Wednesday 31 July 2019

Let’s talk about the “F” word

No Sleep... But I Look so Well!
“But you look so well”, are the usually replies I get from people or friends whenever I reject an invitation to go out . A few years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic illness that’s tough to distinguish between arthritis and fibromyalgia. Patients can usually feel pain in their bones, which is enough pain to make you stay in bed all day, regardless of how well the person may appear. Regardless of how painful and miserable my day may seem, I’ve learned to live with this disorder and to continue the beautiful life that this world has to offer through the little things in my life . In this post, we will be discussing one of my life’s greatest challenges and how I learned to cope through pain management and listening to my body.  

What is Fibromyalgia
Under analysis, fibromyalgia may seem almost similar to arthritis or joint inflammation. However, they are very much different. Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes pain that is amplified by the brain receptors. The common thing about this is that they all cause mental distress without a doubt and they both hurt really badly! Fibromyalgia is a disorder that affects the bones and muscular structures of the body, similar to a patient that is suffering from major arthritis conditions. Currently, there is no cure to fibromyalgia, and the cause of this illness is still uncertain.

Facts About Fibromyalgia
Here are some details about the disorder and what things to expect;
• Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain, fatigue, and other types of discomfort.
• Symptoms resemble those of arthritis or MS , but fibromyalgia affects the soft tissue, not the joints.
• The cause is unknown, but risk factors include traumatic injury, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, and genetic factors.
• There is no cure, but medications, gentle stretching and behavioural therapy can help relieve symptoms in some case .

Personal Experience
My personal experience of being diagnosed with fibromyalgiahas been one of the greatest challenges of my life. One of the toughest milestones I’ve faced is getting proper sleep at night and restless leg syndrome. The combination of issues the fibromyalgia brought has prevented me from participating with friends or family, which can affect you emotionally as well, causing the person to fall into a state of depression. After a few months of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I was unable to hang out with my friends to join on nights out or simple coffee mornings. This has led to depression. Don’t be the victim by making the same mistakes as me, don’t be a “wall-flower’! Let your friends and family know how the chronic illness has become a serious problem and that you need to get professional help.

Previously, doctors would usually check for a specific 18 points on a person’s body to see how many of them were painful, whenever pressure is applied in that specific area. Over the research development, newer studies reveal that a fibromyalgia diagnosis can be made if the person has experienced widespread pain for more than three months (90 days or more). 

What Should You Do If You Think You Have Fibromyalgia? 
Being sceptical about your health is completely normal. If you feel unusual bodily pain but cannot pinpoint it, it is just probably a minor muscular pain and shouldn’t be anything too big of a deal for you to be worried about it. However, if you are noticing that such pain is consistent, you should visit your doctor for a checkup. Nevertheless, individuals that believe that they are possible victims to the “silent-bully” (fibromyalgia) should seek further consultation for sourcingbest solution possible. The following are a few things that can be done for the fibromyalgia pains that you may be experiencing;

1) Seek Professional Help / Visit the Doctor
The very first thing you ought to do is visit your doctor and go through a complete examination. The examination may include a combination of pressure point check (although much of this practice is no longer in use). Sometimes the physical examination of pressure point testing can help to discover other related problems that may be resulting in the pain effects over the entire body. There may be other physical examination required prior to announcing diagnostics. However, it isn’t necessary since the new guidelines conclude that a person is considerably diagnosed with fibromyalgia if and only the pain is consistent for more than 3 months. 
2) Blood Testing
With the amazing medical technology that we have today, it'sstill not powerful enough for researchers to understand exactly where or how does the effect of fibromyalgia come from. Doctors may want to rule out on other similar condition through blood testing, which includes;   
• Complete blood count
• Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
• Cyclic citrullinated peptide test
• Rheumatoid factor
• Thyroid function tests

3) Medication
With all the struggles that I’ve experienced with sleep, some prescribed and over-the-counter medication can help to reduce the pain and the restlessness and fatigue that many patients commonly feel.   
• Pain relievers. Some “over-the-counter” medication may be appropriate for you. They include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. Some doctors may suggest a prescription plan, including tramadol (Ultram). 
• Antidepressants. Although this sounds a bit odd, some antidepressants can help reduce the pain. Antidepressants like Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella) can help to reduce pain and bodily fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. Prescriptions like amitriptyline or specific muscle relaxants cyclobenzaprine may be suggested to help patients with sleep or for those that are experiencing insomnia.  
• Anti-seizure drugs. In some cases, doctors may also prescribe anti-seizure drugs to help reduce certain types of pain. Gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, can sometimes help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. Lyrica (pregabalin) was announced as the first approved drug by the FDA, ensuring the treatment for fibromyalgia. However, over the numerous case studies, it is understood that there are other medications (over-the-counter) that can reduce pain sufficiently, as compared to the Lyrica (pregabalin). 
4) Therapy Options
Therapy option is probably one of my favourites. It offers plenty of time for relaxation, all while relaxing the fatigued body. There are several therapies that can help to reduce the effects of fibromyalgia. If you are a victim to fibromyalgia, consider the following therapy options that may be effective for you;
• Physical therapy. Gentle stretching 
• Occupational therapy. It is essentially important to understand your triggers. Understanding the trigger points can help pinpoint the cause of the pain. In most cases, work-related physical activities can be a source of the problem. If you are unsure whether or not if your job is the source, consider consulting with an occupational therapist. An occupational therapist can help to make adjustments with your work area or the way you perform certain tasks that will cause less stress on your body, resulting in more mobility over immobility.
• Counselling. A little bit of self-motivation can set the mood to swing in the right direction! Your belief system plays a major role in your mindset. Visiting a counsellor can help you strengthen your belief in your abilities and may shed light over strategies that can help you out with stressful situations that you were unaware of before. 
5) Making New Lifestyle Changes
Many of us may not be aware of the fact that sometimes the daily activities that you engage in, can be the sources of your problems. Therefore, it's best to first understand where the triggers are being set-off from and why. The second procedure is to reduce or eliminate that activity that tends to set-off your fibromyalgia triggers. The following are some examples of how you can implement the lifestyle change that can encourage a better painless mobility lifestyle. 
• Are you getting enough good quality sleep? A lack of deep sleep is thought to contribute to the fatigue, concentration and short-term memory problems experienced by people with fibromyalgia. Consistency is key when it comes to sleep. Each night, follow the same bedtime ritual as a signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. Whether it’s taking a warm bath, reading a book, listening to music , meditation, find the ritual that is right for you. If you still can’t get to sleep, consider talking to your doctor about sleep aids.
• The power of touch. Some research suggests that massage can assist in fibromyalgia pain management. Researchers from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine found that massage therapy provided multiple benefits, including improved sleep, decreased joint pain and lowered stress hormones.  

Final Thoughts
There is no doubt that fibromyalgia comes with its toll of troubles, but that should be a reason why you shouldn’t appreciate and enjoy life. With a few options that are clinically proven to help, patients that have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia should consider opting out all the options that have been provided in this review. In some cases, patients tend to do better with a treatment plan that consists of a combination of both; prescribe medication and therapy. Since the chronic illness still requires considerable amounts of research before a solution is concluded, patients should seek help to help conclude a solution. Some options like home remedies and therapy can reduce low moods days and painful areas in the body that causes mental distress. Regardless of the solution, the most important thing is that you find a plan that works exceptionally for you as we are all individuals what works for some might  not work for others . Keep Strong M x 


Saturday 13 July 2019


My first post in the month of July ! It’s been a challenging few weeks....I was told years ago that once you suffer from depression it will always be with you , it might lie low for periods of times even years , but then it can show up , like an unwanted guest .  
My first experience with depression started when I was 19 years of age, maybe due to teenage bad choices and the fact that i stammered from a very early age. After the first episode I can comfortably say that it has always been with me at different stages of my life , where I soon learned  to simply live with it,  I knew that eventually it would disappear deep at the back of my mind until the next episode.

DEPRESSION for me is dark, I start breathing heavily, my chest is heavy with the feeling of having of having a ton of bricks on it , it’s holding me down making it difficult for me to breath , it is feeling sick all the time . With depression there is no making plans, your mind is numb , your body is numb ,  there is no thinking of what you are going to eat , there is no thinking of getting dressed or taking a shower . You are living in this dark bubble where there aren’t any solutions ....where the only emotion is numbness , you waste your days hiding , you become isolated , sometimes you don’t even open the door if the bell rings or you don’t answer your phone . All you wish , is for the feelings to disappear and close your eyes waiting for the next day , sometime you wish that there will be no next day ........ but you try hard to fight this feeling as you don’t want to hurt your loved ones . With depression I wake up with tears in my eyes , sometimes tears just roll down my face without even knowing what has triggered this off . 

You come to the decision that you need medical help as you can feel that you are losing yourself and you become scared . In my case I started to take Duloxetine which is an anti depressant. This has helped a little , at least to take back some sort of control and to think that you can’t give up , you need to fight back ..... I owe it to my loved ones. Therefore depression has become a faithful companion that I try and manage and keep at bay the best as I can and try and hide it behind a smile and humour , and learned to be really good at it.
I have seen psychologist and used counselling in the past which has helped . 

                                DO  NOT  SUFFER  IN  SILENCE