Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Meditation for Stress Relief

As made obvious by the name of my blog and most of my posts, I'm all for natural methods for resolving any/all illnesses and diseases that we may come across in life. Originally that was due to my lack of health insurance = No insurance mean no meds. But I can't just go throughout life without some sort of treatment. Without some sort of treatment, I'd be in so much pain I couldn't move, crying uncontrollably, and probably begging myself to commit suicide. Yes, it's that serious (although besides my husband, no one in my family believes that my problems are serious enough to justify contemplations of suicide)

After years of researching natural treatments for all my problems - bipolar disorder, depression, PCOS, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia - it occurred to me that natural methods have to be better for you than modern, Western treatments. Our bodies weren't meant to be pumped full of man-made chemical concoctions. The prescription anti-cancer meds I am currently on for my RA have very specific dosage instructions. I'm only supposed to take it once a week, because if I took it daily, IT COULD KILL ME. The daily naproxen regimen has increased my ability to bruise. Now I consistently have 5-10 unexplained bruises in random places on my body. Certain medications for depression can increase the likelyhood of suicide. "Here, take these so you stop thinking about suicide - but be careful, because if they don't work well for you, you might be more likely to commit suicide." WTF? Why would I want to take something like that?

My husband told me last night that he didn't want to do see a doc about depression (I think he is depressed because of his male factor infertility) because he didn't want to take any pills. I don't blame him. He said that there's a pill for everything nowadays, and the world isn't getting any better. And he's right. If medications worked so well, there wouldn't be a new surge of interest in natural and holistic treatments, dietary modifications, etc.

Several months ago I watched a show about transcendental meditation. I was intrigued because it had so much science to back it up. I've always been interested in meditation, but I've never been able to shut my brain off. I've tried visualization techniques, quiet rooms and comfortable chairs, etc. Nothing has every worked for me. I know I probably haven't tried hard enough, because I usually get frustrated and give up. During the show, they talked about Vedic City, Iowa - a city that incorporates TM into everyday life. The crime rates were ridiculously low. All the students had good grades. Everyone was happy. What I wouldn't give to be blissfully happy, if even for a day. So I'm going to an intro session about TM tonight. I've been wanting to go for several months now, but I'm learning that I can't plan to go somewhere in advance. I have to just do it. I don't know what I'm going to feel like from day to day. So spontenaity is my savior at the moment. If I want to do something, I have to do it right then, or else it won't happen. This morning I had no plans to do anything after work. Now I'm going to be driving 45 min across the metroplex to learn more about TM.

This decision is in line with the latest diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The rheumy told me that I needed to start sleeping better and reduce my stress levels considerably. So that's my fuel for now. I also stopped by Massage Envy last week to find out if they have any therapists with fibro experience. There are two at the location I chose, and the monthly membership is ridiculously cheap! So I told hubby that when I get paid next month, I'm going to invest in a membership to Massage Envy. (I also told him he'd have to get over the fact that the two therapists with the right experience are... Men. He doesn't care, which is awesome.) My gift to myself, to get better.

I'll write later about how the intro session goes.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Date Night at the Bedford Food Truck Festival

This evening, hubby and I went to the Bedford Food Truck Festival. It was within walking distance, and the weather was great, so we walked. There were five trucks - taco, pizza, sushi, slushies and vegetarian. I went solely for Good Karma Kitchen, and I got hubby excited about Slush Works.

I made a bee-line to Good Karma Kitchen. Today's menu included Crazy Good Tacos, Korean BBQ tacos, Reverse Frito Pie, and Crazy Good Taco Salad. Hubby got giddy about the frito pie, and I chose the taco salad. Frito pie had tri-bean and veggie chili, frito chips and cheese. He inhaled it. The taco salad had a taco crumble, jalapeno lime cream sauce, spring greens, beans, cheese and tortilla chips. It was fantastic. The jalapeno added just a little kick. The prices were a little higher than I had hoped, having spent $17. But it was very satisfying and a yummy vegan meal. Hubby said he could live on that chili if he 'had' to go vegetarian. It gives me hope for reducing our meat consumption!
Yay! A gluten-free, vegetarian truck!
Crazy Good Taco Salad
Reverse Frito Pie
Reverse Frito Pie, all mixed up
He really enjoyed it! There is hope!

We also stopped at Slush Works... twice. They were downright amazing. The menu offered 3 flavors of slush - mango, lemon and coconut. There were extras you could add: mojito (spicy ginger ale and mint), Carribean (passion fruit and coconut puree), Zhi tea, berry fizz (housemade summer berry soda), limonata (fresh lime and sparkling water), and creamsicle (vanilla bean whipped cream). I had a small mango mojito and hubby got the small mango Zhi tea. They were out of this world. So awesome, in fact, that we splurged and went back for seconds! The second time around I had a large mango lemon mojito - I've been on a ginger kick lately and the ginger ale is just perfection. Hubby another large mango Zhi tea.

Hubs ordering seconds!
Mmm... slushies!
Mango Lemon Mojito
Mango Zhi Tea

I just might have to start using Twitter more often so I can enjoy these trucks another time! Hubs said that if I start going to the farmers' market again and Good Karma Kitchen was there, I'd have to bring home another frito pie! Tonight was a fun date night where we got great food and great exercise!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Venting about the need for and the lack of sleep.

My rheumy prescribed Elavil as treatment for my fibro. He did this because he knew I didn't have insurance, and the most popular drugs like Lyrica, Cymbalta and Humira are expensive. Elavil has been around so long and used for so many things - anti-depressant, sleeping pills, chronic pain, etc - that it's on all the $4 generic prescription lists, so it certainly doesn't hurt my pocket like the other drugs would. I was grateful that he took my financial restrictions into consideration. Now I'm starting to regret it.

It's 7am, and I haven't been to sleep yet. The Elavil helps me sleep, but it also gives me nightmares. I dealt with it in the beginning, because I'm no stranger to nightmares. The rheumy also suggested that I do what I could to reduce my stress levels. About a month ago I impulse bought herbal drops called 'Deep Stress', made by WishGarden. I started taking 3 droppers full at night before I went to bed. Just a few days after I starting, I realized I wasn't having nightmares. I told the rheumy at the last visit about the nightmares. But I also told him that the drops were helping, so he wasn't worried about it. I was so excited to finally be getting some decent sleep. Until last week, when the nightmares started coming back again. I thought that I might be developing a tolerance to the drops, so I skipped them for a night. Had nightmares. Used them the next night. Had nightmares. Skipped them again, had nightmares. So hubby asked me if I was willing to skip my Elavil dose one night to see if I still had the nightmares. I decided that last night (or several hours ago, however you want to look at it) was the night to do it, since I don't work on Thursdays. The result? I think the nightmares are worth the sleep. I say that simply because I laid in bed for over an hour, unable to get comfortable, unable to shut my mind off, unable to sleep. I used to watch tv until I got so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open - even that's not working this time.

So it just frustrates me. If I take the meds to sleep, I have nightmares. If I don't take them, I can't sleep at all. If I continue not sleeping, my fibro pain will start getting worse again. I hate the nightmares, but I do like that I've been able to cook more lately. I did yoga all week last week and didn't hurt nearly as bad as I thought I would. Is the life that almost resembles normal worth the nightmares? Or do I talk to the doc about switching to a more expensive drug, in turn adding more stress because I'd have to work more? I'm tired of all these Catch-22 situations with my health. I'm not a football player!

Ok, vent over. I'm going to attempt this thing called sleep again. Even a nap would be satisfactory.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Yoga? Why yes I will!

One of my goals this month was to start doing yoga at home so I'm prepared to use my free week next month. If you walked into my house, you'd think I was a regular yogi - plenty of yoga clothes, 2 mats (because the first one wasn't as pretty as the second one), resistance bands, etc. But in all reality, I haven't done yoga in almost a year. In fact, I stopped looking at the closet door so I didn't get mad that my mat had been in the same place for so long.

The floor was vacuumed moments before this pic was taken. 
If you look closely you'll see that it's already covered in 
hair again.
So Monday I texted the hubby and said "Do not allow me to do anything when I get home until after I do yoga." Then I had to quickly modify it with this comment, "Okay, except for vacuum the living room floor so I don't gag on dog hair while I'm doing it." (I still, to this day, don't understand why I decided to bring home a white dog when everything in the house is black.) After vacuuming the floor, I had to decide which yoga dvd I wanted to use. I picked one out that I hadn't done before. It had a 25 minute program that I was excited about - until I opened the case and discovered that the disk that was in it was NOT the same as the cover. As this was the first time opening it, I realized that the person I bought it from on Amazon had sent me the wrong one. But that was like a year ago, so there was nothing I could do about it. So I decided I was going to use the Sara Ivanhoe '20 Min Yoga Makeover for Flat Abs' that I have used many times before and enjoyed. Couldn't find it. So hubby kept looking for it while I tried out another one, 'Yoga for Beginners' that I got from Gaiam a while back. Hubby finally found my dvd 30 min later, but I was already doing the Gaiam one, so I figured there was no reason to stop and change it. The old me wouldn't have gone through all this hassle just to do yoga. But the new me pushed through all the obstacles, even though they were minor, and did yoga Monday. Did yoga again yesterday, but tried the 'Basic Yoga for Dummies' dvd this time, since I didn't love the Gaiam dvd (just a little too slow for me). Realized that Sara Ivanhoe made the Dummies dvd, so I was excited. My core was in pain for the rest of the night, but I expected it. To go from not doing yoga at all to doing the entire workout will do that to you. But I knew that the pain was worth it. Because sooner or later, the pain would go away, and I'd be stronger, skinnier, and more relaxed.

What am I doing when I get home today? You guessed it, yoga! Haven't decided which DVD yet, but I know I'm going to do it.

Do you want a free week of yoga at a studio near you? Then head over to the Yoga Health Foundation website and sign up for a free week. You can use the free week anytime in September or October. I chose to go to the Divine Center of Yoga in Southlake, specifically because they have a class called 'Adaptive Yoga' designed for people with arthritis and fibromyalgia - just like me! I hope that you'll try yoga, because what do you have to lose besides the gas to drive to the yoga studio?
Here's the link to a free week: http://yogahealthfoundation.org/one_week_free_yoga

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's Official! Power Up for PCOS Texas is up and running!

I am very excited to start the Texas chapter because there are so many women in Texas that need a fabulous support system like Power Up.

Visit our page: Power Up for PCOS Texas

About the group - This isn't a support group; it's an empowerment group. We don't just sit around and complain about our symptoms, we learn how to overcome them. Power Up has provided a fantastic webinar series that will be shown at our in-person meetings. We participate in a 5K walk every September, and do lots of fun awareness campaigns like the upcoming 'Paint your pumpkin teal for PCOS' in October. All fundraising is donated to inCYST Institute for Hormone Health, an organization dedicated to helping find safe products and methods to treat/manage PCOS.

We will be starting in-person meetings in the DFW area in mid-September, and I hope to expand to Austin by the beginning of next year. I will provide frequent updates on our Facebook page, in our private Facebook group (FB Group), and by email to everyone in the Cyster's Circle. To join the Cyster's Circle, head over to Cyster's Circle and sign up! I'm looking forward to meeting everyone!

Monday, August 13, 2012

What you should know about Fibromyalgia

This was not written by me, but by someone who understands. I only know of the original writer as 'C.S.' - I would give more credit if I knew more. I know that my little blog doesn't reach the people who should read this, those who think that these problems are 'all in our head'. I added my two cents in red.


1. My pain - My pain is not your pain. It is not caused by inflammation. Taking your arthritis medication will not help me. I can not work my pain out or shake it off. It is not even a pain that stays put. Today it is in my shoulder, but tomorrow it may be in my foot or gone. My pain is believed to be caused by improper signals sent to the brain, possibly due to sleep disorders. It is not well understood, but it is real. 

2. My fatigue - I am not merely tired. I am often in a severe state of exhaustion. I may want to participate in physical activities, but I can't. Please do not take this personally. If you saw me shopping in the mall yesterday, but I can't help you with yard work today, it isn't because I don't want to. I am, most likely, paying the price for stressing my muscles beyond their capability. This weekend I had plans to reorganize the house, walk the dog, cook, etc. I spent the weekend in bed. I didn't want to be tired. Hubby even had to listen to me complain about how I hated that I was too tired to do anything, despite sleeping for so long. 

3. My forgetfulness - Those of us who suffer from it call it fibro fog. I may not remember your name, but I do remember you. I may not remember what I promised to do for you, even though you told me just seconds ago. My problem has nothing to do with my age but may be related to sleep deprivation. I do not have a selective memory. On some days, I just don't have any short-term memory at all. Yes, I used to be a walking phone book. I used to remember events months in advance. I don't anymore. And believe me, you aren't the only one noticing. My heart aches when I reflect back on times where I used to have a memory. 

4. My clumsiness - If I step on your toes or run into you five times in a crowd, I am not purposely targeting you. I do not have the muscle control for that. If you are behind me on the stairs, please be patient. These days, I take life and stairwells one step at a time.

5. My sensitivities - I just can't stand it! "It" could be any number of things: bright sunlight, loud or high-pitched noises, odours. FMS has been called the "aggravating everything disorder." So don't make me open the drapes or listen to your child scream. I really can't stand it.

6. My intolerance - I can't stand heat, either. Or humidity. If I am a man, I sweat...profusely. If I am a lady, I perspire. Both are equally embarrassing, so please don't feel compelled to point this shortcoming out to me. I know. And don't be surprised if I shake uncontrollably when it's cold. I don't tolerate cold, either. My internal thermostat is broken, and nobody knows how to fix it. 

7. My depression - Yes, there are days when I would rather stay in bed or in the house or die. I have lost count of how many of Dr. Kevorkian's patients suffered from FMS as well as other related illnesses. Severe, unrelenting pain can cause depression. Your sincere concern and understanding can pull me back from the brink. Your snide remarks can tip me over the edge.

8. My stress - My body does not handle stress well. If I have to give up my job, work part time, or handle my responsibilities from home, I'm not lazy. Everyday stresses make my symptoms worse and can incapacitate me completely. I didn't quit my job because I was lazy. I didn't wait so long to go back to work because I enjoyed sitting at home. I couldn't physically or mentally handle work. I write software and for a long period of time, I couldn't remember how to write the languages I've known for years. I'm still having to reteach myself how to do my job.

9. My weight - I may be fat or I may be skinny. Either way, it is not by choice. My body is not your body. My appestat is broken, and nobody can tell me how to fix it. I wish that my lack of eating would result in weight loss, but it doesn't. I don't eat crappy foods. I don't eat sugars. I don't drink soda. But I am still overweight. 

10. My need for therapy - If I get a massage every week, don't envy me. My massage is not your massage. Consider how a massage would feel if that charley horse you had in your leg last week was all over your body. Massaging it out was very painful, but it had to be done. My body is knot-filled. If I can stand the pain, regular massage can help, at least temporarily.

11. My good days - If you see me smiling and functioning normally, don't assume I am well. I suffer from a chronic pain and fatigue illness with no cure. I can have my good days or weeks or even months. In fact, the good days are what keep me going.

12. My uniqueness - Even those who suffer from FMS are not alike. That means I may not have all of the problems mentioned above. I do have pain above and below the waist and on both sides of my body which has lasted for a very long time. I may have migraines or hip pain or shoulder pain or knee pain, but I do not have exactly the same pain as anyone else.

I hope that this helps you understand me, but if you still doubt my pain, your local bookstore, library and the internet have many good books and articles on fibromyalgia.--Written by C.S.

Friday, August 10, 2012

August Monthly Goals Blog Hop

July Goals:

  • Eliminate soda - again. I think I had two sodas last month. So not a complete success, but far from failure.
  • Walk at least a mile twice a week (2.5+ laps around BBR pond) It has been WAY TOO HOT to go to the park. But I have done some long walking at stores/malls. So not a success
  • 3 days without red meat, pork or poultry Don't think this happened either
  • 1 week without eating anything on my sensitivity list SUCCESS!!
  • Start oil-pulling again Hadn't even crossed my mind in the mornings.
  • Take my vitamins and meds EVERY DAY I missed a couple of days, but by no means failed.
  • Rearrange dining room and living room Living room rearranged. Haven't made it to the dining room.
  • Attend a transcendental meditation info session Never received July schedule from TM leader
  • Listen to my Circle+Bloom mind-body meditation sessions 3+ times a week Nope. These are on a hard drive that crashed.
  • Complete and sell some of the crafts piling up in the bedroom Didn't touch these either.
So I didn't succeed in all goals, but I've decided that I'm not going to say I failed. I just didn't put forth my best effort, so it's time to try it again.

August Goals:

Carry Over from July:

  • Walk at least a mile twice a week (2.5+ laps around BBR pond)
  • 3 days without red meat, pork or poultry
  • Start oil-pulling again
  • Rearrange dining room
  • Attend a transcendental meditation info session
  • Listen to my Circle+Bloom mind-body meditation sessions 3+ times a week (after downloading them again)
  • Complete and sell some of the crafts piling up in the bedroom

New for August:

  • Start doing yoga again so I'm ready for my free week of yoga at a studio in Sept.
  • Convert local PCOS group to a Power Up for PCOS group! (My volunteer interview is this evening!!)
  • Test out the White Rock location for the Sept PCOS walk
  • Convert my old bakery blog into a recipe warehouse
I've been feeling better lately. I started back to work at the beginning of July, part-time, 5 hrs a day, 3 days a week. This week, at the request of my boss, I increased my hours to 8 hours a day, 3 days a week. I'd add more days, but I can't afford the gas to get back and forth yet. Since I still don't have me license, hubby has to make the drive to and from work twice a day. 26 miles round trip, twice. I only get paid once a month, so next month, when I can afford gas from the increased hours I've been putting in, I'll add more days.

I'm also in the process of converting my local support group into a Power Up for PCOS group. I'm looking forward to my volunteer interview tonight :) I also applied for a second job at a pottery shop near home. It doesn't pay worth a darn, but I'm not doing it for the money. I'm doing it to see happy little children painting to their heart's content. And to pay for all the cool stuff I want to paint lol. Even if I don't get the job, I'm hoping to plan a support group meeting at the pottery store, so we can all paint butterflies or something :)

Oh yeah, and according to the nurse at my rheumatologist's office this week, I have lost 6 pounds since my last visit. Yay me :) The pair of pants that I bought 6 months ago that was a size 16 without the W no longer fits. They are huge on me. So my grandmother bought me a new pair this week. They are 16s as well, but much smaller than the others. I know the old pair was just lying to me when it said 16, but it still felt good to no longer have Ws on my pant sizes. And it's still that way. In fact, I didn't even shop in the plus size section to get the newest size 16s. So yay me!