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