Getting Better

I’ve been very busy over the last six months and had some major changes in my life that have been very stressful. As I’ve said elsewhere, my main strategy in dealing with fibromyalgia has been to reduce stress in my life as much as possible.

Unfortunately, the main source of stress in my life over the last year was my relationship with my life partner. That ended in January, which led to a brief period of greatly increased stress—moving house, major lifestyle changes, etc. I ended up in the hospital for a brief time due to depression, which is one of my biggest health issues.

However, I had begun making some big changes a few months earlier. I had started on Weight Watchers, sticking to mostly fresh, local food. I had re-committed myself to exercising, joining the YMCA and getting serious about fitness. I had also found a good therapist and begun Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which combines mindfulness techniques with cognitive behavioral therapeutic basics.

I believe those changes allowed me to avoid a total collapse despite the major crisis that struck in January. I’ve also lost weight, although that isn’t the primary goal of the changes. My total pain levels have been reduced and I’ve been able to reduce the dosage of one of my medications and stop taking two others. At this point, I’m hoping that I can return to work before too long.

I’m not always able to get to the Y when I like, and weight-bearing exercise is still painful (I have degenerative disc disease and arthritis), so I’ve had to be creative in finding ways to be active at home. It’s possible to do so, though.

As little as five minutes of activity at a time throughout the day can make a major difference in pain levels, believe me. I’m fortunate enough to have access to a pool in the neighborhood, but if you don’t, you can stop and stretch for a few minutes. Or hope about some light yoga? I found some free yoga videos that are accessible to anyone with a net connection on YouTube and various web sites. There are even chair exercises for those who aren’t able to get up and move around. Anything will help.

Remember to stay hydrated, before, during, and after your movement periods. It’s summer in my half of the world, so heat that requires more hydration all by itself.

Let me know how gently and gradually increasing your activity levels works for you, please. I’m interested in hearing from you!

July 5, 2012 · Cyn Armistead · 4 Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Fibromyalgia, Pain

Hope for Pain Relief

I’ve known of mindfulness practices for several years, and read Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn several years ago. It is one of the books I’ve recommended on this blog in the past.

I have only recently, though, truly committed myself to using the practices. I have to say that I was shocked to find that when I give myself over to the spirit of some guided meditations, the pain is gone. I am still on my medications, but I’m going down on dosages and using no breakthrough pain medication these days.

Kabat-Zinn has published many other products, including a CD of meditations entitled Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief: Guided Practices for Reclaiming Your Body and Your Life. I’m so impressed with the quality of his work on The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness and the other books I’ve mentioned that I have no hesitation in recommending that recording. I’d love to hear from others who are using mindfulness practices in their recovery, too!

March 23, 2012 · Cyn Armistead · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Fibromyalgia, Pain, Resources, treatments

Long Time, No Posts

I’ve been gone so long that I doubt anyone reads this anymore. If the feed is still in anyone’s readers, they’ll just be stunned to see something come through! I am still out here. I have notes all over the places where I’ve started writing posts and then…something happens. I get tired or distracted or a develop a headache, it’s always something.

Or I write something that really should have been a post, but it’s a comment on a mailing list or forum somewhere. A little while later I’ll realize, “Hey, why didn’t I put that effort into the blog, where it wouldn’t be so ephemeral?”

So from now on, when a comment or question in one of those places triggers writing, I’ll attempt to remember to put it here, hoping I actually finish and entire thought. I would also appreciate input from anyone who is still reading (if you exist) as to anything you would like me to write about. That way I don’t feel as if I’m talking to myself or worse, shouting into the void. If you want me to record this little things as podcasts, say so!

August 19, 2011 · Cyn Armistead · 6 Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Blogging

Long term opiate use safe; One woman’s experience with Savella

There are two great articles from Karen Lee Richards in HealthCentral’s Chronic Pain Connection newsletter today.

The first, Long-Term Opioid Therapy – What Are the Effects?, brings us the results of Dr. Forest Tennant’s ground-breaking study. He evaluated 24 chronic pain patients from 30 to 79 years old who had been using opioids for 10 to 35 years, and “concluded that the significant improvements in quality of life and physical functioning from opioid therapy are so positive they outweigh any negative complications, which can be easily managed.”

Almost all of the patients (22 of 24) said their pain had permanently decreased over time. And the vast majority (20 of 24) felt their opioids still provided the same relief as when they started treatment. All of the patients reported one or more functions or activities they can do now that they couldn’t do prior to beginning opioid therapy (i.e., get out of bed everyday, take walks, shop or visit friends).

The article details the patients’ diagnoses and gives further information, and I encourage you to read the rest of it. While the study was small and obviously needs to be repeated with a larger group, this is marvelous news, and I for one am very grateful for Dr. Tennant’s work and the participation of his subjects.

I have to say that I find HealthCentral’s sites to be generaly decent, but the Chronic Pain Connection is outstanding. I encourage you to visit and subscribe to the newsletter.

Next, in One Patient’s Experience with Savella for Fibromyalgia, Richards brings us detailed feedback from one of her contacts, Brenda, who has been taking the new drug for seven weeks. Many of us have heard of Savella, but so few have had an opportunity to try it or know anyone who have that this article is very helpful in making a decision as to whether or not to ask our physicians for it. After reading about Brenda’s advice regarding insurance experiences, dealing with side effects, and positive results, I for one will be talking to my neurologist about a trial pack.

December 3, 2009 · Cyn Armistead · 6 Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Fibromyalgia, Pain, Resources, treatments

Do you have chronic myofascial pain (trigger points)?

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial PainTrigger points (TrPs) confuse many people. People who suffer from Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) have tender points that are used for diagnosis, not trigger points. TrPs can lead to Chronic Myofascial Pain (CMP). Trying to explain both of them is really beyond me, but Devin Starlanyl does a great job of making all of it clear. Her web site is great, but believe me, her books are even better!

The Trigger Point Therapy WorkbookIn any case, I have CMP and FMS. For the past week or so, I haven’t been able to move my neck much because of pain on the right side that referred down my arm and around to my chest. I know I’ve got scar tissue there in my neck, and compression of a nerve between two of the vertebrae, but normally I can move my neck through a full range of motion. I have no idea what happened—maybe I slept wrong? I don’t know, and I haven’t really been sleeping much in any case.

Body Back BuddyI had my monthly visit with my pain management doctor today, and mentioned the problem. Right off, the PA asked if I wanted to try trigger point injections. Within 15 minutes, the pain was fading. I was afraid it would come right back, but so far it hasn’t. By the time I got home, I was falling asleep in part due to the intense relief.

I definitely hope that I wouldn’t have any particular place that is so painful next month, but I’ll definitely be ready to speak up about whatever is most painful.

Tiger Tail MassagerIf your doctor doesn’t offer trigger point therapy for you, ask about it!

Knobble IIIf you’re sure that you have TrPs, you can also try treating them yourself. For laymen, the best book about TrPs is The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by the late Clair Davies. I have a copy, and recommend it. I’ve found that it’s best used in conjunction with a TheraCane, but it seems there are several other nice tools available now, too.

BacknobberTheraCaneI found it necessary to have someone else help me with the treatments, but they did work. They were more painful than the injections, and you need to do them three times a day. On the other hand, they didn’t require a trip to the doctor or a prescription, and once you learn how to treat yourself you can do it whenever you need it. Our former housemate helped me with the treatments, but I’m hoping that my partner will learn to do them. They do work!

August 19, 2009 · Cyn Armistead · One Comment
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Pain, treatments