Relearning What I Learned

On Sunday I did a 2.8 mile hike with my hubby, son, and daughter in law. I must admit it was a bit ambitious, as it was a hike to a waterfall, so there was an abundance of steps. And treacherous ones at that, because they were quite step and those closer to the top of the mountain were covered in hidden ice. But if I am going to deal with pain, hiking is one of those things that are worth it to me. Even if that means, I am always behind and there is a slim chance I will catch up.

I took my time and rested as needed. I also focused on relaxing my muscles and breathing through each step so I kept getting plenty of oxygen to my muscles. There was as much mental work as physical going on. But it was all worth that huffing and puffing and moments of despair that crept in when I felt like heading back down that mountain.

I tried to stay in the moment and look at all the breathtaking scenery around me. I focused on the rush of the water in the river, and used its power to propel me. And it worked! I made it to the top and reveled in the immense spill of the waterfall. The mist coming off of it was cold and exhilarating. I learned and relearned that I can partake in these rewarding paths, despite the trials of taking the rougher trails.

I was surprised the next morning that my stiffness and soreness was no worse than most mornings. My calves just felt a bit tight. I was ready to start my week off on a positive note, so I began working on a post for this blog. Here is where I started making some wrong decisions.

It was a rainy, dreary day, so it was perfect for snuggling up on my bed and typing away as I listened to the rainfall. Unfortunately, I wasn’t listening to my body. I worked on writing and researching. I took some time to pay bills and gather tax information. I sorted through mail and paperwork. But I didn’t take the time to do yoga or any type of physical workout. And what a mistake that was.

My sleep last night was so sporadic. My pain had increased. It is as if I have spent a day wrapped like a mummy and curled inside a small box for hours with no room to move. I know this is what happens when I don’t move enough. That’s the thing with fibro, you can either move too much, or not enough. Balance is important. I’ve learned this, I know this, yet, from time to time, I have to relearn it.

There is something else I relearned. I have to be authentic. I enjoy writing, but there was no real joy in yesterday’s writing. It wasn’t totally coming entirely from my voice. My style. So, even though it was an accomplishment, it was also a lesson. Not only was it too long for me to sit and write, it likely was too long to read. I’m not even sure it was as coherent as it should be. But, I am better for having written it. Just as I am better by having hiked that mountain.

Mighty magnesium

Did you know that magnesium deficiency is common in the US general population? Did you know that such a deficiency can cause symptoms such as muscle cramps and contractions, numbness and tingling, and abnormal heart rhythms, just to name a few? Did you know that diseases such as Crohn’s and chronic diarrhea can lead to such a deficiency? And, did you know that has been found those with fibromyalgia are often found to have this deficiency?

I could spew all sorts of medical data about magnesium and diet, but since I am certainly no medical expert, I will explain what I have found with it in my own experience. If you want a bit more info about magnesium here’s a place to start: National Institutes of Health

As I mentioned, a magnesium deficiency can become an issue if you deal with chronic diarrhea. For years I was plagued with constipation and was diagnosed with IBS/C (Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation). But within a few years of my fibromyalgia diagnosis, things were spiraling out of control. I was dealing with diarrhea 3 or 4 times a month. I had been tweaking my diet for years to maintain my IBS, but suddenly I couldn’t get control over this newest issue.

Within that time period, chronic vertigo and migraines ensued. My body pain was becoming deeper, with new pain symptoms emerging. Over the next couple years, I would tick of new fibro issues one by one, until my body and mind were reeling out of control. From the onset of my diagnosis, and especially during that time, I was constantly researching ways to decrease my symptoms. The benefits of magnesium for my pain kept coming up over and over. And I have taken it for years now.

I didn’t only rely on supplements, I tried to introduce magnesium into my diet as much as possible. Spinach was one of my favorites. I’d blend it into my morning smoothie and mix it into my salads. Despite all my efforts, I couldn’t eliminate these bouts of loose stool.

I often realized that some foods would exacerbate it. Especially when I had accidentally taken in too much gluten. (something I had eliminated early on in my fibro diagnosis) I also did an elimination diet called FODMAP and found that there were other foods that were causing me issues. But honestly, I was finding this ridiculous!

Here are some odd things I found…

I couldn’t eat mushrooms. I’d be running to the bathroom within an hour.

Same thing with celery! What? I’d finally just started eating it as it was one of those things as a did that I detested. But, what was this healthy good acting as if it was a virus once it entered my digestive tract?

I could only eat 3 pieces of broccoli. Yep, 3. Eat 4, and the above issues would occur.

That is what the bulk of what this diet brought to light; what I couldn’t eat and what was the limit of some foods that my system could tolerate. The list just kept growing. I was exasperated and stopped the diet.

I just couldn’t keep on like this. I was eliminating almost all the foods on the pyramid. I was once told by a nutritionist that I wasn’t eating enough grains. I explained that I ate those I could, but with my gluten sensitivity, I don’t eat breads and such. He said, “there are plenty of gluten free items on the market”. Yep, and a lot of them are processed! I refused to eat those. And even gluten free oats make me bloat and miserable.

So, here’s the good thing about magnesium, it helps keep the bowel regular. Now, I have been regular for years, so you’d think that wouldn’t play a part in my issue, right? Wrong! And that would just make my bouts of diarrhea occur more often, right? Wrong! At least, I have not found this to be the case. I mean, is having chronic diarrhea regular?

You see I started taking Plexus BioCleanse back in December 2019. Since then, I have eaten as many as 3 stalks of celery in one sitting. I can eat more than 3 pieces of broccoli (I love it in stir fry). And I have been able to eat foods with small amounts of gluten. However, I have decided that although I don’t get the bowels issues with small amounts of gluten, it did cause skin issues and mouth sores. So those are staying off the (food) table for now.

So, why is this working? My take on it: gut health. I have felt for years that my issues have come from gut issues. And those issues stem from a build of toxins due to the years of constipation, past prescriptions I was using, and stress. Good gut bacteria is essential and mine has been losing the battle for years. My body was becoming sicker and no matter how much diet change I tried and probiotics I took, my gut health was barely improving. I’ve been at this for 15 years and have appeared to be at the “as good as it gets” level for the past year. But I am not willing to accept that level. That is my reason for trying this path of Plexus.

The BioCleanse makes sense for what my body has been telling me for years. I guess we are not only what we eat, but also what we do or do not shit. 😉

As I said before, I am not part of the medical field, so don’t take what I say as scientific proof. But, I do have daily personal experience. And I am an expert in what my body as been through and is going through. So, why do I think this is working? Bio Cleanse helps eliminate the harmful microbes that I believe may have not been allowing all those probiotics that I have been taking over the past few years take affect. My gut just wasn’t able to properly digest all those foods, saw them as foreign toxic issue, and eliminated them out by the means of emergency trips to the bathroom. And guess what, those with Chron’s and chronic diarrhea tend to be deficient in magnesium. And magnesium is said to be a deficiency that causes some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. .

Here is the Plexus description of what Bio Cleanse does:

Bio Cleanse is a specially formulated, gentle formula that
contains a unique combination of magnesium and bioflavonoids
that helps you manage those days when you feel unbalanced
and uncomfortable. Magnesium ions draw water into the
intestine, increasing fluidity and essentially having a gentle
stimulation effect. This helps remove unnecessary or harmful
• Helps cleanse the gastrointestinal tract*
• Reduces gas, bloating, and discomfort*
• Helps promote regularity*
• Helps remove harmful microbes and substances*
• Relieves occasional constipation*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Along with the help of ProBio5, my gut feels as if it is being filled with good stuff. My bloating has decreased and I have had only one day of bathroom emergency in the past month and a half. The appears the magnesium in the BioCleanse has helped to also decrease the tingling and numbness I experience. Especially in my arms. I normally have this every morning and night, and can experience it throughout the night. To date, I have only experienced one morning (beginning about 3 weeks into my Plexus regimen) of tingling and twice during the day.

These are slight, but very promising changes. And they are a very welcome stepping stone in gaining some daily physical and mental well power!

What a pain, pain is.

This totally feels like it’s going to be perceived as a whining session, but I am seriously not. And it certainly isn’t about getting sympathy. My hope is to make others aware of the scope of what my body does to keep my living life as I once could. I have not absolutes on why it happens, I can only explain what I endure. Because there is mental and physical aspects to it, I want to present it in small chunks. Therefore, for this post, I am going to focus on the physical pain portion of it.

Two years after a fall, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and myofasical pain syndrome. There are a lot of details and experiences wrapped in those two diagnosis, but for sake of time, and perhaps your sanity, I’m going to refrain from telling those stories now. I may share them in a post at a later date.

Here is the Mayo Clinics definition of fibromyalgia:

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.”

Now here is my best explanation of what that pain feels like:

Tense your entire body as if you feel like something you fear is about to happen to you. Tense everything from your leg muscles, your facial muscles, the bottoms of your feet. Everything. Now imagine never allowing those muscles to relax, yet you must carry out your day.

Now imagine your muscles are being twisted, over and over, until there are twists atop twists.

Okay, muscles tight and twisted? Now focus on your bones. They are being repeatedly assaulted by a sledgehammer. Blow by blow they feel as is they are being splintered. The pain is severe and deep; it hurts to the very core of them.

Next, the underside of your skin is on fire. Your feet burn, and it goes deeper with each step you take. In some places, your outer skin is afire, as if someone has suddenly touched you with a hot iron.

You know that feeling when you hit your elbow? That radiating stinging and tingling that courses down your arm? Imagine it occurring throughout your entire body. No specific place or pattern, just randomly showing up and lasting for minutes or hours.

Fibromyalgia is also marked with what is called tender points. I’ll throw this last little explanation in with the help of Healthline: “Tender points” on the body are one hallmark of fibromyalgia. When you press on these spots, they feel soreTender points can be located on the back of the head, elbows, shoulders, knees, and hips. There are 18 possible tender points in all. I have all eighteen. Always the overachiever. 😉

Image result for fibromyalgia tender points

Now keep all those things going at once; this is the height of a bad flare up. But, it can show up in when you think you’ve got things under control and are sitting in a movie theater or on that vacation you’ve been looking forward to for months. No warning, no reason. It just arrives uninvited. You know you certainly didn’t pack it in your suitcase. Who would?!

Sadly, it doesn’t stop there. Perhaps none of those symptoms are not visiting you on a particular day. Maybe, it is just a bit of muscle tightening. But suddenly, you can’t walk without being drained and exhausted. Your body feels like lead and you are walking through muck up to your chin and into a head wind. Yesterday you might have bounded up the steps, but now you are winded by going up 4 or 5 and need to stop and catch your breath.

All of this can happen individually or simultaneously throughout a day. One day you can run a mile or hike 3, the next day you can barely get yourself to the bathroom. It can be exacerbated by lack of sleep or sleeplessness, overexertion, not moving enough, cold weather, change in barometric pressure, diet, illness, stress, depression, anxiety, and hormonal changes. That, in a nutshell, is the physical infliction of fibromyalgia.

Myofascial Pain:

Mayo Clinic explanation:  “Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder. In this condition, pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in the muscle and sometimes in seemingly unrelated parts of your body. … This syndrome typically occurs after a muscle has been contracted repetitively.”

So, remember that muscle reaction to fear I had you mimic earlier? Imagine all that contraction going on. Each of those are now being plagued with the possibility of myofascial pain, if I cannot remain in control and keep them from tensing. Unfortunately, many movements used in daily activities cause them to contract and remain so. Thus, calling in in myofascial to over react.

The fascia is like that thin membrane you see when you eat chicken. It lies between the flesh and the skin. Here’s the medical description:  A fascia (/ˈfæʃ(i)ə/; plural fasciae /ˈfæʃii/; adjective fascial; from Latin: “band”) is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs.

Here’s is my explanation of what happens physically with myofascial pain: I call it my push me- pull me pain. Basically a group of muscles react as if they are overused. This tends to be the group of muscles I originally injured. In order to protect themselves, they attach to the fascia. Now because that fascia is wrapped around and through so many muscles, it literally tugs on them with each movement. Now, my body subconsciously, or I consciously, start to use another set of muscles instead. Those then become fatigued and grab onto a big of fascia. Between me trying to use various muscles and those muscles now attached to fascia that is pulling across other muscles, it is an all out war: my push me- pull me in action.

So, therein lies my wish list of things to lessen or eradicate. It is almost 19 years in the making, so I know it will take time to pick it all apart. I have done much in the way of that in the last 16, but I’m determined to do better.

Thanks for following along on this journey. I’m hoping and striving for epic changes and improvement.

If you deal with any chronic or life altering setbacks, please share. It’s always good to know we aren’t alone in them. Finding mutual understanding without humiliation is key.

Forward from here.

I’ve been reluctant to start this blog. Just as reluctant as I was 18 years ago to accept I have a chronic issue. I couldn’t name it aloud, because I refused to accept it as part of my life. It, in my eyes, showed weakness. And never would I allow anyone to see me as such. This has been my curse since a child: to be perceived as weak and to do my damnedest to prove to the world otherwise.

I know some of the graphics and titles on this page might make not sense to you at all at the moment. Because in the context of this blog narrative, they don’t. I’m a perfectionist by nature, and although that might often serve me in certain situations. In this one, it hinders me. Therefore, I decided to forego making the blog all pretty and organized at the onset, and, instead delve into writing. It will all meld given time. A commodity I also often deprive myself of.

So, here I am, nearly 56 years old, and owning up to a weakness in my body. Which has ultimately crept into my mind, my well being, my day to day life and my personality. But, I have grown to see within it, my strength.

Today’s strength is writing despite my fear of failure, my current pain levels, and my reluctance to show such a personal side of myself. Cocooning my true self is truly safer than what might transpire here. However, I propel myself forward with the hope it won’t be as scary as what I’ve convinced myself of.

So, why this blog? I have been working to find answers on my own for so long, and I have come across so many others trying to do the same thing. I’m not so sure how parallel our symptoms might run, but I do see the mental struggle is. Therefore, maybe as I share a new perspective, idea, answer, to one of my issues, perhaps someone else will find something that they can utilize to alleviate or lessen theirs.

I’m trying to move out of my cocoon, where I feel alone in my suffering. The hope is to transform. To move, along with others, by utilizing this long standing willpower within us, and use it to create well power: the power of being a healthier version of ourselves, that lends itself to living within the power of stronger well being, both mentally and physically, to reconnect with the person we were before our bodies were besieged, and to living out dreams long left abandoned.

I’m committed to this desire . I need to be. It has what has gotten me this far. But I need to keep reaching, because the longing for it festers as deep as the pain. I’m in it to win it. And, I hope you will be, too.

You deserve to be well. You deserve to be understood. You deserve to bring back those dreams you thought were gone forever. You deserve to watch, and feel, and revel in them coming to fruition.

Let’s do this!

(And, bam! Publishing before I tweak, re-tweak, and self doubt comes a knocking.)

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.