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Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Six – Pain Management for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain

Welcome to part six of the Fibromyalgia Framework series – pain management for fibromyalgia and chronic pain fighters! I hope you’re enjoying this series and have come to join the conversation in You vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group.

The fibromyalgia framework series has been presenting my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research.

fibromyalgia framework part seven pain management

We have discussed: 

The Fibromyalgia Framework
Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books
Tracking Your Progress
Sleep
Central Nervous System

PAIN MANAGEMENT FOR FIBROMYALGIA/CHRONIC PAIN

We could spend a long time going through pain management options in depth, but that is outside the scope of this series. I will give you a brief introduction to the multiple options and give you extra reading you can follow up on. As you will recall from my fibromyalgia puzzle, low dose naltrexone and physiotherapy are key pain management options for me. Yours might be entirely different.

LIFESTYLE FOCUSED PAIN MANAGEMENT

  • Sleep
  • Gentle movement
  • Rest
  • Seeing food as fuel
  • Observing your work/life balance

SPECIFIC FOR PAIN – WHAT I DO:

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase using this link I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

  • Heat pack. This is my first line of defense, I use it on my neck first thing, whenever I can during the day, in the evening and at bedtime.
  • Essential oils – lavender is my all time favourite for sleep, pain and relaxation.
  • Deep Heat, a non-medicated heat producing rub that eases muscle pain, especially when combined with a good massage.
  • Biofreeze – a cooling pain reliever, especially good for during warmer weather.
  • A hot bath is my best treat and the first thing I want when the pain increases.
  • I see the physiotherapist every three weeks and they do neck tractions and place acupuncture needles in trigger points in my neck and shoulders. This is the only thing that keeps the neck free and keeps the severe headaches, dizziness and nausea that accompanies the severe neck pain away.
  • A Theracane trigger point massager for self-trigger point release. You can use your fingers, but mine get too sore for this now, you do have to push rather hard.
  • Magnesium oil on my back and shoulders at bedtime.
  • Low dose naltrexone. Over a period of 12 months, it has decreased my neck pain levels more than anything ever has. It is not a miracle drug – if I don’t take it, the fatigue skyrockets, and if I overdo it, my neck pain increases. It is not a standalone treatment. But I am super thankful for it!
  • It helps me get to sleep where nothing else has ever worked. I do have to combine it with a heap of sleep hygiene routines, but it’s the base of the plan. In addition to helping me sleep (and thereby, reducing pain), it reduced the wider spread pain and near constant headaches.
  • MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) for muscle and joint pain. It helps with the pain in my index fingers as well as a little difference in my neck.
  • Slow release, high dose ibuprofen for period pain, for about four days – it’s pretty severe.
  • Ibuprofen or paracetamol (Acetaminophen) for headaches or low level pain that breaks through.
  • A muscle relaxant for spasms in the neck or back – the frequency of these has decreased since I began LDN.

OTHER PAIN RELIEF OPTIONS:

  • TENS machine
  • Foam roller
  • Essential oils
    • Lavender
    • Chamomile
    • Peppermint
  • Herbs
    • Thyme
    • Devil’s Claw
    • Jamaican Dogwood
    • Cayenne
    • White Willow Bark
    • Corydalis
  • Supplements
  • CBD oil

For medicinal pain relief, please discuss these options with your doctor and do your own research. Do always check for interactions between herbs/supplements and medicines that you are on.

LOW DOSE NALTREXONE

I haven’t been quiet about the benefits of low dose naltrexone (LDN). Since beginning it in 2017 I have experienced the best improvement of any single thing I have ever tried. I believe it is all down to sleeping better. The offshoots of this have been many. I have decreased pain levels, increased stamina, decreased fatigue, dramatically improved quality of life.

Find my Low Dose Naltrexone One Year Experiment post here. It includes a full write up of how it is changing my life with some links to further information.

For an overview of LDN see this website.


You might like:

Do you wish that you could have all of the parts of the Fibromyalgia Framework Series, along with the templates to help you plan with space for notes in one place? There is! The Fibromyalgia Framework Series Workbook is available here. Find it physically here.  Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

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Health Update 4 Months Postpartum with Baby #3 and Fibromyalgia

I haven’t given you a proper health update for a long while. I kept you updated about the pregnancy and have given a full rundown on my low dose naltrexone experiment. But nothing about my general health recently.

Being consumed with children and nursing and surviving has impacted my health, but not as badly as I feared it would. I had a bad flare after Noah, pretty much his entire first year was a flare. With Wyatt I did better thanks to starting low dose naltrexone (LDN). But this time I am fully established on LDN, and the difference is huge.

Parenting with fibromyalgia: How I am doing four months postpartum with baby #3

Pain

Average pain levels are sitting at 4/10 for my neck and shoulders. These trigger points are irritated by carrying my 7kg baby and lying on my side to feed him in the night. I have had several bad headaches and one so bad I had to go to bed for an entire morning. I am not taking pain medicines regularly, only paracetamol/acetaminophen during the worst headaches (I take the water soluble one as I cannot swallow pills when the headaches are bad and cause nausea so paracetamol is the only option at these times). My pelvis, glutes and legs are getting very sore at the end of days that I have had to carry the baby more and nights where I have had to lie on my side with baby for a long time. I have a feeling that this is due to active trigger points from labour. But generally, day to day, I am doing much better. I am using my heat pack, topical, un-medicated creams and hot showers daily.

Talking about trigger points – I have put more effort into researching and treating them. I have been using my Targeted Symptom Plan template (part of this kit in my Etsy store) to work on these.

Fatigue

Living on 6-7 broken hours of sleep is difficult for anyone and I am so thankful at how well I am coping. A 20 minute meditation makes all the difference on the days when I can. I cannot wait for baby to consistently sleep in four hour stretches!

New things to try

A person in a group I am in on Facebook suggested a brand of magnesium to try called Magnesium L-Threonate (please note this is an affiliate link and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you). Apparently it crosses the blood-brain barrier effectively. You might like to research this.

Baby product that has been saving my life

I have been so grateful for my baby wrap (affiliate). The day that I first put it on the baby stopped an hours long fussing spree! This holds baby closer to your body which reduces the strain on your back and shoulders. It also sits around your waist, not near your pelvis, this relieved the pressure that the normal front pack placed on it. At first I had to use it for all naps. Then just for naps that he woke up early from (read: all) and needed extra sleep time to be less fussy. I also use it when I am taking the four year old into kindy with the two year old and baby. I prefer my Beco Gemini front pack (affiliate) for this as it is much faster to put on, but it was stolen with our car a couple of weeks ago.

Stress

Speaking of cars. First, I was rear ended while driving one car with the baby in it. That car has been written off (in a very slow process) so we are hunting for the ideal replacement. Then the second car was stolen (with my baby carrier and three car seats in!). Very stressful. On the day of the accident I had to practice careful breathing and some relaxation techniques. I dealt with it much better than I would have several years ago. But it hasn’t been much fun navigating all this.

What’s next?

I am studying a life coaching course on Udemy to support my mission here on the blog. Do come along and join my Facebook group if you want access to super special discounts while I am setting up this service. I am trying to get baby to begin taking a bottle so I can catch a break one day. I am also considering how and when to get back to work with three tiny children – one of whom seems destined to be breastfed forever!

How are you doing? Do let me know if these health updates are useful for you.

You might also like these articles:

Baby Wearing with Fibromyalgia

Healthy Practices I’m Doing with Three Tiny Ones and a Chronic Illness

Tips for Coping with a Newborn and Fibromyalgia (Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue)

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Fibromyalgia Framework Part Five: Central Sensitivity and How Meditation Can Help

Welcome to part five – central sensitivity! I hope you’re enjoying this series! Did you catch the last one Sleep? It was pretty meaty and I hope very helpful.

The fibromyalgia framework series is going to present my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research. I’ll share this with you.

Fibromyalgia framework series part seven pain management for fibromyalgia and chronic pain

We have discussed:

The Fibromyalgia Framework
Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books
Tracking Your Progress
Sleep

CENTRAL SENSITIVITY/OVERACTIVE NERVOUS SYSTEM IN FIBROMYALGIA

A lot of research suggests that Fibromyalgia is the result of central nervous system dysfunction – specifically an overactive nervous system, stressing and exhausting the brain (Dennis W. Dobritt, Fibromyalgia – A Brief Overview)[1]. Other literature suggests that the chronic pain causes the central nervous system to go into overdrive. However you look at it, the nervous system appears to be involved.

The theory of autonomic nervous system dysfunction resonates with me as a big part of the puzzle – not the entire answer.

Many of programmes are popping up and claiming to “cure” chronic pain (Lightning Process, Curable app, the CFS Unraveled programme, various books with similar programmes) based upon the idea of retraining the brain. If these programmes are the entire answer for someone, I am happy for them. But mostly they are going to be one part of the puzzle.

MEDITATION

Meditation promotes a calming of the central nervous system, allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to activate. In the short-term that meant achieving deep rest during meditation, in the longer term it meant a dramatic reduction of the misfiring of my fight or flight response to minor stimuli.

The benefits:

  • Complete rest
  • Calming the central nervous system (Martinez-Martinez et al, 2014[2])
  • A break from stimulus
  • Focus on the body, accepting it as it is (mindfulness).
  • Not trying to nap, which can be frustrating for those who can’t.
  • For those who have trouble with orthostatic intolerance, just lying down can make you feel better.
  • A boost in energy (however temporary).
  • Improve the immune system (University Health News Daily, 2018)
  • Treat depression
  • Reduce pain

MEDITATION OPTIONS

You can:

  • Simply focus on your breath for a few moments. How you breathe in, how the breath feels a little warmer on the way out. How your body feels when you exhale. How your breaths get a little longer as you relax. Don’t push anything, just observe.
  • Do your own body scan meditation – by quietly thinking of each part of your body in turn, noticing the feeling in each, accepting it, willing that part to relax and moving to the next.
  • Do progressive relaxation – by tensing and releasing each part of your body in turn you can encourage it to relax deeply. As an example you could start with your feet, tense and release, your lower legs, upper legs, glutes, abdomen, arms, face.
  • Guided meditations – YouTube has a heap available including Yoga Nidra, mindfulness meditations, meditation specific to pain or fatigue etc.

As an extra form of rest, you can lie down or recline in a chair with a heat pack.

Blue one way traffic sign

MINDFULNESS FOR FIBROMYALGIA

A working definition for mindfulness is to be observant of thoughts and feelings without judging them. To allow our body to be as it and accept it as it is.

A research paper (Cash et al 2016) found that mindfulness meditation “ameliorated some of the major symptoms of fibromyalgia and reduced subjective illness burden.” Other studies have also shown the effects to be sustained at three year follow ups, with consistent practice.

There are plenty of courses and books around learning mindfulness. One such book is by Vidyamala Birch, founder of Breathworks (a UK based organization that teaches mindfulness) and chronic pain warrior, You Are Not Your Pain: Using Mindfulness to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress and Restore Wellbeing – an Eight Week Program. I enjoyed this book immensely.

The concept of mindfulness can follow you out of the practice of mediation and into daily life.

FURTHER READING

Books

  • You Are Not Your Pain: Using Mindfulness to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress and Restore Wellbeing – an Eight Week Program by Vidyamala Birch and Danny Penman (2013)
  • Back in Control: A Surgeon’s Roadmap out of Chronic Pain by David Hanscom
  • Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body by Jo Merchant (2016)

Articles

Activities

  • Free writing for 5-15 minutes per day, then destroy the paper.
  • Deep breathing (minimum of five quiet breaths when you feel the need, up to 10 minutes of specific mindful breathing a day) this is a nice 3 minute
  • Write down your happiness level and social connection level each day, keep a gratitude list and remember your people.
  • Do a loving-kindness meditation each day like this one
  • Do a chronic pain relieving meditation like this one.

If you are curious about central sensitivity and using mindfulness and meditation to help you with this, sign up for my free meditation workshop here

central sensitivity and meditation

[1] Dennis W. Dobritt, DO, DABPM, FIPP. Fibromyalgia – A Brief Overview (a presentation). Retrieved from https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/fibroacpsm_246421_7.pdf

[2] L.A. Martínez-Martínez, T. Mora, A. Vargas, M. Fuentes-Iniestra, & M. Martínez-Lavín. (2014). Sympathetic nervous system dysfunction in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and interstitial cystitis: a review of case-control studies. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24662556


Impatient? Want to work through the content now? The Fibromyalgia Framework Workbook is available to purchase, with all of the templates (freebies and templates recommended from my Etsy Store) with space for notes to work through the content as a course. Find the Fibromyalgia Framework here (digital). Find it physically here

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6 Practices for Calming an Overactive Nervous System

As a natural result of practicing meditation for the past several years (which I began purely for the deep rest), my overactive fight or flight response calmed greatly. Sometimes things happen to trigger it again. So I have developed six practices for calming my overactive nervous system.

6 Calming

Recently, I was driving to my parent’s house when someone crashed into us from behind. The impact was so hard the tow bar bent up in half. I immediately rushed to my three month old baby to calm him. Once I’d placed him back in his seat to discuss details with the drivers behind me and surveyed the damage I began shaking and my heartrate went on overdrive.

The first practice I employed to calm my system was to breathe as well as I could given the situation. We had to finish the drive to my parents as my husband and older two boys were meeting us there. I did my absolute best to think on using my diaphragm and not my chest. I was only half successful.

Once we got to my parent’s and the baby was asleep in my arms I sat down with a heat pack and a glass of water. That time out was crucial.

A bit later when I realised I was still quite worked up, I went and sang a couple of my favourite songs on my brother’s Sing Star game. How can you focus on what stressed you out when you’re trying to keep up with the words and tune?!

The following morning, while struggling with the interplay of increased stress response, pain and fatigue (the baby slept with me all night as neither of us wanted to separate), I chose to do a 15 minute yoga nidra meditation (there was no time for a full rest).

See this post about meditation.

See here for how to grab a personalised one on one session on meditation or coaching with mindfulness incorporated in the programme.

Another practice for working through anxiety and the fight or flight response is to write it out. Either in a journal you keep or on a piece of paper you throw out.

Talking about it can also help. Examine why you react how you do, what influences you, consider some steps to take to actively manage it.

Practices for Calming the Central Nervous System

1. Diaphragmatic breathing
2. Time out
3. Singing (or hobby you enjoy)
4. Meditation
5. Write it out
6. Talk about it

What are your go to practices for stress?

Would you like to learn how mindfulness and meditation might help you manage fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, anxiety, insomnia and more? Join the free workshop!

central sensitivity and meditation

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Fibromyalgia Framework Series Four – Sleep: Sleep research, sleep hygiene, sleep tips

Welcome to part four of the Fibromyalgia Framework Series – Sleep! I hope you’re enjoying this series and have come to join the conversation in Melissa (You) vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group.

The fibromyalgia framework series has been presenting my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research. I’ll share this with you.

We have discussed: 

The Fibromyalgia Framework – with your free framework template!
Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books
Tracking Your Progress

Sleep, sleep tips, hygiene and tips to help you sleep with fibromyalgia

SLEEP WITH FIBROMYALGIA

Sleep is huge. I had theorized that sleep was a crucial missing component in my healing journey for a long time. Research is starting to bear this out. Doctors specializing in and writing about fibromyalgia know it. It still hasn’t trickled down to most practitioners.

Once I began low dose naltrexone I started to sleep in more than one hour blocks. Getting restful sleep has been the basis of all the improvements I experienced over 2017 and 2018 despite having tiny children and a third pregnancy.

SLEEP RESEARCH

There’s a lot of research about the sleep issue in Fibromyalgia and chronic deep sleep deprivation is no friend to our pain, fatigue or brain. We can do quite a few things ourselves to impact our sleep, but sometimes we need a doctor to step in and help. I am very lucky that a locum GP I saw once noticed my history of being very tired and not sleeping well and put me on amitriptyline. This was before I was diagnosed so I’m unsure if he suspected Fibromyalgia or not. This was the only way I could get any sleep for years. That doesn’t mean it helps me to sleep well or that I don’t have a list of sleep hygiene rules that I live by.

Based upon my reading of the research, books by my favourite fibromyalgia authors and my experience, my number one recommendation to anyone suffering from chronic pain or similar illnesses is to get your sleep.

SOME SLEEP HYGIENE TIPS

alarm-alarm-clock-analog-1162967 attribution fre
Go to bed and get up around the same time each day.
  • Manage pain – take prescribed medicines as directed.
  • Pacing during the day so you are not over-exhausted.
  • Don’t have caffeine after lunch.
  • Have a wind-down routine (that doesn’t involve technology).
  • Go to bed and get up at approximately the same time each day.
  • Dab lavender oil on temples, wrists and/or feet.
  • Do a body scan meditation.

EXTRA SLEEP HELP

Once you have tried the above sleep hygiene tips, it might be worth exploring natural sleep options such as:

  • Lavender essential oil
  • Chamomile
  • Valerian
  • Lemonbalm
  • GABA supplement
  • CBD oil (if it is legal where you live)
  • Magnesium

If you have been struggling to sleep for a good while, have tried all of the sleep hygiene and natural options available it is time to discuss options with your doctor.

  • Melatonin
  • 5 HTP
  • Low dose naltrexone – do your research, take it to your doctor, but please note that for some it causes insomnia.
  • Stronger sleep aids for short term use, under strict medical supervision.

This article from Dr Teitelbaum might be of use for further sleep help.

Sleep is one area where we really need our doctors to be on board. If yours is not, then try to find another one.

My sleep logs and sleep hygiene tips

You can purchase your Sleep Hygiene Tips sheet, My Sleep Hygiene Plan and My Sleep Diary templates from my Etsy store to help you get started today on improving your sleep.

Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

Request a session

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Tips for Coping with a Newborn and Fibromyalgia (Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue)

Having done this three times, I have formulated some tips for coping with a newborn and fibromyalgia. They are split into the key areas for dealing with fibromyalgia in general – sleep, general health, pain management and expectations.

How to survive with a newborn and chronic illness

Sleep is king (always) and for coping with a newborn with fibromyalgia

  • Give baby to your partner/support person with a bottle (formula or expressed breast milk) and go to bed early. With our first I expressed at 8.30pm and went to bed at 9pm. Husband would hold sleeping baby, feed him when he woke, wind him and bring him into the room. Those precious hours of sleep made a huge difference, especially as I flared the worst with him. Unfortunately we haven’t managed this with our second (reflux and colic, we had to keep each other company in the storm) and third (I’m breastfeeding and he refuses the bottle) and I so wish for those three or four hours of sleep!
  • Find a person each day to visit and hold baby while you nap or meditate. Unless you are lucky enough to have a baby that naps in their own bed for more than 20 minutes at a time, I never got one of those!
  • If you don’t have a visitor to hold baby and baby isn’t napping in their bed for you, lie down while holding baby (meditate, pray, read, watch television -just don’t move) -they will probably sleep better and you can rest.
  • Help baby sleep. With all three babies I fell into the trap of doing all the things and just made it harder to fall asleep.With our first we waited five overtired months to sleep train and after much trial and error we found he needed a good 15 minutes alone to decompress before he slept 7-7 with a 10pm dream feed (anything we did just prolonged it and made it super difficult for him to sleep).With number two at 22 months (the reflux made us nervous to sleep train) we started ignoring him in the night, he would grizzle for 10 minutes, go back to sleep and wake in the morning so much more refreshed than us going in and out all night.

    With number three I was standing, jiggling, patting and shhing and it took ages to get him off. Then I noticed my husband would sit on the couch, jiggle him a little, baby would cry for a few minutes and then go off to sleep! If I catch him before he’s overtired, ensure he is well winded, swaddle him, sing his songs and put him down awake he will go to sleep himself with literally a minute of grizzling. I haven’t figured out how to get him to do longer than 20 minutes of sleep but it is much nicer for both of us. We are setting the foundations for later sleep. Sleep is important for mama and baby.

Physical health

  • Drink lots of water
  • Eat healthily and regularly
  • Take a multivitamin
  • Check your iron levels and address low levels
  • Stretch
  • Massage yourself with lavender oil regularly
  • Take a hot shower or bath every day
  • Get into the sun for at least five minutes
  • Go for a gentle walk, even if it’s five minutes in your garden or down your street

Pain relief

  • Do all of the above
  • Enact your natural pain relief mechanisms from pregnancy
  • Discuss medicines for breastfeeding (if you choose to/are able to nurse) before baby comes (and there are medicines that are alright for nursing – see this article).

Other tips for managing a newborn with fibromyalgia

  • Aim for one or two tasks a day outside baby that are crucial and let the rest slide (ie dishes and washing).
  • Keep in touch with your family and friends, even if only by text.
  • If something doesn’t seem right, ask for help (excessive wind etc).
  • Know that the newborn that takes two hour naps every 45 minutes and sleeps from 7-7 with two or three feeds is NOT the norm.
  • Enjoy that baby and take lots of pictures, they will grow and this stage will pass.

I’d love to hear your tips?
If you are managing a newborn with fibromyalgia, or will be soon do come and join Pregnancy and fibromyalgia Facebook group.

More articles for you:

Baby Wearing with Fibromyalgia

Healthy Practices I’m Doing with Three Tiny Ones and a Chronic Illness

Nursing with Fibromyalgia: My Experience and Some Research

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Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Three – Tracking Your Progress Fighting Fibromyalgia

Welcome to part three of the Fibromyalgia Framework Series – tracking your progress fighting fibromyalgia!

The fibromyalgia framework series is going to present my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research. I’ll share this with you.

Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Three Tracking Your Progress Fighting Fibromyalgia

In this series we will address the components of my framework including diagnosis and misdiagnosis, tracking your progress, sleep, basic human needs, pain management, the central nervous system and fatigue.

Did you grab your free Fibromyalgia Framework Puzzle and Grid templates in the first part of  The Fibromyalgia Framework?

TRACKING YOUR PROGRESS FIGHTING FIBROMYALGIA

As you may have noticed, I firmly believe we have the power to impact our quality of life. Our daily choices make a big impact on our wellbeing. Only we know our bodies so intimately. So we need to take charge in order to help our doctors to help us.

Fibromyalgia is complex and unique, so good record keeping is an important step in managing the myriad of symptoms and potential treatments.

By tracking our symptoms and things that we have tried we can notice patterns and make informed choices. Relying on fogged brains is not the easiest way to go. I have tried a great many things that I cannot remember! By keeping track you have created useful data to discuss with your doctor at appointments, it can help you see clearly what you need to discuss first and to give feedback for any changes they have previously suggested.

You can track notes in a journal, make a bullet journal, find an app or try a template.

It is good to keep track of:

  • Your sleep quality and quantity
  • Key symptoms and severity
  • Any medicines or supplements you are taking, and
  • Any self-care and exercise you manage.

I personally love printed templates to physically write on and have created several options that are available in my Etsy Store. Below are a couple of them. The one on the right includes the option to write down the top five things you are thankful for each day, which I find is a nice way to add some mindfulness to our day. Some days it might only be that you are still breathing. Others you will have trouble limiting it to five. The one on the left is gives the option of two to a page or a full page tracker.

My daily health log blueMy spoonie daily log

You don’t need to be tracking all of the time, but it is especially useful for identifying patterns periodically and for tracking experiments. It is important to know if things work. Especially over the course of this series!


Impatient? Want to work through the content now? The Fibromyalgia Framework Workbook is available to purchase, with all of the templates (freebies and templates recommended from my Etsy Store) with space for notes to work through the content as a course. Find the Fibromyalgia Framework here (digital). Find it physically here.

Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

Request a session

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The Paced Guide to Cleaning: AKA Cleaning With a Chronic Illness

It isn’t easy managing our health, our family and our home. Pacing is a valuable tool in managing chronic illnesses that cause chronic pain and fatigue. Even those with more normal energy levels can benefit from spreading out all of the expectations. Taking the concept of pacing into our home management is just one way to help us manage our health.

I have watched and enjoyed YouTube videos of busy mamas showing their “deep clean” videos where they clean the entire house in one go. I just don’t have the time or energy for this and with small children it makes sense to schedule things like this in chunks.

the pacer's guide to cleaning aka cleaning with a chronic illness

Here are my key tips for paced cleaning:

Write a list of:

  • The seasonal tasks
  • The monthly tasks
  • The weekly tasks
  • The daily tasks

Divvy them up over the month according to what you think you can manage and fits with your schedule.

Edit the schedule as you go according to how your days/weeks/month pans out with energy, pain and commitments.

My Template Set

I created a template set (because, of course I did, I am an avid planner and template my paced cleaning plan, weekly monthly seasonalmaker). It is essentially the print and go lists I mentioned above that make it super easy to plan ahead for the month.

Your List and Tips for Paced Cleaning

However you make your lists and track your progress, I suggest you start with your bare minimum tasks that need to be done daily (such as dishes and washing – I have three small children, the washing needs to be kept on top of). Then look at what needs to be done weekly (like the vacuuming, a proper clean of the toilet and bathroom etc) and then add in the monthly and seasonal tasks.

The next level is to consider if there are things on your list that you cannot do and assign them to someone else (if you can). Or if there are things that you need to break down into smaller chunks. When I was pregnant and my pelvis issues were severe I couldn’t vacuum so my husband had to take care of that. Even when I am not pregnant I do not vacuum the entire house at once (our house is spread over three levels), I almost never do the rumpus room downstairs and I vacuum the bedrooms upstairs less often then the living areas.


More useful posts for you

4 Healthy Eating Choices You Can Make Now with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia

A Confession on Pacing and Boundaries with Fibromyalgia

What Works for Me Now: Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia


A few tips to close our paced cleaning guide:

  • Continually tidy up as you go so you avoid large messes to clean – I especially do this as I am cooking.
  • Involve the children in tidying up, my boys have to tidy up their own toys and have been included in cleaning efforts (at an age-appropriate level).
  • Keep your cleaning supplies all together, easily accessible and find your best tools and products and keep them stocked.
  • Don’t go out and leave a mess in the kitchen and lounge.

Do you have any tips for paced cleaning with a chronic illness?


Sign up to receive access to my free resource library and newsletter list. The library includes the You vs Fibromyalgia six lesson micro course and a heap of printables, reports and workshops to help you kickstart your fight against chronic pain and fatigue. 
free resource library

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Fibromyalgia Framework Series: Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibromyalgia Books

Welcome to the second part of the fibromyalgia framework series – Diagnosis, misdiagnosis and awesome fibromyalgia books you should check out.

The fibromyalgia framework series is going to present my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research. I’ll share this with you.

Part two fibromyalgia framework series diagnosis, misdiagnosis and great fibromyalgia books

Did you see the first part and download your free Fibromyalgia Framework Puzzle and Grid template?

Fibromyalgia Framework Part Two Video

https://youtu.be/S5vTCPYNCrM

Fibromyalgia Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books

WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?

For a succinct introduction to the definition, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments for fibromyalgia see this post here.

Essentially, fibromyalgia is a chronic pain-based illness of unknown origin and cure. It effects approximately 3-6% of the world’s population. It is said to effect far more women than men, but there are definitely men who suffer with it too. It appears in-discriminatory in race, education level and socioeconomic demographics. As I said in the first part of this series, it is complex in that it is triggered, manifests and is helped by very different things for different people. Diagnosis and misdiagnosis is also a problem.

DIAGNOSIS WITH FIBROMYALGIA

There are not many fibromyalgia fighters who have a short diagnosis story. A study of 800 patients found it took an average of 2.3 years and seeing 3.7 doctors prior to receiving a diagnosis[1]. It took me several years as the symptoms came on slowly and I was young; the doctors were disinclined to believe me, especially as my symptoms and their severity changed.

It is a tricky diagnosis: Fibromyalgia is often referred to as a “wastebasket” diagnosis. Doctors do have to rule out other illnesses before they can diagnose it. There is no specific test for Fibromyalgia that is widely used yet. The symptoms are very generalised: widespread pain on both sides of the body (subjective) for at least three months, fatigue, difficulty sleeping and difficulty concentrating. The tender point count used to be one of the defining features of diagnosis; however, tender points were found to be unreliable – you needed 11 of 18 to be diagnosed, and some days, you could have at least that many; others, you may have less. Often, you also have to find a doctor who wants to help you and believes in fibromyalgia. I do so hope this is becoming a thing of the past, but it certainly was an issue for me.

Diagnosis may not change much for you; I was already on Amitriptyline, so the doctor basically gave me the confirmation and sent me on my way. But when I was ready, and when the world had caught up with some information, this word led my search. It is also important to note that not everything you experience will be the fibromyalgia. For years my severe neck pain was considered part of the fibromyalgia and therefore not looked into further. However, the fact that the physiotherapist could feel a reason for the pain (trigger points) and treat it (temporarily) in a manner that didn’t work for any of the rest of my pain made me curious. It wasn’t until 2017 that I met a physiotherapist who told me about trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome that it all clicked into place. Researching this avenue has brought me much more success than just thinking it was the fibromyalgia.

During pregnancy, I experienced severe back and pelvis pain that was also dismissed as part of my experience of fibromyalgia and pregnancy. It turned out it was pelvic girdle pain and is treatable. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, rather than have the pain disperse once I gave birth, it continued for several months after. I experienced a lot of unnecessary pain. So please don’t let your doctor throw every single thing you experience into the fibromyalgia wastebasket.

MISDIAGNOSIS

One issue with fibromyalgia, besides the difficulty in obtaining a diagnosis and help, is misdiagnosis. One research paper puts it this way, “There is a disturbing inaccuracy, mostly observed to be over diagnosis, in the diagnosis of FM by referring physicians. This finding may help explain the current high reported rates of FM and caution physicians to consider other diagnostic possibilities when addressing diffuse musculoskeletal pain.”

One doctor who writes about fibromyalgia, David Brady, posits that as many as two thirds of patients may be misdiagnosed. Interestingly one of the things that he finds often misdiagnosed as “classic fibromyalgia” is myofascial pain syndrome. Whereas in my case, there is the presence of both – which adds another layer of complexity to these illnesses. Other issues mis-attributed to fibromyalgia include thyroid problems and nutritional deficiencies as well as other illnesses.

For an interview with him about misdiagnosis see this blog post from Fed up with Fatigue. I also mention his book, The Fibro Fix in my post on my five favourite books for fighting fibromyalgia below.

MY FAVOURITE BOOKS FOR FIGHTING FIBROMYALGIA

My Five Favourite Books About Fighting Fibromyalgia

Affiliate notice: Some of these links are affiliate links and I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you use them.

I highly recommend reading From Fatigued to Fantastic (2001) by Dr Jacob Teitelbaum and The FibroManual: A Complete Treatment Guide to Fibromyalgia for You and Your Doctor (2016) by Dr Ginevra Liptan. These two authors are doctors who have fibromyalgia themselves. Their processes are useful and a very good place to start. I re-read these books periodically for a reminder or when I am exploring a new area. They provide the very foundations with which to fight this illness.

See my blog post of My Favourite Five Books for Fighting Fibromyalgia for more information about these books.

[1] Ernest Choy et al, 2010 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874550/


Impatient? Want to work through the content now? The Fibromyalgia Framework Workbook is available to purchase, with all of the templates (freebies and templates recommended from my Etsy Store) with space for notes to work through the content as a course. Find the Fibromyalgia Framework here (digital). Find it physically here.

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Melissa vs Fibromyalgia January Update

In this January update, I share how the first 11 weeks with baby have gone. Discuss helping baby to sleep. My pain levels. The Fibromyalgia Framework and the future of Melissa vs Fibromyalgia.

Here’s the January Update:

Links I discuss:

Affiliate notice: Some of my links are affiliate links, I may make a small commission if you make a purchase using my links at no extra cost to you.

Fibro Framework physical book (affiliate) this is my framework sharing the key ways to fight fibromyalgia. It has all of the lessons, resource sheets and templates all in one place.

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group – come and discuss our fight against fibromyalgia, this is where we discuss highly practical ways to manage chronic pain and fatigue.

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia book (affiliate) my journey in one tidy place!

Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia Facebook group –  come and chat pregnancy, parenting and fibromyalgia. This is a supportive, judgement-free group – I moderate it very carefully so that it is a safe place for women to discuss pregnancy, trying to conceive, nursing and parenting with chronic pain and fatigue.

Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book (affiliate) my book sharing my journey through three pregnancies, deliveries and first years!

January update for Melissa vs Fibromyalgia

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