Back Pain

A Hidden Pain and Silent Fog: Fibromyalgia

Dangers of positive thinking
Good news, Bad news

 

I have some news.

It has good bits and not so good bits, but that’s life heh!

It explains why I’ve been a little quiet (but you may not have noticed).

It explains why I’ve been a bit flakey and unreliable (I hope you haven’t noticed).

It’s also about the next 6 months

 

 

 

 

What’s been going on?

I’ve been struggling with ‘back pain’ since January, which just seemed to get worse and worse.  I’ve tried a very experienced Osteopath and her Physiotherapist, then an Acupuncturist.

I also started looking at potential emotional stressors, as my opinion is that there is always an emotional/mental aspect to an illness, as well as a nutritional/environmental/genetic/physical reason (I’m going to someone who does a form of behavioural kinesiology that I used to be a practitioner of).

Back Pain
Photo from NHS website

But it got worse and worse, and then I realised that I had gone from just a general tired lethargy to being properly depressed, isolated, feeling hopeless and miserable, as the pain was excruciating.

So I went to the doctor.  It took me a while because of the receptionists and ridiculous booking policy.  But I got some anti-inflammatories, that helped to turn the pain levels down.

I was so frustrated with myself.  13 years ago when I had a lovely little Reiki practice, I used to be able to turn a bad back (one that needed surgery) around in under 3 months.  I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t fix myself.  Of course this didn’t help!

I was also beginning to worry that I didn’t have a bad back, because my Dad died after 6 months of a bad back from cancer.

Then I decided to try a Pilates studio who did a mixture of Pilates and Osteopathy called Osteolates, which at last seemed to make a dent in the pain.  After I had to go back to the doctor for more pills, the Pilates guy had a talk with me and told me to go back and get more help.

The doctor listened and then said ‘have you heard of Fibromyalgia?’.

And so it is a few weeks later after some tests that I now understand, not just why my back hurts, but also why my tummy has been worse and I needed the probiotics and why I’ve gone from being quite organised, to being so flakey that I can look at my diary and STILL double book something.

 

What’s Fibromalgia?

Fibro fog
Picture from Craig Martin Illustrations

It’s the nerves basically being over sensitive and feeling more pain.  They aren’t sure what causes it.

For me it is pains down both arms, hips, legs, across my shoulders, right hand side of my back, left hand side of my neck, sometimes head, right hand side of my jaw, and a feeling of something trapped behind my left hand shoulder.

It’s really bad in the morning, and I HAVE to have a warm shower to get moving.  It will ease off by mid-afternoon, but is awful in bed at night, so has disturbed my already disturbed sleep.

Others have it a loss less, and it’s more of a tingling or lack of sensation in hands and feet, which is scarily reminiscent of MS.

Some have it a lot more and can hardly work or move with it; I’m very lucky this is not me and I’m focussed on improving my symptoms, so that I don’t end up debilitated by it.  (It’s not however a degenerative or terminal illness luckily).

I also have had a return of my old IBS symptoms and worse sleep (they don’t know if sleep is the cause or bad sleep happens because of Fibromalgia).

Worst of all is the fibre-fog which had me forgetting 2 appointments with a health visitor, and Curly Headed Boy one day telling me off for being so disorganised.

At first I was a bit shell shocked as it seems a much more complicated thing to tackle than just a bad back.  I’m also not very keen on ‘labels’.  But now I’m getting my head around it, I think that Im much better off knowing, as I can now make some changes.  I’m really lucky my doctor was aware of it and open to it, because many aren’t.

 

So my plan?

Time to stop for a whileI’m backing off work big time for the next 6 months:

  • Paid blog posts are too much effort if you do them properly, they also add to the list of ‘To dos’.
  • I’m still on facebook and twitter; but I’ll be around a lot less
  • I have an existing client who I will continue to support as she doesn’t need weekly help, but I wont take any more on.
  • I won’t be publishing the second edition of my book or the paperback.
  • I won’t be finishing my new book ‘Lose Weight the healthy way without diets or bootcamps‘.
  • This also takes the pressure off finding a nursery for Little Dimples (which has been disastrous).

I’m going to play more with the kids and have tea with mates more.

I’ll keep blogging once or twice a week because I love it and doing my monthly Lifestyle feature for Radio Verulam.

The doctor has just started me on some pills to give me better sleep and help with the pain.  They are actually a mild-antidepressant when taken in bigger quantities, so I don’t think I want to stay on for too long.  But a break and a chance for my body to recover seems like a good idea.  Apparently it also confirms the diagnosis, if they work (which after one night I’m pretty sure they do).

The dentist has referred me to the hospital to see if they can help me with the jaw pain.  Apparently my teeth are wonderful, which must be down to the little water-spray gadget I got from Britmums live, as I’ve always been rubbish at flossing!

I’ve improved enough to start going to the Pilates classes at the studio (rather than 1to1’s), so I’ll stick with that to keep my spine moving and get my core stronger.  Non-pounding exercise is meant to help a lot, so I need to gradually add 3 more things per week.

I’m going to start ‘meditating‘ once a week, which is meant to be great for stress (which escalates the pain dramatically); but I’ve found a fun way, which I’ll tell you all about (it’s slightly wacky!).

I’m going to meet with a few other people who also have it to swap stories and ideas on how to tackle it.

I might look at hypnotherapy to improve my sleep as I had it once at 26 and it lasted brilliantly for 10yrs.  I know loads about sleep improvement, because I’ve had so little for so long, but it would be easier to just sleep!  We’ve also moved the beds around in the house and bought me a new bed to make it easier.

The doctor is going to put me down for some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which is meant to help loads with dealing with the pain.

I have a huge belief in the power of nutrition, so at some point I’m going to have to face a big change in the way I eat; probably once some of the other bits and pieces are in place.  I have been a big fan of the Food hospital on channel 4 and they definitely had both eating plans for improving neurological issues and also inflammation (which are the main symptoms).

I’ll keep up with the kinesiology to dig up any emotional/mental aspects, which I suspect are from a long time ago.

 

Sooooo …

I’m sorry if I’ve not always been very ‘present’ recently; it’s been because of the pain that I got bored of mentioning and the fog that has clouded me from the world.

If you need me I’m always here at the end of my blog/facebook/twitter and I love to help, so it will ‘help me to help you’ (hows about coming over for a cuppa instead?).  So never feel bad about asking.  However, I’m not going to look for people to help.

If I don’t get involved with your event, charity, project or other thingy, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s just that I’m taking some time out for me.

I was a bit embarrassed that I’ve gotten myself into such a state, but it’s daft to worry about that right?  At least some of you Mums out there will see what can happen when you keep trying to juggle all the balls, just because you’ve been able to in the past.

Luckily I never pretended I was perfect, and hopefully my blog posts about my improvement (the power of positive thinking and all that), will help other people.

If you know anyone with one of ‘those’ illnesses which are difficult to diagnose like Fibromalgia,  M.E. or CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), then you might want to point them in this direction for a while.  I’d also love to hear of any blogs that you know.

Hopefully at the end of all this I’ll be a lot stronger and ready to take over the world with my books again!

 

Update: I’ve set up a page to record all the useful information and people that I find in my fibromyalgia journey.  I’d love to hear more from fellow sufferers either here or on that page.

 

 

 

Supplements

Is Supplementation Needed If You Are Eating Healthily?

SupplementsSo if you follow all my tips on eating healthily in my ‘Healthy Eating For Rubbish Cooks‘ Series, does that mean you don’t need to take supplements, minerals or vitamins?

The answer is: use your common sense (which isn’t the same as ignoring it or over-worrying about it).  You don’t need every supplement, and health food shops are full to the brim of ideas for you to spend your money on.

If you follow my tips on healthy eating, weight loss and exercise and you are feeling in tip top condition, then no, I doubt you need a supplement.

But if you are exhausted and have tried all my tips to get more energy, are sleep deprived and generally feel rubbish, then yes, maybe it would be a good plan.  The sorts of things that can be helped are PMT, joint pains, digestive issues, skin problems, depression, I even saw them help Alopecia on ‘The Food Hospital’ on Channel 4.

My top tip on supplementation is to ASK someone who knows more than you and knows more than the internet.  Sometimes the people who work in health food shops can be really helpful.  Sometimes you might actually want to talk to a nutritionist, homeopath or medical herbalist.  You might even have a great doctor who is willing to do a test for you to check how you are doing, as general exhaustion can also be a sign of deeper problems.  If they won’t do a check on your body’s nutrients, then you will find that there are private professionals who will; but make sure that you use someone with loads of experience who has come well recommended to you.

I think that the biggest question is whether to take a multi-vitamin or not.  Some people claim that you can get all the vitamins that you need from a healthy balanced diet.  Some claim that unless you eat totally organic, the quality of our vegetables and meat is not good enough any more and you will need vitamins.  My answer is; does your body feel healthy and vital?  If not, what’s wrong with it?  Maybe consider a supplement or vitamin.

I do use supplements, so I’m going to list what I use here or have used.  For all of them there is a really obvious reason, I’m not just supplementing for no reason.  Plus I have asked professionals about the combination of them.

Bear in mind that I haven’t slept through the night in 6 yrs, I have 2 young children (6yo and 2yo), I co-sleep and am an extended breast-feeder, as well as working from home when you look at my list!

1) Floradix: A liquid mineral and iron supplement: This is magic in a bottle for me when I’m breast feeding, and it doesn’t constipate you like iron can.  Without it I was getting HUGE bruises, but within a couple of weeks of going back on it I had tonnes more energy and the bruises were gone.

2) Vitamins: I take the ones for breast-feeding women as those little tikes do tend to suck all the good bits out of our bodies.

3) Omega 3, 6 and 9: My brain works better with these, REALLY noticeably!

4) Vitamin C: My body really likes me taking vitamin C, despite the fact that I pretty much always hit my 5 a day.  Maybe it’s habit, but I don’t feel as good starting the day without it.

5) Probiotic: A proper ‘pill’ one, rather than a yogurt with sugar.  Mine come from Optibac who kindly sent me a couple of packs to try for free.  I’d been having stomach cramps and this totally fixed it.  I’m going to write a proper post all about what probiotics are in the next couple of weeks for you.

I was talking to a friend today about the fact that she reckoned that supplements had helped her depression.  I know of loads of people who swear by whatever it is that they take.  There is a possibility that it is a case of the vitamins being a placebo.  But then there is research to show that even operations can be placebos because of the power of the mind.  I don’t really care, what is most important is that the proof is in the pudding.  There will be times in your life when you need a little extra help.  If the help is there and available, then I think it’s well worth it.

BUT, I’ll say again; it’s wise to get advise because herbs, vitamins, minerals and supplements are actually a lot more powerful than you might think.  You can take the wrong things that might make the symptoms worse or disagree with something else you are taking.

One final word: If you are pregnant, then it’s crucial that you take a multi-vitamin that is tailored for your needs and includes folic acid.  If you are pregnant with twins, get professional advice about whether you need more.

What are your favourite supplements?

Or do you think that it should be possible to survive without them?