Down and Ow

June 9, 2008

I’m having a horrid flare. You know the drill– insomnia, pain screeching through every nerve ending, exhaustion, fogginess. I’ve given up on trying to figure it all out. Well, actually, I’m lying– I’m still trying to figure it all out.

I was up at 4:30 this morning, hurting and sleepless, so I did some searching for fibro information on the Web and found this great site— 100 tips for coping with fibro. I like the author’s route of changing diet and nutrition, and of going “au naturel” as far as medications. I’m going to start taking OPCs, which are a type of antioxidents, and I’m also going to try cutting out foods from the nightshade family for a while to see if it makes a difference. This includes tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers and eggplants. Sigh…no more baba ganouj.

I’ll keep you posted on this. In the meantime, I’d love to hear anyone and everyone’s best tips for dealing with fibro. Here are some things that I can’t do with out, and one thing that I want really, really badly.

Bath Therapy Bath Salts: You can get these at any drug store, at Target, Wally World, etc. A long soak in a bath of this stuff really does help me.

Heating Pad: I named my heating pad Antonio Banderas, which makes me feel a little less old ladyish when I lie on it. I really hate heating pads, but it does bring relief.

Lidoderm Pain Patches (by prescription): Make sure it’s Lidoderm, as some of the others have um, killed people. This is great for dulling pain in a localized area. You’re only supposed to use one at a time, but I often cut mine in half so that I can get relief in more than one place at once.

Massage: Can’t afford this often, but a really good massage therapist can work wonders sometimes. One day, when I’ve one the Mega Millions Jackpot, I’ll hire a live-in personal masseuse. I’ll call him Antonio Banderas, and change my heating pad’s name to Bud or Mac or something.

Love: Being around kind and loving beings makes my life gentler, and often eases things. My boyfriend and my cat make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I’ve recently gotten a new little puppy that sits on my lap and warms my heart. Gentleness really does help combat the harshness of daily life.

Memory Foam Mattress Topper and Pillow: These haven’t helped so much lately, but for a few years there, I would not have been without them.

Osim IMedic Massage Chair: At about $2000, I simply can’t afford one of these, but this chair is amazing. It’s available at Brookstone, and I recommend that you try one out if you have a store nearby. Honestly, it’s fantastic, and I’ve actually driven to Brookstone a few times to use one when I’ve been hurting badly. My reason for this has been to experiment, to see if it makes a difference when I’m hurting a lot. It does make a difference– it really does. Now, if Brookstone would just gift me with a chair in exchange for this plug, I’d really appreciate it.

If I think of any other things that you haven’t heard a thousand times, I’ll let you now. In the meantime, what helps you?

Lunch With the Boss

September 23, 2007

I have the most amazing supervisor in the world. I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating. She’s an amazing person– kind and strong and competent. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been on leave of absence due to Fibromyalgia. My supervisor has been with me every step of the way on this– she understands the nature of Fibro, and how it’s changed my mind, energy and body. She sees the guilt, the pain, the depression– all of my warts– and she genuinely cares about me. It’s pretty incredible, considering that this syndrome renders me the Least Valuable Player at work.

We meet for lunch every so often, just to touch base. It makes me so happy to connect with her, and she seems genuinely happy to connect with me. I don’t know how she does it– I cry, explain, update, I give her all the reasons she should just go ahead and fire me– it’s all very depressing. I’ve had to postpone, and once I had to leave early, because I was hurting too much to sit through an entire meal. What a lunch buddy I am. She never gives up on me, though I often give up on myself.

We got together again yesterday, and were delighted to see each other. She was carrying this gigantic bag with her. We hugged and talked, then she handed me the bag and told me that it was from everyone at work.

By the way, I have amazing coworkers too. Overall, they’re intelligent, hard working, fun and kind. Of course there are a couple of snotty, petty ones as well (they make me have high school flashbacks), but two or three bad apples out of a department of 35 is pretty extraordinary.

Anyway, in the bag was a basket. A beautiful basket, decorated by a woman in the department. Inside the basket, my friends from work had placed some of the most thoughtful, personal gifts imaginable. I’ll try to describe some of it:

  • One coworker, with whom I used to discuss music, put in a CD of a singer she had told me about.
  • Another, who’d once lent me a movie that I never got to watch, sent a copy of it and attached bags of microwave popcorn.
  • One, who knows that I love to paint and draw, sent a sketch pad and some pencils.
  • There’s a woman who works part-time at Merle Norman. She sent a beautiful satin bag with moisturizers, blush, lipsticks, and lots of other girly things.
  • Scented candles were tucked inside, along with lotions, bubble bath, amazing herbal soaps, novels, puzzle books, a magazine on body and spirit– all sorts of things to keep stress down.
  • Everyone at work knows that I’m addicted to a particular salad from a particular restaurant. I used to eat one several times a week. Someone gave me a gift card from this restaurant.
  • Chocolate!
  • Someone I used to have Tim Horton’s coffee with sent a whole can of the stuff.
  • A journal.
  • A beautiful bracelet made of “lucky karma beads,” which is supposed to bring “unexpected miracles.”
  • They all went in and collected enough money for me to get a massage from this therapist I used to go to but can no longer afford.

I was speechless, and needless to say, cried non-stop. A couple of times, I had to quit perusing all of the stuff they’d put in there, just to collect myself a bit. After lunch, I read all of the cards that people had sent. There was one big group card, then several individual ones. One woman who used to talk to me about her dog (he has a better wardrobe than I do) sent a picture of herself with him. A supervisor had found a card with Desiderata on it, a poem which I have posted on the wall above my (now empty) desk at work. It just had the part that reads:

“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” Inside, she wrote, “My Dearest Moonbeam, I hope today finds you well. You have no idea how often you are in my thoughts and prayers, sending good healthful energy. I miss your sense of humor and gentle spirit. I hope you don’t mind if I tag along on one of your future lunch outings. Love ya girlie– feel well.”

This made both my supervisor and me blubber all over the place.

How can so much kindness exist in the universe? It overwhelms me and fills my heart with joy. I don’t deserve these gifts. This is not false modesty. Let me tell you, there are people in my department who have overcome obstacles a million times greater than mine. Some have illnesses. A few of them go home to dying spouses, renegade children, and elderly parents that they have to care for. My supervisor confided that as a single mom, she’d raised a disabled son. Their strength is inspirational, and my weakness puts me to shame. That they did this for me is inconceivable.

I am so fortunate. I feel so blessed.