“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:it goes on”, Robert Frost
I have frequently cited the works of adiemusfree from her HealthSkills Blog. She has become my guru for updates on research regarding pain. I take hope because of her personal struggles with the issues surrounding living with acceptance in lieu of catastrophising. Daily pain is exhausting, depletes our energy, leaves us with a sense of hopelessness. Each new symptom (and there are many) can be like taking one step forward and two backward. How do we continue? As she says in her October 18/15 blog: “After all, life doesn’t stop just because pain is a daily companion”. The same could be said of the other myriad of symptoms we experience.
“America is one of the few advanced nations that allow direct advertising of prescription drugs, Robert Reich
BigPharma makes huge profits from those of us suffering from chronic pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, itching, digestive issues- to name a few of the common symptoms of fibromyalgia. Every day we are inundated with advertisements about prescription drugs that would alleviate these symptoms. Equally as rich is the vitamin industry which advocates specific supplements for the treatment of fibromyalgia, few of which are science based. Generally we take them willy nilly without any idea if they are helpful or not.
“Doctors are men who prescribe medicine of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing”,Voltaire
Those of us with chronic conditions are constantly seeking relief from the myriad of symptoms that make our lives very challenging. Pain, fatigue, lack of physical abilities, sleep disturbances, depression, rashes, to name but a few of the minor to serious struggles with which we are faced lead us to desperately wanting relief in the form of medications. Living with any one of the daily distressing symptoms affects our quality of life and it is little wonder that we seek help in the form of chemicals to help us get through the day. Many, in fact, are essential to our conditions without which we could not survive. Others are prescribed from the sheer frustration of physicians who want to help but medical answers to many perplexing conditions are not yet available to them. Such is the case with fibromyalgia. What to do with a patient who has chronic pain but to prescribe a pain medication, that may or may not help? If the patient cannot sleep there is a solution: sleep medication. Depression and anxiety? Medications for altering moods.The list of medications for all sorts of conditions is limitless. Pharmaceutical companies are big booming businesses whose profits know no bounds.Physicians could not possibly remember the vast array of information that the drug reps tell them about their efficacy or that they learn about on line. More to the point ‘new’ diseases and conditions are constantly being ‘discovered’ for which new drugs must be invented. Read : The Medicalization of Everyday Life by Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist, whose work in mental illness was compulsory reading for me as a medical sociology student in graduate school, many years ago.
“Nothing vivifies, and nothing kills, like emotions”, Joseph Roux
It’s almost the end of December already and I missed writing a blog in November. Seems I was trying to recover from the many crises (or at least perceived crises) in my life. The physiotherapist (Nick) said my nervous system was “completely exhausted” and to rest. For the past few weeks things have finally quieted down and I am having Feldenkrais movement treatments/activities (I am somewhat certain that Tai Chi would be equally as effective, or any kind of movement) to help revitalize me somewhat. The fatigue is slowly dissipating and with it some of the pain from all the hyperactivity and intense stressful emotions in my life. I am back on my recumbent bike a couple of times a week for about 20 minutes a day now (again!).
As I write this I watch little light snow flakes outside; there’s a fire in the fireplace; I have just spent 20 minutes meditating and I am at peace with my heating pad on my shoulders and hot tea to comfort me. The winter skylight is incredible at dusk. Now that we have had Solstice the days will be getting longer. If only there were more days like this, but of course, crises happen…stuff happens. I can’t stop the world. I am though working on focused practices such as mild exercise and meditation which is what my emotional roller coaster craves and my brain ( that darn amygdala!) has a difficult time understanding. My brain wants to go that well worn path to emotional chaos instead of the new calming pathways I am trying to cultivate. The stresses that many of us experience during the festive season create in us emotions that can make us sick, or conversely could make us well.
“If you can anchor yourself to a ship of tranquility, you won’t be tossed about by the waves of stimulation”, Ted Zeff
I recently asked my spouse what lessons he learned from his father. His reply was how to ‘pace’ himself; to be cautious and not overly frenetic. His father lived to be 90, was a factory worker and a musician and helped raise five children. He was a calm man, did not complain about aches or pains, was easy going and like his son, my partner of many years, a relaxed man. He was like this in spite of the stimulation of five children and two jobs. It was a pleasure to be around him. He moved about slowly, pacing himself. Neither he, nor his son, have , nor had fibromyalgia. That goes without saying.
“Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency”, Natalie Goldberg
Stress and excitement are two main triggers for an acute onset of fibromyalgia in a highly anxious person. Stress may be only minimal or severe, temporary or chronic, nonetheless it is usually bound to bring on an attack, usually a day or two after the episode. Excitement can be happy or frightening, but that too usually precipitates pain, fatigue, sleeplessness and perhaps depression among a host of other undesirable symptoms.