Monday, November 21, 2011

Why You Should Know Your A, B, C's - Cyanide in B12 Supplements

Who knew there were different types of B12?!

If you are like me & using nutrition with the idea of repairing nerve damage, B12 seems the magical place to start. But I guess you have to read up on your Bs. Check out this following factoid, from

"Cyanocobalamin is the most commonly supplemented form of vitamin B12....As the name implies, cyanocobalamin contains a cyanide molecule.....Compared with cyanocobalamin, it appears that methylcobalamin is better absorbed and retained in higher amounts within your tissues. In simple terms, they are used much more effectively. In general, methylcobalamin is used primarily in your liver, brain and nervous system."

Yikes. Off in search of new B's!

Lyrica - Just Say No

I have been interested in how successful Lyrica might be, as it is the latest drug in the industry to "help" FMS. Apparently - it is a failure. Well, in the long-term, it is. According to this website I am reading ( which includes this article on neuropathy

"Lyrica, is an anti-seizure medication... It is used for neuropathy as it stops the nerves from talking to each other so you don't feel the pain. But long term it can cause more damage."

Wow that's great. So the #1 med against FMS actually promotes it? How's that for a pharmaceutical coup?!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Detoxes - Rehabbing Yourself

I'm reading about nutritional detoxes (not colon-cleansing ones that rid the body of precious bacteria) as some of my friends have said they have used detoxes successfully to lower long-term chronic problem severity. I have heard that detoxes work for arthritis, specifically, and anticipate that FMS might be lowered by restoring an accurate body chemistry. Also, as I mentioned in previous blogs, my step-dad Arnold was able to rid his body of toxic nerve agents (grasshopper poison) so perhaps I could also correct some toxic problems, if in fact that's what has happened from the mycoplasma.

One of the most important things I read lately is the effect of stress on the body. Specifically from this site

“When you’re stressed, cortisol levels in your body increase,” says Pamela Peeke, M.D., author of Body for Life for Women. “Chronic elevation of cortisol begins to cause a dysfunction in the immune system, and it induces greater levels of inflammation in the body, increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases.”

Given that FMS is a response to stress, it makes sense this response might be chemical. Specifically, the body chemistry gets "off", and the body is unable to counteract the damage the mycoplasma did previously. (This is my opinion only.) But given that my pain goes away every time I go on vacation (aka have no stress) there is a DEFINITE connection. Especially as FMS has been classed as an auto-immune disease.

As to permanent recovery? Perhaps. The jury is out. But until then I am now researching permanent detox diets that incorporate daily foods that are natural detoxifiers.

Let me know what you try. Anything special that has worked for you?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chemical Warfare & Mycoplasma - Why You are Sick

It is with deep sadness and loss of patriotism of any kind that I write this. However, the facts are the facts.

Why are you probably having chronic pain? And cannot recover from your illness?

Blame Canada.

Yes, this hurts as I am 1/2 Canadian. But.

Apparently, according to documented sources, such as this one (click here) in Consumer Health, a researcher in Canada infected mosquitos with the mycoplasma virus. Chronic fatigue syndrome then arrived, of which I expect FMS (fibromyalgia) is a derivative.

This is actually confirmed in the Consumer Health article:

"Dr. Charles Engel who is with the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, stated at an NIH meeting on February 7, 2000, "I am now of the view that the probable cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia is the mycoplasma."

That's not all.

See the below quote from Consumer Health:

"According to Dr. Shyh-Ching Lo, one of America's top, top researchers, this disease agent, the mycoplasma, causes among other things, AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, Wegener's disease, Parkinson's disease, Crohn's colitis, Type I diabetes, and collagen-vascular diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's. The mycoplasma enters into the individual cells of the body depending upon your genetic predisposition. You may develop neurological diseases if the pathogen destroys certain cells in your brain, or you may develop Crohn's colitis if the pathogen invades and destroys cells in the lower bowel. Once it gets into the cell, it can lie there doing nothing sometimes for 10, 20 or 30 years, but if a trauma occurs like an accident, or a vaccination that doesn't take, the mycoplasma can become triggered."

For me, it was my parents' divorce that caused the stress to make me ill. My FMS symptoms kicked in when I was under incredible emotional stress as a teenager, and have remained ever since.

And blame the U.S.

As if this weren't bad enough news, there are reports that vaccines are very dangerous. In fact, one article I was given to read ("The Mystery of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," by the Arthritic Diseases Clinic) reported that chronic fatigue syndrome seemed to appear after flu season...In fact that correlates to the above statement, exactly. So do NOT get that flu shot! (If this is not enough reason, my late uncle said shortly before he passed away that he thought the flu shot was going to "do him in." He got the shot, became sick, and never recovered...Yet he did not die from the flu, but a heart attack.)

Back to the mycoplasma disaster. Apparently the first research/infection by the mosquitos was apparently done in 1957, says the New England Journal of Medicine. I'm not entirely clear why people my age (40s) are ill. It must be ongoing biological warfare, that's all I can figure out...

What can be done about this dreaded virus?

Well, work is underway by experts such as my organic-farmer step-dad, who has studied nutrition for years and owns Schmidt Flour Mills. He is working on a high nutrition formula of wheat, in hopes that it will help combat the virus. I know this because I asked him what he could do to help me get rid of the mycoplasm virus, if in fact, this was the cause of my FMS.

Years ago my step-dad was able to save himself from dying from insecticide (grasshopper) poisoning when he was sprayed all over with it. Others that have been severly exposed died within weeks. He was able to rush to immerse himself in water, negating the first effects. However, the poison remained in his system for years, he says, until he was able to expel it through the use of high-nutrition food. He no longer falls asleep while driving, nor experiences the other toxic effects of the poison. After the experience he began organic farming and studying the power of food energy.

He is now 82 and runs circles around me. Literally. I was up at his place recently laying around feeling ill while he was out on his organic farm/fields all day picking rocks, combining, digging trenches for new trailers and whatnot.

According to Arnold Schmidt, apparently there is one thing stronger than toxins and viruses: food energy & nutrition. I am also studying more on this, and I will share what I find out.

In the meantime, take heart that your disease is NOT all in your head. There is a cause, and sadly, it was intentional.

Now it is up to us - you and me - to do whatever we can to use powerful food energy to get better. Let's see what we can do...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Things You Can Do For Someone in Pain

There is this post I ran across recently called "12 Nice Things You Can Do for Someone in Pain." It is featured here.

Most of them sound pretty cool. Make a meal, give a lift, support their diet, help with the kids, support exercise, help open things. It is fascinating that only one of the things deals with your psychological support to the person. It is called "learn and believe." Yeah this is where people don't deal with your pain until it is visible. Then the lightbulb goes on & they see you aren't faking it, or a hypochondriac, and then they can be more sympathetic.

I'm not sure what my list would be, but I would start out with:

#1: Stop saying stupid stuff. It's pretty simple really. Stop saying you are sorry, saying you wish you could take it all away (unless you are the mother, that is fine), and generally, just stop the platitudes. You don't understand, you won't, you can't, and the less you say the better in that direction. People in pain don't like pity. We are VERY strong and courageous, and pity is infuriating. If we are crying, cry with us. Other than that, exhibit a sympathetic demeanor, ask how they are feeling & listen if they want to talk, & then move immediately into #2.

#2: Ask "what can I do to support you?" And then be ready to support. It may be stuff as simple (but hard) as "Don't talk to me in the morning until one hour after I get up." Yeah. That's really support. Or "Don't look at me every 5 minutes to see the look on my face to see if I'm ok or not." Sometimes support comes in odd ways. But ask. Believe it, and then do it.

#3: Help with solutions. People in pain are experiencing worlds that are closing in on them. Stop with the sympathy (unless you know that the way you give it works for them) and skip straight to the solutions. If they can't play the violin anymore, suggest they try photography. If they can't be on the computer to manipulate their digital photos, how about bringing art shows to them via digital slideshows, so they can take IN the art? If they can't see the digital slideshows, how about finding new compositions for them to listen to and critique. Show your value by increasing the scope of their world & being a solutions provider.

#4: Encourage them to prioritize their bodies. This may mean some of YOUR needs don't get met, as a support person, but suck it up. This is not about you. If prioritizing their bodies and making less pain for themselves means you feed yourself, make your own damn meals. Don't even look at a person in pain when you are hungry with "that" look. Go eat. Or perhaps it is encouraging them to stop cleaning the house. Or take that bath in epsom salts RIGHT now. Or pop that aspirin. Whatever it is, get expert in pushing them toward the solution they need immediately. They will love you for this, because this is the hardest thing of all for people in pain: giving up and stopping when we don't want to.

#5: Get your needs met somewhere else. Yup. Go. Your person in pain is not the source for your sex, meals, and attention. Sorry. They are an optional source, but not THE source. They just can't do it sometimes. Or maybe anytime. Choose how you want to relate to them, but in the meantime, don't put them under pressure. If you are in a committed relationship and aren't supposed to be having sex somewhere else, have that discussion. Don't make your needs stay unmet or guess what? You will leave. So give them the choice. Whatever that is.

So that would be my mini-list. Feel free to add thoughts as they might come up. But sometimes life is much harder than it looks. Supporting a person in pain isn't just bringing them a drink of water or a hot water bottle. It is helping them struggle with the DEEP issues of living, what they are giving up, how they can no longer be there for you, the kids, the dog, themselves, and how they might die alone and in pain.

Be that person.

You will love yourself for it, and so will your person in pain!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dating With Chronic Pain - Guys' Perspective

This morning I was reading the Plenty of Fish Forums, which I adore. Many good comments from men here, and generally, the best online commentary on dating & relationships I have found. Generous, insightful commentary.

One woman wrote a post on asking about chronic pain. It is located here. (Click on the word here for the site.)

The reason I am posting this here is because I really thought two responses are great. The first deals with disclosure, the second with how you handle the pain.


The first suggestion is to absolutely be open about your condition. This is for several reasons - as it may impact everything from sex to children. One guy, IgorFrankensteen says this:

"So, if your chronic pain means "no sex," then you'll probably get a lot of guys mad at you if you date them for several weeks before telling them."

How You Handle Pain

The second is from the guy called AintNoDeal is very important to consider. One reason: it's exactly what I did this weekend when I was in pain. Try to fix it myself and be strong & not complaining. Here is what he said when the woman asks if she is going to be alone forever due to her illness (endometriosis)...

"I think it's wrong for you to blame your acute CONDITION as the reason men run away. It's how you BEHAVE due to your condition that is the stick in the camel's back. If you were somehow strong and silent, guys may tend to hang around, because they would become unaware of your difficulty because you don't mention it.

"I'm not suggesting you hide your condition.

"I'm saying men react to what they see as a problem. If you don't appear to be struggling and complaining, they won't consider it an issue. If it's not a problem for YOU, it's no problem for THEM.

"Take any women off the street -- if she complaints 20 days a month about her monthly visit, guys will avoid her because she "appears" to be disfunctional. A woman could bleed 29 days a month, but if she didn't gripe about it, most men would be clueless.

"Try not to make YOUR ISSUE, THEIR ISSUE."

Ladies & gentlemen, be strong and of good courage. Just be honest in the process.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Could Have Been Sooo Much More - If It Weren't For This Damn Pain

What-if's plague everyone. Most of all, those of us who failed to realize our dreams because our bodies gave out. This is not lack of motivation. This is lack of facility.

We just can't make it happen. Or, the cost is too great.

You like my music? Great. What is it that YOU do that causes excruciating pain that I might enjoy? Would you do it, if you could? Yeah. No.

Torturing oneself for the sake of others' pleasure is an ancient - um, wait, did this ever exist? I know that torturing oneself for the sake of ones' own guilt DID exist (i.e. self-flagellation). And torturing others for the sake of one's own pleasure or the "greater good" is also common in history.

Have you ever heard of someone torturing themselves for the sake of everyone else's pleasure? Yeah. I haven't. Oh wait. There is the ballet...

So there are some who do put themselves through he** for ulterior motives. Specifically athletes - such as boxers & football players. But the trade-off is, they get fame & fortune & tip-top pay for it. Most musicians don't.

Why do pain-filled artists without extreme monetary motivation do this? Creative drive. And - WE ARE GOOD. Yeah. It sucks, but if we are good at something, and love it, we make ourselves victims to your pleasure. Ugh.

The travesty is, we could probably have excelled and surpassed those without pain that make a living at their art form. I've been told many times by my RIP orchestra director, Dr. Virginia Gene Rittenhouse, that I should to go a conservatory. And (snotty-sounding, I know), I am a much better performer than some of my friends who don't have pain. Yeah. Oh well.

They can, I can't.

So what do you do when your drive surpasses your body? Re-channel. If a stream can't find an outlet one place, it goes another. It might not be as prestigious a stream, or get as much attention ("Look baby, the Rhyne River!") but it still conveys water. Which I guess is a useful function.

If your task or drive is to convey "art" to other people, and you cannot use your original form: improvise. Really. That's all you got. I'm not being generous, I'm being real. Try a new art form. Can't, say, play the violin? Sing. Create digital photography. Write. Or do all three, like I do.

Can you still produce that art that makes YOU the happiest. No. I can never replicate the exileration of producing beautiful violin music on ANY other form of ANYTHING. That satisfaction, that ship, has sailed, baby.

But then, the poor starving folks in wherever aren't getting their IDEAL food either. (I hope, you are helping to donate something for them to eat, and somebody is getting it to them.) Either way, they don't have their ideal.

Ideal is no longer an option.

So if you have food to eat, and can pay your bills, consider yourself lucky. If you lose your "best case scenario" my advice is: deal with it. IMPROVISE.

Really. Just go on. "Ideal" is nice, but it does not make the world go round. Or your tummy full. Thank God every day you have food on your table and wait for Heaven, where you will own a Strad.

Oh, AND, be able to play it....

(This post dedicated to CCJ.)

Honoring a Body That Has Betrayed You - Why & How You Must

"Neck, I honor you. You have held my violin up for years. This brought me a wealth of satisfaction, to the stage of Carnegie Hall, a life of travel only the richest could afford, life-long friendships,and the skill of performing, in any capacity."
"Arms, I honor you. You make my life happen. You support my writing, which pays my bills. You played the violin. You carry my luggage on vacation. You help me move to a new place. You hug my friends. You pet my cat."
"Back, I honor you. You sit all day long and hurt so I can type and write, and you make everything possible."
"Legs, I honor you. You carry me to work everyday, you work out at the gym to look sexy & guys love you. As someone just said, you (my legs) got me dinner last night!"

So went my thoughts to myself, as tears streamed down my cheeks during the inaugural massage of my vacation.

Hating your body when you hurt is just so fundamental that you MUST learn ways to honor it. Whatever works, praise it. Baby it. Honor its functions, if not its form or HOW it feels to produce results for you.

Why should you do this? How do you expect to recover or lower your pain levels with hatred as a motivator? Won't happen.

Laying on the massage table, I compared myself woefully to a restored Model-T. I look pretty on the outside, but ain't no way you're gettin' 80 outta this baby. Or heck, even 50.

My body has worked hard over the years. It has brought me around the world, to 50 countries, pays my bills, and loves the people around me. But do I love it for all its sacrifices for me? Not so much. In fact, I hate it.

My body has betrayed me. It, who was supposed to bring me pleasure, success, and satisfaction brings me pain, depression and fear (I will not be able to survive).

When you are betrayed, what do you do? You take revenge. You say "F*#@ you" and try to hurt what hurts you back. So what does this look like with pain? If something hurts you ignore it. ("You again, neck pain? I don't have time for you! I wish I didn't HAVE a neck to hurt!" ) Or you make it worse. ("Yeah I don't really care how you feel, Mr. Shoulder. Do you care how I feel? You just hurt me all day long. So you're gonna lift weights now cuz you can't hurt AND be ugly too.") (See Beauty & the Beast post for more on this.)

The reason you have to do this (love your body) is for your brain. Yes, your brain betrays you too. It's the reason you have this crazy illness in the first place, probably. But your brain is really caught in the middle. Like Switzerland, your brain has to mediate. It also has to keep you going.

Your brain is the one that gets the message that you babied your body. When you have FMS your body won't necessarily get it. Anything that hurts becomes revenge, even when you don't mean it.("You just went to the chiropractor. Wait, he made MORE pain? Dammit!" "This massage hurts? It was supposed to help! NOOOO!") But still, your brain knows it's for a larger purpose. (Hurt now, happy later.) Even if what you do to help hurts, it's still facing the betrayal head-on.

So today your exercise is to - baby yourself. Be nice to YOU. Even though your body hates you, love it back. Healthy people baby their bodies. Why shouldn't you be the same?

It's not your body's fault you got sick. Stop blaming it & start loving those curves. Ouchy & all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beauty & the Beast - When Making You Pretty Hurts Like A Beast

There is this thing where when you hurt you want to look pretty doing it. Don't ask me why, but ouchy AND ugly is a bad combination. I mean, at least look gorgeous in your pain.

For years I have struggled with the dilemma of my prioritization of my looks over how I am feeling. Given that fibromyalgia is worsened by the use of lots of salicylates (read "plants") either internally or externally, it makes looking pretty pretty painful.

For example, lately I've been using Wild Mexican Yam. This product does great things. Gives you great energy. Gives you great boobs. Gives you great boobs. Give you back pain. So here I am on day 3 of using it (again) and the pain in my back is just out of control. Stiff, muscles aching, all stuck together. It will take a few days of lots of guaifenisen to get rid of the effects. And yet. I continue.

It's really hard to shop for products that don't have plants in them. Incredibly hard. For that reason, I use a very restricted list of products. Or I suffer the pain. I switch back and forth. It's just soooo wonderful to sit down and have a Clarins makeover. And buy a bunch of products, because they make your skin look SO fresh and clean. And then you use them and wake up with an achy-breaky-back, and there, whoops, you did it again. You put beauty first, and here is the beast.

Lately I've been trying to get nearly 100% natural products that do the same thing. Or ones with few chemicals & a base product that is awesome. Like Queen Helene Cocoa Butter lotion for my body and face. Just FANTASTIC. Best lotion I have ever used. You can see the difference in my skin in just one application.

And plain cocoa butter, which I use in the stick and wipe around my eyes. The jury is still out, but I think this product is removing that little annoying wrinkle in the inside corner of my eye. I will let you know.

Vitamin E, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, these are all great beauty products that are pain-free. Ah that they did more.

I don't have an answer for the beauty-beast dilemma. It also applies to clothes. Yes, here again, ugly is not an option when you feel like he**. Perhaps I will cover clothes later. Or not. I don't have an answer for that either.

But I will say this, if you are like me, keep seeking those products and clothes that make you feel pretty, oh so pretty, without the pain. I'm sure they are out there. I just don't know where...but I will share...if I become aware.

Monday, August 15, 2011

When You're Crying a River - At Work

A professional environment presents difficult challenges to chronic pain victims. We may have the most ergonomic environment that exists, but let's face it. Unless we're an athlete, these don't include ice packs, heat, massage therapists on-call and a specific goal of making sure we are fit and healthy.

Nobody really cares how you feel in a professional setting - your mind is supposed to still work. And your body. Yet you are supposed to need nothing outside of hard, nasty chairs (come on, which ergonomic chairs are made by LazyBoy?) to make you feel like 100%.

So you take this corporate America, add a crazy economy, being over-worked or over-stressed, throw in bad weather, make a Monday morning, and here you are, if you are me, crying at work. Not that home would be any better. Heck, I'd be crying at home too. But at least I get paid to cry here.

How to be most professional when you are at your worst?

1. Know your weaknesses. Thanks to people that like to tell me sh*t about myself, I know that apparently I am bitchy at work on Monday morning. So I do my best to stay away from people, healthy or not, when the week starts. Still, people seem to like me in spite of my fatal flaws, and seek me out to say hello, even though I'm hiding behind my sunglasses, computer & headphones. Oh well. I just try to talk cheerful and keep my face turned away. What else can you do.

2. Do the least you can & still get by. If you know you will be a poor performer Monday morning, T yourself up at the end of the week to look good & then just do as little as possible when you are about to lose it. Keep the pressure down. This may mean taking a lower-paying job, not flying all around the country, & getting rid of client contact in the morning. But heck. If you can't be your best, you won't keep the job. So find a job that allows you to be off at times, and especially on Monday morning.

3. Don't tell your boss. Beyond setting up an ergonomic workplace, required by law, and requesting religious accommodations (something entirely separate) there is very little you need to discuss with your boss. Co-workers, perhaps, especially if you are asking them to share some of your load. But keep in mind, anything you disclose can and will be used against you. Especially if you are a minority, i.e. a woman. It will get you nowhere to complain. Just keep your business to yourself. If you need to visit the doctor, go. But don't elaborate. Physical pain is a private thing and beyond legal protection, out-of-the-office coverage, and work-load restructuring, people do not need to know. Build a reputation for being known as a hard, smart, efficient worker, and people will give you slack when you (shockingly!) underperform,

4. Call in sick. If you would be better off at home, know you can't get it together, and will make yourself look bad by being at work, stay or go home. But if you're like me, and you know you will get better later on in the day (FMS apparently is a morning hormonal problem, exacerbated by the weather), then just be quiet & wait it out until you feel better. People will tend to remember the best of you, and the hard-working part of you, as long as it's a trend.

5. Cry it out. Like Tyra told the America's Next Top Model contestants, sometimes you just got to cry it out, otherwise you will look like you are about to cry all day long. Go to the bathroom & admit to yourself how bad you feel. Once you stop putting on a show for yourself, get out there all that fear & frustration, you will feel better emotionally, be less likely to take it out on others, and at least know what the hell you are crying about.

Being professional in pain is a whole new challenge. Luckily as a performer I've learned a bit of professional armor. I don't like to carry it around all the time, but sometimes you just need to smile through your tears. Other people will never understand. Don't try to make it happen, just cry your river & watch the flowers grow.

Friday, August 5, 2011

When Your Pain Is the Energizer Bunny - & You Can't Kill the Wabbit

The worst feature about chronic pain is that it just keeps on going...and going....and going....and going...and going....and going...and going....

And this will sound really crass, but if you aren't on the verge of death, nobody really cares.

But you.

The wearing factor of chronic pain is something I have considered for years. It is perhaps the most insidious and damaging aspect of pain. Not the fact that it EXISTS, but the fact that it WON'T STOP.

...(more to come)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

When You Are "Type A" But Your Job is Recovery

FMS-ers with high personal motivation have a big problem. We ARE our success. I mean, were. Until our bodies gave out, we prided ourselves in how much we could do in how little time. (We being me, since this may not apply to you.)

Overachievers with illness have a big problem: ourselves. We are cranked up to produce, and taking away our production is tantamount to ending our lives. So what to do when your body refuses what your mind commands?

Change your commander.

Lying here in bed this morning, I realized that my body was not up to what my mind wanted to do. Yet again. But then I realized - my JOB is to recover.

My new title should be "Search & Rescue Queen." Because my new job is to recover - ME.

It takes a whole new mindset to decide that you are indeed destined to - take care of yourself. For an other-centric personality, this seems just plain selfish. "Take care of whom? ME? But there is so much else to be done in the world."

Yet Operation Recovery must commence because there is no other way. When your body gives out, your mind has to get with the (new) program. You just can't be everything to everyone anymore. Or even to yourself.

You have to recover you. You have to discover you. And then, maybe, you will be well enough some day to rescue someone else. But until then, it's all about you, baby.

So lay back & relax & think about what you need to day to Recover Yourself. Make it happen for you. After all, after all those other-centric days, you DO deserve it...

And if you want to get religious about it, don't forget it's embedded in Stone: "Love your neighbor as ... ... ... yourself."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

LoveSickHatred - When Someone You Love Hates Your Sick

"You are old. You are sick. Nobody will want you." So went the words to me from somebody who I was in a relationship with. Sombody who said they loved me. Like perhaps, the day before.

[Pause for Shock & Awwww break]

[Yup, still pausing...]

Sadly, I'm not the only girl to face this startling reality, although probably the only one to actually read it in an email intended for - her. Most people in life have some sort of social filter that prevents such thoughts from actually coming out of their, um, fingers.

Chronic illness is no fun for anyone. Most of all for ouchy you. Least of all for the guy that starts off fantacizing about how perfect life with you will be. And even if you've warned him, it's a hard fall from fantasy to reality when beautiful, sexy, fun women - such as me - are involved.

What do you do next, after encountering yet another relationship down the drain because you can't convince someone in the beginning you're not a good bet, but they want you to be? You learn.

Here's what you learn:

1. Figure out what kind of relationship YOU need, so that your physical needs are met. Sorry you gotta drop the want out of this, your body will trump your wants every time.

2. Set your life up so that when you need someone, they are safe, kind, and available. As in the case above, this means specifically excluding people who either put you on a pedestal or knock you down. You need people grounded in reality who are loving.

3. Strength is in numbers. You will need a bunch of these people. So that when you wear some out, others are there. For you. Get your different needs met with different people. For a few years now I have maintained what I call a "portfolio of men." These safe, kind and loving guys have seen me at my worst, but still love me. They might not have committed to spending the rest of the time until they get bored with me (the 2000s version of "life") but they have shown they are available when they can be. As one of them said to me recently, "I care about you to the extent that you are ok." Sound sketchy to you? Not me. That is music to my ears. It is precisely when I am NOT ok that I need someone. Baby we have a match.

4. Be selective & keep your business to yourself. The minute anyone, romantic or otherwise, says anything like "Suck it up!" Or "You sure its not all in your head?" Run. Sprint. Fly. Jump. Whatev. Or just stop talking. The weather? Fine. Their kids? Fine. Your illness? Now off topic. Trust me on this one. These people tell THEMSELVES these things so year after year you will hear the same thing. You won't like it any
better time 5 than now.

5. Give up on a traditional relationship. Yeah, life's a bitch. You can't have what everyone else does, so just embrace an alternate relationship pattern. That is, unless of course you have found the magic elixir that I haven't yet. In which case, post please!
6. If you are in a relationship, reassess. Are you in more pain because your needs are not met? Is someone making fun of you? Are you being abused? Are your (older) kids, mate, pets getting the only "feel-good" energy you have? Take a good look at the patterns you have set up or accepted and see a therapist about how to reprioritize yourself. After babies and small children, your pain comes first. And no, not even Kitty needs an exception.

7. When you go to enter a new relationship, set expectations immediately. Learn how to express yourself in positive ways. (Remember the post I wrote called Never Complain, Never Explain? Yeah, it goes for romance too. "Hey baby I gotta run." "Nah, I need to sleep alone in my bed. Tonite. Forever. We'll get two rooms." "Food? You hungry? Let's go OUT!" Be yourself from the beginning. Give your new prospective partner a chance to know how to deal with you, and train him/her in a positive fashion.

8. Recaliber your reality. When you accept that life is a bitch, you will eventually understand how to function on your own, emotionally, without requiring a sole (yeah, as in single) mate. If you revolutionize how you see life, it will open up your reality to all types of new possibilities. You will find a strength in yourself to let others go find their reality. "You don't like being with me who is sick? Gosh dang it. I don't either. Go find someone who is FUN for you!" And shove them out the door. Nicely. Then get on with the business of taking care of YOU, finding a support group for YOU, and having YOUR type of fun.

9. When you cry, and you will, don't cry alone. Get a buddy who knows your pain, and like my precious half-neice, "gets it." Text a friend, contact your "ouchy" buddy, and generally, build a network of beautiful, shiny, happy people that are in pain and still living a zestful life. Because then, you will KNOW you can make it.

10. To reiterate #3, like they say about raising children, pain takes a village. Build yours.

So remember that "Nobody will want you" statement I was told? Guess the universe didn't hear that yet. Got a text just the other day from a good-looking sexy, single guy about how BADLY I was wanted. Since I may not be alive to see tomorrow, we'll just go with today.

I may be sick. I may be getting old. But dang it, somebody WANTS me!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Earthing - My Review of this Ground-breaking Product

Since this review says it best, here it is...followed by a response from the co-author!

This 5-star review is my assessment of: Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? (Paperback) as posted on

"I have had FMS and ligament injury for more than 20 years from being a violinist & well, being sick. I just started a blog called Pain With Joy to try & let people know what techniques I use to be happy while I'm gritting my teeth with pain. I'm so experienced with pain-treatment that others, even with MS, have asked me to tell my strategies for coping.

I was sitting here reading these reviews, and thought to myself, well, heck, I have a grounding pad that was sent to me as a gift, let's just put that exactly where my back pain is RIGHT NOW, and while I'm reading this, see how this works.

You won't believe this, because I don't either, but my pain in my back has nearly disappeared in less than 10 minutes. This is knife-stabbing pain, that I have felt for more than 20 years, in my right shoulder, probably from many years of violin playing (that's my bowing arm).

When it comes to pain products, I really don't believe anything anyone says anymore. My strategies for pain relief are "I will try anything, just give it to me." I don't care what anyone says about cures, since they either work or they don't.

I can tell you, this one does. I have been sleeping on it for a while at night under my sheet (not the best way), and have been sitting on it at work (again, with clothes between), but until now I didn't try it against bare skin and put it to the test on significant pain. I'm impressed.

Read the book if you want to be psychologically convinced. Try the Earthing pads next to your bare skin if you want to be physically convinced. If it doesn't work for you, come back and post here...I would love to hear who it doesn't work for.

I'm not expecting healing from FMS or pain relief forever, or even a cure. Heck, I'm not even expecting to be able to play the violin again, ever, without pain. Which sucks, because I was good. But heck, a few minutes of pain-free existence, after 24/7 of intense pain since I was 18? Yes, thank you."

Author comments:

Martin Zucker says:

"Dear Boston Chick:

"Is it possible that Earthing could open the door to you playing the violin again? I don't know your circumstances beyond what you wrote in your review, however, here is a story from a California woman that may inspire you to try, or any musicians for that matter who have had to prematurely put down their instruments because of pain and discomfort.

"I am an amateur pianist and 3 years ago purchased a Steinway. I immediately started playing it about 4 hours a day. The stiffness of the pedals caused me to experience great pain in my right leg. My chiropractor worked on it off and on. I could only practice 10 minutes at a time due to the pain. A bummer for waiting 66 years to get a Steinway! A year ago I started playing music by Mompou, and the hand positions are horrid. My right hand also started to hurt and I practiced with bandages etc. Sometimes I resorted to left hand practice alone. Around thanksgiving I reread Earthing, taking more time, and suddenly I got the idea to practice barefoot and put an electrode on the palm of my right hand. I also put a band on a large hematoma [sp?] Igot on my right arm from a bad blood draw. I immediately could put in 3 hours on the piano."

"By electrode, the writer was referring to an EKG-type patch that you adhere near or on the source of discomfort on your body. You then snap on an Earthing cord and plug the other end into the ground port (third hole) of a properly grounded wall outlet nearby. The band works similarly. Both the patch and the band, when connected, allow free electrons from the Earth's surface to come into your body and do the wonderful kinds of things we describe in the Earthing book. The patch and the bands provide a more proximal influx of electrons to the source of pain/stiffness/discomfort, etc. Therefore, people often feel local benefits sooner. I suggest you may want to check into the patches and bands at

Best wishes
Martin Zucker, co-author of the Earthing book"

[Editor's note: Of course the pain has come back again, but heck. If the earthing pad will keep it at bay, and that's the best I can get, I will settle for that!]

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What's New: Earthing, Chyawanprash & Magnesium

Here's what I'm trying now...

- Earthing - OMG, this is amazing. If you haven't checked this out, you should run, not walk, to buy one of these & sit on it all day long & lay on it all night long...

- Chyawanprash, 1 TBS after lunch - Something I tried a few months ago that really revved up my energy. Sexually. If you know what I I'm back for round 2...and 3, and 4... :)

- Magnesium, 500 mg after lunch - The bottle says "Muscle & Nerves" What's not to like?

Blame It On the Rain - Weathering Your Pain

You know "those" days? Where you just feel NASTY? All over? And yesterday you felt, well, NOT nasty? And you say to yourself, "Self, what the _____, I must be crazy!" ?

You aren't.

Yup, the link between weather and pain has been written about experientially and proven. In fact, it's been documented that YOU can feel bad weather coming even before it shows up in liquid barometers. That's something like 2 days in advance. While the sky is still sunny and shining all over you.

The good news is, it's not you. The bad news is, there's little you can do. So when you feel the weather blues, plan to not make any plans. Schedule a date with your bed, a hot bath & a thermophore, & just ride out the pre-storm pain. Instead of swearing at the sky, look at bad weather as an excuse to curl up with a Kindle & a cat & treat yourself like royalty.

So the next time you look up & want to curse the sun because it's shining & you aren't, just remember - the gods must be crazy. It's not you.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mornings With Garfield - Pain-Management in the A.M.

Since there are multiple parts to my day, I am splitting my "A day in the life of..." segment up into sections. This is about mornings.

(Must-do things are *starred*.)

Yawwn. Begin Garfield impersonation.

Wake-up time: 6:35. Leave a few minutes for trying to roust myself out of bed at 7. Make time for the pain. Purpose: Create space for self to face the pain.

*Pain-ID time. Figure out what hurts right now. Put ice-packs on my neck, lay on heat, whatever is needed to get going. Purpose: Get over sleep & position-related muscle strains.

*Stretches: Bent-over rows with stretch band around door handles. Pullbacks, with straight & bent arms. 2 minutes. Purpose: get oxygen flowing through the muscles & move injured ligaments.

Sit-ups: 20 full-body situps with legs kept off the floor. Works my abs, quickest & best exercise ever. 2 minutes. Purpose: get hourglass shape.

*Protein shake: Melaleuca's Vanilla Protein Shake - 3 scoops (30 grams) of protein. Purpose: For weight-loss, nutritional support and energy management.

Pour in:

- Liquid Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid supplement from Vitamin Shoppe (#1 recommendation for your nerves, just read the bottle. And yes, FMS is a nerves problem, though I bet you a million that your doctor never suggested you take B12...).

- Cell Food (liquid oxygen, supposedly).

- Whatever other liquid nutrition you think might be important. (My step-dad sends me stuff like Mushroom Master, Ginko, etc.)

- Add grapefruit juice, & (distilled or de-chlorinated) water (I add carbon from the soil & some other healthy additives to add back nutritional value to distilled water).

Grab shake & head toward shower.

Excedrin: On the way to the shower, pop a couple of pills for pain control. Purpose: Mood enhancer.

*Hot shower: Drink shake in shower. Rotate ouchy parts for 20 minutes under as hot water as possible. Focus on where it hurts. Finish with cold shower year-round. As cold as possible. Purpose: Get oxygen flowing through the body.

Get dressed: Yeah, I don't go out nekked. Purpose: Unknown. :) Ok kidding. In New England clothes are a #1 protector from pain, especially in the winter. More on the winter time!

*Breakfast: 4-Hour Body Breakfast. Eat 1/2 can of legumes, some cottage cheese, a few forkfuls of saurkraut. Or a couple eggs. Something high-protein, slow-carb...while listening to Kiss 108, Matty in the Morning! Purpose: Weight-loss, energy management, mood enhancer. Someone's life has GOT to be worse than yours!

*Take Vitamins: Melaleuca Prenatal Vitamins, Z-Plex from Bronson Pharamceuticals (best B ever), Melaleuca Florify (for digestion), Melaleuca Provex (for FMS, supposedly grape-seed extract helps), Vitamin D3 (for muscle repair, athletes use it). Rotating mix of supplements, sometimes coconut oil or cod liver oil or whatever seems to be nutritionally helpful. Purpose: Restore nutritional deficiencies.

Off to work: Take least stressful route possible. Drive to train, take commuter rail. Pay up folks, make your commute stressless. Includes 15-minute walk across town with deep breathing. Purpose: Reduce stress & therefore, pain.

Buy a rose for my desk at Jayne's Flowers: Purpose: Huge pain-distraction technique

Buy coffee at Starbucks: Coffee helps wake up; friendly Starbucks staff energize. Purpose: Weight-loss, mood elevator, energy-creator.

Sit down at desk, begin working...

To be continued...of course, with Dilbert up next...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Killing Your Suicidal Thoughts

If you've had chronic pain for a long time, chances are you've thought about doing this:

No? Ok, well, I haven't either, exactly. Scissors seem a painful way to go.

But not being here anymore to feel the pain? Definitely a recurring fantasy.

Now first I must say, if you have contemplated ways of suicide, started assembling stuff or made concrete plans to end your life, see help immediately. Do not pass this site. Do not do anything else but RUN to your nearest and dearest friend or therapist. Or click here to find the Suicide Hotline.

If you have only thought about it, this blog is for you. Because chances are you probably are not serious about ending it all. However, some folks with FMS have, I understand. The pain was just too much and they saw no way out.

This blog is to give you that way out.

How do you kill suicidal thoughts? I'm actually not sure. I haven't totally done it yet myself - killed the thoughts - that is. But I have found some ways to stay alive, and in the game. If I had to list these, I guess they might be...

1. Create yummy things to do... and by yummy, I mean whatever gives you something to look forward to. Whatever it is, no matter how much MORE pain these things create, DO THEM. Life is worth living. Not dying for.

2. ...and do these things with awesome people. Really, life is about people. Go out and be with those people that make life worthwhile. Or find new friends. Don't stop until you do. Again, no matter how much pain this causes or how uncomfortable because you are shy, find new friends. Go online to make friends, join a MeetUp group (they have them for everything, even Chronic Pain), go to your family reunion, volunteer for people that are in more pain than yourself, ask people to come see you. Whatever, whoever, do it.

And that's it. Pretty short & sweet. When you feel like you just want to expire, put something fun on your calendar with someone you like. Regardless of how much it hurts today or how much you think it will hurt in the future...

...don't lose your head over pain.

Just Say "NO!" to Drugs - Except for These

I have a very strong feeling toward drugs for FMS: blech!!

I have tried some (Elavil, anti-depressants) and found them wanting. Nothing was accomplished but me not being able to think straight. No pain was reduced. No improvement was noticed. No FMS went away.

I have not tried Lyrica, but I see no reason to try it. If doctors don't know what causes FMS, how can they know how to fix it? Illogical. And why should I PAY to be stuck with all those side effects, for something that probably won't work anyway?

The main reason for drugs is to 1) fix something, and 2) relieve pain without worsening the original condition (or creating new ones). Here is how I use medicine to meet these goals:

1. To fix something: Guaifenisen. Action: Flushes phosphates from the body. I have followed the guaifenisen protocol for 10 years, with good success. Lowered pain, clearer head, calmer emotions. I order it from Fludan in Canada. Fine people with a fine product. Order in bulk & pay by check to avoid the Canadian/US dollar conversion fees.

(Along with taking guai, you have to stop using products made from plants on your body. Hence, the guai-protocol moniker.)

I use guai because I believe it does help fix the FMS problem. I have felt a direct correlation between using plant products on my body and pain escalation. Guai helps lower pain at its source. And, with no side effects.

2. To lower pain: Low-dose Naltroxene. Action: Increases serotonin. Makes you care less about the pain. Ibuprofen. Action: Pain-relief.
Pain meds don't do much for FMS, but Low-Dow Naltroxene does. My doc approved a RX and I order it from Irmat Pharmacy in NY. What does it do? In my experience it makes you care less about the pain. That's it. It controls your response to it.

Other than that, basic pain meds are useful. I take an ibuprofen or Excedrin upon waking in the morning. Not long-term health inducing, but helps me get through the day.

That's it for drugs. Everything else is nutrition, exercise, physical manipulation, and physical application.

Think I'm crazy? Think about what your drugs have done for you. Has your pain gone down? Are you better able to handle it? If you can't answer yes to at least one of these questions, let the drugs go. You're better off addressing your pain directly, and trying to fix it every day, then masking it with drugs that are not designed to bring long-term healing.

Be honest with drugs & your experience with FMS. Don't believe the hype, believe your body. For 99% of drugs, just say no.

Weight-Lifting: The Most Unlikely Medicine

If you're challenged by the idea of walking for pain control, take a deep breath & get ready for my next revolutionary idea: you will feel much better - even than when you're walking - if you work out with weights.

I'm not actually sure why (I will update this post with scientific data if I find it), but I can tell you from 20 years of muscle pain - your muscles LIKE this kind of pain. You may not be able to even imagine in your wildest dreams creating MORE pain for those poor muscles, but trust me, it's worth it. Simply put, there is something beneficial about lifting weights that even cardio exercise can't accomplish. My guess is that it gets the blood flowing through those ouchy muscles, bringing the missing oxygen that they need. Or perhaps it calms the nerves, because remember FMS is not a muscle problem, but a nerve condition.

I have worked out with weights at least one time per week for the last twenty years. When I stop doing this, I gain weight, my pain goes up, and my psychological ability to handle the pain goes down. In short, I quickly become miserable myself, and miserable to live with.

How can you grab some of this magic for yourself? Try my routine. Very basic, very easy, very quick and very effective. The basic premise, gained from an ex-boyfriend personal trainer, is to make the weight-lifting cardio as well, by moving immediately from one exercise to the next, and working opposing muscle groups. All this done while your fellow weight-lifters sit around weighting, ooops, I mean waiting, for their next set.

My Pain & Weight-Management Weekly Routine

(Check with your doctor before starting, but do not let him dissuade you. If he bans exercise, find a new doctor. Then customize this for your weight-lifting experience. Start with small weights, but PUSH yourself. No pain, no gain.)

To get started: Hobble over to your local gym. Join it. Schedule a free session with one of the trainers (most gyms offer this) and tell them you want to learn how to do these exercises...

Adductor & abductor - Rotate back and forth between these, 3 sets of 10 at a light or medium weight. I do 30-55 lbs. Do not stop between sets, just switch to the opposing muscle group.

(Move directly to the next exercise.)

Bi's & tri's - Again, rotate between exercises. I grab 7.5 lbs for biceps and one 12.5 lb barbell for overhead triceps extension. I do 3 sets of 10-12 each, again rotating between exercises and not stopping.

(Move directly to the next exercise.)

Quads & hamstrings - I do from 30-55 lbs (depends on the machine), 10-12 reps of quads, and then switching to hamstrings, then back again. 3 sets.

(Move directly to the next exercise.)

Shoulder press - I do this with no weight, just lifting overhead to get the back muscles engaged. 2 reps of 10

Postworkout - Critical

- Stretch all muscles afterward
- Walk for 10 minutes minimum afterward (although you may have enough energy to run...) If you want the maximum effect, walk/run for 30 minutes.
- Lean or laydown on icepacks for 30 minutes afterward
- Repeat routine 1x per week

And that's it! See how simple that is? Try it and let us know how it works for you...

"Get up, make your bed, and walk!"

As I was on the treadmill today, feeling 100%, with no pain for a change, I realized Jesus' command to the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda wasn't just for him. It was for every sick person that can move. It was telling us all how to cure ourselves, or at least, how to relieve our pain.

"Get up, make your bed, and walk!" (John 5:8, my own translation)

One of the key problems with chronic pain is that you initially feel more pain when you move, so you stop. This is a big mistake. Clearly our bodies are made to fix themselves - so that when you move, endorphins are produced that actually kill the pain.

Another of the most believed fallacies about pain is that you will feel BETTER if you lie around in bed all day long. Well? Do you? I thought not.

The effects of walking are immeasurable. I won't go into the details here, you can read on your own. But if the greatest Healer of all time said to get up out of that bed, and walk, I would imagine it makes sense to listen. You don't have to understand all the whys. According to my favorite Nike slogan that has lost me more pounds than I can count over the years, and reduced my pain considerably, "Just do it."

Want to lower that pain? Get rid of the depression? Stop those obsessive thoughts? Remove those suicidal feelings? Walk. It works for me, every time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pain on the Plane - How to Travel When It Hurts

Traveling has become a real pain in the ahem, tushie. Even for those folks without chronic pain, it's a stressful experience. How do you maintain your travel, for work or play, when your body just says "ouch"?

Here are some trips from a real travel-lover (I've been to 50 countries):

1. Take your treatments with you. Most everything you do to manage pain can be traveled with. You can get small thermophores, refillable ice bags (remember those pix of the kid with the ice bag on his jaw? yeah, those), little bottles of Emu Oil under 3 oz, pain meds, stretch bands, small travel pillows for your back, earthing wires for your bed - yes, it can all go with you.

Even those non-pain treating activities that make you "whole" again are critical. I used to say, when I was actively traveling for music (we were doing 30 concerts in 27 days in 8 countries in 20 cities...) all I needed were my pillow, a book, my walkman (back then) & some bubble bath & I could make myself happy anywhere in the world. Above and beyond your pain management stuff, find out what your happy tools are, and take them!

2. Plan ahead. Being a person who feels trapped when I can't get up at least once an hour on a plane, I pretty much refuse to fly unless I get an aisle seat. Period. That is getting harder to do as crazy airlines like American are making you pay for some of them now. But still, if you book far enough in advance, you can get that seat that you need.

3. Take care of yourself anywhere. I grew up traveling, so I learned to bathe in the sink of trains traveling across Russia, sleep on floors at the airport, use the bathroom alongside the road, drink out of sinks all over the world (using carbon filter cups), stretch my whole body in the airplane bathroom, whatever was needed. Traveling is no excuse for not treating your pain. So whatever you need to do, find a way to do it. Just make yourself as flexible as possible, literally, lose the "ugh, I can't touch/do that" approach, and welcome your new environment.

4. Only travel with people that understand you. When you're a) in pain and b) on the road, the last thing you need is ANOTHER complainer besides yourself. So limit your travel companions to those that are understanding, or at best, keep their mouth shut about how you get your needs met. Want to enjoy yourself while in pain? Choose your company wisely.

In a group and can't choose your company? Just stay away from those who make fun of you, try to prohibit you from getting your needs met, keep you awake all night or generally make your life worse. Even if you have to be a loner at times, your own happy company is better than negative vibes.

5. Reward yourself. When I used to travel for music, I would start out the day, every day, looking forward to that hot shower at the END of the day. That helped me get through exhausting days with a little more comfort. That reward is so important. Create yourself a mental carrot when you travel, and no matter how bad things get, you can find a way to laugh at the craziness. Reward yourself for the effort, and the fact that you MADE IT, even when it was harder for you than for anyone else.

Let me know how these tips work for you. What things do YOU do when you travel, that we all should know about & try?

(Cartoon Credit: Pete Pascoe. Permission pending.)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dealing With - Or Without - Your Western Doctor

I have a really mixed opinion about doctors. I dislike Western Doctors (MDs). I love Western Chiropractors (DCs). And I respect Eastern doctors.

This opinion, of course, excepts my current Western MD, who is just adorable, kind, and supports every new thing I want to try.

But to get HELP from Western doctors? Not so much.

Western doctors give: 1) diagnosis. 2) blood tests. 3) meds. 4) "you're crazy but I can't say it." 5) "even if you're not crazy, what do you expect me to do about it?"

The first three are useful things. But the last ones will do everything from making you tear your hair out, to go home crying.

How can you best put your Western MD to use on your behalf? Make him an important part of your treatment plan.

1. Get regular blood tests so you can see how you are nutritionally deficient.
2. Get pain-support or relaxation meds that make you not care about the pain (notice I didn't say relieve the pain), and don't screw you up mentally (i.e. beta-blockers, Low-Dose Naltroxene).
3. Ask for higher-level RXs of OTC meds like ibuprofen.
4. Get Vitamin B12 in high doses. Because FMS is a nerve problem, not a muscle problem. So treat it like a neuropathy.
5. Get referrals for any body part that CAN be fixed (i.e. nose blockages to improve your breathing).
6. Make sure that all the things you're doing on your own aren't going to cause long-term damage (i.e. multi-year use of Guaifenisen).
7. Ask for referrals to great massage therapists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and pain clinics (if you believe these might work)

Otherwise, that's it. A cure is not even in your doctor's sight, because remember, your pain doesn't exist. So there you have it.

Then what do you do? Hop on over to your Eastern medicine practitioner for the REAL stuff that works...because there is something to that growth of China thing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to Live with Half a Brain Because You're in Pain

It's a little-known fact that people with pain have a considerable amount of pain messages flooding their brain at all times. This necessarily means that less brain-power is available for other things. Thinking, for example. Perhaps this is the reason for what I call "looping", when your brain cycles through things obsessively, and you can't seem to stop it.

If you live with someone in pain, it's important to understand their availability fluctuates. For you, for thinking, for anything. At times when the pain is low, they are fully available for you (unless they are just in their cave recovering). But when the pain is high, it takes priority.

The way to function when you are in pain & only have half a brain is to - block out the pain. If you have done everything you can to address it (by meeting your basic needs), you just gotta suck it up & go on with life. Crumbling in and falling down because of the pain is not an option if you support yourself or others.

How do you block out the pain? Well, you have to learn to concentrate very well. Fortunately, as a musician, this is an easy one for me. But if you are not in the habit of concentrating, then you probably should learn it. Get books, practice. Reading is good for this. TV is not. Anything that forces your brain to gain strength is good, because of course, you only have 1/2 of it to work with.

Remember that old childhood rhyme: "Concentration, concentration, get the rhythm?" Well, that's what it's all about. Work at it, practice, and you will find you can get more done with the 1/2 brain that is available to you, than many pain-less people will get done with their whole brain. It's all about perspective.

When I was writing this I googled pain & brain to get a picture. And look what I found: "Chronic Pain Harms the Brain." So I guess I'm right-on here...

Check out this quote:
"'If you are a chronic pain patient, you have pain 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every minute of your life," Chialvo said. "That permanent perception of pain in your brain makes these areas in your brain continuously active. This continuous dysfunction in the equilibrium of the brain can change the wiring forever and could hurt the brain."

Picture credit: Comparison of brains. These images show the brain from the left side, demonstrating striking differences between chronic pain patients and healthy subjects. They illustrate with colors how much activation (red-yellow) or deactivation (dark/light blue) was found at each location. (Credit: Image courtesy of Northwestern University)

I am a firm believer that your brain can be hurt, but grow in other areas. So don't give in to the pain killing your brain concept. Just work on concentrating with what you do have, and using new areas of your brain. You can do it. You just have to believe it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Snake-oil Salesmen: Getting the Oil Without the Snake

Being sick makes you a target. But you don't need to be sick. You can just be alive and you will be a target for somebody's agenda.

One of the most challenging tasks, sick or well, is graciously extracting yourself from the suffocation of the snake-oil salesman. Whether they mean well or not, they want to get you to buy something from them. And usually it involves a lot of persuasion. (Because, really, they love the act of persuasion even more than the sale.) Their product may be awesome too, like Melaleuca, which I use daily. Since you don't want to lose out on a good thing, how do you transition away from being a target?

Easy. Remove their ability to persuade.

I learned this snake-extraction secret just the other day. A friend at a conference I attended suggested she knew a guy that had a great product, grape-seed extract from Pycnoginol. She said HE said it worked wonders for people with FMS. But, she warned me, he likes to talk. Great, I said, I will try it. But I'm not talking to him.

I never did. He e-mailed me a long e-mail about how he HAD to talk to me on the phone. Sent me a letter. Pictures. Lots of info. NOTHING about the product.

Long story short, he never sent me a thing. I never got a brochure, price list, anything. And I was 100% prepared to try his product! He was more interested in telling me about it, than actually selling it.

In general, my motto when dealing with snake-oil salesmen is, "Sure, I will try it. Just send me the info. Goodbye." Then I'm on my way. Other people's experiences with a product are not mine, never will be, and I really only need to know if it works for ME, that's it.

So how did I get the oil after losing the snake? Easy. Melaleuca also offers a grape-seed oil product called Provex. It was in the mail to me the next day. Slither-free.

Sickness and Self-Hatred

This is a very big topic, but one that I will cover very quickly. Because it sucks.

You already know all about it. You hate yourself because your body failed you. Therefore you reject your body back.

Bad move.

Pain means your body needs something. So how would rejecting your body in return help anything?

I actually haven't figured out the answer to this one yet. Candidly. So if you have, please leave a comment. The closest I can get is to get my basic needs met, ALL THE TIME, NO MATTER WHAT. That is my commitment to my body. That is how I appease my body for hating it.

The second way is that I look as good as possible, all the time. This means that the more I hurt, the better I look. This helps me NOT hate my body, because look how pretty I am? It's hard to reject pretty things, even when they are you.

Fundamental to chronic illness is self-hatred. Though I haven't figured out the answer, I do know this, you've got to break the cycle. You have GOT to learn to love and cherish your body, just the way it is.

Because your body is you.

Never Complain, Never Explain

One of the hardest things with pain is the feeling that you need to constantly explain things. Why you can't do things, why you have to do things, yadda yadda yadda.

You don't.

I love the phrase "Never Complain, Never Explain." This is PERFECT for chronic illness.Unless the person is deep in your life, and really needs an answer, you can just say - "Hey, I gotta..." and fill in the blank. Period.

- Hey, I gotta run now!
- Hey, I gotta cut this conversation short, chat tomorrow?
- Hey, I gotta get some sleep.
- Hey, I gotta find a place to sit down.
- Hey, I gotta reschedule with you, is that ok?
- Hey, I gotta run by the doctor's office, I'll be in late tomorrow.

See how easy that is?

No embarrassment, no guilt, no anger at yourself for what you CAN'T do, just hey, I gotta...

Give it a try! Post a comment, let me know how it goes!

How to Be Happy (Around Other People) When You Feel Miserable

The toughest part about chronic pain - or in fact, any pain - is getting along with other people at the same time. If you are alone in pain, you don't need to be nice. But when you are out, you do.

Taking your pain out on other people is a natural tendency. It's one that is hard to fight, and hard to build tools around because nobody trains you in this. Ever.

So that's what I am here to do. A mini-training session on how to be happy when you're miserable. Notice I didn't say APPEAR happy, I said BE happy. I think it is possible to go for the higher level of being, rather than just faking it. But if you can't quite reach the BE state, just go for the APPEARANCE. Trust me, you will want this so that you can preserve your relationships, your job, your friends.

Here is how you do it, in a nutshell:

1. Get your basic needs met. All the time. In the particular moments (or hours, or days) when you have to relate to people while in pain, it is most important that you meet your needs. Whether this be

- popping that ibuprofen before the pain escalates
- stretching ouchy muscles
- getting ergonomic accomodations in the workplace (required by law, DO ask for this, no matter how embarrassed you are)
- getting to bed by 10 p.m.
- stopping your kids from waking you up unnecessarily
- locking your cat out of your room
- sleeping alone, even if you are in a relationship
- carrying food around in your handbag to eat at any time
- stopping your activities to eat, drink, etc.

DO IT NOW! You can't be happy when your needs aren't met.

2. Muzzle your mouth. Learn self-control, and learn to think before speaking. A good way to do this is to have a "pain persona." This is like your professional self. Put your best-self forward, whether you feel like it or not. Fake it. Stop complaining & just put on your "pain persona." Learn to make it automatic. "How am I? GREAT! How are YOU?" [Smile][Walk on] And if you think you can reserve your "pain persona" only for your co-workers and out-side folk, you are DEAD WRONG. You need it for your significant other and family members also. In fact, even moreso for them. They deserve the best of you, don't they?

3. Withdraw to your comfort zone. Do the least possible, interact with other people the least possible, and make sure that you focus on getting through the pain without it affecting other people. Let people come to you if they want, but don't seek out sympathy. Just go take care of you.

4. If you must talk, talk only to "safe" people. Do not tell everyone that you are feeling bad, they really don't want to know. Trust me. They don't. If you think it's showing on your face, you can say a mild "Sorry if I look a little down, I'm not, just not feeling great right now." That's it. With your significant other (who I hope is safe for you), you can talk sometimes in depth about your pain. But reserve those times for few & far between. Let them know in general how you are, but don't overload them just because they are safe and available. That will create resentment on their behalf, and unfortunately, YOU have to manage their resentment.

5. Reschedule stuff for a better time. If you are just not "up" for whatever you have to do, see if you can reschedule. If you can't, do only the basic that is required. This will keep your resentment down at your own illness. Save the outperformance for a time when it is appropriate.

6. Reward yourself. Put on your calendar a small reward for every time you don't blurt out how sick you are when the timing isn't good, or when the person doesn't want to hear it. Challenge yourself to do your best all the time at putting your best "pain persona" forward, and then knowing when and how to let it down.

If you can do all of this, you will find that your internal anger at your illness and helplessness will diminish, and you will be able to live in the "happy" more often, even if your body says "ouch."

How Not to Ruin A "Good" Day!

So I am having a very good day. In fact, it started yesterday after exercising on my Denise Austin stair-step machine (for 40 minutes) while watching Food Network Star & the RedSox.

It is continuing! All my little blood cells feel happy, my energy is aligned, the pain is way down, I have less tension & generally, I am thankful to be alive, for a change.

So what to do when these windfalls happen to you? The days you wait, and pray for? The days where the pain is gone, or down & you begin to have hope again (that you know will be dashed, but still).....

What you do is - DON'T RUIN IT!

You know what I'm talking about, I know, but you just don't want to admit it. The one day in a million that you're feeling good is NOT the day to:

- Clean the house
- Fix your relationship
- Quit your job
- Start a major project
- Overdo it (it being anything)

Your good days are for rewarding yourself, for all the bad days that came before and that will come afterward. What good is a "good" day when you just wear yourself out, yet again?

Do all your favorite things. Relax. Suck in the yumminess of feeling good. Bring the joy. You deserve it! In fact, "Have a GREAT day!"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Some Like it Hot, Some Like it Cold - The Role of Temperature in Pain Control

Pain can be managed with temperature. It is actually so easy to relieve pain with temperature, that it is highly underrated. Like anything else there is a skill to using hot & cold treatments to your benefit. You will want to make whatever you do work for YOU, but here is how I do things...

Basically, I treat my pain like a sports injury.

That takes away the shame, the blame, and makes me feel like I'm in the game. Right now, I think of my pain management techniques as being "in rehab", whether I can rehab them away or not. Treating yourself as an injured athlete brings the pride. It also makes you take better care of yourself because you validate your self-worth with this viewpoint, rather than continuing the traditional self-demeaning beaten-down view that we chronically-ill folk usually have.

For burning pain: Use ice-packs. Core Products icepacks are best, ColPac is also good for your back. I have a stack in the freezer of several of them. 3 square ones from Core Products, one long one from ColPac (11x21), and another smaller one from Core Products that wraps around my neck. I use the long one & lean against or lay on it at least once a week. It does wonders in opening up my breathing. I use the smaller ones behind my neck, to put me to sleep at night. Or I strap them on with a Nylatex wrap (you can find them at during the daytime. The thing with ice is that it should be very cold and hurt a little at first. I put it on with a thin layer of t-shirt or something in-between. I put all three packs on at once (back, back of neck, front of neck) for 45 minutes, or until I get very cold & then warm up again & perhaps fall asleep. Any shorter time just doesn't have the whole-body effect. I have found that I know when I need to use ice packs: when I get annoyed and irritated at EVERYTHING. Or when the pain is a burning, searing one that nothing else can help. Out come the ice and up goes my mood.

(IcePacks from Core Products)

For aching pain: Use heat. There are many ways to use heat. You can use a heating pad (for short periods of time), a thermophore (much better)from Battle Creek products for longer periods, a hot bath with Epsom sales (yes this really works) or a hot shower. I use all of these frequently, depending on how I am feeling. If I am in too much pain to get up, I just reach over, put the thermophore on or under me, and punch that button. That's how easy it is to get pain relief. Hot showers in the morning are IMPERATIVE. I have found they work wonders in pain relief, and muscle loosening. Then there are the hot baths that are just wonderful. Make sure you have the water as hot as possible. You want the most heat you can stand. Cool off with a cold shower afterward to feel best.

If you do nothing else for pain control, I encourage you to (check with your doctor about your circulation and then) start using cold and heat frequently. Like every day. Several times a day. Water is cheap, easy, effective, and delivers temperature to your skin in a manner that is highly effective. If not water, using heat & cold in another manner is critical to pain relief.


For three days use an application of heat or cold. Record your feelings, thoughts and pain level before and after. Determine which method does what for you, so that for all kinds of pain you know what works best. Start making temperature the primary pain-control tool of your entire arsenal, and lean on it above everything else - pain meds, exercise, sleep, everything. Because it will just make everything else better.

Back to the Future - Upcoming Posts

I can't write everything at once, so here are a few topics to check back for...Feel free to suggest topics if you'd like to hear about something specific. The topics below that have links have already been written, so click on the link for the discussion.

- Traveling Without Trauma
- Pain Distraction Techniques - For Me, Flowers = Forgetting
- Valuable Vices - When Sex & Alcohol ARE Therapies
- You DO Have Something to Live For - Managing Suicidal Thoughts
- Creative Responses To "The Cure" Topic [Guest Blogger Requested to Co-Write]
- Going Mint-Free - How to Lower Your FMS Pain With the Guaifenisen Protocol
- Fill'er Up! - Feeding Your Body When Your Mind Doesn't Care
- Some Like it Hot, Some Like it Cold - The Role of Temperature in Pain Control
- Sitting Pretty - How to Handle a Pain-In-The-Butt Sedentary Lifestyle
- I Got That Awful Feelin' - Anxiety & Other Emotions That Accompany Pain
- Beauty & the Beast - Feeling Pretty When You Want to Scream
- How to Live with Half a Brain Because You're in Pain
- Hoax-free Pain Management Products, Proven by Me
- My Daily Regimen for Beating Pain [By Request]
- Help, Nobody Wants to Date a Sick-o
- Work, Schmerk - What to Do When You Can & Can't Support Yourself [Guest Blogger Requested to Co-Write]
- The "H" Words - How to Ask for HELP When You HATE To
- Meds & Your Sanity
- Dealing With - or Without - Your Doctor
- The Golden Rule of Pain: Putting Yourself Before Others When You are a Caretaker [Guest Blogger Requested]
- The Symphony of Sympathy & How to Stop the Music
- Passion & Pain - Giving Up What You Love Because It Hurts
- Prioritizing Your Life When Pain Comes First
- When You're Crying a River At Work
- Identity Crisis - No, My Name is not Pain
- It's So Funny It Hurts - When Others (And You) Laugh At Your Pain

Monday, June 20, 2011

Don't Complain - Fight the Pain

One of the most difficult and interesting characteristics about chronic pain is the complete lack of motivation most of us have to fight it. Depression is a big factor, leading to an acceptance of the pain as "our lot" in life.

Maybe there are high levels of pain that you cannot fix, but still, I challenge you to GET UP OFF OF THAT COUCH & DO SOMETHING. In all my years of having Fibromyalgia (if that's what it is, b/c I think it's a BS diagnosis) I have personally found not one person that was willing to change their life enough, say, to try the Guaifenisen Protocol that I have been on for 7 years. People love to complain more than they love to help themselves. The result is, that I refuse to provide support for people second-hand. If others ask on their behalf I suggest they contact me directly. Nobody ever has.

My take on pain is to kick its a**. That's part of the never give up part. Sometimes you give IN, because that actually lowers the pain level, but never UP. You always do something.

I have a long list of things I do for pain management, some of which I elaborated on in the first post, and others which I will share later. My approach is to run through the list, starting from top to bottom until I find what works. Period. Something has to lower the pain. And usually something does. But it may be 4 things in combination.

Are you one of those individuals that is a couch-potatoe when it comes to pain? Do you let it defeat you? I encourage you not to. Even if you are incredibly pain-ridden and depressed, find a way to start treating your pain, right now, today, and every minute of the day.

YOU deserve a better life. Put it in motion.

In case you don't have somebody in your life to kick your a**, I'm here to do it for you. :) Make it happen people.

Feedback: Anyone want to commit to kicking the pain in the a**?