FPR and I have spent a lovely few hours with family this afternoon. They had their Christmas celebration yesterday so on Christmas Eve it was Boxing Day! A bit of a mixed-up time, eh? Not only that, but I have had a generous early Christmas present.
My friend, Fibro, decided to give me a present consisting of multiple symptoms that I don’t usually have a problem with. I must say, at this point, that none of the individual symptoms has been unbearably awful. However, the arrival of lots of them at once has been a bit anti-social. It has felt overwhelming, at times. I have been feeling pain in places that don’t usually give me any trouble and it has also been making itself at home in the places where it is a familiar face. It has been particularly bad in the thoracic region of my back and up across my neck, shoulders and arms. Fatigue has been playing up for a while but, the last few days it has ramped up the action or, should I say, the lack of action. An example of this is that I have only been able to work a few short rows of knitting, before having to rest – particularly irritating as I am trying to complete a Christmas gift!
Sleep has been less restorative than usual. Up until now, sleeping has revived me, but that doesn’t seem to be working, at the moment.
The Fibro Feet have been working hard causing discomfort, as have the Fibro Fingers. Add to that particular mix, the Restless Legs and you have a lively dance to watch.
With the symptoms I have mentioned, and others, has come a general feeling of unwellness. Bossymamma has not been a happy bunny!
As Anne with an ‘e’ says: “Fibromyalgia: the gift that keeps on giving”.
It had to happen some day. I knew the Vice Squad would eventually catch up with me. I’m not sure that I deserve it, though. I really hope it will be gentle with me.
No, I don’t mean THAT Vice Squad! Whatever do you take me for? No, don’t answer that! The Vice Squad I am talking about is the one that attacks my upper arms and uses a metal prod on each arm, which feels as though it is about three inches (7.5 cms) in diameter, to do so. It squeezes those two circular discs together, towards each other, in its vice-like grip. Even though no-one can see them, and you could argue that they don’t exist, I can tell you exactly what they look like. How weird is that?
The discs are about 1/2″ (1.25 cm) to 3/4″ (2 cm) deep and the rims are painted a burgundy red, with a hint of blood red in the colour. The red paint is glossy but not brilliantly shiny. The face of the disc looks similar to a potter’s wheel, with a narrow concentric circular groove cut in every inch (2.5 cm) or so. That surface is unpainted metal, smooth, but not shiny. I don’t know if other people picture the instrument of torture they are suffering, but the image of those discs immediately comes into my mind when the vice starts to grip. My mind’s eye is a very busy little bee! Funnily enough, I was reading an article online yesterday about someone who is the very opposite of me when it comes to having a virtual image – she has Aphantasia. In other words, she isn’t able to picture things in her head. I found the piece fascinating – well worth reading, which is why I have included a link to it.
In my last post, I said that, in this subsequent post, I might discuss what I thought may have contributed to the improvement in my Fibro. Amazingly, because I’m not good at following through on comments such as that one, that is what I am going to do!
Several months ago, my Baby Son (all 6′ 12″ of him!) suggested that using Golden Paste might improve my situation regarding the Fibromyalgia. He had been reading about Golden Paste and was giving it to his dogs. He said that many people use it for their own health problems. Following those discussions with him, I read a bit about it and, certainly, much of what I saw was positive. However, there was one problem, the thought of ingesting Golden Paste was distantly unappealing to me. I chatted to Baby Son again and he said that the paste was the best way to take it: the capsules do not work as effectively. The best compromise I could come up with for trying it, was for him to make some for me to try the next time I went to visit him. In the meantime, I noticed a few snippets about turmeric in the media.
Moving on from the discussion about the paste and before my next trip to see him, Baby Son found another miracle remedy. I tried that one during, and after, my next visit to him but it did absolutely nothing for me. A few days after that visit, I happened to overhear someone saying that she “couldn’t manage without [her] turmeric capsules”. Cue Bossymamma’s ears pricking up! This was said by someone whom I knew suffered greatly with arthritis.
At the time of the comment, I was still trialling the ‘new’ wonder cure so filed the information away for future reference.
The wonder cure wasn’t, so a return to the turmeric was scheduled.
I knew that I really didn’t want to try Golden Paste. Having heard confirmation of the efficacy of turmeric capsules, I decided that I would try those. When I was away for a few days with Little Sis, I mentioned that I would like to buy some turmeric capsules. We found a branch of Holland & Barrett, where I bought these **. I have been taking one capsule twice a day for about four weeks and they seem to be helping. The Fibro pain that I was experiencing in my arms has virtually gone and the arthritis pain in my shoulder has eased considerably. The fatigue also appears to have lessened. In fact, I have generally felt much better during the time that I have been taking turmeric, to the point where I had a period of 48 hours where I felt really well. Woohoo! I am still experiencing symptoms of Fibro, but, on the whole, those symptoms are far milder than immediately before I began taking the capsules.
Obviously, it is still early days and this is just my opinion, not a scientific trial, BUT I do feel as though taking turmeric is helping me. I shall continue to take the capsules and monitor the results.
The wonders of modern science? I think not. More a natural remedy that, if you can afford to (as it is quite expensive), is well worth trying.
** This is not an affiliate link. I have included the link simply to show the exact product that I have been trying.
While I was lying in bed awake this morning, the subject of pain came into my mind – not really surprising as I had been in the process of turning over, which is a painful process. I started thinking about the pain that I feel, the different places it manifests itself and how varied it is in character and ‘feel’.
I thought I would insert an image here to show the trigger points associated with Fibro: enter problem number 1. Everyone with Fibro experiences it differently and, although there are several known trigger points, not everyone has them. None of the images I found showed all of the places where I experience pain. (I’m not saying that the images don’t exist, just that I couldn’t find what I was looking for.)
These are my feet. Fat. Puffy. Ugly. Feet.
In the very early days of my diagnosis I didn’t have any particular fibro-related problems with my feet. I had had hot, swollen feet for many years so, for a while, it was difficult to tell the difference between my pre- and post- diagnosis discomfort. However, that is no longer the case.
Some time ago, I began to feel pains in both feet which I could only explain to people felt as though I was walking on shards of glass, even if I was sitting down – a feeling that was definitely different to anything I had felt pre-diagnosis. Gradually that sensation changed to more of a stabbing pain – feeling as though someone was continually piercing me with a knife in both feet. Sometimes the pain in my feet is so bad that it makes walking nigh on impossible: the pressure involved in actually placing the sole of my foot on a hard surface becomes pretty hard to bear. I try to have my feet elevated when I sit, to ease the discomfort, but when it is particularly bad, it really only eases when I am lying in bed, relaxed.
Oh, this is a fun one! Where do I start? Well… The pain comes in several different ways in various areas of, in particular, my left arm. Sometimes the pain begins in the tips of the fingers of my left hand, goes all the way up through the left arm to my shoulder, all around the thoracic region of my trunk, across my neck, through my right shoulder and all the way down to the tips of the fingers of my right hand. Luckily, that doesn’t happen too often. More usually, the pain is concentrated in my left arm and shoulder, appearing also in my right arm and shoulder if I am feeling particularly tired.
Most of the time, I have pain in my upper left arm and shoulder which feels similar to a pulled muscle. When it becomes more severe, I have difficulty lifting, or even moving, my left arm. When the pain appears in the lower left arm, it has the feel of pain that emanates from a muscle, but seems to be in the wrong place. Those pains are unpleasant, but the worst is when I feel pain on the outside of both upper arms which feels as though I am being squeezed and squashed between two thick metal discs on long rods. I think the reason why this sensation is so horrid is because it feels as though I am being restrained and it leads to me feeling slightly claustrophobic. It also feels weird.
My upper left arm is also sometimes painful when I shower. Occasionally, feeling water splashing on my skin causes pain but, more usually, it seems to be a reaction to the sensation of the shower puff rubbing across the skin. Much as I like using a shower puff, I have invested in a couple of soft baby sponges, which appear to be alleviating the problem.
I touched on this in the previous section. As well as the pain that creeps across from my left arm, pain also develops independently in my neck. It creates a tired feeling in my neck which, in turn, makes my head seem so heavy that it’s as though my neck is unlikely to be able to bear its weight. I think this leads to fatigue taking hold, although it may be that the fatigue is what causes the phenomenon.
Back and Chest
I’ve put these together because, often, pain appears in both simultaneously. This happens, particularly, when I am reaching the point of overdoing things. The location of the pain in the chest is directly opposite where it is in the thoracic region of my spine. The pain doesn’t spread across the area, it remains stationary. In the chest, it manifests as a tightness, similar to the tension that one can feel in an anxiety attack. In my back, the pain is very like that which I feel when I have a chest infection. In fact, this was the first Fibro pain that I experienced and was the initial symptom that led my GP to make the Fibro diagnosis.
As you can see, the pain pops up all over the place, and in several guises. The pain is debilitating to a greater or lesser degree. Sometimes, it appears all over my body, making everything hard to do: sitting, standing, walking, bending. At other times, it is more manageable. However it feels, I try to carry on with my life, to a greater or lesser degree, adapting how I do things. I’m not ready to give in to the pain completely, even if I do groan when it hurts!
After all the activity of the holiday, it was good to be home. I definitely felt the need to relax in that way which, for me, only really seems possible at home. It’s a similar feeling to the one that comes when I am feeling a lot of fibro pain and fatigue and can finally collapse into bed.
I was hopeful that, on Saturday morning, Little Sis and I would be able to trot into Manchester to a shop that we were each keen to go to. Alas, when Saturday dawned – far too early – it was obvious that Manchester was not going to be graced with our presence. I was feeling something like fatigue, although not exactly, but also an unusual flatness of mood – not depression, not apathy. I don’t know what it was or how to describe it. However, it held me in its grasp all day – not only was I unable to go out due to fatigue, I didn’t even want to think about going out, let alone actually go out. It was no fun for Little Sis, which saddens me somewhat, but I am so very lucky because, even so, I know it’s OK.
Little Sis went home early on Sunday, as planned, and I had another quiet day. I was no longer in the grip of Saturday’s strange mood, but I was still lacking much vim and vigour. Various pains came and went, then came back and went again. All in all, it was a pretty unremarkable day.
Along comes Monday, and with it more changes. This time things were more “normal”. When I say “normal”, what I really mean is “fibro normal”, in other words, intermittent fatigue, accompanied by sporadic aches and pains. I’m beginning to wonder whether holidays are worth all the bother.
Little Sis and I have returned from our holiday. Yesterday, the last of our trip, was rather full. It included a lunch stop in the beautiful spa town of Harrogate in Yorkshire. It was somewhat unexpected as our driver had led us to believe that he would be stopping in Ripon!
Now, I really like Harrogate. It has a character all its own, which is enhanced by the lovely architecture. If you’ve never been to Harrogate, there’s something you need to know… It’s hilly, very hilly and, if you go by coach, you will likely be dropped off in Montpelier – and any “escape” from Montpelier necessitates going uphill, in just about every direction!
Little Sis and I set off up the hill we needed to ascend to reach our destination. It felt like a lot to ask of my body after the pains, fatigue and exertions of the week, but I managed to get to the place we were aiming for by taking it steady. As the week wore on, I had noticed my walking getting progressively slower. It is dispiriting to always be a few steps behind one’s companion, but I tried not to dwell on that. Instead, I concentrated on the mantra that “slow and steady wins the race” and it seemed to work. By concentrating on walking one step at a time, my mind was too busy to think of what was causing me to move slowly. Slow and steady is good in another way, as it allows me to be careful about where and how I place my left arm, whilst walking. During times of arm pain, I find that walking exacerbates it. I think it is due to the arm needing support to prevent the combination of its weight and the vibrations caused by walking. I wonder if other FibroWarriors find that?
Recently I messaged a friend, who also has Fibromyalgia, asking her if she finds that the Fibro pain tends to be symmetrical. The example I used in the message was that if there was a pain in the left arm, did it appear in the right arm, also. I asked because I have been experiencing pain in my left arm but, in case your reaction is like hers, let me assure you that I am not having a heart attack! If the pain signified a heart attack I am certain I would have shuffled off this mortal coil several months ago.
Since the Fibro pain really started to kick in, it has tended to appear in my upper left arm most consistently. It radiates from there, sometimes going from the fingertips of my left hand, through the whole of my left arm, across both shoulders, taking a couple of detours – one up into my neck and the other down into my trunk as far as my lower chest and all the way round my back – then down the right arm to the fingertips of my right hand. Sometimes, it feels as though somenoe is continually prodding me sharply in my left arm. At other times, it is more like having shards of glass stabbing my arm. Or, it might feel like a tight band around a specific part of the upper arm. Then again, when I have a shower, it can feel as though the jets of water are piercing my skin or my skin is being scraped with shards of glass when I use the shower puff to wash my skin. However it feels, I’m pretty sure I’m not having a heart attack!
Tuesday morning opened its eyes to see me feeling pretty well. It was a treat not to be facing the day with lots of aches and pains. I wasn’t entirely pain-free but what I had was easy to cope with. I was pleased as I would be having a busy morning.
As morning turned to lunchtime, fatigue began its inexorable crawl throughout my body, leaving pain in several places. Oh well, at least I had managed to complete the tasks I had decided upon for the morning. In fact, Peter and I had stopped on our way home to do some shopping, so I had actually managed to do more than planned. However, whilst driving from the shops to home, the pain in my arm and shoulders steadily worsened and I became increasingly weary. Luckily we were only a handful of miles from home so I didn’t have to drive for long. We were in my car so there was little chance of Peter, my partner, driving.
Once we arrived home I rested awhile in the chair which refreshed me somewhat. For the rest of the day it was ‘do a little, rest a little more’ which, on the whole, seems to work fairly well.