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Daily Routine With Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS

My daily routine is far from what it used to be before I became unwell. I can’t do most of my hobbies now (gardening/baking/long walks/running) because they are just too painful and exhausting. I work part time, have had to give up my studies with The Open University, rarely cook a decent meal, and spend most of my time at home resting with a cup of tea, a pile of unread magazines and books (in the hope I will be able to muster up some mental energy to read them) and cups of Pukka Ginger Tea being frustrated about the pile of washing up in the kitchen and the clutter that surrounds me. So I thought I’d write out my routine for work days and days off just to put into perspective what life is really like, even though I’m only thirty (almost thirty one ahhhhh!) and look relatively well.
Work Days – Mon/Tue/Thur/Fri
7:15am: The alarm goes off, I snooze endlessly as I usually haven’t been asleep long.

7:40am: Finally drag myself out of bed, stretch, creak and crunch and stagger over to wherever my cat is sleeping for a morning cuddle. I let her out, change her water, poopie scoop her litter tray and top up her biscuits. She comes first as she is totally reliant on people to care for her. Tea, breakfast and medication, you get the idea…

8:30am: Leave the house to either get my bus right by my house which drops me outside work (its quicker to walk but that’s out the question) or get picked up by colleagues. I have a special pass for the bus that allows me to sit in the priority seats. The bus journey usually involves some funny looks from people who see my pass.

9am-3pm (5pm on Mondays): Work. By early afternoon I’m clock watching as I am struggling so much. Exhaustion set in a while ago and the pain creeps in behind it (and this is on a good day). A lot of the time I get a lift home from colleagues. Absolute life savers!

3:30pm I’m in bed having drunk a glass of water, taken tramadol and the kitty is usually sitting on me purring. Pyjama time has begun.

7pm: Out of bed (later on Mondays) and make the sort walk to the sofa. Still exhausted I’m in great need of a cup of tea. I’ll probably burn myself on the steam or spill some hot water.

8pm: Dinner time. Far later than I would like, and I definitely don’t have the energy to cook. Probably a ready meal, something out of the freezer chucked onto a tray or a tin of soup. Yep, I’ll burn myself again at some point during this short process of heating up crap food.

9:30-10pm; Shower. I leave it as late as possible as it is surprisingly hard work. Getting dry and dressed is exhausting. Take a handful of medication and more painkillers if I know I will be in (increased) pain all night.

11:30pm: Back to bed. I read, sometimes listen to meditation and hope for a good nights sleep.

1am: Still awake…. I can’t get comfortable from pain, my mind is racing but I’m too exhausted to get up. Sometimes I end up dragging myself to the sofa for a cuddle with my wife if she’s not working or getting up for an early shift.

2am: Probably still awake.

3am: Hopefully asleep. But often not.

Days Off:

No routine. I let my body do what it wants. It’ll sleep, snooze and rest, tell me it needs pain relief, when it’s peckish and make sure I leave the laundry, washing up and cleaning for another time (we really need to get our amazing cleaner back but at fortnightly visits it was still so expensive). These days involve endless cups of tea, a chance to flick through the pile of magazines, watch YouTube and stay in my pyjamas all day. I probably won’t go out and if I do, it’s been planned down to the very last details, and I’m probably terrified of the exhaustion that will come with it. These days are all about saving enough energy to work and earn a living. Sadly life is ruled by the need to pay bills and not look after my body and mind.

Picture credit: Meowingtons 

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It’s ME and Fibromyalgia Awareness Week

Every week, every day in fact seems to be awareness for something nowadays but this one is one that I feel is really important. Invisible illnesses often get less recognition because you can’t see what effect its having on a person. Here’s a few of my favourite blog posts and websites to help you get clued up about the illnesses I live with and how they affect my every day life.

Meg Says

Action for ME

ME Association

Once Upon A Fibro Time

Cloudy With A Chance of Pain

Fibro Blogger Directory

An of course… my blog!

If you know of any others that you think should be added to the list let me know!

Happy reading 🙂

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‘Normal’ Poorly With Fibro/ME

I might be used to it by now, but every day is probably like living with a cold/flu without the cough or snotty nose. Aches, pains, fevers and fatigue is just a part of every day life, and just because I’m used to it doesn’t mean it’s any easier after a few years.

Every year the dreaded cold and flu season creeps upon me where I shrink away from every person on the bus who sniffs and hold my breath in the lift when someone coughs. It’s the time of years I rattle with supplements and alcohol hand gel becomes my best friend. Despite having a compromised immune system, I think I’m relatively good at avoiding the lurgy. But when it hits, it comes down like a ton of bricks, casting  veil of fatigue like nothing before over me, increasing pain five fold, the germs and ‘usual cold’ symptoms linger on and on and on. Well, if I’m going to be ill I may as well do it properly!

The virus I currently have couldn’t have picked a worse time. I’m about to have six days off work as holiday, my longest break in well over a year, which I’d set aside for studying and a day trip to see a friend. First came the swollen glands, then the sore throat and painful chest all washed down with complete exhaustion. Then I felt better for a day. Then it came back, and along with a blocked, runny nose came dizziness, light-headedness and a feeling of surrealism, altered vision and of course, the lucky bonus of increase fibro and ME symptoms. This resulted in me almost collapsing at work and having to be helped to the work car to be brought home. Not before I’d burst into tears in the toilets first because I was so scared. The funny turns lasted into the next day. I had to be dressed/undressed by my partner and dried off after a shower. Not your average cold you’d think. But it probably is, most people would feel awful for a few days, need a couple of days resting up with soup and hot drinks then be back with a spring in their step.

Living with symptoms and fibromyalgia and ME on a daily basis is tough and tests the willpower of even the most positive of people, but when germs and bugs find their way into that mix, it ends up in a long, drawn out period of awful symptoms and fear that it will never end.

I think  writing this blog has just been an excuse for me to get things off my chest after what has been one hell of a week, and it’s definitely not over yet!

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Life With Fibromyalgia

A friend shared this post on Facebook. I don’t usually read long posts like this, or even acknowledge them, but this one really rang true to me and I felt the need to share it to raise awareness, help understanding of such a misunderstood condition, and remind my friends, both off and online, what life can really be like for me.

#Fibromyalgia took hold of my life 15 years ago it was totally unexpected, it just took hold of me and changed my life overnight, people who knew me before #Fibromyalgia know I was a hard working person who enjoyed life, #Fibromyalgia took all that away from me… Don’t judge what you cannot possibly comprehend as if someone had told me about #Fibromyalgia before I was diagnosed I too would not have been able to understand. No one is immune it’s there just waiting for the chance to control your life, all I ask is that my friends are patient and understand sometimes I can’t do normal things without paying a big price a Flare up !

1. My pain – My pain is not your pain. It is not caused by inflammation. Taking your arthritis medication will not help me. I can not work my pain out or shake it off. It is not even a pain that stays put. Today it is in my shoulder, but tomorrow it may be in my foot or gone. My pain is believed to be caused by improper signals sent to the brain, possibly due to sleep disorders. It is not well understood, but it is real.

2. My fatigue – I am not merely tired. I am often in a severe state of exhaustion. I may want to participate in physical activities, but I can’t. Please do not take this personally. If you saw me shopping yesterday, but I can’t help you with house/garden work today, it isn’t because I don’t want to. I am, most likely, paying the price for stressing my muscles beyond their capability.

3. My forgetfulness – Those of us who suffer from it call it fibrofog. I may not remember your name, but I do remember you. I may not remember what I promised to do for you, even though you told me just seconds ago. My problem has nothing to do with my age but may be related to sleep deprivation. I do not have a selective memory. On some days, I just don’t have any short-term memory at all.

4. My clumsiness – If I step on your toes or run into you five times in a crowd, I am not purposely targeting you. I do not have the muscle control for that. If you are behind me on the stairs, please be patient. These days, I take life and stairwells one step at a time.

5. My sensitivities – I just can’t stand it! “It” could be any number of things: bright sunlight, loud or high-pitched noises, odors. FMS has been called the “aggravating everything disorder.” So don’t make me open the curtains or listen to your child scream. I really can’t stand it.

6. My intolerance – I can’t stand heat, either. Or humidity. If I am a man, I sweat…profusely. If I am a lady, I perspire. Both are equally embarrassing, so please don’t feel compelled to point this shortcoming out to me. I know. And don’t be surprised if I shake uncontrollably when it’s cold. I don’t tolerate cold, either. My internal thermostat is broken, and nobody knows how to fix it.

7. My depression – Yes, there are days when I would rather stay in bed or in the house. Severe, unrelenting pain can cause depression. Your sincere concern and understanding can pull me back from the brink. Your snide remarks can tip me over the edge.

8. My stress – My body does not handle stress well. If I have to give up my job, work part time, or handle my responsibilities from home, I’m not lazy. Everyday stresses make my symptoms worse and can incapacitate me completely.

9. My weight – I may be fat or I may be skinny. Either way, it is not by choice. My body is not your body. My appestat is broken, and nobody can tell me how to fix it.

10. My good days – If you see me smiling and functioning normally, don’t assume I am well. I suffer from a chronic pain and fatigue illness with no cure. I can have my good days or weeks or even months. In fact, the good days are what keep me going.

11. My uniqueness – Even those who suffer from FMS are not alike. That means I may not have all of the problems mentioned above. I do have pain above and below the waist and on both sides of my body which has lasted for a very long time. I may have migraines or hip pain or shoulder pain or knee pain, but I do not have exactly the same pain as anyone else.

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Today is the perfect day for…

…heading out in the sunshine. Off to the beach, or to the park, maybe a trip to the local shops. Ah, a perfect British summers day.

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Perhaps not. I have to go to work tomorrow, and I went to the shops yesterday evening, and I worked all last week. So today will consists of reading, resting, snoozing, and maybe an episode or three of Bones.

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But I still managed to get my fifteen minutes of vitamin D rays in the courtyard with the small plump furry one.

I marveled at my poor neglected plants which have somehow managed to flower.

And then I headed inside for a sit down, with a cup of ginger tea and a magazine.

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Days like today may not be what they were a few years ago, but I’m thankful for the sunshine, the beautiful flowers, my furry friend and endless cups of tea.

Karen xx

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Goals for 2016

Social media and the internet are full of resolutions at this time of year, so I thought why not join in.

I’m working on lots of projects at the moment, personal ones and ones for my professional future, both of which interlink with one another.

So here they are, my goals for the coming 12 months and a day (it’s a leap year) of 2016:

  1. Learn to manage my pain and fatigue. It’s not going anywhere, but I know I can do more to learn to live with it.
  2. Read more books. I LOVE reading and can’t remember a time when I didn’t, but last year I only read four books. Shocking!
  3. Attend as many events as my health will allow, I’m already booked onto a networking event, into The Stationery Show and Summer In The City.
  4. Work on setting up my business. This is the big one but I know I can do it.
  5. Reduce and manage my anxiety and worrying using meditation, breathing and gentle basic yoga.
  6. Explore YouTube more. I’m serious latecomer and former YouTube hater, but I’m loving it so much already!

So I know that doesn’t look like much (I’ve just seen Hannah Witton on YouTube set ten resolutions, one of which is to read 50 books) but to me that’s enough. Each one of those is life changing for me in it’s own way. I could make a list five times as long but my body needs rest too, so that’s a priority, hence it being my first goal on the list.

Have you decided on any resolutions or goals this year that are really important to you? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter.

Karen xx

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Driving Home for Christmas – Travelling with Fibro and Anxiety

Well, travelling by train. I travel the longest part of my journey on Virgin Trains. Sounds relaxing doesn’t it? And it used to be for me. But travelling when you have chronic illnesses isn’t quite so simple.

There’s three things that travel with me wherever, my fibromyalgia, my chronic fatigue and my old enemy, anxiety. They’re at their most evil when taking the four to five hour journey home to visit my parents in Birmingham.

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There’s also lots of walking and buses involved at either end.

The pain of dragging suitcases and heavy bags around, the exhaustion that hits when trying to lift bags onto trains. It can’t be put into words. The anxiety is most likely to hit in the high speed tilting trains so I book well in advance for a cheap first class ticket. This gives me time to relax in a first class lounge first, and a relatively empty carriage with space and room to relax and breathe, as opposed to being wedged onto standing room only carriages further down. First class also means less walking along the platform and staff on board to take care of you if needsbe. Anxiety undoubtedly will rear it’s ugly head at some point in the journey but it’s always for much less time this way.

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It can take days, or even a week to recover from such a journey, by which point it’ll be time to return home.

And so it begins again.

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Listening to music helps keep anxiety at bay

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Let me know how you cope with travelling. Its be great to share help and ideas with fellow chronic illness spoonies here.

Karen xx