? Me. (I surprise myself most days!) If I can make someone’s day easier by merely posting my blog in two formats, then that is what I will do. I run a facebook page for my blog posts. That is all.

It got crazy for me a bit. I said “yes” when I should’ve said “no.” I signed up when I should’ve hit delete! No one’s fault but my own… my responsibility to make things right again… I have and I did.

I am a blogger, nothing more.

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Why is Chronic Pain so Tiring?

With fibromyalgia, as well as other chronic pain diseases, the brain is continuously firing pain signals. Our brain receptors are consistently attempting to keep up! Brain scans have revealed that those with fibromyalgia are not producing enough of the organic chemical, dopamine. This low-level restricts our ability to maintain a sense of well-being. Remember, the fight or flight model includes ‘freeze’.

Human beings, as well as most mammals, are virtually programmed to avoid pain. When we experience pain, physically or emotionally, we instantly react to the fight, flight, or freeze mentality. Pain, or the perceived threat of pain, requires action! This perception triggers us to respond. (Even unknowingly.) Put your hand too close to a hot burner on the stove, you react!  You go on a hike, there is movement in the grass to your left, you freeze! These responses have been helpful from an evolutionary standpoint. These reactions can be beneficial when directed at an appropriate situation.

When chronic pain exists, the fight, flight, or freeze response also becomes chronic. This chronic response causes undue stress to your body, accompanying the ever-present hyper-awareness that this state brings with it. Worse still, these responses become programmed and automatic. This means that you can be stuck in this survival mode for days, weeks, months, or years at a time. (We commonly refer to this as a fibro flare.)

Our human bodies are just not designed to function chronically in this response mode. This causes our inability to function at certain times. Chronically ill pain patients are already in pain! We experience fatigue and emotional disturbances due to the sheer fact our brains are busy with this nervous system response that we find hard to control. Being a chronically ill individual causes a reaction response to a threat that is sometimes not there and possibly overreacts to painful situations. Think of this as an example, you have a sunburn, you are hurting, and you see someone reaching to touch your shoulder, you react! Now, the same scenario, but you don’t see the person, you only feel the touch … ouch, now how much are you going to react? The bigger the reaction, the more pain you create on your body that is already damaged by your illnesses.

The good news is … we can choose, at least some of the time, how to react if we are aware of our triggers and/or lack of triggers. We go back to living mindfully. We cut down our stress and practice meditation, preventative cognitive thinking, and/or other calming activities we have found work for us as individuals. What works for one may not work for another! So you must find what works to calm you, relax you, and try not to set yourself up for stressful events.

What do you do to calm down your stress responses?

IMG_0255~Kim

The Underlying Cause of Fibromyalgia

I happened upon a ‘little’ medical journal that ended up being a fascinating read. I like to explain fibromyalgia in relatively simple terms, but this article made me stand up and take notice. First, we will explore what the “experts” concluded. Then I will let you know MY conclusion!

According to the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, the underlying cause of fibromyalgia is physical and emotional distress.

Both physical and emotional stressors are frequent fibromyalgia triggers. Bodily trauma, particularly a whiplash injury during an automobile accident, is a recognized fibromyalgia trigger. Also, different types of infections have been associated with the development of fibromyalgia and include viruses (hepatitis C, HIV, herpes) and Borrelia, the infecting agent in cases of Lyme’s disease. Women with fibromyalgia have increased incidences of prior sexual or physical abuse.

Moreover, fibromyalgia patients are often immersed in a stressful lifestyle. A prospective investigation found that the development of this illness was associated with workplace bullying, high workload, and low decision-making possibilities. Anxiety and depression are frequent fibromyalgia companions. Furthermore, many fibromyalgia patients appear to have created their own “lifestyle stress” by physically or mentally overexerting themselves, being perfectionists, workaholics, or engaging in a disproportionate self-sacrificing behavior.

 

According to Kim (Me), the underlying cause of fibromyalgia is a whacked out central nervous system!

Ok, I like what the journal article had to say, and yes, those are undoubtedly underlying issues. It still doesn’t explain why MOST of the population doesn’t have this disease, then!?!? Who doesn’t live with daily stressors? Why more women than men? Why? But, in theory, I agree with their description of possible underlying causes. (They are doctors reporting this stuff, after all.)

So whether our fibromyalgia was caused by trauma; physical and/or mental. A virus, infection, stress, or even if there is a genetic component we still haven’t looked at, the sympathetic nervous system went into overdrive and caused our central nervous system to go nuts. The fight or flight messages cause pain signals to continually fire! Our brain sends these pain signals to our bodies. All day long. There is also the freeze response that coincides with the flight or fight response. You can do nothing but freeze, become stuck and not be able to make decisions. This is frustrating for all, especially for the type A personalities. 

There you have my conclusion. Really, I’m just asking for more clarity and less big words! I think we have a long way to go towards defining fibromyalgia and an even longer approach to answering what types of fibromyalgia are we facing?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you believe is the underlying cause of your chronic disease?

IMG_0250~Kim

A Happy Face Belongs in The Chronic Illness Pain Scale

The last memorable time I was in the actual Emergency Room was in 2012. The nurse asked me to rate my pain… (oh, yippee). We know we are usually at a constant four. I haven’t seen Mr. Happy Face for over 20 years. So I said a “10”, and she asked if I was sure? I told her no, I’m probably more like a “13.” I explained the pain was really bad and that is why I was here in the ER with her. She just kept looking at me like I was speaking in tounges. (This is why I no longer go to the ER. When I need medical intervention for pain, my doctor just calls ahead and orders a bed for me and I am admitted.)

I explained I am a chronic pain patient but had also recently been dealing with idiopathic pancreatitis. I was waiting for my surgery date to have stents placed in my pancreas. She wanted to know why I wasn’t in tears if I were at a 10 (notice, she wasn’t going to allow me to have my number 13) and did I need to see an addiction counselor for my drinking problems? I explained my pancreatitis was idiopathic in nature, the doctors weren’t able to detect a precise reason for my type of pancreatitis and it was very hurtful that she just assumed I had an addiction problem. By this time we were face to face and ready for a showdown, but I said the following;

“So, no nurse, I do not need to see a counselor for my non-existent addiction to alcohol, and as for my pain level, I’ve learned to compartmentalize. I have the right, as a patient of this hospital, to be medicated for my pain, do I need to call Sally [my doctor]?”

No, she did not want me to call my doctor! I knew there was a healthy respect for my doctor in this hospital system. I was eventually treated to get my pain level  ‘tolerable,’ and never reached pain-free. Since getting fibromyalgia, to this day, I have never reached pain-free! They ask what number is tolerable, they will see you reach that number, but there is no more Mr. Smiley Face to greet on the ER’s pain scale.

 

The following is a pain scale I found on a social media site. I only wish I could find its author. If you know who came up with this chart, please let me know in the comments so I can give credit and personally thank the person! If I’d had this in my pocket to show the nurse, she maybe could have understood me. She may have found it a valuable resource for other pain patients. She even could have understood why I reported being at a 13. There may be hope…


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I would suggest printing this out and making sure whenever you are asked to rate your pain, you do so off of this incredible chart. To the brilliant person who came up with this chart, many thanks and I’d love to give you credit! Thank you!!!

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 12.48.43 PM~Kim