Sunday, September 23, 2012
Can we ever be stress free?
Not in this life.
I always thought that my body thrived on stress. As amazing as that sounds, I really thought that I was at my best when under pressure. I had no idea what I was doing to myself.
What does happen during stressful situations?
What happens is your body goes into the "flight or fight syndrome." Your liver produces more glucose for energy for your muscles. Your body produces cortisol which suppresses the immune system. Your blood pressure rises. Adrenaline is secreted so your body is ready for action. A body full of adrenaline can do superhuman feats.
You are now "in the stress zone."
Actually, you're in survival mode.
Cortisol is produced in the adrenal cortex in the adrenal gland. In small amounts it can heighten memory functions, lower sensitivity to pain, help maintain your internal equilibrium and give you a burst of energy. However, at its height, stress hormones are released into the body in an unprecedented rate.
When your body perceives that threat the nervous system responds by sending hormones into the body. You are on alert. Your muscles tighten, your heart beats faster, all your senses become sharper, your blood pressure rises and you breathe a little faster. It is your bodies was of protecting you.
So what if we live life in the fast lane?
Chronic stress is different than the momentary flight or fight stress. Chronic stress changes the way the body functions because we don't flip the switch that turns the flood of hormones off in our body. The heart can become more susceptible to disease from the constant flow of cortisol. Brain function can be compromised and learning and memory can also be altered. The immune system is suppressed.
If you don't switch it off your body doesn't have the opportunity to return to normal.
When the stress that you're under is greater than your body can tolerate you become more at risk for stress related disorders.
The body doesn't differentiate between physical and emotional stress. Stress is stress. When you keep yourself in stress mode it becomes harder and harder to shut off the switch. That stress I thought I thrived on? It's that Type A personality that prides itself in its ability to be super person.
Stress morphs itself into that old familiar warm and fuzzy bathrobe. It feels good to put on because its just too hard to become laid back but the price you pay for that warm and fuzzy feeling is very high. Very high. Over-achieving and perfectionist is what it is. You don't sleep right, you don't eat right and you think you're cruising through life.....
Anxiety, depression, insomnia, heart problems, immune problems, autoimmune problems or worse. Make no mistake. Stress can kill.
Put the effects of stress together with a central nervous system dysfunction that is found in Fibromyalgia and you have a recipe for disaster. We have to find a way to breathe through the stress. Do whatever it takes because we have to. Try yoga, aromatherapy, acupuncture, massage, biofeedback.....anything.....going outdoors and looking at the sky......whatever it takes to relax.
Thrive on stress?
It just makes us worse for the wear.
And it just isn't worth it.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
I've always found this suspect.
Now, I know why.
I do try to always be respectful of someones belief system. I may not agree with the doctrine but again, unless I'm asked my opinion, I'll stay out of the argument. Everyone has the right to their theology. Unless.....
Sometimes it just isn't right.
I've always disliked when people talk about God as the genie in the bottle. Just because we want something doesn't mean we are necessarily going to get it. Sometimes the answer is yes; sometimes the answer is no and sometimes the answer is, "no answer right now." I personally don't think that God has a magic wand that waves when we want something. Present your claim check and all will be better once again.
Especially when that claim check has to do with health care.
I heard that the mind can control the body. Don't I just wish that were the case! I've stated in previous posts about my stitches on the table event. I do think we can exercise some sort of control over an acute pain condition. Acute pain is usually short-lived and I think breathing and mind control can help ease the pain in some cases. Like I said, I've done it.
When the pain is chronic it's a moment by moment issue. Also, I have one little issue with that whole theology. It doesn't work for all diseases. How on earth could you possibly sit in a room with people and say the mind can control the body and throw God into the mix. If that holds true then I should be able to use my mind to get rid of the Fibromyalgia. Or, God Forbid, someone has cancer then they should be able to get rid of the pain with that if they use their mind to control their body,
So what happens when it doesn't work? I guess that can be a real faith buster. You see, I read the Bible and sometimes God does his best work with a body that is infirmed. In fact, most of the great men and women of the Bible had some sort of physical problem.
I just think it's dangerous to use the name it and claim it phrase.
When it doesn't work a persons faith can be damaged and that isn't good. When it doesn't work it can also make the other people around think that God doesn't work like he should. So what happens now? I just find it incredible that someone can spout that they can control their pain and get rid of the medication by faith and their mindset. By simple logic it also makes it sound like if you don't go along with it you're either faithless or mentally slow.
You can also turn someone away from God when the prayer isn't answered.
I shouldn't let this get to me......
but it does.
I guess I don't have enough faith......
To believe that one.
Highway to the danger zone.......
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Thirty things about ....
my invisible illness....
that you may not know.....
It's Invisible Illness Awareness Week and I read a very cool list about invisible illness on Judy Westerfield's blog, "CreativitytotheMax." It was amazing to read her answers because it was almost like she read my mind. I'm going to attempt to do the same thing. Now, I'm not going to look at the questions from her blog but let's see if I can do this without plagiarizing!! If they sound alike I'm going to apologize in advance to Judy and Max.
1. The Illness I live with is: I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Autoimmune Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Chronic Fatigue.
2. I was diagnosed with it in: I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue in 1988 after a nasty bout with mono that never went away and Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto's in 2008.
3. But I've had symptoms since: I had mono in 1988 after my former husband and I went to Squaw Valley on a ski trip. I had no idea that is where it started. I was under control by 1994 and worked until 2008 when I had a nasty car accident and the pain "never went away."
4. The biggest adjustment that I've had to make: I'd say the biggest adjustment that I've had to make is not working in new home sales. I really loved it and miss it.
5. Most people assume: Most people assume that I am an extrovert because of my career in sales. I think I fall into both extrovert and introvert groups. I do well with people but after a day of that I am done. I don't want to answer the phone or see people. I have a foot in both camps.
6. The hardest thing about mornings is: Let's face it. I've NEVER been a morning person. EVER. Having said that......ever since the Fibromyalgia hit I not only have to deal with not liking mornings but I also am like the tin man before the can of oil. Every bone in my body hurts and the stiffness in my muscles makes me a real peach. I need caffeine to get the cobwebs out.
7. My favorite medical TV shows are: Well, I love Doctor Oz. Other than that I'm not big in the medical shows. I favor crime dramas like Criminal Minds and NCIS.
8. A gadget I couldn't live without is my: Well, that has to be my iPad hands down. That little baby is easy to lift and carry around. I love it.
9. The hardest part about nights are: Muscle spasms. I want to take a baseball bat to my legs. It feels like winding up a spring real tight, letting it go and starting up all over again.
10. Each day I take ( ) pills: I don't take many because I've found that they don't work for me. I tried Lyrica and gabapentin and gained so much weight that I quit them. It wasn't bad enough that I hurt all the time but when I looked in the mirror I decided that I'd take the pain rather than the weight. I take a lot of supplements though.
11. Regarding alternative treatments: I haven't done many. I just figure that I'll take what I need to cope with the pain. Massage is always nice but, mostly, I can't stand to have someone rub my muscles like that. It hurts too much. I like essential oils for sleep but do they work? I don't know. I figure they can't hurt.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible or visible illness I would choose: I wouldn't choose to have either one. If I have to choose I guess it depends on the illness.
13. Regarding work and career: I had to leave it in 2009. I just couldn't take the rigor of new home sales. I miss doing something.......that's why blogging saved me. It gives me an avenue where I don't feel like as much of a slug.
14. People would be surprised to know: Would I surprise anyone? I don't think so. Most people I know would say, "I'm not surprised" to anything that I could come up with.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality is: The hardest thing to accept is that this is what it is. It's hard to wrap my head around the word "chronic." I've always believed that it would go away. It won't.
16. Something I never thought that I could do with my illness that I did was: I ran a 5k. Well, I kind of ran it but I finished it with my daughter. Despite the pain I still work out. I'd like to say that whoever said that exercise helps the pain is lying. It doesn't but I do it anyway. I'm still waiting for it to help. What it does is help me cope and makes my mind better.
17. The commercials about my illness: The commercials really piss me off. Just take our little pill and your life will magically come back. Never mind that pesky little side effect like weight gain or suicidal thoughts.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: I miss working. I miss going at mach two with my hair on fire.
19. It was really hard to give up: Working. Giving up that made me give up a lot of things. It sucks.
20. A new hobby that I've taken up since my diagnosis is: Nothing new. I didn't have that many before and I still do them. Cooking and photography. I can still do that.
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal I would: Probably be so grateful that I'd be still and enjoy it. Who am I kidding.....I'd want to run and shop and play till I dropped!
22. My illness has taught me: My illness has taught me to appreciate my body. It cannot be constantly assaulted and abused. I thought I thrived on stress. I was wrong.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: One thing? How about "Well, I get tired too." or "It can't hurt that bad," or "If you just get up and move around you'll feel better."
24. I love it when people: Don't treat me any differently than they did before but understand when I say I don't feel well enough to go out.
25. My favorite motto, quote or scripture that gets me through tough times is: I always say, "it could be worse."
26. When someone is diagnosed I'd like to tell them: You will get a lot of opinions about your health and how to feel better. Some will work, some won't. Listen to your own body and know that the advice is well-intentioned.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with this illness: The one thing that has surprised me is how many doctors are flat out stupid and have zero to no compassion about pain and Fibromyalgia.
28. The nicest thing that someone did for me when I wasn't feeling well was: They didn't question it they just shut out the lights and let me go back to sleep. Then when I could handle it made me get out of bed and get my fanny moving because they knew I needed that too.
29. I'm involved with Invisible Illness week because: We not only deal with it on a daily basis but I know I help perpetuate it because when people ask how I feel I always say, "fine."
30. The fact that you read this makes me feel: Happy. Useful. Accomplished. Grateful.
Monday, September 10, 2012
It makes you invisible.
It makes you invisible.
Sometimes it isn't wise to be strong. Sometimes we shouldn't pretend that we feel "fine." Sometimes the smile shouldn't reach our eyes. Sometimes we should just let it all out.
I know it goes against everything that we used to be. Everything in us tells us that we need to mask the pain. We are better than that and it cannot win. We have too much to do to be sick. We were movers and shakers. We were the typical Type A that plans all, thinks all, and believes that we can do all things and leap tall buildings in a single bound.
We were Superwoman or men.
Limitations. This is a word that we don't like. Maybe because deep down we think we shouldn't have them. We actually feel bad that we have to describe a shopping cart full of symptoms to anyone, whether it be doctors, friends or family. Limitations should not be synonymous with weakness. I'll admit that I have trouble making that distinction. I forget that the words determination, perseverance and an incredible pain tolerance also come into view.
I think I help perpetuate the viewpoint that this is an invisible illness. Because I consider some of my limitations as weakness, I have a problem letting people see the pain that I live with on a daily basis. I want people to see me the way I used to be. I know that's not right but I also hate appearing weak. When I do have a good day, I like to make the most of it. I break the cardinal rule of chronic illness all the time.
If you push you will pay.
I've always felt I could control my body. Well, not only my body. I love control. Whether it be my body or the environment around me....control is me. That is a huge part of my personality and that has been the hardest part to relinquish. I've had to realize that I can control my body about as much as I can control the weather.
Speaking of...........I hate humidity.
But I digress. I hate the invisibility of this illness but I also wrap it around myself like a cloak. I'm not defined by this illness but the struggles of it all are tough. Just when I think I've moved into the stage of acceptance I find that I still struggle. I struggle with the fact that there will be days when the pain takes over. I struggle with the fact that technically I am disabled (whew, that was tough to write). I still struggle with the fact that my memory is not what it used to be (it isn't even close). I struggle with the muscle spasms that hit me mostly at night. I struggle with the feeling that I'm a slug.
Mostly, I struggle with being afraid of my own body.
Maybe it's time to take stock of those big girl panties.
Maybe it's not time to put them on.
Maybe it's time to take them off.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
It takes a lot to say ow.
And I hate saying it.
And I hate saying it.
Just the name Fibromyalgia is enough to make get on a soapbox. Having said that, having it is a WHOLE OTHER ballgame. Baggage takes on a whole other meaning because each of the symptoms brings a matched set of luggage along with it.
Everyone, I think, would agree with the fact that chronic pain tends to play with your head. I don't think you can experience pain like that on a daily basis and not want to retreat a tad. I don't care whether it's Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, migraines or any other chronic pain illness. You just can't escape them without some sort of scar.
I think you can come through them.....people do every day. I just think that after something chronic hits your body you become someone that is constantly "on alert." You know every nook and cranny.....every subtle nuance that your body signals; how can you not? I know that I can feel it. With me, it's a subtle twinge in my hands. I can unconsciously start to rub them and, when I catch myself doing it, I know the pain will start radiating to different parts of my body and then.......well, I get slammed.
I've almost become embarrassed to say the word Fibromyalgia. People look at you like it's the garbage can diagnosis that some doctors have made it out to be. If they can't tell what's wrong with you....well then......it must be Fibromyalgia. It may very well be just that......but it's the look that goes along with it that gets to you.
It's the look of disdain or the just plain patronizing that gets to me. It's the almost pitying look that says, "well.....if you believe it....." I get really sick of doctors pulling that. Now, I just really don't like going to doctors. I wish I could find one that knows me.
They'd know that I am not enjoying the symptoms.
They'd know that I'm not exaggerating them either.
I don't say I'm in pain to try medications. I don't say that my muscles can start twitching so much that I'd like to take a baseball bat to my legs to get pain medication or muscle relaxers. When I say that I live my life on the very minimum of 5 on the pain scale everyday, I think they should believe me and not think that I'm depressed.
Because I'm not.
I'm tired of doctors looking at me like I'm exaggerating. I am reasonable and can articulate what is going on very simply and logically. Why that needs to be questioned is beyond me. I wish doctors wouldn't feel threatened by a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment. I use a multi-disciplinary approach every single day. Why shouldn't they? I dislike getting thrown a couple of medications (that I don't want or need) and ushered out of the office.
I guess you can tell that I'm going to a doctor.
Well, I'm ending with a doctor and starting another one.
It's not looking good.
The first available appointment is November 21.
Monday, September 3, 2012
You can tell a great deal about a person by their eyes.
Can you really tell when they're sick?
The study of iridology is interesting. Can you really tell how someone is feeling by their eyes? Is the story of our genetic makeup told in our eyes? Alternative medicine finds it a viable form of medicine, however, the medical community has totally dismissed it as foolishness.
So what is it?
Simply, it is that the colors and patterns of the iris of the eye can give information about your health. The charts tell what organs are healthy and which are inflamed or in distress. There are four different sub-types of personalities that have different challenges.
Neurogenic: The neurogenic type has a resilient nature. Neurogenics are hard workers with a natural drive. They need to learn how to relax. The central and autonomic nervous system can give them trouble. Yoga and Tai Chi is helpful. They should avoid stimulants like sugar, caffeine, coffee and junk food. They should keep the volume down and avoid excessive noise.
Connective Tissue: As the name implies, this subset has connective tissue issues and is prone to sprains, hernias and problems with the joints and ligaments. Yoga and Tai Chi is helpful. Connective Tissue personalities should avoid sugar, caffeine, coffee and other junk food.
Poly glandular: The polyglandular type has problems with an imbalanced glandular system. The thyroid, parathyroid, gall bladder and other digestive problems can hound these personalities. Yoga and Tai Chi is helpful for these people. These people should avoid processed or refined foods.
Anxiety Tetanic: This is the typical Type A personality. These personalities are prone to creating stress for themselves. They need to learn how to relax. They are prone to neuro-muscular disorders, TMJ and spinal trouble. They should avoid stimulants like coffee, sugar, processed and refined foods. Yoga and Tai Chi may be helpful.
Obviously, this isn't an in-depth look at iridology. It's just a quick overview of the different personality types and some of the challenges they face. From the little that I read, I don't have a lot of desire to investigate more. It doesn't make sense that every type should avoid processed and refined foods and stimulants and that every type is helped by Tai Chi and Yoga.
I know that we would all try anything to cure what ails us. We would investigate every avenue. I just don't think this is the path that will lead us to health.
The size of my pupil can tell the health of my autonomic nervous system?
So, when you look into my pupils you can see my spine?
When I think about this I think of the snake in Disney's Jungle Book......
Trust in me.........