Does your greatest teacher have fur?

I wanted to share this great post on the difference pets can make to people suffering from chronic illnesses. Sometimes they even have their own invisible illnesses that they heal from while they help us heal, like Pup in this post: Does your greatest teacher have fur?

Archie and I relax on a bridge above a koi pond during a hotel stay.

Archie and I relax on a bridge above a koi pond during a hotel stay.

Like Pup, my dog, Archie, is my “therapy dog.” He’s a rescue too and I used to think I found him, but really he found me. He had Parvo as a puppy and almost died, so when I got him he had tons of skin problems, ear infections, and was skin and bones. It took awhile to get him on the right diet and get his skin issues cleared up. He still has some weird skin problems, I’ve learned. I changed his food last fall only to change it right back a few months later when the skin problems came back. He’s back to normal now. He knows when I’m really hurting; he snuggles with me and often positions himself on whichever hip or leg is aching the most to share his body heat with me. He knows when I’ve been sitting too long and annoys me until I get up and play with him or walk him. He motivates me to walk and exercise. I’m going through a divorce now and he’s been amazing. He comes running when I’m sad and licks the tears away. He’ll do something cute that makes me laugh so then he keeps doing it to keep me laughing. He doesn’t like when I cry.

When I was at my worst in February 2012 with my fibromyalgia, he literally knocked me on my butt and made me rethink how I was getting through the days. I let him out on a big leash and he dashed off after a squirrel so fast the leash swept my legs out from under me. I was bruised from my fall but it was the final straw and it led to me taking a 10-week medical leave from work so I could work on my health, nutrition, and emotional wellbeing and start clawing my way back from the sea of pain I was lost in. That leave from work was a huge turning point in my health and he was with me every day for it.  He always knows when he can push me to be more active and when he can’t. I don’t know what I would do without him. I know I wouldn’t be in as healthy a place now without him though.

Advertisements

View of the Weather that’s causing my Flare

image

Here’s a view of the weather that’s causing my now now five-day long fibro flare up. This is what I see from my desk on the 16th floor of this building. I get a clouds-eye view of the weather that makes my skull feel like It’s about to implore. Like the skull bones are grinding together. Stupid barometric pressure. With storm after storm rolling through the region, my breaks from the pain and respites from the pressure in the air have been few and far between. I’m very ready for some sunny weather!!!

Article on Fibromyalgia Research

I stumbled upon this article about a doctor who has spent practically his whole career studying fibromyalgia and working with fibromyalgia sufferers. It has a good synopsis of how far research has come on fibromyalgia since the diagnosis first started appearing in the 1980s. I know I get frustrated sometimes at the lack of research being done into this invisible disease, but this article is a good reminder that things are being discovered and that our knowledge of this disease has come a long way, even if we still don’t understand so much about it. I won’t post the whole article here but I recommend reading it. Below are the bits I found most interesting.

Fibromyalgia researcher reveals secrets of a painful mystery

(I loved the metaphors he uses to describe how fibromyalgia works, how our brains interpret pain signals. These are probably the best metaphors for fibromyalgia I have heard.

Russell used a metaphor of two radios: One has a volume knob that works, but the other blares even the subtlest sounds as painful screeches. What feels like a touch to most people feels like a poke to people with fibromyalgia.

Researchers found that in the brains of people with fibromyalgia, pain centers lit up if a thumbnail was pressed with relatively minor pressure. The person felt real pain.

Cerebral spinal fluid samples extracted from fibromyalgia sufferers hinted at the processes, Russell said.

Fibromyalgia sufferers typically have three times the normal level of substance P, a pain amplifier, he said. Blocking substance P reduced pain in hands, he said, but not widespread pain. Substance P was one piece of the puzzle.

Fibromyalgia sufferers also have diminished levels of two important brain signaling chemicals, serotonin and norepinephrine. Prozac, a common antidepressant, works by increasing brain serotonin.

About 40 percent of fibromyalgia patients also experience mood disorders, suggesting a connection, Russell said, but Prozac didn’t ease their pain.

Fibromyalgia sufferers were later found to have high levels of glutamate, the main chemical involved in experiencing pain, Russell said.

Also elevated was a chemical called nerve growth factor, which stimulates repair in brain circuitry. That begs the question, Russell said, “Repair from what?”

Brain scans have shown that people with fibromyalgia lose gray matter — home to thought and memory — more quickly than others.

Sufferers of other types of chronic pain experience similar losses in gray matter, he said. The connection between pain and nerve death isn’t clear.

Earlier this year, researchers discovered a gene highly associated with fibromyalgia. It may predispose some people to develop the disease.

Weather or Not – Fibromyalgia under Pressure

I stumbled upon this post from RebuildingWellness and wanted to share it. I’m on day 4 of a rain/storm induced flare up and am in dire need of some sunny, calm days to lower my pain levels. I wonder why we fibromyalgia sufferers are so sensitive to weather? My skull and jaw is where the worst of the pain and weather sensitivity presents. My skull feels like its being crushed by the pressure in the air and all the bones are grinding together. My jaw aches badly. How does your sensitivity to weather present? Please share your story here.

Lightening

WEATHER OR NOT — FIBROMYALGIA UNDER PRESSURE (By Sue)

WeatherGaugeDo you experience INCREASED fibromyalgia (and/or other chronic) symptoms with seasonal changes?

For most of us — yes, symptoms do increase.

But … which ones?

Some of you tell me that fatigue flares to unbearable levels during the heat – especially if there’s high humidity to boot. Some say their symptoms of pain are overwhelming when cold frigid winds blow. And, symptoms such as migraines, sinus pain, and allergic tendencies can increase during stormy and unpredictable weather.

Of course, there’s also the flurry of symptoms that increase right before a significant weather change. Most of us have experienced that type of flare. We really are sensitive beings, aren’t we?

To read more about being a “sensitive type,” read this post about my Tuning Fork Analogy.

Some of us feel as if we could hire ourselves out as weather forecasters or gauges. It makes sense! We’re surely more accurate than a groundhog, right? (I’ll have to do some research about Punxsutawney Phil’s annual salary….) We can predict rain, wind, heat, or significant change by the accompanying pain and fatigue in various parts of the body. For some, the physical impact centers around areas of former injury (broken bones, torn muscles/ligaments/tendons, etc.). For others, it centers around areas of consistent pain such as particular joints, sinuses, or an overall generalized overwhelming fatigue.

In studying the correlation between symptoms and the weather, we need to fine tune the question. We should ask, WHAT symptoms change and WHEN do they change?

For me, change is the operative word. Even though my symptoms are now very minor (for which I’m very grateful), I still pay attention to the slightest physical twinge. I’m aware of incoming weather fronts because my symptoms CHANGE when the weather is about to CHANGE. It’s more than the temperature, precipitation, wind, and humidity levels. For me, a barometric pressure change can be felt throughout the body. The bigger the weather change, the bigger the symptoms change.

Do barometric pressure changes affect you? If so, where do you feel it first, and for how long? Can you mitigate changes by taking preventative action such as increasing certain supplements, drinking more water, and getting regular exercise?

I can’t wait to hear what you think! Jot down your weather-related experiences below…

Human Barometer Meme

I wanted to share this funny meme with everyone. Thank you Google for giving me this funny pic which sums up how I’ve felt the last few days. The rain finally came last night and it brought some relief to my pain, but I’m still having a bad pain day. The rain is supposed to be here non-stop through Wednesday, if you can believe the weathermen. Happy Monday everyone!

human barometer