Invisible Illness

Productivity

Everyone defines productivity differently.  Overachievers seem to have a hard time considering themselves productive because they set such high standards for themselves (and everyone around them too).

I used to be an overachiever.  Dealing with my fibromyalgia has changed that.  I’ve had to lower my standards for myself in order to maintain my mental health.  When I first was dealing with the symptoms of fibromyalgia, primarily the fatigue, the brain fog, and the pain, I often found myself unable to complete the simplest of tasks.  And it upset me.  Truly, to the point of frustrated tears, upset me.

So I started changing my idea of being productive.  I started taking baby steps, making lists of big things then making lists of smaller things that led up to the big things.

Big things like fixing up our yard.  A task made even harder because I have a rambunctious almost-3-year-old who I can’t leave unattended for 5 seconds without her causing trouble.  And harder because Hubby has left me practically a single parent for the last several months with his 2-jobs-schedules that left us with barely any mutual days off.  So I broke those things into smaller things.

New yard furniture.  A new yard umbrella to give us shade.  Mowing the lawn.  Pulling weeds from the empty flower beds.  Moving the bird bath (which is solid stone/concrete and takes several people).  Re-planting our crepe myrtle.  Cut back the overgrowth on the side and back of house.  Mark out the deck dimensions.  Purchase supplies for deck.  Build deck.  Build lattice privacy wall.

Smaller things.

Run the dishwasher.  Empty the dishwasher.  Run laundry.  Fold laundry.  Put away laundry.  Vacuum.  Sweep and mop.  Pick up toys.  Dust.

Smaller things.

Read a chapter.  Research.  Write.  Post.

Smaller things.

Text a friend.  Call a doctor’s office.  File paperwork.  Take me-time.  Shower.  Brush my hair.  Brush my teeth.  Eat.

These days I’m excited for accomplishing small things I used to take for granted.

Meeting my step-goal (which is less than the 10,000 recommendation).  Drinking enough water.  Finishing homework on time or even early!  Taking care of laundry.  Loading the dishwasher.

Things I used to be able to do without much effort can now take all I’ve got.  I just don’t have enough spoons to do everything.

So I’m working on adding some spoons.  It’s tough and requires hard work and a lot of effort.  But I also want to make sure I’m as prepared for Disney next year as I can be.

I want to be able to keep up with DD.  I want to be able to be excited with her, not exhausted.  I want to be able to get out of bed every morning with energy, not sore muscles.

I know I have no real control over my illness.  But I can control how I react to it.  And I’m fighting back.


~ML

A Day in the Life, House & Home, Kids, Married Life

Update Rant

I lied.  I said I would probably update tomorrow as part of my 365 Project but I’m gonna do it today instead.

So what’s been happening with us?

Me:  My Lyrica dose was upped.  I’m still on what’s considered a low-dose (100mg) because the dose can go up to 500mg/daily.  I was also advised and placed placed on an ibuprofen regimen, at least one tablet/capsule daily.  Which is not hard considering I still end up taking ibuprofen every other day to begin with.  This just started the week of Christmas so still a bit early to say if it’s helping.  I’m also working more on “me”.  I picked out a new skincare regimen because I was starting to have really consistent breakouts and skin-bumps (those little red irritated bumps that aren’t acne).  So now I’m on a full-blown Philosophy system.  I have the Purity One-Step and Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash, plus a little facial scrubby brush.  I also have the Renewed Hope in a Jar (both for eye and face).  So far my skin is doing much better.  I don’t use the exfoliating wash often since I have sensitive skin, I have used it about once a week (on week 3 now).  But I’ve seen faster healing on blemishes that do appear and blemishes are as big on top of the clearing up faster.  So that’s pretty good.  Plus the esthetician told me to expect a light breakout when I started using the scrubby brush because apparently everyone has one when they switch to the brush.    I also bought all new make-up but I’ll discuss that another time because this has already turned into a ridiculously long paragraph about me.

DD: We started the PEID program right before Christmas.  Our goals are to get her to be more vocally expressive.  She doesn’t talk much and doesn’t have nearly as many words that she uses compared to other kids her age and is no wear close to sentences (which is what she’s supposed to be starting with at 2).  She will grab you and drag you to what she wants.  Or she’ll skip the adults entirely and go do it herself (her problem-solving skills are an outlier for her age, she’s months ahead).  So we’re working on it.  Oh, and she dislocated her elbow again.

Hubby: Here’s the big one.  Back in late October, Hubby had a CT scan because he’s been having severe migraines for most of the year.  We finally got the results back in the first week of December.  They found an arachnoid cyst near his cerebellum.  Now, a lot of researching has yielded that these are usually benign, often are found while being tested for other things, and sometimes are present even from birth.  They usually show no signs or symptoms and are often just left alone.  But!  Hubby has a migraine that he has had since December 17.  Still.  He has been on Imitrex (and finished it in a week), has been to the ER for possible meningitis, and has been basically bed-ridden for the last week.  He has an appointment with a neurologist on January 9th and hopefully we’ll figure something out, maybe putting him on a migraine prevention regimen like I was on years ago for my chronic headaches (prior to fibro diagnosis and prior to pregnancy–the hormones seemed to have assisted with this as the frequency of my migraines/headaches has decreased, although the severity is still up there).  We ended up in the ER when he started having neck stiffness and heaviness/tingling in his limbs.  Added to that was the fever he’d run several days prior and his PCP wanted to rule out the possibility of viral meningitis (don’t get me started on the hospital trip because that was a nightmare!)

So that’s part of what’s been keeping me busy because I’ve been working 40+ hours a week and then coming home to take care of everyone and the animals and the house (all of the house since Hubby usually is no help these days).  I finished my fall session of classes with A’s so a straight 4.0.  Brought my GPA to 3.5 overall so I was very happy about that.  Spring session starts in 2 weeks on the 16th.  Hopefully I can keep this grades thing going.  I was mad that I got my bachelor’s with only a 3.2 considering I’d managed to keep a 3.8 through my AAS and the first year of my BS.  Stupid O. Chem.  The only saving grace is that I wasn’t the only one whose GPA dropped thanks to that class.  Considering that the school came down on the professor and made him curve the second half of the course so that more than 2/3 of the class didn’t fail…yeah.  All four of those classes were ree-donk-u-lous! (Yes four, 2 lectures and 2 labs all taught by the same guy and all 4 pulled my grades down.  It still irks me how weird he graded things like half the material we were tested on wasn’t even covered in class, we were expected to learn it from the textbooks on our own!)

~M

A Day in the Life, Being A Grown Up, Kids

My Greatest Blessing Calls Me Mom

I am usually well aware of how blessed I am that I have my wonderful daughter.

Many days I feel I don’t deserve her or that I’m failing her.

Today was one of those days.

A flare day.

A day where I hurt so bad that I don’t even want to get out of bed to take care of myself, much less another human being.  But I drag myself out of my bed and make myself do the best I can.

But it’s tiring and I end up paying for it because I push myself.

Today, DD reminded me just how blessed I am.

When I pushed myself so hard that I finally just kind of had to stop and crawl into the spare bed we keep in her playroom and lie down while talking to her and watching her play.  My beautiful little girl started bringing her toys to me so we could keep playing.  Of course the toy she brought me is this giant VTech castle that is bigger than she is so momma had to step in and suggest other (smaller) toys that we could play with on the bed.

Now she’s cozy in her bed and I can hear her little snores now and then through the monitor.

I still hurt all over and feel like absolute dirt.  I feel underappreciated and overworked.  I feel stressed by bills and work and school.  I feel sometimes like we’re never going to get ahead.  We barely have a savings account some months and we’re supposed to be saving for college for her while going to college ourselves.

But I’m blessed.

Today reminded me.

Invisible Illness

Color 5K

Hubby and I ran our first 5k this past weekend.  It was one of those color runs for charity.  It was a lot of fun.  It was tough on me.

I don’t know about other runners with fibro but my calves cramp up terribly in the first 1/2 mile!  It’s so bad that I have to stop and do stretches and massage.  But once I get past that I’m fine to go for miles.  It’s the craziest thing.  So I’ve been looking into compression sleeves to see if that will help.  From the sounds of it, it might.  So we’ll see. Might have to hit up the sporting store or the running store in town.

Now I’ve got to look into my next 5k.  Hm.  Might see about another color run I the spring.

Being A Grown Up, Invisible Illness

I found a thing!

So, in my ongoing quest for answers, I stumbled upon something that I thought rather interesting.  I found the website of a British doctor, Sarah Myhill.  I haven’t looked too far into either her or her practice other than the surface stuff on her webpage.  But one of the little tidbits she’d written hypothesizes that fibromyalgia may be the result of lactic acid, the same lactic acid that builds up on muscles when you work out.

Now, I can say that yes, my muscles do tend time feel “tired” and sore on a regular basis, like they would when I went for a good jog.  But these days they feel like that just from going up or down stairs or walking across a parking lot!  Now I’m not a size 2, and while my doctor might say in obese I don’t agree.  The problem is that for my height, yes I am overweight.  I’m 4’11” and 190lbs.  But I’m not so out of shape that I should be “feeling the burn” from walking across a parking lot.  And sometimes I don’t.  It also doesn’t explain the joint aches.

Coming back to Dr. Myhill’s theory; I found it quite intriguing and not impossible.  I plan on taking a copy in to my next appointment because it talks about testing vitamin levels that I know haven’t been tested.  But in top of that, I’m going to start doing more to address lactate acid build up, like drinking more water and a few vitamin supplements.  I’m already doing the work out more part.

This does look like something to research more about.

Being A Grown Up, Invisible Illness, Kids, Pregnancy, School

Fit-ish

So before I got pregnant (and subsequently my world imploded and exploded at the same time), I was a runner.  I was slower than a herd of turtles in peanut butter, but I was a runner.  My best was a 12 minute mile and I was working on intervals and trying to train to start running 5Ks.  And yes, I know you can continue to run while your pregnant, my doctor even assured me of it.

Until I started fainting and falling and they started worrying about my heart.

After that I was too scared to go running since I always went by myself.  Granted I ran around our (at the time) neighborhood so I wasn’t exactly isolated but I also wasn’t guaranteed to be able to get help if I needed it right away.  I wasn’t comfortable so I stopped although I had every intention of starting back up once my daughter was born.

But then I started having mental health issues and health issues and everything went to hell.

But I know stress is a serious factor in fibro flares and God knows I am way too stressed.  Between work and family drama, a crippled support system, and a busy 19 month old, I’m on a hair trigger some days, especially if I’m having a flare.

But running was my zen.  I never thought I’d be a runner (and I’m still a herd of turtles) but there it is.  But it was always something I did by myself.  Not that I hated having someone else with me but I did and still do prefer to be by myself.  It gives me a chance to think or not think, to focus on just the run and forget all the crap in my life.

Trying to get back into with a kid, especially now that all of my doctors are on me about being active and staying active and losing weight, has been hard.  Hubby is not a runner by any stretch.  So if I’m home by myself with DD and dog, it’s a marathon by itself trying to get us all out the door, on the leash, in the stroller, house locked up, etc.  I end up not because it’s too exhausting.  And the many times I’ve suggested to Hubby “hey, let’s take a family walk” and the few times he’s agreed, we end up having speed bumps all day and not getting our walk.

But I’m too stressed.  I think my anxiety is starting back up and I really can’t afford that.  I’m not having panic attacks like I used to but I’m grinding my teeth.  At first I think it was just at night (I’d wake and my teeth would be sore or feel kind of loose in their sockets almost) but then I started catching myself grinding my teeth while I was awake.  I have a night guard now but it doesn’t do much for me during the day when I can’t wear it.  (I could but I think it would interfere with the whole radio/phone thing at work.)  Since I don’t want to end up on anxiety meds again, I decided it was time to take back a bit of control of my life, in a healthy way (yes I had unhealthy ways of doing it when I was younger so I make the clarification; see depression and anxiety references.)

Last night after my shift I got my butt onto a treadmill and ran, really ran, for the first time since I got pregnant (almost 3 years ago, that’s crazy to think about!)  It was a 20 minute mile but it was a mile.  My legs felt like rubber, my heart was hammering, my lungs were burning.

I FELT GREAT!  I still feel great today.  I’m not even that sore!  But it was time for me and it showed me that I can get back to where I was, healthwise and weightwise (a 30 lb drop, ugh!)

Of course I’m sitting here staring at homework and wanting to throw myself off of a bridge because I clearly picked the wrong school to do my masters with but oh well.  Gotta do what I gotta do.  They were my only option for being completely online and still being able to get my degree.

Buckle down. #beastmode

Being A Grown Up, Invisible Illness, School

Learning Curves

So my semester started last week.  I am so out of sync for school.  Trying to find time to do assignments is looking ridiculously daunting.  I used to be good at time management.  And usually I am even these days.  But having a toddler, a 40+ hour work week, plus an hour commute one way to work (2+ hours in a car in a day), plus a dog, a parakeet, and 2 sugargliders.  Throw fibromyalgia on top for some fun.  Forget a social life, I haven’t had one of those in almost 2 years.  I haven’t touched a video game in almost a week, and even then it was for a whole 30 minutes before DD woke up from her nap.

But by the time I make sure everyone is fed (and watered) and cleaned up for the day, usually after working a 10 hour shift, I’m ready for bed myself.  I try to make myself do some cleaning around the house, even if it’s as minor as loading/unloading the dishwasher and picking up toys.  Which is basically just cleaning up after the day itself.  It doesn’t include things like laundry or the mail piling up, or shoes that DD drags all over the place (all shoes, any shoes she gets her little mitts on).

If I’m extremely diligent, I’ll try to tackle an hour of school: reading a chapter in the textbook (which I likely do not retain), work on a paper, or take a quiz.  Today I did a write up for a class on defending a thesis.  I still have an exam to do but I can do that at work, too many distractions…normally.  Today very few distractions but the odds of getting interrupted once I start an exam with an hour and a half time limit is like Murphy’s Law.  It happens all the time.  Sit down to work on something, boom!  Stuff!

Instead, working on some paperwork and reading more chapters in my textbook.  May start on some research for a paper because that’s mostly searching and reading and I can pick it up and set it down fairly easily.

Seriously, I must be a masochist.  That I’m putting myself through this in the name of bettering myself.

I hope it’s worth it.