Chronic Illness/ Stress/ Anxiety/Depression

“Pleasure is oft a visitant, but pain clings cruelly to us , John Keats

Living with fibromyalgia, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, COPD to name but a few chronic conditions, is often overwhelming; it is little wonder that anxiety, panic  and often depression accompany our everyday lives. The myriad of symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and/or breathing difficulties pre-occupy us and curtail our activities of daily living. The stressors we endure on a constant basis under ‘normal’ circumstances are exacerbated once we have become labelled with a particular diagnosis. We are daily inundated with messages of fear, gloom and doom: wars, unemployment, bombing, climate change, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, fast paced technological living…the list is endless.  With at least one debilitating health condition to contend with we have an increase in our stress levels. What is to be done? What is to be done with those of us who face living with serious conditions that can inhibit a good quality of life and  seem to require constant vigilance ? There isn’t an easy answer and we usually have to become the experts of our own lives. While vigilance is an appropriate response to our health issues, it is hyper-vigilance that can be debilitating as this is a major stressor.

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Fibromyalgia and ‘Energy Medicine’: Trying to unlock the puzzling language and belief system

voodoo-science “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please”, Mark Twain

Given that modern medicine has been unable to find either a cause or cure for fibromyalgia it is little wonder that many have turned to an alternate way of viewing and discussing the body in order to deal with the many daily issues facing them. ‘Energy medicine’ is significant in that it has changed the discourse about the body and is the approach that is popular with those who are not mainstream health care practitioners, although, in fact, even some conventional practitioners embrace the paradigm, which continues to amaze me. Generally based upon therapies that evolved from Eastern philosophies, there is a great deal of confusion for someone sifting through the various ways in which energy medicine is presented. In most cases this belief system involves a ‘healer’, body/mind techniques and stresses self healing. It is believed by the advocates that it is a cure for many ailments, among  them fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and environmental illness.

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Fibromyalgia and Activities for Strength/Flexibility/Cardiovascular Health

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it”, Plato one-to-one-001

The search continues for the ultimate regime that strengthens and improves our overall health. From the ‘pump iron’ mantra… to the videos about Pilates… to the parks filled with the Tai Chi practitioners… to the joggers on our sidewalks…to the yoga clubs whose numbers continue to swell, we are left in a state of frustration and confusion, particularly if we can sometimes barely walk! What is to be done?

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Fibromyalgia and the attempt to quantify and describe the pain

“We also often add to our own pain and suffering by being overly sensitive, over-reacting to minor things, and sometimes taking things too personally”, Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dali Lama quote 1.75_finalist_PMS877

One of the difficult issues that people with fibromyalgia grapple with is trying to describe their pain to others. Words such as ache, raw, ragged, searing, blistering, shocking, nagging pain do not always convey the message; the list of adjectives is endless. The vocabulary is not precise and it can be a daunting task to find the right words. Even more frustrating is that the nature of the pain itself changes, sometimes from hour to hour or day to day. Equally as  problematic are the areas of the body where the pain attacks, as that too can vary from one place to another or, pain can occur in several areas of the body simultaneously.

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Fibromyalgia: spasms, restless legs, trapped nerves, exercise and strengthening

“Am I alone in my egotism when I say that never does the pale light of dawn filter through the blinds of 52 Tavistock Square but I open my eyes and exclaim “Good God! Here I am again” not always with pleasure, often with pain, sometimes in a spasm”, Virginia Woolf 50285019_140

The body of someone suffering from fibromyalgia is often (but not necesarily) very sensitive to even gentle touch without experiencing pain. Muscles are tense, often in spasm, aching, and after prolonged use can become even more stressed. Exercise, the 20th and 21st century mantra of those who want to become or remain fit, often creates more pain for those of us with FMS, unless it is very gentle. Even then for some, any kind of movement can precipitate episodes of severe pain. What are people to do who cannot exercise, move, even walk slowly without wondering which body parts will break out in agony? The younger person begins to feel even older and the older person is additionally burdened with the aches and pains of aging. 

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