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.