Invisible Illness


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.


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.

Being A Grown Up

Busy bees and aphids

Life has been ridiculously hectic lately and “hobbies” like blogging have had to take a backseat to the daily grind.

So to recap:

  • DD dislocated her elbow
  • DD then got Hand, Foot, and Mouth (and we no longer use the local indoor play park, our area had an outbreak of HFM and it was the common denominator)
  • Hubby’s grandmother passed away
  • I did not get my promotion
  • Hubby did not get his promotion
  • I’m still training for the 5k in September
  • I’m still on Lyrica
  • I’m still getting my Masters
  • I got a trainee assigned to me at work

    Other than that, ya know, nbd.

    Oh, and we have an aphid problem.  They are rampant on our crepe myrtle this year.  And of course that means three of them have developed sooty mold as a result.  So I’m taking care of trees in my downtime.  And planning to encourage ladybugs to hang out in my yard next year.

    Plus, planning DD’s 2nd birthday.

    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


    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.

    Being A Grown Up, Invisible Illness

    Side effects may include…

    So I’m now finishing dose 4 of Lyrica.  (I had to skip a dose due to work schedule, technically I should be on dose 5.)

    Wow. Not necessarily a good wow either.  First day, I had twitchy fingers. Second day, vertigo. Skipped third for work. Fourth, super tired and still some vertigo.  Fifth, same as for so far.

    Granted, day 4 and 5 I’ve had to work which means I’m taking the meds at 8-9pm but then having to get up at 5am.  So I’m thinking some of that may be the Lyrica lingering in my system.  Unfortunately, I don’t have 12 hours or even 8 hours to let the medication get out of my system.  For instance, I took it last night at 8:30pm, I know this because we’d just gotten DD to bed.  I was sleep probably around 9:30pm.  I have to wake up for work at 5am.  So just under 8 hours.  And that’s good night.  Normally I’m lucky to get to bed before 10!

    On the upside, I think it might be working on my pain level.  Not a lot but some.  I’m going to give it a few more days at this lowest dose.  I don’t want to up it given how bad the side effects are for me right now. (Doc did authorize me to up it myself by one if I didn’t feel improvement in a 4 days.)  But if it continues to improve (even slowly) I’ll take that.  A 3 is still better than a 5.