Category Archives: Symptoms

FibrofighterNicole Weekend Update

The Agony of Fibromyalgia

Entertainment 

  • Movie – Julie & Julia
  • TV Shows – Cutthroat Kitchen, Family Guy, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Quantico.
  • Music: Disclosure, Sia, Enya, Jess Glynne, Gorgon City, Letherette, AlunaGeorge, Skrillex, Diplo, Jack U, The Jets, Robert Palmer.

The Agony of Fibromyalgia  

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The chronic illness battle has been on fire for me this weekend. A big thing to note is that I’m without my (herbal) medicine and that makes all of my illnesses worse including my depression. Add on my usual depression during the holidays. I can’t afford it anymore. The costs are higher and beyond my budget which means I’m going to really suffer during the holidays season and next month. I hate no having money to get things I need. I wish I could take care of it myself. I’ve even asked for help and got my response back or ignored.  I’ve been crying every single day as the fibromyalgia pain is too high up. I’ve thought of setting up a GoFundMe to possibly get funding to pay for my herbal medicine. The only thing has stopped me is that I don’t know enough people who would be willing to help me in that way. I also need help in getting more crafting supplies for my art therapy art supplies. I see so many others who gain funding so easily.  I feel really stuck with those type of things.  I’m happy that I created an Etsy shop to showcase my crafting mixed media artwork.  

 Most times I feel like I’m losing my fecking mind and that no one can help me get better. I’m on the east coast for the holiday season. I wasn’t planning on being out here during the holidays season but I couldn’t afford traveling back to see my parents. I’ve been experiencing high levels of depression and a spike in fibromyalgia pain. Everything in my body has flared up, and inflammation is heavy. One of the issues is joint pain that affects my ability to do anything. I can’t type well, can’t grasp things well, nor move properly. The weather here has been all over here from 30 degrees to 70 degrees. Add on chilly winds and such dramatic changes in the barometer and humidity. My body is unable to get used to any of the weather changes and it is never given a chance to get used to the weather or its surroundings. Im sure it will dip down in colder weather season again and I’ll be crying all over again which may happen tonight. I’ve exhausted all that would make me happy and I don’t have anything else. I’m still limited with my crafts as I don’t have all that I need to make even better completed crafting projects. 
 

There are things I’d love to get that would reduce my fibromyalgia pain and my depression disorders but it’s very expensive and there are legalities attached to it. While it has been decriminalized it’s not enough to guarantee safety. These are the times I wish I was living back in California again as I would have access to that wonderful green plant they have there in various strains. And it’s strong. That’s the only medicine that helps to relieve my pain completely. The strengths here are uneven compared to the legal states. There is no way to know what strain is being used nor what strength. I’ve learned I need to use a higher level strain to reduce my fibromyalgia pain and elevate my mood. My pain is too high. Entirely too high. I’ve learned what I need isn’t available.  

   

 

While I’m here with family, I see it is still difficult for them to understand what’s going on with me and I don’t understand them well. It’s hard to explain what’s going on with me too in laymen terms. I wish I had more interesting things to discuss but right now I do not. My health is numero uno.  All I know is that I’m feeling the full wrath of my chronic illnesses.
I don’t feel a connection with them like I should and I believe it’s vice versa for them. It feels like my needs are seen as lazy and immature. I’ll always be kid in my mind and heart. I’m awkward in how I speak and my words come out of me out of order. I end up offending them without realizing it and these days I’m afraid to speak. They want me to act a certain way, and that’s not me. It’s not a part of my personality. I like how silly, and humorous I am. A good sense of humor.  I hope one day I’ll be able to care for myself but I know I would need to have a caregiver to help me.  The list of things I can’t do is very overwhelming.  I try to not think about it too much as much as I can but I’m not always successful.  

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All About Costochrondritis

chestpain1Costochrondritis is one of the toughest symptoms of fibromyalgia that I’ve ever experienced.  It is truly the worst pain I’ve ever experienced as the pain is heavily radiated causing inflammation in my ribcage area.  Several years later I began to experience the severity of costochrondritis and I honestly believed I was having a heart attack.  Not only had the fibromyalgia pain spread all over my body but the intense pain from costochrondritis started from my chest, and then expanded to my stomach, my entire back and my legs.

Costochrondritis is a medical condition that causes chest wall pain around the ribcage and breast bone area which is within the chest wall.  Inflammation occurs when the cartilage swells up is connected to the ribs and breast bone area.  The level of pain depends on how much inflammation there is within the cartilage.  The pain levels can vary from mild to very painful. Basically the condition worsened the pain in my body making it hard to move and get things done.

 

I ended up in the emergency room several times as the attacks were so intense that I thought I was dying.  At my final visit to the ER over this issue, a physician told me that it sounded like costochrondritis caused by the fibromyalgia.  That’s when I learned the scary depths of fibromyalgia and all of the things it could lead to and how it could affect me.  Any type of additional pain affects my other illnesses too. I learned that I have to treat this pain separately and collectively with all of my chronic health problems. I make sure I get checked out regularly to ensure I haven’t developed another health problem.

costochondritisThe causes of costochrondritis are still unknown but there are various theories including:

  • Chest trauma such as a car accident
  • Physical strain that causes repetitive trauma
  • Upper respiratory infections and other viral infections
  • Other illnesses such as arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.
  • Tumors that are cancerous and noncancerous can cause costochrondritis too.

Some of the treatments of costochrondris vary from home remedies to prescription medications.  Here is a list of several the most popular treatments recommended to treat costochrondritis such as:

  • Apply heat or ice to the inflamed area
  • Usage of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen. It is recommended that it is best to take these medications with food.  However, for those with stomach problems, kidney disease, ulcers, or bleeding disorders shouldn’t take these medications.
  • There are local anesthetic and steroid injection options to treat costochrondritis. The injection is injected into the most tender spot affected by costochrondritis. This treatment option is available for patients who are affected by the chest wall pain and other prescription medications haven’t worked.
  • Antibiotics are used for patients with bacterial of fungal costochrondritis that has been causing infections to occur.

 

slide02-fibromyalgia-radiating-painAvoid any sort of strenuous activities such as exercise as it can make the symptoms until the symptoms have improved.  After this has happened then resume normal or regular activities.

In my future posts I will touch upon this topic as I consider a serious medical condition that is often misdiagnosed, misunderstood, and I feel that more people need to be informed about it.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

MayoClinic – http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/costochondritis/basics/definition/con-20024454/

 

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder with the acronym S.A.D. affects sufferers primarily during the winter and spring seasons.  The winter season brings less sunlight, early darkness in the evening, colder temperatures, terrible weather, and change of the seasons.

It has been found that many with SAD found that one of the main symptoms is that it triggers depression.  It was discovered in the United States by Dr. Norman Rosenthal in 1984.  This condition is unfortunately commonly undiagnosed and this makes it difficult for people to get diagnosed and receive proper treatment.  It takes approximately two to three years for patients with SAD symptoms to be diagnosed by their physician.  Research by a UK organization called Mind, provides support to those with mental health issues, has found that approximately 10% of the general population in Europe has seasonal affective disorder.  The Cleveland Clinic has found that within the United States there about 500,000 people who suffer from SAD, and approximately 10%-20% of the US population battle with milder forms of seasonal affective disorder.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Sleep problems
  • Lack of libido
  • Lowered immune system
  • Relationship problems and lack of social interaction
  • Weight gain and overeating
  • Worrisome and guilt feelings
  • Unable to concentrate

There are no known causes of SAD but research has found that the change of seasons and the change in less light is a main trigger of the disorder. When there isn’t enough light, certain functions slow down and stop gradually in the body.  Add on lower serotonin levels which is known to appear in people who suffer with depression.

Treatments for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

There are several treatments that have had positive results for most sufferers such as antidepressant prescribed medications and bright light therapy (phototherapy).  The Social Affective Disorder Association (SADA) has found that bright light therapy is the most effective therapy option.  Over 85% diagnosed SAD sufferers have found that the bright light therapy worked for them.  Bright light therapy involves exposure to the light provided from the light therapy box for about 2 hours per day.  The light mimics outside sunlight and has an intense positive effect on SAD sufferers.  Researchers believe the artificial light works by helping the chemicals in the brain linked to the patient’s mood eases the SAD symptoms.

Additional options of SAD therapy include:

  • Counseling
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • Psychotherapy

The Social Affective Disorder Association (SADA) recommends that sufferers should avoid stress as much as possible, get as much exposure to daily light as they can, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

What is a TENS Unit?

Picture taken by Nicole Leon

Picture taken by Nicole Leon

This is one of the top questions I’m asked on Instagram regarding the TENS unit I received from a Fibro Angel who made my Santa wish come true as I was unable to afford one. The TENS unit stands for Transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation which is a type of electrical pump that helps to stimulate the nerves.  It sends out pulses of electricity through the adhesive electrodes that is applied to the skin.   The stimulation helps to block out the pain signals and controls pain.  The TENS unit helps both chronic and acute pain by reducing pain in the area.

I have fibromyalgia which is a long-term illness that causes a number of problems including:

  • All over body pain
  • Aches
  • Tenderness in the tissues, tendons, muscles and joints
  • Sensitivity to changes in weather, activity levels, stress, and depression
  • Lowered ability to work out or exercise
  • Migraine/Tension headaches
  • Sleep disorders
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Tingling and numbness in limbs
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain

Physical therapists use TENS units as a therapy option to help with controlling their patient’s pain.  The TENS unit is a handheld device that is small and portable.

TENS units are now more affordable and can be purchased online and at the local drug store. I have found that the device is helpful when my fibromyalgia pain isn’t too high. However, when my pain is too high it takes a long time for the TENS unit to ease the pain and at times can make the pain worse.  The TENS unit is a tool that may or may not work for others.  It’s a treatment option to look into and try it out to see if it works for you.

 

How to Relieve Constipation

ConstipationThere is nothing worse that not being able to go when you want to and sitting there hurting wishing that nature will take course.  It’s not a funny topic nor an embarrassing issue to discuss.  It’s a debilitating issue to deal with but the good news there are various remedies that will help to ease and prevent the situation from occurring in the future.

1.  Drink plenty of water each day of at least 20 ounces after you wake up in the morning.  Drinking approximately 10 to 12 glasses of water each day and it’s the best way to flush toxins out of the body.  Avoid drinking sugary drinks such juice and soda as they contain copious amounts of sugar that can worsen constipation symptoms.  Constipation occurs due to lack of adequate liquids in the body.
2. Try eating a ripe banana with a glass of warm milk.  Chew the banana thoroughly and drink the warm milk slowly instead of gulping it down.
3.  Consume several prunes or drink one to two glasses of prune juice.  Prunes are high in fiber they contain a substance called sorbitol which is stool-laxative that helps with relieving symptoms of constipation. The prunes contain more sorbitol than prune juice.  Skip eating foods that are high in sugar such as cookies and candy.  You can still have those foods but consume them in moderation.
4.  Exercise is an important part of life and it’s needed for increasing function in the body.  Exercise by keeping your body moving through going out for walks for at least 20-30 minutes to promote good bowel movements regularly.
5.  Finally this is a difficult option but it does work. Squat down to ease out the excrement by propping your feet on a child’s step stool and raise up your knees while sitting on the toilet.

Constipation is a continuous issue that many people including myself have experienced.  Unfortunately, I’m allergic to bananas but I do eat prunes and apples to keep things going and moving along in my system.  I drink several large bottles of room temperature water throughout the day and I exercise several times per week.

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