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)