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

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