A Quick Poke Around The Edges

Similar to my current surroundings
Similar to my current surroundings

Here I am, at four minutes past midnight, sitting in surroundings which bear more than a passing resemblance to the photo above.

It has been a challenging week, or so, in a variety of ways, including the edges of a certain medical condition which keep giving me a poke. For example, today the dizziness decided to make an appearance whilst I was transacting some business. It’s quite embarrassing, trying to cope with dizziness when there is a stranger in front of you, watching you and obviously wondering what on earth is going on. Luckily the attack passed quickly.

Then there have been the times when I’ve been explaining something that needs to be done but simply don’t have the word that I need. And, how about all those times when I’ve been discussing something with my partner, or someone else, and that dear miss, Ang Zya Tee, decides to butt in?

There have been other symptoms, as well, which have been nudging their way in at the edges of my being, rather like physical reminders of the beast sheltering in the background. Maybe the Fibromyalgia is getting wise to the ways of the adrenalin that has been rushing around my body for some time.

Admittedly, the adrenalin levels are most probably considerably lower than they were during most of August and all of September and October, but November has brought with it stresses and strains of its own, so I don’t want to count my chickens. All in all, though, I do feel much calmer than I have done of late, and that is probably why the Fibro is managing to poke me convincingly.

I am doing my best to take care of myself, particularly in relation to stress levels. I am choosing the least stressful option whenever possible as I think I’ve had enough stress to last a lifetime! We’ll have to see how well that works, won’t we?

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Since Last We Met….

A gift from a lovely lady
A gift from a lovely lady

Much has happened since my last post: some rather amusing, some most definitely not. A considerable amount of activity was centred in or around hospital and/or medical staff.

On Wednesday of last week the goal posts were moved. It marked a huge sea-change affecting some of the stress that I have been under for the past two months or so.

Thursday brought forth an unbelievably good blood pressure reading, despite what life was bombarding me with. And then things got worse…

Throughout all the trauma, the Fibromyalgia has been kept at bay by the adrenalin surging through my veins. However, I am very aware that when life calms down I am likely to go into an enormous Fibro Flare, but there is little I can do to prevent it. For the time being, I am trying not to overdo things, but it’s not easy. I have a huge amount to do, much of which has a deadline, but I am trying to remember to rest in between tasks. It is very easy to slip into the mindset of “It’s easier to do it myself” but I am trying not to do that – seldom successfully. I am using various strategies to make things easier. For example, I am working on one thing at a time and then, when that task is complete, I move on to the next task. Working like that seems to reduce the amount of stress I feel.

I am also making copious notes. My brain is a little “Fibro-foggy” so making notes is helping me to keep track of what I am doing, what I have done and what I need to do. This particular aspect is not always as useful as it could be as various people are not hearing what I am telling them, resulting in them acting inappropriately and, consequently, creating more work.

The next thing I am doing is keeping things organised. There is a logic to what I am doing, although others may not think so! Things have been placed where they are for specific reasons so woe betide anyone who moves something that I have put in a particular place!

Space and time are looking as though they will be problematic but I think, if I continue plodding along, that I should be able to keep things under control.

As for the Fibro, I have been having more dizzy spells than I usually do and my sleep pattern is currently very disturbed. Oh yes, and the stabbing pains in my feet are dancing attendance, as is the anxiety!

All things considered, it’s a wonder that I haven’t ended up an absolute wreck, even without the Fibro. I am definitely thankful for small mercies. Long may they continue!

A Very Strange Sensation

Looking forward to my "special place"
Looking forward to my “special place”

There was something odd about Sunday, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. A strange sensation that I knew should be familiar, although I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. By Monday morning, however, I had realised what was different… I wasn’t feeling completely stressed out. In fact, I think I would almost go so far as to say that I was really rather r-e-l-a-x-e-d. Yes, really! It’s no wonder I didn’t immediately recognise it as it’s been a while since I have felt that way.

And, it didn’t just happen on Sunday: it continued in to Monday, and even Tuesday. It felt absolutely, bl**dy amazing! Not only that, but there was precious little evidence of the Fibromyalgia to be found on those days.

Ooh, I really enjoyed that light-headed feeling! Which was just as well, as I was back down with a bump yesterday: feeling myself winding up, familiar twinges of Fibro-related pain and tiredness leaping upon me, making me feel decidedly unwell and that awful dizziness compounding matters. Luckily, the tiredness and feeling unwell lifted after I had gone to bed in the afternoon and rested for a couple of hours. I usually don’t like to return to bed during the day but, yesterday, bed felt like the only place that would help.

Today has been different again. Today I have been literally faced by one of the two enormously stressful situations that are going on in my life at the moment. You could be forgiven for thinking that I had turned into a politician today as, clearly, there have been questions that have had to be asked and difficult decisions to be made. I am on the horns of a dilemma. I try to be a truthful and honest person, but sharing the truth with two of the most important people in my life will cause each of them pain and anguish. On the other hand, if I lie to them, instead… well, I’m lying to them, aren’t I? And I’m being dishonest, at a time when they deserve the respect my being honest would afford them.

It would be fair to say that I am currently in an unenviable position. Not only that, but so are the other most important people in my life: they can see what is happening but are powerless to help.

I cannot express how thankful I am that the Fibro is allowing me to function. I really don’t know what I would do if the inevitable flare-up were to appear in the midst of all this.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow?

Hyde Park, Sydney
Hyde Park, Sydney

It’s a while since I posted anything here, isn’t it? The reason for radio silence is that, with regard to the Fibromyalgia, things have been uneventful. I have had tiredness and fatigue, but not to any extreme. I have also had some mild pain, which went as quickly as it appeared, and other bits and pieces of symptoms which are not worth mentioning. However, the tinnitus continues to intrude and, at times, can feel unbearable.

My main difficulties recently have been stress-related: anxiety and depression (A & D). Although I am aware that Fibro can cause A & D, I have suffered from both for very much longer than I have had Fibro. Yes, I know lots of people have Fibro for a very long time before it is diagnosed, but Dr. Azeer recognised mine for what it was, or is, within a few weeks of it appearing. Consequently I view A & D separately from the Fibro. Anyway, the A & D have been playing up because my stress levels have been high. I am hoping that, now I’m feeling less stressed, the A & D will ease. In the meantime, Dr. Azeer has suggested I take regular doses of my emergency medicine to help me through. Whilst I haven’t been doing so, I have been taking it more than I was before I saw him this week.

During my appointment with Dr. Azeer, we discussed how well the amitriptyline seems to be controlling my symptoms. We also discussed the well-known effects of stress on Fibro i.e. Fibro Flares. We agreed that, with everything that’s going on, I could be susceptible. However, I told him that I do not intend to spend my life worrying about what Fibro might do to me: I will deal with things as and when they arise. I refuse to use all my energy simply counting spoons.

(By the way, he had never heard of the Spoon Theory.)

Time For Musical Chairs

Luscious-looking lovely chocolates
Luscious-looking lovely chocolates

Life is the same, but it’s different. I still have a lot of very stressful “stuff” going on but it is changing shape. No, it’s not changing shape: what’s really happening is that one of the huge things is building to a crescendo. And it’s scary, really scary. As far as my health goes, it seems to be the “scary” that is causing the most problems, rather than the level of stress. Consequently, the Fibromyalgia is no longer in the driving seat. It has been relegated to the position of backseat driver, with anxiety doing the driving and depression sitting firmly in the navigator’s seat.

As far as the Fibro is concerned, my main problems are tiredness, fatigue, tinnitus and ocular migraine – but, they’re a doddle to cope with compared to everything else that’s going on. Thank goodness I have Peter around to support me: he is helping me more than he knows.

New Things Are Happening

Tree at Aphrodisias

The major stresses in my life recently are continuing. The levels of stress vary but are consistently high and the impact on my health and wellbeing becomes more apparent.

My mood has lowered during these last three weeks and I am having to monitor myself carefully to ensure that I don’t slide down into the dark pit. The situation vis-a-vis anxiety is slightly different, as there have been fluctuations in the level. Generally speaking, I have been suffering more anxiety lately and have had to resort to taking some of my emergency medication on occasion. I really do keep that medicine as a last resort so, having had to take some, is disappointing. Disappointing but not surprising.

As for the Fibromyalgia, I am still of the opinion that I am very lucky. Considering how difficult life has been for some time, I am amazed that my symptoms have not been worse than they have. I am definitely getting more tired, more often and the fatigue is also more apparent. In case you are wondering about why I use the two words “tiredness” and “fatigue” I will explain. I use “tiredness” to describe the times when I feel sleepy and when I feel the sort of tired anyone might feel after physical exertion. “Fatigue”, on the other hand, describes when my energy suddenly disappears and I feel as though I am trying to walk through a wall.

I have previously mentioned that the tinnitus has increased to a level that makes it more difficult to ignore. I am mainly hearing a level tone in my ears, albeit rather loud, but at least it is only a single tone and the ticking and other noises appear to have abated.

One symptom that has decided to make an appearance is pain. It has been generalised pain, all over my body, and low level. I feel stiff and it seems as though I ache everywhere. Not only that, but at times when I am moving around, the best I can manage is an undignified shuffle. However, I am very thankful that the pain has been mild and I have not needed to resort to painkillers – plenty of time for those in the future.

 

The Danger Period

Market Day, Uzbekistan
Market Day,
Uzbekistan

At long last, life has calmed down somewhat, although it did get considerably worse before it got better. However, at least I have just one person in hospital now and the ‘life and death’ urgency has eased for the time being.

As you may imagine, the levels of stress have been almost unbearable and have stretched to bursting almost every seam of my being. As so often happens, now that the stress is less acute, its effects are now being well and truly felt – both mentally and physically.

In addition to Fibromyalgia, I also have long-term depression and anxiety. Whereas with Fibro I am still very much a learner when it comes to managing how to live with it, with depression and anxiety I am something of an old hand. There are periods when I go into a state of “lock down”. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not. I think that I am getting better at recognising which is which. At the moment, it is a good thing. I am mentally and physically exhausted by the recent events – and it shows. The Fibro is flaring, causing tiredness, fatigue, incessant tinnitus, dizziness, Fibro fog and bowel problems, amongst other things. Mentally I feel very fragile: I can become upset or unsettled by the slightest thing and, for much of the time, I feel unable to cope with what is happening, let alone deal with day-to-day things that need attention. Worse than that, my anxiety levels are up and I have been having panic attacks. Thank goodness for my “emergency” medicine!

When Peter and I were preparing to fly to Australia in May, Dr. Azeer, my GP, advised me to make full use of my emergency medicine during the trip. He even wrote a prescription for a 100ml bottle of it, so that I could carry some in my hand luggage without fear of it being confiscated!

I had cause to use the emergency medicine on Saturday and, since then, have been taking things very quietly and carefully to try and avoid the need to take more. I am definitely in “lock down”. The only person I speak to, outside of my family, is the friend in whose house my sister now lives, because it is she who answers the phone when I ring. I rang ‘Little Sis’ (her nickname, not actually a relative) on Wednesday of last week to let her know how things were and said that I would rather not talk for the time being. I am very lucky, we are extremely close friends and she understands my coping strategies so wouldn’t have been at all offended. I know she worries about me which is why I have said that emailing is fine. As for most other people, I am keeping my distance – it’s what I need to do, at the moment. I have to be selfish as I don’t have the capacity to cope with anything else. It’s not a good way to be, but it’s the way that’s familiar to me. If I crumble mentally, I’m worried that the Fibro will swamp me physically. And I don’t want that.

And Still The Stress Continues

Weird, isn't it?
Weird, isn’t it?**

My mother is still in hospital, although she is treating it like a pinball machine! You know what I mean? You zap the ball and it bounces from one place to another and you never know where it’s going to end up? Yep, that’s the one, except in her version you are trundled from a side room to the main part of the ward, then off to another ward. Oh! Back again! Into the main section? Nope, into a side room. You get the picture, I’m sure. Add to this the new problems that arise, then disappear, only to be replaced by newer things that are even more worrying.

So, yes, the stress continues. Only now, my ability to cope with that stress is beginning to fail. And we know what that means, don’t we, children? Yes! Fibromyalgia kicks in, alongside anxiety attacks. The standby medicine is close at hand, although I have only had to resort to it once. However, tiredness and fatigue are both beginning to be regular features of my days, together with the heightened tinnitus.

I am trying to lessen the pressure that I tend to put upon myself. I finished my craft project for this week’s swap in plenty of time and I am just picking up and working on whatever other crafty thing takes my fancy. By doing that, I am getting maximum enjoyment of my crafting activities with minimum stress. However, there are some things that have to be done at particular times and I have a few of those waiting in the wings. I am hoping that the spots of Fibre Fog that I’ve had don’t increase and make dealing with practical things, a hard slog.

All things considered, I am getting off lightly where the Fibro is concerned and, as ever, I am very grateful for that. For the time being, as long as I can sleep when I need to, and feel fairly refreshed afterwards, it doesn’t add to my difficulty in coping with the stress of the moment. Long may that continue.

** If you are wondering about the photo, it is of a strange looking building in Singapore which I struggled to photograph in any way that shows its strange appearance. It was covered in 3-D triangular pieces of metal which looked something like the protective spines of an animal. See, I can’t even describe it very well!

A Bouncy Sort Of Day

Yesterday there was bad weather across much of the British Isles and, during our journey from Donegal to home, we encountered quite a bit of it! As we set sail from Belfast to Cairnryan, an announcement came across the public address system. We were informed that our crossing could be bouncy, sorry, a little rough. There seemed to be a collective sharp intake of breath as the passengers heard that news. I, however, was already used to it being a bouncy sort of day.

We had had an early start to the day as the departure time of our coach was 07:15. That meant that the hotel had scheduled breakfast for our group at 06:20. Peter had gently woken me at around 05:45. I like to have a slow start to the day and had calculated that if I woke then it would allow time for that.

I felt more tired than usual when I awoke, and it was a different type of tiredness. It seemed to wear off fairly quickly, however, upon reflection, I was slower and quieter than usual, although I didn’t particularly notice it at the time.

When I boarded the coach I settled down with my knitting. I realise that probably seems a little unusual, but when travelling I often knit or crochet early in the day. I only managed to knit a few rows and then I began to feel unwell. I started to ache all over, felt ill – almost as though I had flu – and had a desperate, almost panicky need to sleep. Normally I can fall asleep fairly easily on a coach but that certainly wasn’t the case yesterday morning. My feeling ill, inability to get comfortable and desperate need to sleep began to make me vulnerable and almost tearful. I felt a deep need for human touch and reassurance. Peter and I had taken advantage of there being many empty seats on the coach and each had a pair of seats to ourselves. However, feeling as I did, I moved back to sit next to him. I snuggled into his shoulder and, holding his hand, drifted off to sleep. I was pleased to be feeling much brighter when I awoke some time later.

On the ferry, we disembarked from our coach and headed upstairs to the passenger deck. As we were doing so there was some confusion as to which deck we needed to be on. That was when the Fibro Fog hit me. Later, Peter asked if I had been experiencing dizziness so I realised that he had noticed the state I was in, at the time.

As you can see, it was quite an up and down sort of day for me yesterday. It gave me a further insight into how my Fibro is taking shape. Whether or not that is helpful, I have yet to find out.