Triggers That Can Worsen Your FM Symptoms

Triggers That Can Worsen Your FM Symptoms

Triggers are those things in our environment that increase our fibromyalgia (FM) pain, and they are not our friends. Some triggers are unavoidable like changes in weather, and some triggers can be avoided or changed, like the chemicals we use to clean. Let’s look at a few of these triggers for FM.

Weather: I always seem to know when bad weather is on the way because my pain increases, sometimes it increases very dramatically. Personally, it is the cold, snow, and rain that wreaks the most havoc with my pain and fatigue levels. Those are the days I get out my heated blanket and take more pain meds.

Chemical Cleaners: Many years ago I switched to natural cleaners because the smell of products such as bathroom cleaners, dusting sprays, floor cleaners, etc., really bothered me!! I couldn’t deal with the smells. Natural, citrusy-smelling cleaners were pleasant, as well as effective. Even my bathroom spray is a natural orange-scented spray. J.R. Watkins makes great cleaning products that work well and have a mild fragrance.

Perfume: I purposely stay away from those stores that spray you with perfume when you walk in. Ugh! Strong perfumes and aftershaves just make me nauseous. I haven’t worn perfume in many years because of that.

Overexertion: Why is it we push ourselves to do things that we know we will pay for? Overdoing it is never good for us, but it’s hard sometimes to listen to our bodies. Walking too far at one time, doing too many errands in one day, doing too much on those days when we feel pretty good. All of those are triggers to more pain and exhaustion. It’s really not worth it.

Food: I know this is a touchy subject, because let’s face it, who wants to give up certain foods when we already give up so much, right? But I find certain foods caused me more pain, and maybe they do you, too. Foods such as: Gluten, MSG, sugar, dairy, simple carbs like cookies and some breads and crackers, food coloring, corn and other starch vegetables, nightshades like peppers, potatoes, and mushrooms, processed foods, caffeine, and fast foods to name a few. Be aware of how your body responds to what you’re eating, and be sure to drink lots of water.

Lack of Sleep: One thing I’ve found helpful for me is listening to quiet instrumental music at bedtime. I put it on a sleep timer on my phone and listen to it for about a half-hour. Or I listen to an audio book and put it on a sleep timer. It really relaxes me so I can fall asleep. Lack of sleep is definitely a trigger that needs to be addressed. Pain can keep us tossing and turning. Talk to your doctor about possible sleep medication, and increased pain meds at bedtime if you feel you need them to get a better night’s sleep.

Sensory Overload: Loud noises, bright lights, too many people talking, and strong odors all can be triggers. They can bring on cluster headaches, and just plain make me feel overwhelmed. I can’t stand the smell of nail polish, gasoline, or strong scented candles. I use lower wattage lightbulbs or dim the lights. I enjoy using essential oils in my diffuser as they can be calming as well.

What are some of your triggers? What changes have you made to accommodate them? Please share so others may benefit.

 

This was originally posted on http://www.fibromyalgianewstoday.com

My Chronically Ill Network

My Chronically Ill Network

I have made so many amazing friends on this chronic illness journey that God has entrusted me with. Would I have chosen this path? Absolutely not, but I trust the plans and purposes of my heavenly Father. We all need a network of people who understand our struggles and just plain get us.

I am involved in a few groups and found some great online sources, I’ll put some links here for you still that you can check them out. My hope is that you’ll find one or more that really resonate with you.

Resources:

Coping to Cash Flow

Fibromyalgia News Today

Fibromyalgia Night Owls 

Counting My Spoons

The Spoon Theory

The Chronic Illness Writers Group

But You Don’t Look Sick

Rest Ministries

Sick and Sick of it

My Restored Health

Seeking the Gifts of Fibromyalgia

Fed Up With Fatigue

 

Follow these people on Instagram:

@hurricaneinheels

@countingmyspoons

@lane_pietrylo

@kimfrederickson

@chronicblogs

@chronicallyboxed

@crazyspoonielife

My Facebook groups:

In Spite Of My Illness

The Konmari Method for the Chronically Ill

 

 

Fibromyalgia and Joint Issues

Fibromyalgia and Joint Issues

I recently observed people with Fibromyalgia talking about frozen shoulder and other shoulder and joint issues, and I wondered if there could be a connection. I asked the question in a few FM Facebook page groups I’m in, if anyone had joint issues. I got over 60 affirmative answers just today!

I’ve had frozen shoulder on my right side for well over a year and now my left side is starting to be symptomatic. It’s incredibly painful and makes simple activities like reaching for something, or getting dressed seem like an Olympic event… albeit it a very painful one. Do you struggle with this?

Another issue many appear to struggle with is TMJ. The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw with your skull. TMJ can cause difficulty with chewing, headaches, jaw and facial pain. I recently had my dentist make me a mouth guard to wear at night. It keeps me from grinding my teeth and helps to calm my jaw pain.

Bursitis of the shoulder, elbow, and hip are also common issues for those of us with FM. The bursa is a small fluid-filled sac lined by sinovial membrane. It’s purpose is to provide a cushion between the muscles, tendons, and the bones around a joint. Sometimes getting a shot of cortisone can bring temporary relief of several months or more.

What kind of joint issues do you struggle with? How do you find relief?

The Unexpected Ministry of Chronic Illness

The Unexpected Ministry of Chronic Illness

Before I was diagnosed with various chronic illnesses I would never have even given them a second thought. My life was very full and busy. I was raising children, active in church, and running my own business. I honestly didn’t really know anyone with a chronic illness.

I’ve been ill for over 15 years now. It was so scary at first because I didn’t know what was wrong and neither did the doctors for a long while. I was finally diagnosed with hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia. My world had completely changed!

For the past 4 years or so I have spent most of my time in bed due to extreme, chronic fatigue. But I refuse to lay here feeling sorry for myself (although I certainly have my moments), I want to be used by God to support and encourage others, in particular other women.

For the past 4 years I’ve established online support groups, I’ve started a writing career to inspire others who suffer, and I’ve been privileged to pray for many. My desire is that God would continue to use me in whatever way He chooses.

I feel very blessed to have this unexpected but rewarding ministry. I’m humbled and honored to serve these amazing, strong, incredible women.

Physical and Emotional Intimacy

Physical and Emotional Intimacy

What used to be something that came naturally, more or less, now requires greater intentionallity. Chronic pain and fatigue can be a real downer in our continued pursuit of a healthy sexual relationship. Even though we want to be engaged emotionally, fatigue and brain fog can make it seem like we’re climbing Mount Everest.

Pain, fatigue, and some medications and/or their side effects can diminish sexual desire and perhaps satisfaction. Also, if our partner is acting as our caregiver, it can be challenging to relate as a couple. Setting aside some time to listen to some music, perhaps light candles, and generally set a mood for intimacy to occur can be helpful. As much as we’d like our sex life to be spontaneous, it’s not necessarily to be anymore.

I think we could all use some variety and playfulness in our relationships. It takes the stress off “performance.” Maybe using different scented massage oils or lotions (just not something strong if your partner is sensitive to smells), the above mentioned candles, and plenty of time to set the mood is what we might need. The end goal is what you mutually decide on. No pressure to perform in a certain manner also helps build emotional intimacy, and helps to deepen your bond.

Open and honest communication with your partner is key. Share your fears and concerns with one another. Share your expectations and limitations. If you are unable to complete the sexual activity, there needs to be a level of understanding and acceptance. This is just one more area of our new normal that needs some adjusting to.

Our weight gain or loss, loss of hair, decreased libido, inability to maintain certain physical positions all combine to create a seemingly hopeless situation. Recognize that you’re doing the best you can and give yourself a break!

Some of the many benefits of sex, according to Dr. Pellegrino, is how it “increases our body’s endorphins; it improves blood flow, removes toxins from cells, and boosts our immune system; it results in stretching and then relaxation of our muscles; it reduces stress; and it re-connects us emotionally and intimately.”

No need to rush things, but if this is something that’s been missing from your relationship, begin to slowly restore this vital part of your relationship.

Fibromyalgia and Essential Oils

Fibromyalgia and Essential Oils

Are you familiar with essential oils? Perhaps you’ve used them before for other issues. I want to explore how essential oils may be beneficial to those of us with fibromyalgia. FYI, they are not a cure, but they can help to alleviate some symptoms, even temporarily.

Since we each experience FMS in our own unique ways, I would like to suggest some oils and what their potential benefits are. If you have some experience with oils you’d like to share, please do in the comments. You may be helping someone benefit from your experience.

Essential oils can be used in your bath and body oils, as well as in a diffuser (releasing in the air) or inhaling them. If you want to use them to massage the skin, I recommend using a carrier oil to blend with the essential oil. The best, in my opinion, is fractionated coconut oil. It’s clear and odorless, it won’t oxidize, and it penetrates the skin beautifully.

If this is something you are interested in, I would recommend getting a good book on essential oils. The essential oils that are most useful in treating the symptoms of FMS are:

For pain relief – spike lavender, sweet marjoram, lavender, petitgrain, Roman and German chamomile, clary sage, lemongrass, helichrysum, peppermint, ginger and black pepper. Spike lavender with peppermint and helichrysum creates an anti-inflammatory synergy.

For stress/anxiety relief – rose otto, frankincense, clary sage, sweet orange, bergamot, grapefruit, ylang ylang, sandalwood, neroli, sweet marjoram, petitgrain, mandarin, lavender, rose geranium, tangerine, jasmine.

Fatigue is what often keeps us confined to our beds. Often as a result of poor quality sleep, so even when we get enough sleep, it’s likely that we never enter into the fourth stage of REM, which is the restorative sleep. There are a number of essential oils that help provide energy to get the body and mind going, such as Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Basil, and Geranium.

For a more peaceful sleep – lavender, neroli, jasmine, marjoram, Roman chamomile. Put some in a diffuser in your bedroom or put a few drops under your pillow.

For a feeling of harmony and safety – frankincense, lavender, rose, mandarin, neroli, helichrysum.

For headaches – lavender, peppermint, marjoram, Roman chamomile. Inhaling or placing a few drops on your temple or neck can be helpful.

For increased circulation – rosemary, ginger, black pepper, peppermint, lemongrass, rose geranium.

I love using my diffuser as well as inhaling them. You can keep them in your purse or desk to inhale when you need them. I also like using lavender oil on my pulse points, it’s a natural perfume and very relaxing.

IMPORTANT: Lemon oil should ALWAYS be used in diluted forms; otherwise, it can cause skin irritation, so use a carrier oil. Avoid the use of lemon when you are out in the sun, as it may cause redness and burning of the skin.

A long soak in a hot bath with Epsom salt is an excellent way to help the body detoxify, reduce stress, and minimize pain. Adding essential oils to your bath helps even more.

Just use 2 drops Lavender Essential Oil, 2 drops Peppermint Essential Oil, and 1 cup Espom Salt.

I would strongly discourage you from buying on Amazon or other site. Instead get good quality oils. The 2 best companies, in my opinion, are DoTerra and Young Living. Just google reps that live near you.

Fibromyalgia and Dizziness

Fibromyalgia and Dizziness

I personally have had bouts of vertigo, loss of balance and dizziness throughout my journey with fibromyalgia. It can be especially challenging for me when I have appointments. For example,when I go to the dentist I have them lower and raise the chair slowly and not lower it flat. Even still, I have to hold on to the counter for a minute once I get up. When I go to the hairdresser I wash my hair at home first, then she just wets it as necessary while she trims it. Laying back to get my hair shampooed will definitely trigger vertigo for me.

Vertigo is the sensation of the room spinning or tilting and is often accompanied by nausea. Only one episode of vertigo was actually bad enough to make me vomit. It can be caused by an inner ear imbalance. I typically experience it when laying on one side but not the other. I never seem to go more than a month or so before it’s back again. I’ve had the Epley Maneuver done and that relief lasted about 6 months. It was performed in an ENT office (ear, nose, throat). I have what is referred to as BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). I can’t watch spinning things or fast moving objects without feeling nauseas and closing my eyes.

I have experienced lightheadedness accompanied by nausea, so unpleasant. That happens mostly when my IBS flares. Also, if I stand too quickly I will feel momentarily lightheaded. I have never fainted, but have felt close to that on numerous occasions. No fun!

Dizziness can also cause us to feel off balance. I’ve fallen a few times, so now I’m good at stopping and holding onto something solid, or sitting until it passes. I wonder if we are more sensitive to these symptoms because of fibromyalgia, do you experience this?

Unsteadiness is a type of dizziness that makes you feel not-balanced. When I feel this kind of dizziness, I feel like I could just topple over and fall down. It’s interesting that it appears to most often affect older people rather than the young. I can attest to that in my own life.

You could think of it like this: when you get off a roller coaster that has a lot of upside down loops, your brain is attempting to catch up to your body being away from the ride. It causes unsteadiness and potentially nausea. So unpleasant!

Some common causes of dizziness and/or vertigo:

After you have been standing for a lengthy period of time

When you go from sitting to standing

Climbing up the stairs

When you are in a warm environment

After you have been exercising

After you have eaten a heavy meal

After you have experienced a lot of emotional stress

Some medications you take

Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.