Five Reasons Working From Home Can Help with Fibromyalgia

Energy conservation and the ability to administer self-care are two very important elements of living well with Fibromyalgia.

Working from home, while a little isolating, is a great opportunity for Fibromyalgia/Chronic Pain/Chronic Fatigue fighters.

When I was contracting it was a fantastic way to be flexible around my husband and baby. When I was based in an office, it was a nice change of pace to utilise the option to work from home.

Other posts you might like

9 Inexpensive Items I Use to Fight Fibromyalgia

Why I’m Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible

My Daily Log, Why I Track Fibromyalgia Symptoms

I still had to transport my boy/s to care and back again, so I didn’t save much travel time, but eliminating transport time and energy is super helpful in managing fibromyalgia.

Audio video of my five reasons it’s good to work from home with Fibromyalgia

Here’s my five top reasons why it’s good to work from home with fibromyalgia:

  • You can administer your heat pack without looking like a granny. (Heat is my favourite pain management technique.)
  • You can use your breaks to lie down and pace the day as you need. (Eating is easier too -I’m a grazer, so rather than eat a big lunch, I break it down into smaller meals.)
  • You can do yoga stretches without poking your butt out or getting on all fours in the office. And stretch your neck a lot without looking odd.
  • You have more control over your working area – temperature control, lighting, windows etc. My home desk is set up perfectly for me and I have my Swiss ball if I get sick of my chair. This often means the difference between able to work and not. Some days, I am capable of work but physically being present in the office would push me off the edge of coping.
  • You get heaps done without constant interruptions and without the little stressors the office provides. (Research suggests it takes something like half an hour to settle back into a task with each interruption.)

Five reasons working from home can help you manage fibromyalgia

2018 update: Now that I have a third baby on the way it has become abundantly clear that I will need flexibility and efficiency in order to continue working, so working from home will be the way to achieve this. Probably as a freelancer, but I’ll let y’all know how that goes when the time comes.

Do others with Fibromyalgia/chronic illness find working from home useful?

For more information about fighting fibromyalgia:
https://youtu.be/CHNH7glJFI8

Tiny Mission Sleep, Chamomile

After declaring war on my sleeplessness, I have formulated a new series of Tiny Missions to attempt to get some sleep. To get 8-9 unbroken hours per night with as few restless/awake periods as possible.cup of tea

This would be the first time in well over a decade.

My first step was to take chamomile tea about an hour before bed. (This is in addition to my amitriptyline , I can’t give this up until I can achieve blocks of sleep regularly).

The first night I enjoyed my cup of tea, it was a nice ritual. After an hour or so of restless sleep and going to the bathroom a couple of times, I managed to sleep rather deeply. My Fitbit sleep tracker showed less light blue and pink lines (representing restless and awake times) and a couple of stretches of two hours sleep in a row!

On the second night my tea replaced dessert, which will have benefits in other areas of my health! It was an even better night. My body was so heavy and relaxed that I’m sure I was awake more than the Fitbit thinks, but the chart looked promising. Apart from having to let the dog out for a bathroom call at midnight (thanks Coop) my night was pretty calm. There was a three hour lot of sleep in a row! My baby woke at 6am again, but played for half an hour and went back to sleep, and being so heavy and relaxed, I was able to grab a little but more sleep.

Having enough sleep was enough to make me feel a little bit more nice in the morning, but the fatigue still caught me!

On the third night the baby woke up coughing at 4am so I got up to give him some medicine. Once I’d broken through the sleepiness to be awake, I really struggled to get back to sleep. I was still awake at 6 when my husband got home from work.

My conclusion around chamomile tea is that it assists with relaxation (which lowers the restless times) and initially getting to sleep, but for someone who gets woken regularly by baby, dog, husband or bathroom stops, it’s not ideal.

Sleep, The Quest For

Does anyone else find it ridiculous that many millions of people are exhausted; struggle to get to sleep, to stay asleep, to wake feeling refreshed, to have sufficient energy to live; yet their doctors are not (generally) working their butts off to help find a solution?

I had one GP, several years ago, give me the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, with no other help. Another GP who I saw once, about the same time, put me on amytriptoline. My first GP in my new city had no further suggestions.

My most recent GP seems open to helping and has referred me to a rheumatologist (who’s done nothing so far).

Yet I am still struggling with sleep, a most basic survival need. I am expected to live like everyone else with a third of the energy.

Sleep is an elusive beast. I long for bedtime, my body will tell me I’m too tired to be awake, yet I wake multiple times in the night. I NEVER feel refreshed or well rested.

I have spent much time awake at 5am wishing and hoping I could get back to sleep, only to still be awake when the baby peeps somewhere between 6-7am.

My Fitbit sleep tracking has shown that it takes at least nine hours in bed to attain eight hours of sleep. Usually more like 9-10 hours. There are many awake/restless periods every night. It is uncommon for long periods of sleep.

And this is while I’m on 50mg of amytriptoline!

So my Tiny Mission (or giant mission!) is to tackle sleep.

Thank God for the internet. Seriously. I have found more useful information there than in real life.

Some things I’ve found to look into further in a preliminary search:

  • L-theanine
  • Tryptophan
  • Hops
  • Valerian
  • Magnesium plus calcium
  • Melatonin

I have found the Treating Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia: An Integrated Approach website and i am looking forward to working my way through it.

A sign that made me comfortable with their approach was that they acknowledge that there is no cure. But there are many treatments to help us.

The site suggests some over the counter, natural and prescription medications that can help sleep. They also suggest that some working together, at lower doses, work well.

I have seen the light, I need to try some other tactics to get some sleep. (Always with my GP’s advice, no mixing medicines unsafely!)

My biggest wish is to be able to spend 8-9 hours in bed and actually get a similar amount of decent sleep. That would be amazing!

And so the experiments begin.

Do you have any suggestions or any experience with the above supplements?


This is an old post, but I have done a lot of research about sleep, find some resources below:

Graphic printable sleep with templatesI created this series for those of us who want to take one subject at a time in this printable there is the chapter from my book about sleep and templates for making your own sleep hygiene plan and tracking your sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tensions, Accepting Life as it is

The tension of chronic illness, aside from any symptoms, is the desire to fight it and the need to accept it.

I’ve been reading Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily P. Freeman.

It has been a breath of fresh air.

Freeman speaks of fighting the city builder within and nurturing the bench sitter instead. The bench sitter is the one who sits in the moment. Who sits with others in their moments, a witness, not a fixer. Who allows themselves to process their own moments.

Frequently I’ve had to combat my runaway desire for achievement, to reorient myself to what success means for me.

More recently my challenge is to accept things as they are. Accept my body as and where it is. Accept the day as it is. Not to stress over it.

The yoga instructor who helped me to create a sequence reminded me of it, accept your body where it is. (Not where it used to be).

I’ve been trying to take stock of my actions and reactions. Just notice.

And to increase my time to relax and release.

No Tiny Mission here, just an attitude adjustment and a commitment to take all practicable steps to reduce stress in my life. And to try to be more accepting.

Managing Brain Fog at Work

Starting a new job is both a time of increased fatigue and an opportunity to begin good habits for managing yourself.

In my first few weeks of a new job that bears more responsibility and has required a lot of fast learning, the fatigue levels have increased.

I have been experiencing some of the old brain fog side effects such as loosing words (they’re right there but you just can’t reach them -so frustrating and really obvious!), muddling things up and just plain forgetting things.

Luckily there are a few ways to work with this:

  1. Plan. I make sure I have a master list of the key projects, a date schedule for key tasks/deadlines and a daily to-do list. I work off this through the day and spend 10 minutes before I leave writing the next day’s to-do list.
  2. Prioritise. I have had a few pressing projects that I didn’t feel I could prioritise yet in hindsight I see one that could have waited a little longer!
  3. Rest. This is a hard one with the baby, my morning is rushed and there isn’t much time for an afternoon rest. The weeks that my husband is on nightshift I try to take advantage and have him pick up baby so I can rush home and actually lie down with the heatpack. The weeks he is working until 6pm I just have to try to grab snippets of time to sit down.
  4. Sleep. Sleep is a problem for most people with Fibromyalgia, and it is a big struggle for me. If I’m lucky, I can spend about 9.5 hours in bed and achieve 8-8.5 hours of sleep. I have been making a point of getting to bed by 9.30 as often as I can to maximise sleep opportunity. I have found a relaxation technique where I imagine warmth and relaxation creeping slowly throughout my body starting at my toes, I rarely get to my head, and I find it really useful when I’m starting to get frustrated by my awakeness or discomfort.
  5. Exercise. It can slip when you’re  exhausted, learning a new routine and it’s cold. My knee problem hasn’t helped. However, even a 15 minute walk is counted as success at the moment. Keep it managable and positive (build yourself up for what you do, don’t beat yourself up for what you don’t.)

Do you have any other suggestions?

The Case for Meditation

I feel like it always comes back to stress, to my body’s extreme “fight or flight” reactions.
When I’m observing myself, I notice it. The increase in heartrate, that feeling in your stomach, the general all over heat. Sometimes it happens for very mild reasons. Other times, stressful things occur and I’m excellent in the moment and freak out after. I’m freakishly calm in some situations that I would expect anxiety.

When I’m reading/researching about fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue/ME etc. Stress comes up frequently.

Meditation is supposed to help. Breathing. Resting. Things which I am not good at, unless you include reading in your definition of rest (some fibro/CFS experts do, some don’t).

Meditation, in the small form that I did it, after a practice, disappeared with said practice. It’s bliss to do full body relaxation after a good yoga workout. But the post exertion malaise is at it’s worst after yoga, since I had my baby, so I can only do portions of the routine.

the art of stillness

“Testing many others who had meditated for ten thousand hours or more and many who had not, [they] felt obliged to conclude that those who had sat still for years had achieved a level of happiness that was, quite literally, off the charts, unseen before in neurological literature.” (P.25) The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, Pico Iyer.

Iyer goes on to mention that some employees at a giant healthcare company experienced a reduction in stress, by a third, after an hour of yoga a week! (P.45)

“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow.
In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.
And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.” (P.66)

And this resonates with me, deeply. To go slow, to sit still, to pay attention.
So, I can’t keep ignoring it. When something keeps smacking you in the face, you should probably listen.
Some articles for encouragement/guidance:
Why Meditation is a Powerful Medicine 

I began small with a Tiny Mission to do Total Relaxation Pose every day, and fell in love, although I have not been very diligent lately. I plan to bring myself back towards it with another Tiny Mission – to do child’s pose every evening.

Trigger Point Therapy

Having been plagued by spots of extreme tightness on various parts of my body for years that numerous physical therapists have attempted to release and only ever achieved a small but fleeting degree of success, I am keenly interested in the study of trigger points.

It started with an article that I’ve long since lost. It showed me a few key trigger points to do for my shoulders and neck to release stiffness and pain. I use these every night when I wake in pain due to my neck.

Some of my links are affiliate links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you purchase using these links. I never promote anything I don’t 100% support myself.

This fantastic article was posted on Fibro Daze recently and gives a good explanation of trigger points and has a video showing you how to deal with your neck to relieve dizziness.The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook

Now I am reading The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief by Clair and Amber Davies.

I am loving it!

Because I have so many active trigger points, I had to start with the ones that were screaming the loudest. My neck. I have been working on my sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles. The book gives an overview of the muscle, the symptoms the trigger points in these muscles cause, where pain is referred to, causes and treatment. It includes great instructions on how to deal with them safely, as pressure on arteries can cause havoc.

The theory is that you deal to your trigger points three times a day until they are no longer sensitive to touch. I am unsure how helpful this will end up being. I have a lot for trigger points and my body overreacts to stimuli.  For example, I get sore legs if I don’t exercise enough and if I overdo it!

This is not a Tiny Mission. This is a big piece of work. But I’m game! Giving myself the ability to treat my body is a big opportunity. It gives me power. It gives me control. It gives me the opportunity to help myself, not helplessly wait for my next treatment session with my muscles clenching tighter and tighter!

I have also made the decision to try trigger point injections for my neck if I can’t relieve the daily tightness. I can’t go back to work and look after my baby if I continue to have daily tightness and pain to the point of headaches, nausea and dizziness.

It’s very exciting. I’ll check in with it in a few weeks. Has anyone else tackled their own pressure points and found success?


Update March 2018

Trigger points have become such an important issue for me to face since realised I had myofascial pain syndrome. The trigger points in my neck being the biggest issue I have fought for  a long time. I see a physiotherapist every three weeks still. I also self-treat at home with my theracane trigger point massager, which I adore. It is so helpful to be able to treat myself at home and not hurt my poor fingers with the level of pressure that I need.


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