Friday, December 26, 2008

Caregiving

Care giving is one of the hardest jobs out there. We have caregivers for many diseases and disorders. Some of these care givers are from the health professional industry and some are friends and family. It can be a thankless job for these people because they feel misunderstood. They can get frustrated because they may not know how to help the person they are caring for. They also tend to try and remain strong and tough, they act like nothing can hurt them-- no matter what you throw their way. And of course this can be so far from the truth.

As a mom, I can relate to care giving when I tend to my children. My youngest is just under a year old and her only form of communication is crying, so it can be hard sometimes to figure out what has gotten her upset since she can't use words to communicate. It's also hard when you try to help, like feed her or change her diaper, only to find out that she's sick with a cold or has gas. You feel helpless because you know that all you can do is just be there and hold her hand through the ordeal.

As a daughter to a mom with Alzheimer's, I can relate to care giving for an adult who finds it hard to communicate. And at times, this can be extremely frustrating for both the patient and the caregiver because an adult feels like the should be able to tell you what's wrong. The care giver can feel helpless in this situation too because communicating can be futile with a person that might not understand what you are saying.

From time to time in my own life, I to need the help of a care giver because of my health issues due to arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue. This is hard for me because I've always been very independent and I feel that if I can't do something, I should not be burdening someone else to do it for me. So I can understand the patient's side of the coin too. They are also frustrated. But they are frustrated for a different reason.

Most people don't want help for something that may seem simple, like opening up a jar. Some people can even feel embarrassed when they need help with things like buttoning a shirt or combing their hair. I know I've felt silly when I've had to ask my husband to help me with taking off my shoes because I couldn't bend down to do it myself. It can make one feel inadequate as a human being because these are some normal functions that people take for granted being able to do everyday.

So how does one try to maintain feeling fabulous when their body isn't working like it should? Well, I find that there isn't just one answer to this question, but many. And this is from being able to understand both sides of the coin ,as well as, listening to my care giver when he talks to me about doing things out of love.

I can't stress enough how important it is to communicate to your loved ones how you feel. They won't be able to truly understand you or what you go through unless you do. Sometimes you may feel like a broken record because you'll have to repeat yourself-- a lot. But it's worth it because they love you, and they can't love you completely unless they know the whole you.

The same can be said about us trying to understand them and what they go through when we give them a hard time about helping us. The care giver should also be trying to communicate with you their frustrations too so you can love them as completely as you can.

Another thing that helps me is being able to step back from the situation itself, and try and remember that it's just a situation that is allowing me to be able to grow in love and understanding. This is hard when I feel silly asking my husband to help me get up from the floor-- or my particular favorite-- helping me to straighten out my back so I can stand up straight after doing heavy housework. But it can work.

The last thing that I try to remember is that tomorrow is another day. Another day that can and usually does bring something better. A day where I won't have to ask my husband to tie my shoes.

Being able to step back and think this way allows me to feel fabulous. I hope it helps you feel fabulous too.

Stay fabulous.
Love and friendship,
Kimberley


As a side note, the voting is still going on for the People's Health Blogger Awards. Voting ends January 15th, so make sure to cast your vote soon for Fibro And Fabulous. And the contest I'm running for an autographed copy of my books is also still going on. Keep those comments coming.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Holidays And You, Everyday

Let's face it, the holidays are overwhelming at times for us all and saying that they are just stressful can sound like an understatement. When you add a chronic condition to the mix, it can be downright mind blowing for the sufferer.

My family, though lovable, tends to ask me to do things for them at the last possible minute throughout the year, but when it happens to be around this time of year, it just seems worse. For instance, there are many people who like to do cookie exchanges around now, and you usually have to bake at the very least, 5 dozen for those exchanges. There's also the school time fun of Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas gifts for the classroom, cookie treats, school plays and concerts that require outfits, and sometime in between all of this, you are supposed to squeeze in Christmas shopping, preparing a meal for the whole clan, and oh yeah-- there's that tree with ALL of those lights...

I don't know about you, but just typing out all of this is making me tired.

So how do you cope? Well, I learned this wonderful word in the English language that seems to work well-- at least some of the time. And that beautiful word is the word
no. Now, it may sound mean to say that kind of word during this very special time of year, but it's really not.

I know that this time of year, we all tend to think about people less fortunate and of course all of our friends and loved ones that have helped us in one way or another throughout the entire year. But you also have to think of yourself. You've helped out people this year and you have probably thought about people less fortunate than yourself during the year too. So why beat yourself up for not being able to do it all? Especially around this time of year when you are cramming a year's worth of time into a month.

My grandmother taught me two very important phrases. One is
Christmas is everyday and the other is Charity begins at home. These two phrases are beautiful because they are packed with so much meaning.

Christmas can truly be everyday when you get together with someone you love. Even just calling someone you care about that might be far away is also like a Christmas get together because you are spending time with them.

Charity can't happen unless a person is well enough to give of themselves. So if you are stretching yourself so thin that you may wind up with a flare that lasts all winter long, what good have you truly done if you can't give to yourself or your family? The unfortunate part about having Fibromyalgia is that we have to learn how to manage our time and our pain. But once we learn this valuable lesson, we can be charitable to our family AND to others.

Staying as flare free as possible makes this season extra special because you won't be too tired to see those little ones open up the gifts that Santa gave them. Or bake tons of Christmas cookies with your children to enjoy with their class and Santa of course. Being as flare free as possible might even be enjoyable for those Christmas parties with your partner that require a certain amount of dancing too. So give the word
no a try with the things that are not as important during this month and have a fabulous holiday season!

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley

P.S. If you look to the right of this blog, you will notice that I am in the running for a People's Health Blogger award. If you like
Fibro And Fabulous, please take the time to vote. Take care of yourselves and happy holidays.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

To Do's

It's funny how you can run into people you knew way back when. I got together with an old friend of mine that I knew in high school and college. We were very good friends back then and did a lot together. She was one friend who knew the me before all of the Fibro madness caught up with me.

We started talking a bit about my issues with Fibromyalgia and the conversation got strange. You see, she started to ask me how different my life is now after diagnoses. And I started to tell her that I have to pace myself with how much I do in a day, and of course, sometimes I don't do that, because on some days I feel really good and I stretch the limit.

She then asked me what I meant by that and I explained that I had this one day where I cleaned my living room and bathroom from top to bottom and then went to my mother-in-laws and raked about three quarters of the leaves in her back yard with her. I of course felt the aches and pains of that day for the next three because of my Fibro. But I also told her that most people would probably be able to do much more than that. They would probably at least be able to finish the yard. And of course I told her that not being able to do things or finish things makes me feel guilty.

And then she said something that I didn't expect. She said you know, Kim, for most people, what you did that day is a lot. And that got me thinking because she's right. Even on our bad days we do a lot. We all have to get out of bed, get a shower, get dressed, and eat at least a meal or two. That's a lot. And of course, we don't stop there-- even on our bad days-- because some of us have jobs, kids, housework, and a slue of other responsibilities that we do everyday. And that's a lot too.

So with my friend's thoughts in mind, maybe we can all look at our to do list a little bit differently. Maybe we should start to celebrate how much we've done, instead of how little we think we've done.

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,
Kimberley

Monday, December 1, 2008

We May Not Be Right...But At Least We Aren't Wrong

While I was doing a bit of web surfing for a new book I'm researching, I came across a very interesting article that I must share with all of you. The article, which reads more like a press release, is entitled Fibromyalgia Can No Longer Be Called the 'Invisble' Sydrome?

The article was released on November 3, 2008 by SNM, Advancing Molecular Imaging and Therapy. From what I can gather, SNM is an organization that is both medical and scientific. The facility wants to spread awarenes of what molecular imaging is and how it can help provide good health care for its patients.

The basic premise to the entire article is that through brain scans of 20 Fibromyalgia patients and 10 Healthy women, they have found brain abnormalities in the women who suffer from Fibromyalgia.

So what does this mean for all of us that have suffered with Fibromyalgia? Well, first off, it means that a doctor can't go around telling you that it is all in your head or the classic you're not right. We who suffer from this beast know that we are not right and that's why we went to a doctor in the first place.

And the reason why they can't just blame it on craziness or depression is because this study clearly showed that anxiety and depression are only symptoms and not the one something that is wrong with us. In other words, anxiety and depression are independent from the abnormalities that they found.

They also found that the Fibromyalgia patients had larger amounts of perfusion in the area of the brain that should discriminate the intensity of pain. And found smaller amounts of perfusion in the part of the brain that is thought to be involved in the emotional response to pain.

So what does this mean in English? We respond to pain differently than normal people. Which isn't a surprise. But what is a surprise, is that they can now see it on SPECT scans of the brain. That means that this study can reinforce the idea that Fibromyalgia is a real disease with honest to goodness proof.

SPECT scans have also been used in studies of chronic fatigue sufferers. Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School have published their SPECT brain scans of chronic fatigue sufferers.

This is a good sign of the times. Since it shows that people are researching these two diseases that are so very real. It will be interesting to see if they continue to find a correlation of between Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. Some doctors believe that both are one in the same disease.

Either way, we sufferers now know that even though we may not be right, we at least know we aren't wrong. And that's fabulous!

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Soaking Up on Some Knowledge

When my Mother got a teaching job when I was little, she'd have me stay with my Grandmother until she came home from work. My Grandmother and I used to have so much fun cooking, making noodles with her noodle maker, cleaning, and just plain talking.

She has always been a great influence in my life and I discuss her and some of her recipes in my book The Fibro Hand in better detail. But one of the things she taught me was how to use Epsom Salt to my advantage.

If I had a sprain or strained muscle from gym class or exercise, she'd tell me to soak in Epsom Salt. She'd also use it very often for her feet. She suffered from polio when she was two years old and has post-polio as an adult now. Soaking helps her with inflammation.  I remembered this wonderful bit of information while with a gal at a social networking site.

One of the members had a question about Epsom Salt helping Chronic Fatigue sufferers. I'd never heard of it helping, but being the type of person I am, I started to surf the net to find out.

The beautiful thing about searching the net is that you can come across a lot of cool info in the process and when I do, I love to pass it on to you, my readers. Well, upon my search, I found a site called Epsom Salt Industry Council. And as you can imagine, they really like the stuff.

What I found was surprising, Epsom Salt's two main components, Magnesium and Sulfate, work wonders in your garden, beauty regimen, and also your health.

The benefits that magnesium have for your health are:
  • It can help relieve stress
  • Improve your sleep
  • Improve your concentration
  • Help your nerves and muscles function properly
  • Aid in preventing the hardening of arteries and blood clots
  • Makes insulin perform better in the body
  • Elevates swelling from joints to reduce pain and muscle cramps
  • Improves the use of oxygen

The benefits of sulfates are:
  • They flush toxins
  • Improve your nutrients absorption
  • Eases the pain of migranes
  • Helps in forming joint proteins,brain tissue, and mucin proteins.

When reading this, I said hot digity to myself because it sounds like a great thing for people that suffer from Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia! I'm so glad I decided to soak up some knowledge so I can feel more fabulous. Move over Victoria's Secret there's a new relaxation tecnique in town lol!

Hope you all can give this a try and let me know what you think by keeping the comments coming. Remember, I'll be giving away 4 autographed books and you can check the prior blogs for more details on that.

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You Are What You Eat

One of the first things that I learned when I got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia was about what not to eat. I went to the local Borders and found two books on nutrition for Fibro sufferers, got home, and then started soaking up the knowledge.

At first, I couldn't believe what I was reading when I opened up the food additive section. It was shocking to see so many things containing things like MSG. I thought MSG was eliminated from food all together in the 80's since all the Chinese restaurants used to advertise that they got rid of the additive in their foods. Of course, I quickly found out how wrong I was when I started to read food labels.

Food shopping is a whole new adventure for me and the family now because I label read and we tend to go to places like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods instead of the old stand by food markets because I can find much healthier alternatives to the classic family food additive favorites.

I tend to make a lot of things from scratch now adays because of the amount of junk that's in prepared foods. Prep time for a home cooked meal can be time consuming this way because it's from scratch, and this can be torture for the chronically fatigued. So how do you prepare a fabulously healthy meal without zapping your own health in the process? You cheat.

You heard me right, you can cheat. I found through the years that making something quick can be a life savor when it comes to my fibro and fatigue.

I've cheated by having already cut up veggies and prepacked salads in my fridge and freezer along with some canned foods. Now, you might be wondering how I can get away with canned foods when a lot of them out there are filled with too much junk.

In the organic isles of food stores and in places like Trader Joe's, you can find canned foods that are healthy and contain no preservatives. These canned foods are usually things like pasta sauce and beans and those two ingredients can make a kicking chili with little effort.

Another great thing to have on hand is rice. I tend to go for Jasmine or brown rice so I can use it when I make a stir fry. A stir fry is also another quick and easy meal for me because I buy frozen vegetables for it. I keep frozen fish fillets on hand as well because fish takes about 10 minutes to defrost and 20 minutes to bake.

I also like to use my Crock Pot a lot. Making meals in there is easy for me because it cuts down on the time I have to stand over a stove and I also don't have to constantly get up to look inside the stove to see if the meal is done. Both of which have tired me out on some days. There are plenty of reciepes you can find on the net for the slow cooker, but a general rule of thumb is to add an hour for every 20-30 minutes something needs to be cooked for.

Good food shouldn't have to be complicated, especially when you have Fibromyalgia. I have a few recipes in my first book, The Fibro Hand, and they are pretty good, but I'd love to share my vegitarian chili recipe with all of you today.

What you will need:

*2, 20 oz cans of red kidney beans

*1, 26 oz jar of pasta or marinara sauce

1 and a half tablespoons of light brown sugar

1 teaspoon of sea salt

*1 half cup of frozen mixed peppers (red, yellow, and green)

And then add 2-3 teaspoons (or to taste) of the following spices

Coriander

Paprika

Basil

Garlic Powder

Onion Powder

Cilantro

Curry

Cumin

*Chili Pepper Sauce

Add ingredients to a medium to large pot. Heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally until hot (about 15-20 minutes). Serve immediately and enjoy.

*all ingredients named can be found at Trader Joe's, however, you can substitute these products for your own favorites.

Stay fabulous! And don't forget that the contest is still going on so keep commenting!

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Monday, November 3, 2008

Please Be Kind...Rewind

Something occurred to me the other day about care giving when I was having a discussion with my husband. I call them discussions when something he may be doing is annoying me. And believe me when I tell you that this was a long discussion.

You see, my husband either believes that we have little pixies that clean the bathroom, kitchen, and pick up dirty laundry, or he has a tendency to take me for granted. And since I don't believe that pixies live on Earth, I'm going to go with the later explanation.

Now, don't get me wrong, my husband is a wonderful man, but he's human, and humans tend to forget things. And of course, I can be a pretty good gal and be able to clean house on my good days, but again, I'm only human and my flares prohibit me from doing what I want.

But what occurred to me was that he and I have two very different ways of giving help. You see, if someone asks me to do some wash for them, I'll take it upon myself to separate lights, darks, and delicates, check for tough stains and pretreat, and then proceed to do the wash. On the other hand, my husband will hear the same task, and put everything together in one load and hit start. Now, both accomplish the same task in essence. But one may give you pink underwear and baby doll shirts. But, at least it's done, right?

Well, I could say right, but on those days that it happens, I get very frustrated and upset. I feel like it's really my fault that my sweater will better fit my 9 month-old now than me, but it really wasn't my fault. And then I feel like I just should have done the task myself so I could save all of the aggravation. But that really isn't the answer either when you have a bad flare.

I like to think of those types of situations as a "Please be kind...Rewind". And what I mean by that is that there are many people out there who love us and try to help us in many ways when they understand what we are going through with the pain of Fibromyalgia. Sometimes, though, even the ones who seem to understand may slip up and forget how hard life can be for someone who feels like a truck hit them right after they mop a floor. And when this happens, I try and think of a time when that person was understanding and try and calm myself down. In other words-- I rewind. The being kind usually happens later when I'm calm, but you get my point.

So if this every happens to you, try and think about hitting the rewind button.

Stay Fabulous!
Love and friendship,
Kimberley

Friday, October 24, 2008

Plant Some Happiness


When I was young, I remember wanting to have a houseplant in my bedroom. My Mother and Grandmother were happy to oblige my request as long as I was the one watering it. I remember feeling so excited and proud that I was old enough to be able to tend to this little ivy I picked out for my room.

As the weeks went by, I tried to give it everything it needed, but it wasn't fairing very well in my room because of the lack of sun. I had a north facing window and that can be a death sentence to plants that require moderate to full sun. So, my Mother placed the little plant near a better window in the family room and it lasted for a bit of time there until some white flies got a hold of it. I was devastated and swore off gardening for years after that incident.

Many years went by and a friend of mine tried to persuade me into taking up indoor gardening again once I was settled in an apartment with full sun. I told her of my sad ordeal and how I never wanted to go back to gardening again due to my "black" thumb. She decided that she wasn't going to take no for an answer from me and gave me two spider plants as a gift one day.

Well, even though I was hesitant, I graciously took those plants into my home and gave them a nice comfortable spot near my kitchen window. These plants grew very well, in fact so well, that they are still alive today and have produced many, many offspring that I've proudly raised and given as gifts to other people.

These two plants were the start of a beautiful relationship with anything that grows again and now my relationship has bloomed into flowering plants and even fruit and vegetable plants. I have experimented with so many that I will try to put anything in a pot to see if it will grow and I have my friend to thank for this beautiful gift that she has given me.

Now, you are probably wondering what this story, though lovely, has to do with Fibromyalgia. Well, the answer is plenty. Gardening, even if it's only done indoors, is a great stress reliever, and a great source of happiness. There is just something wonderful and humbling about getting your hands dirty. It can put your life into perspective. I feel that putting my hands in soil is like a metaphor in a sense because I'm putting energy and love into something to see if it will grow, just like I put energy and love into trying be fabulous despite my condition.

I touch on houseplants a bit in my book,
The Firbo Hand where I explain how plants can help you. But my self-discoveries are here in this blog. I hope this encourages some of you to try and plant some happiness for yourselves. Stay fabulous! And don't forget about the contest-- it's still going-- so keep commenting!

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Support System

Today's topic is about having a support system in family, friends, and even co-workers. This subject is very near and dear to me because it was the hardest thing for me to do. I'm very independent to a fault because I was used to being the one to help everyone else out. I was not used to being the one who asked for help.

There were days when I became very discouraged at what I couldn't do anymore. I tried very hard not to express any feelings of discouragement, but at those times, my close friends, co-workers, and family would somehow find a way to pry them out of me. They were all very patient with me and frankly, I'm not sure I'd be the person I am today if they were not so persistent with me.

See, the hard part for me was asking someone, like my husband for instance, to do something like open up a jar of pickles if I had no strength in my hands. I felt that if I was the one who wanted the pickles, I should be the one opening up the jar in the first place. Now, I know that using a jar of pickles as an analogy may seem a little weird to people, but it's a good analogy because it seems so trivial. And that's exactly how I felt when I was the one asking for help-- I thought that my asking was trivial.

But sometimes help can't wait a day, or two, or twenty when it comes to things like cooking a meal or even cleaning a kitchen or bathroom. It was at those times that I had to get past my trivial thinking and actually pursue help from those that cared about me.

What you need from people at any given time can range from moral support to someone making a pot of coffee for you. And sometimes the help won't be exactly what you are looking for-- like, say someone, who shall remain nameless,(he knows who he is) may for some reason decide to dry your delicate lingerie in the dryer so they are ready for you to wear that day. That may not seem like the greatest kind of help, but it is help and that is what you may need on those bad days when you can't walk-- let alone do laundry.

The lesson I've learned the most from all of this, is that communication is key to helping and healing not only yourself, but the person or people who want to help you too. Let them know what you need instead of being tip lipped. After all, they may want to love you back for all the good you've done for them. And that would be just fabulous-- wouldn't it?

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Diet Debate

There are two studies out there stating that Fibro sufferers could gain relief from their symptoms by changing their diet to mostly raw vegetables, or in other words, going vegan. One study is from Finland and the other is from North Carolina and both had their subjects eat a diet rich in raw vegetables and low on salt for about three months.

These two studies are wonderful news because it shows that Fibromyalgia can be relieved naturally. I've always believed this, but I'm not a vegan. Don't get me wrong-- fruits and veggies are very important in the diet, but I also believe that the other food groups are just as important for optimal health. I try to incorporate a balance of every food group in all of my meals and I eat healthy snacks in between. But even though I eat meat, you may wonder if I've added or cut anything out of my diet to help to ease the pain. And I have, I've cut out what my oldest daughter and I call fake food. Fake food is food that has been altered by chemicals and/or refining. About 80 percent of the foods you find in the supermarket today have been altered in some way according to Christine Craggs-Hinton, author of Fibromyalgia, A Natural Approach. And frankly, I truly believe she's right because I've read the labels of most of the boxed and canned foods out there in the isles and a good majority are filled with chemical ingredients that I can't pronouce. But not all of the labels contain bad things and some of that boxed and canned stuff is actually real food. So how does this sufferer tell the difference without having to read War and Peace? Well, I went organic.

The word organic today is just another term for real food, as my oldest daughter and I put it. A lot of organic food isn't as expensive as one might think. I have found many products that are at a reasonable price at some regular supermarkets and some at organic food stores like Trader Joe's and even Whole Foods. Consumers are demanding better quality products and that's driving down some of the costs. Another thing that markets are doing to lower cost is buying from local farms to lower transportation costs which in turn lower the cost of the food. I go into great detail about good organic products to buy in my book The Fibro Hand, but a basic rule of thumb is to just read the labels. If the list of ingredients are long, chances are it isn't organic. Good meats are easily found by buying ones that contain no hormones. If it's chicken products like eggs or stock, the best kind to get are free-range. Free- range means that the animal was not locked up in a cage when it was laying eggs or when it was feeding itself-- in other words-- it's life was good. If you are looking for fish to buy, look for the wild caught instead of farm raised because the wild caught is healthier. Fruits and vegetables can be purchased inexpensively too. For instance, some fruits like bananas, have a casing that covers the fruit. Pesticides won't be able to penetrate this casing, so it is okay to go for the non-organic variety in this case.

Eating well is a lifestyle choice and it can help with your Fibro pain if you try to eliminate certain chemicals and preservatives. One can only hope that there will be further studies on the diet so we sufferers have more information to help us in managing our pain so we can be fabulous.

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy

I touched on the subject of kids in the previous blog as being a great source of de-stressing. They are innocent and give unconditional love. And children are wonderful to have in your life regardless of whether you have a chronic condition or not. I can't tell you how many forum and chat rooms I've been in that cater to people suffering from Fibromyalgia where the subject of children comes up, but there are a lot, and the topic that seems the most interesting to many is pregnancy.

Some of you who have recently had a baby know that there was a baby boom in 2007. I missed that boom by one month and had my littlest one this past January, but I, like all the other mothers to be, was very eager to find out as much information as I possibly could on pregnancy and Fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed in late 2005, which was well after my first pregnancy, and I must admit that I was a bit leery of what might happen to me and a new baby due to my chronic illness, so any information would have been a welcoming comfort to me.

Fibromyalgia is still considered a relatively new syndrome and only recently has an FDA approved medicine, so information and studies can be hard to come by in research, however, I have found some studies relating to Fibromyalgia and pregnancy and the facts that I have found are pretty positive.

First, I must stress that I am not a doctor and I cannot diagnose or treat anyone's medical condition. You must see your own doctor and discuss pregnancy with them. But if you are afraid of trying to have children because of Fibromyalgia, please feel rest assured that studies show that this dibilitating condition might not be passed on to your children. Dr. Mark Pellegrino stated in an article taken from the National Fibromyalgia Association in August of 2005 that the baby has a greater vulnerability of getting it because of the genetic component, but that is the only risk to the fetus.

It is true that some doctors have stated that babies can be effected by the prescribed drugs and herbal supplements of some patients suffering from Fibromyalgia. And most will caution women to go "drug free" before, during, and for breast feeding mothers, after pregnancy, but these side effects are shown to be from the prescribed drugs and those effects usually happen during the first four to six weeks of pregnancy when a baby is most vulnerable. Some of the research I've read about supplements vary greatly from doctor to doctor and this is where your own GP, OBGYN, and Fibromyalgia specialist (usually a rheumatologist) should be involved to help you sort out what is best for you yourself.

I had decided to go "drug free" myself a few months before trying to get pregnant with the help and guidance of my doctors. And by "drug free" I mean getting off of all supplements except a prenatal and stopping my use of Advil and Tylenol. It was hard in the beginning, but once I became pregnant, my Fibro symptoms were not that bad. Some even became nonexistent. One study has shown this to be true for pregnant Fibromyalgia sufferers. They seemed to be symptom free for about the first six to seven months of pregnancy.

I will stress that there is a very recent study done by Dr. Karen M. Schafer that contradicts this finding. Her study findings are similar to a study done in Norway in the 1970's. Her study was done with only nine mothers that ranged in age of 26-36 and these mothers already had a previous pregnancy before diagnoses. She states that mothers had more fatigue and pain in the last trimester and they also found it very difficult to breastfeed due to soreness and stiffness of their joints. Some also had a problem with sore nipples. This may be common with all mothers, but for Fibromyalgia sufferers and mothers with arthritis, it may be more common according to the La Leche League. Their article states that some medications and steroids can cause the mother to have a problem with yeast infections and if you are suffering from cracked or bleeding nipples, you should consider it to be thrush and get medical advice to treat it.

Now, studies are just that-- studies and believe me when I tell you that some of the information out there can make your head spin. Mine went into overdrive when I read all the controversy, but remember, FM is still new. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get a support system going because you are going to need it. The old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." is so true and a lot of people I'm sure will be willing to help you.

I remember wanting to do it all and being just way too tired to do anything. I allowed myself a lot of time to rest and asked for a lot of people to help me clean my house and do laundry. I also looked for support with mothers who breastfed their babies and suffered from FM. There are many forums out there that have a dedicated page for this, but the La Leche League gals were one of my favorite groups. I must stress that making the decision to breast or bottle feed is a very personal matter and some people may make you feel bad if can't breastfeed your baby. And that is just sad. Always remember that you are the mother and you love your child and if you are making the best decision you can possibly make for the both of you, then it's a good decision that was made out of love. I bottle fed my first and breast fed my second and there are wonderful perks with both which I've stated in a previous article on Helium.com entitled Feeding Your Baby: Breast or Bottle?

There are so many other tips that I have found that work well when it comes to holding and feeding your baby that I'll be discussing in further blogs. The information I have is just too much to condense into one blog. Most of what I have collected will be going into my new book which I'll announce to all of my readers here. I am going to write another book on Fibromyalgia and this one will be on my pregnancy. I talk about tips and tricks and of course my trials with Fibro. I will also discuss how to talk to your children about your chronic condition.

Children are truly wonderful and will give you great blessings of joy in your life. They can help you stay young and also remind how to be fabulous. Take care of yourselves, until next time.

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stress Busters

Hey everyone! Sorry I didn't have a chance to post yesterday. I was "busy" tending to my 8 month old who was very clingy yesterday. She's most definitely a Mama's girl and has a very hard time separating from me. It's kind of funny because, in a sense, she seems to know when I'm about to have a flare since she cries for me to pick her up. Now, some of you are probably thinking I'm nuts by saying that because she's just a little baby and how "sensitive" can a baby be-- right? Well the answer to that is simple, babies are pretty sensitive. They can be just as sensitive to their caregivers as a pet would be and when they "react" to you like that, it can actually be beneficial. Sometimes just holding a child or a pet or even tending a to a garden or aquarium can relieve stress. It's a pretty old and known fact and that's going to be the topic of discussion for today.

I've had pets in my home all of my life. Both sets of grandparents had dogs and my parents had cats. I remember having a bit of trouble when I was little with the pet hair because I was allergic, but it never stopped me from loving animals of all kinds.

As an adult, I now have 13 pets that are the topic of conversation in my blogs every now and then. My two cats were in the literal sense of being stray. Diamond was an unwanted an abused kitten before I had him. When I first got him, he hated men. At the time, that was fine with me, of course, because I was getting over a bad relationship and I hated them too lol! But, after a while, he grew to tolerate men once my husband started feeding him. Diamond did a few other special things once he started to see that I was getting ill. He started to follow me around the house during my really bad days and would even move my daughter's toys away from my walking path for me so I would not have to bend. Diamond also learned how to open cabinets to get out his canned food and hair brush. He is very sensitive to my illness, a love to have in my life, and a great stress reliever because when I take the time to be with him, I'm "forgetting" my own troubles for a bit.

Topaz showed up on my doorstep about two years ago and is my other great love. She is my "lap cat" who doesn't mind being brushed (unlike Diamond) and just wants as much attention and love she can get from you. She is the cat that will fight Diamond to get a better seat by my bedside just so she can be there until I'm well enough to get up. She is another wonderfully sensitive cat and is yet another love in my life.

My other pets are two African- clawed frogs and several tropical fish. Fish are another wonderful way to relieve stress-- believe it or not. Some of them that I've had over the years can get excited to see you like any dog or cat would when they see their caregivers come home and some will even eat out of your hand. But the best thing about fish is that you can have calmness in your life by just watching them swim. In other words, they could act as a meditative tool for you to help you relax your sometimes clouded, busy mind. I have a tank in both of my daughter's rooms and a tank in the family room that I love to look at when I'm tending to my children, or just plain by myself. It's a great way to relax and the fish won't mind because they are like all pets-- they are there to be loved.

Children are another great love of mine and they can also be great stress busters. A child can say some of the most profound things if you are lucky enough to listen. They also don't seem to care as to whether you can walk or not either. My 7 year old daughter will look at me after I've told her I can't play ball with her and say, "Okay Mommy, then let's play cards instead." Life is pretty simple for them and we as adults could learn a very valuable lesson from them by finding what relieves our stress and just taking some time to relieve it. I'm glad that I have so many animals, children, and even a husband in my life to help me remember how to relieve mine. Here's to finding yours so you can stay fabulous.

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Guilt Factor and The Contest

Warning: This blog entry is not a suitable read for children because it contains a mature topic.

Okay, now that the warning is out of the way, I'd like to discuss in today's blog, The Guilt Factor which is a topic I go into great detail about in my book, Fibromyalgia and Sex Can Be A Pain In The Neck... and back and shoulders. I also have an announcement about a special contest that I'm running in honor of National Invisible Illness Awareness Week. I'll discuss that contest in better detail at the end of this blog, but for now, let's talk about our pleasure to please people.

I've always thought that my pleasure to please can get the best of me sometimes. I'm a Mom and I'm sure all you Moms out there know what I mean, but really we all-- whether we are Moms or not-- try to please the people we love by doing things for them. I'm sure everyone will agree (unless you really, really enjoy housework) that cleaning out the cat box, taking out the trash, or cleaning the toilet just are not things we like to do. But we do these things because we love the people and pets we have in our lives. These things, of course, don't always have to be done by you, the sufferer, because, well let's face it-- there are days when even opening up a jar just seems impossible. So you delegate tasks out.

But what happens when it comes to you and your partner's intimacy since that's not something you can just "delegate" out. I'm sure you've felt like me and you've had the pleasure to please on your brain when it comes to this subject. However, intimacy can wind up sounding too much like an everyday task when you hurt and then in comes The Guilt Factor. And let's get even more frank by saying, how can one please their partner and themselves with a little intimacy and still be able to walk in morning? Well, you can do this by getting a little selfish. Use the mantra "It's all about me."

Now, before any of you think that I'm totally crazy-- let me explain what I mean. My husband and I got a little creative and decided to expand my list to include what "works" for my body even when it comes to intimacy. You can read more about my list in the previous blog for more details.

When you start a list for intimacy, you'll become even more aware of your body and how it "works" for you. And the more aware you are, the more "about me" you become. Once you have figured out what works, The Guilt Factor can then go where it belongs-- right out of your life because you'll be able to do what you wanted to in the first place-- please your partner. The only difference now will be that you'll be trying new things, like maybe incorporating more massage into your intimacy, for instance, or you might wind up going back to familiar favorites. But either way, your being selfish by thinking "it's all about me" will wind up being a whole lot of fun for the both of you.

So now that I've touched on The Guilt Factor, how about discussing that contest? How would you like to win an autographed copy of one of my books? I'll be giving away two copies of The Fibro Hand and two copies of Fibromyalgia and Sex Can Be A Pain In The Neck...and back and shoulders to four lucky commenters who read my Fibro and Fabulous blog. So all you have to do is leave a comment on here and be lucky commenter 25, 50, 75, or 100 and you'll be receiving a copy of either book! I'll be checking the tallies and giving you all some updates from time to time on the comments count, and also of course, announce the winners in future blogs. So have some fun commenting and as always, Stay Fabulous!

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Monday, September 8, 2008

Getting to Fabulous

Getting to Fabulous can seem like a daunting and difficult task for anyone who suffers from Fibromyalgia. The fatigue alone can make everything seem hard. But somehow, everyone of us with this debilitating syndrome manage lives with a job, kids, a partner, hobbies, pets, and anything else you might think of that would be included in a life. And we do it simply because we were people before we got diagnosed and we are most certainly people after that. But finding that happy medium between illness and life can really make a person wrestle with priorities. I discuss in great detail a lot of that turmoil that I went through when first diagnosed in my book The Fibro Hand, and I'll only share a bit of it here so this post won't bore you to tears.

I was always hard-working by nature. And anyone looking at me probably would look at me as a kid that felt she had something to prove. That observation would probably be right because I had always been that kid with a sprain or strain on one muscle or joint or another. I can remember my classmates in middle school taking bets to see if either I or another kid named Matt would show up with crutches on a given week. So you can definitely say that I started to "work" through pain at quite an early age.

After this, it became very hard for me to distinguish "aches and pains" from actual Fibro flares because they were pretty similar for me. It really wasn't until after giving birth to my first child that I experienced some really crappy days where I just plain couldn't move my fingers in the morning. But even then at age 28, I just tossed it off as nothing more then being tired from sleepless nights and long work days.

Then I turned 30 and got promoted to a "real" management job at a retail department store that I worked for. I'd been in a middle management position since the age of 16 so I knew what to expect-- a lot of long hours and a lot of stocking of merchandise. But this position was a bit different. I was doing a lot of walking in the store because the upper management felt that a presence was needed to boost sales and morale. This store was in a mall and had two floors. And to make a long story short, I was walking (steps count) anywhere from 5-15 miles a day on average. My knees were literally killing me. I went to the doctor, and so began the process of figuring out what I had and what to do about it for myself and my family's sake.

After the diagnoses of Fibromyalgia, I started to read everything I could on the subject and I tried to meet as many people as I could that had it. I wanted to beat this thing that was robbing me of the life and job I had. One particular book took my be surprise. It dealt with Fibromyalgia in a whole "new" way where the woman thought food and other natural approaches would help manage the pain. This book called Fibromyalgia, A Natural Approach, talked about a "detox" program where you eliminate food that cause problems in your diet. I was ecstatic and felt in control again of my life because I now had an idea and a plan to help me to feel better.

Once I read this book, I started to keep a journal of what I ate and how I felt afterwards. I tracked whether my ankles swelled, if I was tired, or if I had a burst of energy. Now, I also did this for my activities and how I felt after those too, because I knew that this would help me for my particular situation. I wrote in this journal faithfully for one week at first and then I started tracking it off and on for a couple of months. After my regular foods and routines were tracked, I continued the journal for any new activities and foods. This gave me a great record of what "worked" well for my body and what caused flares.

Now, I'm not a doctor, so I must stress that getting yourself checked out by one is very important because everyone is as different as the symptoms are of Fibromyalgia. This journal, however, helped me and my doctor communicate better because he and I could refer to what worked for me. And it helped a lot, but getting yourself diagnosed first is very important so you can eliminate any other possibile illness. Fibromyalgia tricky to diagnose because it's symptoms can look like Lyme Disease, MS, or even RA, to name a few. So having said that, I hope this bit of information helps you to get on your way to be Fabulous! Take care of yourselves and I will chat again real soon!

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Being Intimate On Relationships

Okay, hopefully most of you reading this have read my prior blog and know that some of my posts, though clean in wording, won't be a good read for kids. This will be one of those kinds of posts. Now, having said that, I feel better that you are forewarned and we can get to the subject at hand.

Relationships are hard enough without adding the extra burden of Fibro, but what can one do when Fibromyalgia and Sex Can Be A Pain In The Neck? Well, the first thing to do is to talk about it. I know that sounds too simple and you all may think I'm just plain off my rocker, but think about it for a second. How many of you out there sweep your pain under the rug, shrug it off, and then proceed to go about your day like nothing is wrong? How many people do you "do" that too? Do you do it with your co-workers? Your friends? Do you do it to your partner? I know I've done it with all of the above because I felt that my pain wasn't important at the time. But really, how silly is that? If I'm "important" in my co-workers, friends, and partner's lives, then my feelings of being in pain are important. So shrugging it off as if it were nothing, is well, like saying "I'm nothing and not important." Frankly, I know that that statement couldn't possibly be true. And it's simply because I know I matter to people-- just as you matter to the people in your life.

Talking about your everyday pain really is important because it will give you and your partner a barometer of your "good" and "bad" days. You then both will be able to tell when a flare is coming, why it might have happened, and what it may have been caused by.

Not all flares can be determined, depending on your actual Fibro condition, however, some CAN be prevented using this simple method. And if you and your partner can get a general idea of why you may hurt, intimacy may not be so foreign in your lives as a couple. It can become fun instead of just being another thing that causes you a pain in the neck.

I go into further detail about this subject in my book called Fibromyalgia and Sex Can Be A Pain In The Neck...and back and shoulders by explaining what has worked for my husband and I, if you want to read more, but for now I will leave you by saying, take care of yourselves and stay fabulous!

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What is Fibro and Fabulous?

It never really dawned on me to do an actual blog about having Fibromyalgia. I've written two books on the subject since my diagnoses, but I never really thought about taking the subject further than the form of a book. Looking back at the whole thing, I realized that it was just silly not to. And now, the blog Fibro And Fabulous is born. Funny thing about this whole situation is, that that's kind of how my books got published in the first place too-- I wasn't really thinking about it lol!

Having said that, I also got the idea from looking at what is ahead for the month of September, and during the week of September 8-14, is Invisible Illness Awareness Week. Frankly, I can't think of a better illness than Fibromyalgia to talk about since it has been an invisible illness for a little over two centuries. Researchers have found information on the syndrome in books dating back to the 18th century and some have even found references in the Bible at or around 4 BC, but most doctors of today didn't (and some still don't) recognize Fibromyalgia as an actual illness until the FDA approved the medicine Lyrica. That's pretty sad, but true. I remember getting misdiagnosed for years because my doctors simply didn't want to admit to the fact that they had no idea what I had, nor did they want to label it Fibromyalgia. There is a wonderful site out there that is making the month of September a month to remember all of your friends and loved ones that suffer from an invisible illness. There are a lot of illnesses out there that make one NOT look sick and I'm just glad this gal is doing this. You can follow any blogger by clicking on the invisible illness ribbon to check it out.

I will be doing as much blogging as I can on this site about the chronic condition Fibromyalgia, as well as, Chronic Fatigue. I'm going to go into some advise for sufferers, how your family can cope when you become diagnosed, my thoughts on what caregivers may go through with a tough bird like me, and finally, how to live with the illness and still feel fabulous. And for any of you who have read my books, you know that part of being fabulous will also deal with your relationships with others like your children and your mate...especially your mate! We'll get into the territory of my book about intimacy here folks and I promise it will be clean conversation, but this kind of topic is definitely not for kids. So I'll make sure that a warning of some kind is either in my title or in the first paragraph of the particular blog.

I hope you will enjoy reading Fibro and Fabulous. For now, take good care of yourselves and I will chat with you soon!

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

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