Impossible things

I slept terribly last night. Once I finally fell asleep, (some time after 3 am), I had bizarre dreams and kept waking up to change positions. Bleh.

I’ve had a nagging headache for the last three days. Not a migraine, thankfully, but not the kind of headache I can just ignore either. It feels like there are evil little gnomes running metal rakes down the inside of my skull. I’ve tried just about everything in my arsenal, but nothing has helped. When I woke up this morning, the headache was there to greet me, and I immediately knew that I was missing more than a few spoons. (I’m not crazy, read The Spoon Theory and it will all make sense.)

As I lay there staring at my ceiling, looking for any excuse to delay getting out of bed, a scene from Alice in Wonderland, (the Tim Burton movie version), popped into my head. It was the beginning of the battle scene at the end of the movie, where Alice tells the Mad Hatter “Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast”. That got me to thinking, if Alice can summon up the courage to fight the Jabberwocky by believing in impossible things, maybe I could use the same trick to face the day…

Here’s what I came up with:

1.) Cookies for breakfast can be good for you.

2.) I can jog for a solid half mile without dying.

3.) I just donated all of my size 12 jeans because they were too big.

4.) Funny cat pictures can make anything better.

5.) Happiness is a choice.

6.) Even with this headache, I can get up and have a good day.

By the time I got to number 6, I was feeling much better. If you had handed me this list even six months ago, I’d have marked everything off as completely impossible. Simply knowing that they are all not just possible, but now part of my reality gives me more than enough strength to make sure today is a good one. The headache is still with me, but I’m not going to let it ruin my entire day, just writing this post is proof that I can still be productive. Am I going to go out and get groceries or clean the whole house? No, I’m not; however,  I’m not going to lay in bed all day and feel sorry for myself either. 🙂

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THE Plan, update 5.1

I don’t really have enough to say for a full blown post, but I have an announcement to make, and I’m so excited that I can’t wait any longer.

I have officially dropped another jeans size!!! 🙂 Two full sizes in about three months- omigod! It took an amazing amount of restraint not to start squealing in the middle of the Old Navy fitting room.

Yes, it’s been a lot of (very hard) work, but moments like this make all the dieting and forced physical activity totally 150% worth it! The next time I’m having a bad day, I think I’ll try pulling a pair of my old jeans out of the closet as inspiration to keep going.

The Yoga Verdict

About a month ago, in “The Plan, update #4”, I made a big deal about wanting to change my workout routine and giving yoga a try. I’m rather ashamed to admit it, but after publishing that post, I kind of ignored it. Ok, I seriously ignored it. The DVD arrived, I popped it in the player and bored myself to tears in about 5 minutes. So, I turned it off and didn’t give it a second glance until today. I could take the easy way out, say that the DVD was just too boring for me to suffer through and that it was a waste of money, but that’s not true. Yes, I was bored by the slow pace of the exercises, but that’s because at the time, I was looking for something more vigorous. I moved onto Jillian Michaels’ Thirty Day Shred and found it infinitely more satisfying.

The problem is, being in the middle of a nasty fibro flare makes Jillian considerably more difficult. I’m still trying to stick to my routine, but I’m finding it harder and harder to recover. When I woke up this morning, I was so stiff I could barely move. I started having flashbacks to The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy and the scarecrow meet the tin man… If I had thought that spraying myself with WD-40 would have helped, I’d have done it in a heartbeat. Which brings me back to the previously discarded yoga DVD.

One of the most important things that I have learned since starting my get healthy plan is that once I get moving, I feel better. My mood improves and the pain doesn’t seem as a bad. The hard part, of course, is getting myself to move in the first place. Let’s be serious here, when we’re in pain, the last thing we want to do is move. Unless of course that movement results in a comfy pillow and some chocolate. Thankfully, I have a new carrot dangling in front of my face: a little bit of movement = guaranteed relief. With that in mind, I finished my morning cup of tea (green tea!) and faced Ms. Barbara Benagh once again.

I started out with her 20 minute Sun Salutations routine, and let me say right now, this time it was not boring. The slow, gentle pace was exactly what my muscles needed. By the end of the routine, I was feeling energized and <gasp!> limber. It actually took effort not to start squealing like a four-year old who’s just been let loose in Candyland. No, I’m not exaggerating. 🙂 As a matter of fact, I felt so awesome that I decided to try a second twenty minute routine, Strength & Balance. Both routines challenged my strength, flexibility and endurance, but gently. I didn’t feel rushed and throughout the routines, the instructor offers helpful (non patronizing!) advice on how to modify the poses if you need to.

At this point, I feel positively amazing. Part of that is because I’m just proud of myself for doing it and even more proud that I was able to follow both routines the whole way through, something I wouldn’t have been able to do a few months ago. The cherry on top is that I physically feel better; my muscles are limber again and while they are still a bit sore, it’s at a much more manageable level.

Of course, as with any new exercise, the real test is still to come: how will I feel tomorrow and will I be able to get the same results consistently? I certainly hope so, but I’ll keep updating as I go along.

Earl Grey, hot.

Yep, that’s a Star Trek reference and no, I’m not a Trekkie. It just happens that my parents watched a lot of Star Trek when I was a child and it seems to have affected my brain. As a kid, I’d always wondered what “Earl Grey, hot” actually was. A strange thing to fixate on, I know, but my parents mostly drank coffee. Growing up in the South, the only kind of tea I was familiar with was “sweet tea”, so I was curious about the drink Captain Picard was so very fond of. Once I actually tasted it, I was hooked; I’ve been exploring teas ever since.

My tea cabinet, no kidding.

My tea cabinet, no kidding.

Why am I telling you all of this? Simple: because I loved tea before anyone called it a “super food”. I am not one of those people who will go out and buy something just because it’s suddenly become popular and in reality, calling something a “super food” is probably the most effective way to make sure I’ll never try it. I know that tea (especially green tea) has been getting a lot of attention lately for its many seemingly miraculous qualities. “According to research”, it can help prevent cancer and other diseases, lift your mood, help with weight loss, and even make you immune to the Zombie Virus. Ok, I may have made up that last one, but the rest are said to be true.

However, I’m not here to report on what everyone else is saying. I’m only telling you what I have personally found, and in my experience, drinking a hot cup of tea is a great (and tasty!) way to alleviate some of symptoms of fibromyalgia.

I did not scour the web for information on which teas to drink and then try them. I simply enjoy drinking tea and love to try different varieties, purely for the pleasure of it. It just so happens that while exploring the many different possibilities, I discovered that there are real, tangible benefits to some of them. I truly wish that I could tell you I’ve found a miracle tea that makes all of the pain and random symptoms of fibro go away, but if it’s out there, I haven’t found it. What I have found is that certain teas seem to make some of the symptoms more bearable.

One of my favorite “go to” teas is the Sleepytime blend by Celestial Seasonings. Seriously, this stuff does wonders for me; it’s the only thing besides toilet paper that I make sure to never run out of. I buy another box when I get down to the last four tea bags in the old box. If the zombie apocalypse happens, this is what I’ll be hoarding.

Anyway…

It’s a caffeine free blend of chamomile and spearmint with a hint of lemongrass, which makes it great for anytime of day (or night).  I find it to be incredibly soothing, just inhaling the aroma while it brews knocks my stress level down a notch. Since stress and anxiety have an immense impact on my pain level, anything that helps me keep calm is wonderful. This tea is also perfect for bouts of insomnia; chamomile has been used for centuries to “soothe the nerves” and help people sleep. You can buy plain chamomile tea, I’m sure it would be just as effective, I just don’t care for the flavor.

I absolutely adore a good cup of Earl Grey but, it’s really just “regular” (black) tea infused with bergamot and sometimes other flavors. I’ve tried many different flavors/varieties of black tea over the years and while I haven’t found it to be particularly useful for fibro symptoms, it does help with headaches. Add a bit of sugar (real sugar or honey, no fake stuff!!), to a hot cup of black tea (not decaf) and suddenly you have a drug free headache buster. It even helps with migraines, although I’ve never had a cup of tea make a migraine completely disappear.

There is a ton of research out there concerning green tea, but since I haven’t really consumed enough of it to notice any benefits, I’m not going to make any claims about it. What I can tell you is that if brewed correctly, it’s very good and it does have a lower caffeine content than black tea. I am, however, planning to try a few different varieties of green tea very soon, so if I notice anything amazing, I’ll definitely report back.

In the mean time, I think I’ll go check on my Sleepytime stash. 🙂

THE Plan and the flare up

I have good news and bad news. Since asking which one you’d like to read first is pointless, I’ll start with the bad news that way we can end on a high note!

Ok, the bad:

As predicted in my last post, I am in the middle of a fibro flare. I was really hoping that it was just a fluke or a rough patch, but since it’s gone well past the week mark and shows no sign of stopping, I’m officially calling it a flare up. My trigger points are seriously unhappy lately, to the point that some of them are actually visible to the untrained eye. They look (and feel) like marbles under my skin. Thankfully, they tend to come and go, so they’re not constantly exposed, but they are unpredictable.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with trigger points, here’s an overview.

Trigger points (some times called tender points) are one of the main ways doctors diagnose fibromyalgia; they stand you up and literally poke specific spots on your body to see if they cause an unusual amount of pain. There are 18 points doctors look for and if 11 or more them cause pain, congratulations, you have fibro. Here’s a picture to show the official 18 points they check:

The number of spots that actually hurt can vary widely from person to person and time to time. For me personally, I generally have 16 out the 18 active at any given time. Usually, these trigger points are only painful when you touch them, if you’re really lucky, only when you apply a bit of pressure.

During a flare up, all bets are off. Like I said earlier, my trigger points become inflamed and actually stick up out of my skin, when they’re particularly pissed off, even wearing a t-shirt can be extremely painful. It feels as though I’m being stabbed in the back with a white-hot poker, complete with that radiating pain you get from a nasty burn.

The only thing that I’ve found thus far that helps with trigger point pain like this is having trigger point injections. Basically, a doctor jabs a needle into the offending spot injecting a tiny amount of anesthetic. Even with the anesthetic, it’s a breathtakingly painful experience, so it’s only something I do as a last resort. Let’s just say that right now, I’m seriously considering it. 😦

Along with my trigger points being angry, my sleep is all kinds of messed up. The issue is that I’m having trouble falling asleep and when I do finally pass out, I tend to sleep so heavily that I don’t move and wake up feeling stiff and disoriented. It’s also taking a lot longer to shake the morning fog. Usually, I wake up, take my morning meds and I’m good to go in about 20-30 minutes; lately, however, it’s taking 45 minutes to an hour, even after taking my meds with a full glass of cool water. For the record, I’m not complaining. I’ve suffered through days at a time with no sleep whatsoever, so I’ll happily take the sleep I can get even if it’s not great.

On the plus side, I’m still breathing! 🙂 That is always a good thing, because it means there’s still hope for things to get better. (I know, sometimes I’m so optimistic I make my own teeth hurt.)

I did take a few days off from exercising, but since it made absolutely no difference in my pain levels, I started up again. Before the flare up, I had started doing Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred every other day. I’ve thus far done 10 days of level one, and I am amazed at the results. Not because I’ve lost any weight, but because of how quickly my endurance has been improving. Last week, I astounded myself by jogging 2/3 of a mile. Yesterday, I jogged a full mile, 1.1 miles, to be exact. Again, I didn’t jog all of it at once, I broke it up into segments of about 1/4 mile at a time. As if that wasn’t amazing enough, all the jogging brought my 5k time down by about 5 minutes! Back in June, I was thrilled because I walked 5k in 50 minutes, now, just over a month later, I can do it in 45:05. I’ve met my interim goal, now on to the next phase: 5k in 40 minutes.

Do I feel terrible? Yes. Does that mean I give up on my goals? No. Absolutely not.

 

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