As The Pain Subsides

As the pain subsides these days, I’m called to write about the many techniques that I’ve used in order to alleviate many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. I wanted to write s single page of the things that work for me and offer a call for others to share their own alleviation techniques. The single page has grown long with many, many links to websites that backup the information that I’m providing or to websites in which you can purchase the items that have worked for me. I may have to break up the article into various posts because the information has become substantial.

As the pain subsides and I write the aforementioned epic dialogue on my own alleviation techniques; I’ve been nursing a migraine. In fact this is Day nine of the migraine. It’s like all the body pain has climbed up my neck stalk and nested in my head. I feel almost like a phony for writing about alleviation techniques when I can’t alleviate my migraine. The caveat is that I’d like to alleviate the migraine without taking pharmaceuticals. My liver would be so happy about that.

Here’s a call out to all my fibromyalgia suffering family.. What alleviates your symptoms and what has helped you achieve a better quality of life? Even more… what helps alleviate migraines!?

One year ago

Yesterday, I broke personal records riding my bike. (Scroll past the stats, if you’re not interested, to get to the good stuff at the end of the post.)

Farthest Distance

15.17 mi

Longest Duration

1:08:34

Most Calories Burned

483 cal

Largest Elevation Climb

702 ft

Farthest Distance in a Week

27.96 mi

Longest Duration in a Week

2:07:16

Most Calories Burned in a Week

889 cal

Largest Elevation Climb in a Week

1220 ft

Farthest Distance in a Month

44.94 mi

Most Calories Burned in a Month

1444 cal

Largest Elevation Climb in a Month

1936 ft

……………..

One year ago, I could barely finish five minutes of yoga without feeling like I had the flu. I wanted to die.

Ask me about my super duper healthy eating plan and I’ll tell you it’s a a large part of why I’ve come so far. 

Fitbit Killer

I’m pretty sure that I could look at a Fitbit and kill it or scare it away.

My very first Fitbit was in my possession for a month. I lost it less than a half a mile from Grandma’s house in Ohio. Those little trackers are not cheap. Even for the cheap one with the rubber wrist band and “so called” clasp for latching it onto your wrist, although cheaply made… are not cheap. That first one fell off my wrist. I’m pretty sure that clasp was meant to do that, so I would lose it and buy another. In all honesty, the one that fell off my wrist was not even my first.

My very, very first Fitbit was a counterfeit that I bought on eBay. It was “brand new in box” from China. I was excited to get my very, very first Fitbit so I could keep track of my activity. I ripped open the box, assembled it, charged it and synced it to the app. Or tried to sync it to the app… that app recognized that the unit was counterfeit and I was denied. At least I got a refund from eBay for that one.

Side note: Did you know that Fitbit’s help desk is on twitter? Just tweet @fitbitsupport and you get a quick reply!

The second, first Fitbit was a goner. Even though I contacted Fitbit to ask them if anyone had found it and synced it to their own app. I thought, “They must keep track of serial numbers or something. They knew when my very, very first unit was counterfeit.” Nope. They get you addicted to tracking your steps then leave you high and dry.

Left addicted without know that I was moving… I NEEDED another unit. So, I upgraded. I found a fancier one at Costco for a “decent” price and convinced my husband (ok.. begged..ok…looked at him then to it… then back to him… and back at the Fitbit…you get me.) to buy it for me. It was helping me move, after all… actually it was helping me make sure that I didn’t overdo it. The Fitbit benefits me in a different way than the average person. By keeping track of my movements, I am able to know when to STOP. A cut off point in activity. I learned that if walked more than 5,500 steps that I was in danger of exhaustion. Having a way of knowing when I was in the “red zone” I’d back off from activities and go directly home or wait in a fixed location for my companions to stop their activities. 10,000 steps = 72 hours of pain and exhaustion in bed.

I was able to keep my second Fitbit for five months before it took a dump. Midway through my time in Florida, I was busily pushing my activity envelope. Biking and walking. It tracked my sleep. Not that it helped me sleep, but the knowledge of the lack of sleep as compared to the way I felt the next day helped me get a grasp on the exhaustion.

I remember the day it dumped. I had just come home from a ride on my bike. I was elated at biking six miles! I had formed a routine.. come home, pop a Motrin before the onset of overwhelming pain, then hop in the pool. This time, while in the pool with my waterproof Fitbit, I checked my stats and the screen had frozen. Shit. Again I tweet Fitbit Support. This time with a picture of the frozen screen.

I’d never seen the icon on the screen before, so I knew there was a problem. The friendly Fitbit folks diagnosed my problem within a few hours and offered to replace my unit for free. Or… they said… upgrade for 30% off…

ooooooh upgrade… ?
No, I should go for a replacement it’s more economical… I like what I’ve got.”
Yes…. yes a new, better, UPGRADE!

“no”

“yes!”

I upgraded. All the bells and whistles that my bank account could handle.  THIS one could read my heart rate! Did you know that those of us with fibromyalgia have a different heart rate? I neeeeed this one. This time, I opted for a fancy warranty!…

Gimme, gimme that new Charge 2! Heart rate, step count, floors, timers, trackers! I could track my bike rides! Full. On.  Addiction. I do not exist unless my Fitbit tells me I do. 

Look! I’m in fat burn mode!

Look! I slept 4 hours! Here’s where I was in R.E.M. and here’s where I got up to pee!

Look! I walked 5,890 steps without exhaustion! Loooook! I biked this long and got this much cardio and my heart rate was this! Holy shit! I AM ALIVE!

 

 

 

…………………………….……..

Fitbit number four (five?) has just taken a dump.

The screen has been fading over the last few days and now, barely visible.
Tweet… hey Fitbit… my life is ending... I see it on the screen…fading away…

shit.

The horrible person is my roommate… not me!

Last week my therapist called me a “horrible person”.

multiple times

I couldn’t deny it. I will analyze the shit out of a person. I’m a bloodhound and nothing will stop me from figuring out your intentions.

She said I was a horrible person because I always look for the worst possible outcome in every scenario. Our conversation was all in a friendly banter and she was showing me that I have a choice of being a “horrible person” or giving up that need to always feel like I need to have a contingency plan or have total control. The idea is to give up the tendency to look for the worst in people and situations. Her white board flow chart of my thinking always left me in the worst case scenario.

Over the next week, I began to break down this thinking and I feel that it is a protective mechanism to always be prepared. That’s part of PTSD. Or maybe it’s just a Boy Scout code of be prepared for shit. (Or something)

The “horrible person” ideal also brought up an inner dialogue. The need to tell my therapist of who I am. “She should have an idea of who I am by now. Haven’t we be talking about who I am for the past four sessions?” No. We’ve been talking about my domestic issues. My goal was to work on me, but really, I’ve been ruminating over the same shit about someone else this whole time. The conversation always turns to my deep hurt and trust being demolished and the depression, anxiety and pain that follows. Over. And over.

Get over it, and work on me! Right?

I came across this audiobook called “The Sacred Self” by Michael Singer during my week of rumination. Very honestly, this book is a Universe Nod (people, places or things that come into my life in a very timely fashion.) It’s an audiobook about exploring who we are and the ability to observe ourselves and the world around us by tapping into meditation and mindfulness and letting go of pain, thereby achieving happiness. It focuses on getting rid of the inner dialogue, opening the heart and achieving enlightenment. I’d love to quote most of the book, but to keep your interest and to avoid risking copyright violation, I’ll send you to the Google Book so you can read these few pages regarding opening the heart… start on page 44 where it talks about ” There are centers within that channel your energy flow. When you close them, there is no energy. When you open them, there is. Although various energy centers exist within you, the one you intuitively know the most about opening and closing is your heart. Let’s say that you love somebody, and you feel very open in their presence. Because you trust them, your walls come down allowing you to feel lots of high-energy. But if they do something you don’t like, the next time you see them you don’t feel so high. You don’t feel as much love. Instead, you feel a tightness in your chest. This happens because you closed your heart. The heart is an energy center, and it can open or close…. When you close your heart center, energy can’t flow in. When energy can’t flow in, there is darkness. Depending on how closed you are you either feel tremendous disturbance or overwhelming lethargy. Often people fluctuate between these two states. If you find out that your loved one didn’t do anything wrong, or if they apologize to your satisfaction, your heart opens again. With this opening you get filled with energy, and the love starts flowing again….” and read through 46.

But here’s the words that struck me the most regarding heart his description of heart energy…

“Humans have an innate tendency to close as a means of protection. But closing your heart is not really protecting you from anything; it just cuts you off from your source of energy. In the end, it only serves to lock you inside… do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it….”

Is there a connection to my chronic pain, depression and anxiety and my heart closing?

If you’re feeling The Universe Nod yourself, check out Mr. Singer’s description of inner dialogue… it truly hit me where I needed to be hit. There’s an analogy of your inner dialogue being your insane roommate that had me rolling.

I’ve been listening to an insane roommate (page 15-22) for the majority of my life! Maybe I’m not a horrible person, maybe my roommate is!
When I saw my therapist on Monday, I told her about the book and the roommate theory. I told her I’d been listening to this inner dialogue (the insane roommate) and believing everything I heard. Trust me, I worded this in such a way that she didn’t come to the conclusion that I was hearing voices… at least I hope that’s how it came across.  We did not do the slow march to the psych ward, so I think I’m in the clear. I explained to her that since I understood that all these catastrophic thoughts in my head were not all true, I could begin to apply the cognitive behavioral therapy worksheets that she kept giving me… and I kept ignoring.

In the meantime, I’ll tell the roommate to shut up when it begins to yell at me about lies, deceit and what happened in the past. It’s all about right now and opening my heart to discover that no matter what, it won’t be hurt. Soon, I’ll have to tell you about the incredible voice (that was not my roommate) which spoke to me while meditating at a yoga retreat in the Bahamas. It had to do with my golden heart…