Festive, Fun way to Relieve Pain

The holidays can be stressful, to say the least.  This season involves a lot of hustle and bustle and if you suffer from fibromyalgia or chronic pain, all the goings on this holiday season can spike your pain and sap your energy. I’m always looking for creative ways to manage my pain, instead of just relying on medications. Here’s one I bet you haven’t thought of:

Coloring!

Christmas Tree Coloring Page

My therapist turned me on to this and I’ll be darned if the pain just doesn’t fade to the background while I color. I find that I get the best result when I choose pictures that I could’ve colored as a child, not anime or new cartoons or anything else from the present. I get the best result using crayons too. Colored pencils and markers just don’t give me as much pain relief. I don’t know if it’s the smell of the crayons or that I’m tapping into my inner child who is still happy and untouched by pain and traumas, but whatever the reason coloring helps me manage my pain. And anything that helps manage pain is a good thing in my book.

I haven’t been up to much holiday decorating the last couple of weeks. I just put some lights on m Christmas tree last night.  It still needs ornaments, garland, and all the fixings.  I haven’t wrapped a single present from the daunting stack of things to be wrapped either.  So I’m killing two birds with one stone today. I’m coloring Christmas coloring pages. It’s fun to color them and get in the holiday spirit. It brings up lots of childhood memories of happy times at Christmas with my family and the excitement of opening presents and seeing what Santa left for us on Christmas morning.  The pain fades away while I color and when I’m done, I can tape the pages up on the walls in my house to add some holiday decorations and color to the house.

Christmas Stockings Coloring Page

So before you work yourself into a flare up or crash from too much excitement and sugar, take a moment, breathe, and enjoy some coloring. Your body will thank you.

From Fine to Feeling Better, a Fibromyalgia Book Review

Fibro from FINE to Feeling Better

I recently read Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia: From F.I.N.E. (Frustrated, Irritated, Nauseated, Exhausted) to Feeling Better. This is a good book for the newly diagnosed and a good refresher for those who have had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or Fibromyalgia for a while. This book is very upbeat. It makes both diseases seem less daunting. It is similar to a short textbook in that it covers a wide range of topics relating to both diseases as well as focusing on how to help you feel better. The authors of this book — Nancy Fowler and Lisa Ball — describe both diseases, but especially fibromyalgia I think, as “The Thief.” Fibromyalgia steals much from us and changes much in our lives. I think their name for this invisible disease is very apt.

The book aims to educate the reader about his/her disease and to help he/she to cope with the all of the symptoms and changes these diseases force on us. The authors discuss a wide range of topics — from how CFS and fibromyalgia manifest physically to how they affect people mentally and emotionally.  This is a good, positive book. I think the way it is most helpful is that each chapter is on a different topic relating to both diseases. You can look at the table of contents and identify the chapters that are most relevant to you and just read those. This is a good thing for us as “fibro fog” often keeps us from being able to focus for more than a short period of time on something detailed like a book. Fibromyalgia and all the medications we have to take to cope with it impair our ability to focus. I believe the authors understood this and set their book up to very reader friendly.

I read much of this book but two chapters resonated the most with me: Nutrition and Psychological Aspects of these diseases.  This book is the first place I have seen a detailed list of nutritional concerns and suggestions specifically for sufferers of fibromyalgia and/or CFS. The nutrition chapter was my favorite by far and it had really good suggestions in it that are easy to apply in your daily life. They are simple suggestions to help you feel better, not daunting life changes that require lots of energy and effort.

Here are some of the book’s suggestions from the nutrition and psychological chapters that I jotted down to keep in mind for myself.

Nutrition:

  • Proteins (meat, poultry, fish, tofu and cottage cheese) will ease carb cravings, give you added energy and aid in weight loss.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. Fish oil supplements are a good idea for sufferers of fibromyalgia and CFS.
  • Drinking lots of water MUST. Water hydrates cells and flushes toxins out of the body.
  • Don’t drink carbonated beverages. Sugar brings an initial energy spike that soon fades, causing a roller coaster effect. Each carbonated drink as 12-14 tsp. of sugar and can lead to yeast problems.
  • Small amounts of dark chocolate are good for you. Most chocolate candy is high in fat and has a small amount of caffeine. Stay away from these and caffeine in general.
  • Stay away from MSG. It can cause headaches, dizziness, and chest pain.
  • Beauty products can contain allergens (gluten, for example). (I recommend Neutrogena makeup products as they are gluten free and very safe.)
  • Look for and avoid Aspartame. It’s usually in diet/sugar-free foods.
  • Steaming preserves more of the “good stuff” in foods than boiling.
  • Don’t eat too many carbs.

Psychological Aspects:

  • The 5 stages of grief apply to fibromyalgia: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
  • We move through these stages but eventually we have to accept that these diseases are part of our lives and move on with our life. Anger, depression, and self-pity all help pain to flourish. There is a huge emotional component to fibromyalgia. These types of feelings help feed our pain.
  • Once you accept this, then you can start to control your life and body again. Then the healing process can truly begin. You won’t be on a constant emotional roller coaster anymore. You can find yourself again and be you again.

I recommend reading Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia: From F.I.N.E. (Frustrated, Irritated, Nauseated, Exhausted) to Feeling Better. When reading it, keep in mind that the authors are big believers in the power of positive thinking and the power of faith. Your views on these topics may not be the same as theirs, but the authors still provide really good information in this book. If they get too much into the positive thinking and faith side of things, just skip that part and move onto the next section. Despite this minor flaw, this book is still a very helpful resource for those suffering from fibromyalgia and/or CFS.

“A Picture of Pain” Poem

fibro poem

I came across this poem and wanted to share it. I totally agree with this poem. It’s so hard to describe what we go through and the pain we feel. It’s hard to put words to our daily battle. But I hold onto hope and keep working to make myself healthier, happier and more pain free. I work on this every day.