Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Put Out the Fire: Fibromyalgia Flare-ups

Fibromyalgia, like a fire, burns whoever, whenever and wherever it can. Like a wildfire, FM can strike unexpectedly, at any time. But how do you put out the fire?

When a major flare-up hit me this fall, I had a dream that I was working at a daycare center when a small fire broke out behind the building. None of the teachers knew how to react or what to do. I shouted at them to get the children out and send them home. Then I grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran outside. I put out the fire but the ground was still hot and flames would start spontaneously. I kept putting out the flames and eventually disaster was averted. However, one of the fathers was irate because he had to come and pick up his child and demanded to know the protocol for emergencies. I was angry with the owner of the daycare for not having a policy for dealing with emergencies.

When I woke up, I was struck by the message: Put out the fire! I had to put out the fibro flare-up before it raged out of control. The women in my dream circle asked me what kind of policies I needed put into place for emergencies, in my dream as well as waking life.

Here is the list I came up with:

  1. Sound the alarm - Listen to your body. My body was sounding the alarm loud and clear through extreme fatigue, flu-like aches and pains as well as acute depression and anxiety.
  2. Evaluate and Evacuate - Evaluate how extensive the "fire" is. Do you need supplements or heavy-duty drugs? Make sure all your "children," whether emotional, physical or mental parts of yourself, are out of harm's way as soon as possible. 
  3. Call for help - Don't be afraid to ask for help. Within a week of the flare-up, I had called on my doctor, my therapist, my acupuncturist and my dream circle for help.
  4. Notify loved ones - I told my family and friends what was happening to me so I could get the help and support I needed.
  5. Douse the flames - Deal with the flare-up before it becomes a conflagration. Through supplements, acupuncture, hot baths, good sleep hygiene, meditation and lots of love and support, I kept putting out the flames until they didn't come back anymore.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To Hell and Back...

I woke up yesterday feeling "normal" for the first time since last summer. This has been one of the most intense, painful and scary journeys I've ever endured - and I've endured quite a few in my life! I feel like I was under attack and I've been in fight or flight mode (mostly fight - it's hard to run away from yourself) for months.

Now that things have calmed down, I'm a bit shell-shocked. What the hell just happened to me? Why? Will it happen again?

I'll continue to seek answers to those questions over the next few months. Meanwhile, I'm just grateful to feel like "me" again. To feel like a human being!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

When Tigers Appear, Adventure is Near

Tigers have been stalking my dreams, both waking and sleeping, for the last few weeks. According to Animal Speak by Ted Andrews, tigers symbolize passion, power, devotion and sensuality. If a tiger enters your life, new adventures will begin within the next 6 to 8 weeks, and it will reawaken your passion and power.
If tiger has shown up, there will begin to manifest new adventures and renewed devotion and  passion for life. ~ Ted Andrews
M/Y/D/S Animal graphics

Andrews asks: Do you need more passion for life? Has your energy been down? The answer is a resounding YES and YES!

Even during the summer when I was feeling great physically, I noticed that my passion for life was sub-par. Things that usually bring me joy, such as painting en plein air (outdoors), left me bored and uninterested. Then I had the mother of all fibro flare-ups this fall followed by a series of painful episodes beyond the fibromyalgia, from a stiff neck to excruciating back pain to barely being able to walk on my right foot.

But I fought like a tiger, scratching and clawing my way out of the pit and back into the light. Here are some of the weapons in my arsenal: SAM-e and 5-HTP elevated my mood and regulated my sleep without having to resort to prescription medications; meditation combated the anxiety; acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy helped alleviate the pain.

Now I'm ready to reawaken passion in my life.
I'm ready for a renewed devotion to my creative work.
I'm ready for adventure.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Good News: No Brain Tumor!

The good new is that my latest bran scan was completely normal, confirming that the benign brain tumor I had removed in 2005 has not returned. The bad news is that I still don't know why I've had extreme pain from head to toe over the past several months. The last time I had these symptoms, an MRI revealed a meningioma, a benign brain tumor, pressing on the sensory part of my brain.

Chronic inflammation is always an issue in fibromyalgia patients, but this goes way beyond FM. It started last August with a stiff neck so painful that I couldn't move my head. My doctor recommended physical therapy, which I've been doing twice a week since September.

Just before Thanksgiving I ended up in the ER with back pain so severe that the doctor thought I was passing a kidney stone. It was worse than giving birth! But the labs were all normal, so he sent me home with a diagnosis of muscle pain.

Now I can hardly walk on my right foot. I've had Plantar Fasciitis in the past, but this is much more painful than ever before. I feel like my body is screaming at me, but I just don't know what it's trying to tell me. My doctor recommended a neurologist in Boston, but it turns out she only sees epileptic patients or pregnant women with headaches. I'm not epileptic nor am I pregnant nor do I have headaches. So, I'm back to square one in figuring out this mystery.

My acupuncturist suggested that I get tested for Lyme Disease. He warned me that the standard blood test for Lyme is only 65% accurate - that means that more than a third of patients are misdiagnosed! He recommended that I ask for two tests called CD 57 and Western Blot.

For now I have to accept the mystery and manage the pain as best as I can. Will keep posting on future developments.