Posted on

5-HTP || The Fibromyalgia Miracle Supplement?

Being in pain can make us desperate to find relief. We use things that aren’t good for our bodies and well-being, because anything seems better than hurting. During my search, I came across something called 5-HTP. It’s deemed the “fibro miracle drug” by many researchers. Naturally, I wonder if those researchers also have chronic pain issues….

 So, what is 5-HTP?

5-hydroxytryptophan (big word, right?!) 5-HTP is interesting, because it is a precursor to serotonin. This is important because low levels of serotonin is a suspected trigger for the development of fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes.  Are your ears perked up as much as mine were?

Some background: serotonin is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that helps us sleep better. It also effects how we process pain and helps control our appetites. Wait, there’s more! Serotonin is also used to improve our mood by reducing feelings of depression and anxiety. Almost sounds too good to be true!

So, why is that important? 5-HTP interacts with endorphins and other elements in our bodies that are involved in the sensation of pain in a positive way. What happens is 5-HTP is converted from an essential amino acid called L-tryptophan that we get from our diets. From there, the 5-HTP is changed into serotonin. It crosses over the brain barrier and boom! It starts doing its magic. Pretty amazing stuff. For more information about serotonin, click here.

Needless to say, I was convinced. One of the goals of Kneading Fibro is to investigate these so-called natural cures for fibromyalgia. After reading several reviews, I went ahead and ordered a bottle of 100mg 5-HTP by a brand called Nested Naturals thru Amazon. I’m a prime member so I can’t resist the free two day shipping! A portion of purchases on their supplements goes to their non-profit charity “Vitamin Angels“, who provide nutrition for needy children. I can help my body while simultaneously helping kids. Nice.

There have been alleged studies on those living with fibromyalgia taking 100mg of 5-HTP 3 times a day for at least 30 days. It was shown that sufferers not only had a decrease in tender points, but also in the intensity of pain. There was a noticeable difference in morning stiffness; their quality of sleep and sleeping patterns; and their level of fatigue, depression and anxiety. After reading this, I was ready to inhale an entire bottle, although through further search I wasn’t able to locate any concrete studies.

**Forewarned, 5-HTP should not be taken if you are on anti-depressants; too much serotonin is dangerous! Please read more hereSerotonin Syndrome

Impression?

I’ve been taking 5-HTP (along with my prescriptions) for about 3 weeks now. I take 100mg twice a day, but started taking it three times a day on Monday.

On the first night, I took it with melatonin, because I was out of my regular sleep medicine. I did not have a good reaction. I was extremely jittery and awake most of the night. According to reviews, many take it at bedtime and sleep great, so results vary.

Unfortunately, my morning stiffness is still there. I also still get tired, moody, and insatiably hungry. However, I can’t deny that my overall level of pain has decreased. I don’t toss and turn throughout the night from pain and insomnia as often. When I do get up, my feet and ankles still hurt, but they don’t always feel like they’re going to snap underneath me.

I can’t confirm whether 5-HTP is a miracle supplement or a natural cure for fibromyalgia, but I can say I feel a little better. Adding this one to the pill book. I have experienced minimal to no side effects taking the Nested Naturals brand of 5-HTP along with my regular medications (aside from the one night with melatonin). If you’re interested in trying this supplement, please consult with your physician or pharmacist and click on one of the affiliate links throughout the article!

Resources for this post were found at: University Health News; Health Rising; Be Brain Fit; WebMD; and my past massage studies

Posted on

Breakthrough With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome??

 

“Queensland scientists have linked Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), to a dysfunctional immune system — proving for the first time that the condition does stem from the body rather than the mind.

Researchers from Griffith University’s National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases (NCNED) told the Huffington Post Australia the breakthrough came through findings that showed abnormalities in immune cell receptors.

NCNED Co-Director, Professor Don Staines, said: “We have discovered and reported for the first time abnormalities of a certain receptor in immune cells of the body and hence it’s likely to be in every cell in the body.”  @HuffingtonPost, Luke Cooper

To read more about this story, click here!

Posted on

MCTs? What are Those?

If you’ve heard of, tried, or currently enjoy Bullet Proof Coffee then you may already be familiar with MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), also called MCFAs (medium chain fatty acids). This is relatively new to me. I do remember when putting butter and coconut oil in coffee became the latest health trend. I wondered why people wanted to drink greasy coffee… I’m not very hip. Despite my skeptism, I did a little research; apparently there’s some real science behind buttery, oily drinks and what’s inside it may be beneficial to those of us with fibromyalgia and other illnesses.

So, What are they?

MCTs, also known as MCFAs, are a group of 4 medium chain fatty acids, or triglycerides, that are processed in the liver instead of during normal digestion. Bile is not needed to break them down, so they pass directly into the blood stream after they’ve entered your intestines. This is great, because that means these fats require no energy to be absorbed, stored, or used by our bodies. What does that mean for us? Quick energy that lasts; couldn’t we all use some of that? When combined with caffeine, they act as super stimulants, increasing focus and motivation without the crash before lunch.

MCTs are processed from coconut and palm oils, however, consuming MCT oil is not quite the same as just eating a spoonful of coconut oil (another trend I did not understand). While coconut oil does consist of all 4 of the MCTs, its most abundant with the longest of the 4.

For clarity, the four medium chain types are:

  • Caprioc acid (C6)
  • Caprylic acid (C8)
  • Capric acid (C10)
  • Lauric acid (C12)

The numbers indicate the length of the chain. The shorter the chain, the more efficient it is at being converted into ketones, however, C8 and C10 are noted to be the most efficient of the four at increasing ketones. Now, these ketones, formed by the liver ,are not the same as the Dr. Oz Raspberry ketone craze. I’ll get more into depth about the role of ketones in another post. For now, just know that ketones feed mitochondria, which are known as the powerhouse of our cells. Because it feeds the mitochondria, it helps improve cognitive thinking and increase energy.  C12, or lauric acid, is abundant in coconut oil (it makes up about 40%), but is less effective at curbing our appetites or promoting brain health. Regardless, coconut oil is still a decent source of the shorter MCTs along with other health benefits.

Interesting. Benefits?

So, moving on. MCTs do appear to have some benefit for everyone, including those with illnesses. They aide in food absorption for those on medications for gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, celiac disease, liver disease, etc. It’s also suspected to help with Alzheimer’s and some seizure disorders in kids, like epilepsy. To add, they may help reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and autoimmune disorders. From a medical standpoint, does this stuff not sound awesome?

As far as which is better, concentrated MCT oil or coconut oil, it all depends on what you’re looking for. Both can also be found in powder form which can be used in drinks and baking. No greasy coffee!

If your goal is to suppress appetite in order to reach weight loss goals, then MCT is probably your better bet. Its made mostly of the two most important fatty chains for that. Plus, they’re known for having a thermogenic effect which is said to speed up metabolism. MCTs are also a popular for helping to achieve nutritional ketosis; essentially, you can reap the benefits of a ketonic diet without cutting out all carbs. Yay, pasta! Its also more readily available and used faster for energy since it goes directly into the bloodstream.

If you’re hoping to get the additional known benefits of coconut oil to include the antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects, then coconut oil is right up your alley, and a bit cheaper!

Either are known to clean your guts of bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Each have great benefits and are useful.

For all the many annoying symptoms of fibromyalgia, I definitely see a need to add this to my diet. Not only could it possibly help with weight loss, but it could also help with brain fog, raising energy levels, and digestive health. Pooping is just so hard… literally! This stuff may not be for everyone, so definitely consult with your doctor or pharmacist prior to use.

After going back and forth, I finally settled with the coconut oil powder by Quest purchased on Amazon. I’m spoiled with the free two day shipping!! Although weight loss is my ultimate goal, I desire the overall health benefits coconut oil provides, plus I have a family that I want to keep healthy as well. The price may have also swayed my decision. The coconut powder was cheaper and I got more for my money than I would have with their MCT powder.

So, the coconut oil power, aside from price, was the better choice for me. I may try MCT powder in the future to test the difference. I only just received my order Monday, so I’m trying to work it into my diet and lifestyle. It mixes pretty well into my tea without altering the taste, not that I’d mind. I like coconut! I‘ll update with my experience in my blog section under Life of Fi and more research here in the Health and Wellness area.

If you have Fibromyalgia or any other chronic illnesses and use MCT or Coconut oil, what are your feelings? Has it worked for you? Did you experience any negative effects? I want to know!! Please comment and share your story!

Resources for this post can be found at: Wellness Mama; Mercola; Web MD

Posted on

I did the dishes…

This morning, I did 10 squats. Then, I went to work. When i came home, I did the dishes. After that, I put dinner in the slow cooker. Not everyone can understand just how big of a deal this is. Now, I suffer for it. I am so tired, but my son just got off the bus and I have to take him to his ju jitsu class. All I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep. I have felt so off today. I didn’t get much sleep last night, but I still had to get up to get my son ready for school. All day, its been hard to concentrate and my head just feels full. It feels like the flu, except I know its not…

I got myself dressed this morning as quickly as I could, walking in and out of rooms forgetting what I was doing and what I was looking for. I noticed the time, so I grabbed my table to carry out to the car. I swear that thing gets heavier every time I pick it up. I struggled to get it in  but after several attempts I got it into the trunk. I’m already over this day.

I went back into the house, double and triple checking that I had everything I needed. I rushed out to the car, get in and put on my seat belt. I reached out to start the car. I forgot keys. I looked out the widow to the door and then to the time. I just want to be early for once. Climbing out of this tiny tuna can hatchback is such a hassle. I have to pull on whatever I can reach in order to stand up. I huff and grunt to get out of that thing. Someone might assume I was older than I am. Got the keys.

At my clients house, I did my best to hide the fact that I’m struggling to concentrate on the story his wife is telling me. They are such a wonderful couple. He truly depends on me to feel better, so I continued to smile and work. I wasn’t in that much pain, I was just so incredibly tired.

When I got back in the car, I sat there for a moment, but not too long because I didn’t want them to wonder why I was just sitting in their driveway. I really needed to go to the grocery store and run an errand, but I just couldn’t. Not today.

When I finally got home, I left everything in the car and slowly made my way into the kitchen. I was really hungry, but the kitchen was so messy. I’d been trying to clean it for 3 days. I decided I’d just try do the dishes first and then sit down for a bit. I noticed my shoulders were burning a bit more than they were, but its ok, I told myself. All I had to do was wash the dishes and then I’d get a break. Shoot. I forgot I had chicken in the fridge that had to be used. Its ok, I told myself again. I’d just put some stuff in the crockpot really quick and then I’d sit down. My shoulders hurt so much…

Finally, I got a moment to rest. “Why is my lower back on fire?” The dogs started barking obnoxiously. At this point, I felt a headache coming on. I really needed to sleep. I could barely keep my eyes open. Just as my eyes started to shut, I remembered my son would be getting off the bus soon. Since I had no time for a nap, I chose to write and a edit a few blog posts while I waited.

Apparently, I’d forgotten how to spell. Thank you autocorrect. I didn’t get very far before the school bus arrived.  “Why is he asking so many questions? Oh, right. He’s 6. Try not to get irritated… Try not to get irritated.” These were my thoughts as I did my best to give my kid attention. I remember feeling so ignored as a child. The pain in my back and shoulders has gotten do much worse, but I still can’t stop.

I looked at the time. I had to him ready to take him to ju jitsu. I forgot I’d left the table in the back. “Great. I still have to empty the car and hook up the car seat.” Its time to leave when he starts crying about bringing toys… He finally stopped whining long enough to get in the car. As we drove past the road to my team’s building, my son said to me, “I guess you’re not going skating anymore.” It hurt so much to hear that, but he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t know  what’s wrong with me. I barely know what’s wrong with me.

Well, I survived the drive, but my head feels like its filled with cotton.. All I had to do smile through this class so the other parents wouldn’t ask questions or think I was being rude. I felt like I could collapse. I am so exhausted and my feet were freezing. I knew it was going to hurt to walk later… I sat in the car while my son played with the other kids before his class. I wished I could stay there the whole time, but I had to go inside.

I thought I would get a break for the four to just sit on the bench, but my kid had other plans. He’d had a bad day at school and it trickled over into his martial arts class. I ended up carrying him out kicking and screaming while they continued with the class. The ironic part is I put him in ju jitsu to help him eotj controlling himself.

The drive home was horrendous as he screamed and kicked in the backseat. I could not get home fast enough. I’m laying in bed now using the last of my energy reserves to type the rest of this post on my phone. This day could be considered bad for anyone, but having a bad day with a chronic illness feels so much worse. I wish I could put words to how I feel. My back, shoulders, and hips are on fire, yet my feet and the rest of me are cold. The side I’m laying on feels like my hip is ripping apart from the pressure of the mattress, but I almost feel too tired to roll to the other side. Not that that would matter, because then my other side would hurt.

I don’t think I’ll be able to accomplish anything else, but at least I did the dishes…

Posted on

To Deep, or Not To Deep: Swedish Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage

So, you’ve finally decided to get a massage. You’ve been all over Yelp reading reviews, now you have a place in mind. You dial the number, confident in your decision, excited to finally treat yourself! Then, the person on the other end of the phone asks what type of massage you’d like. Decisions, decisions…

Most clients I meet for the first time say something along the lines of “I don’t know” or “I just want a lot of pressure”. Some have had massages in the past, but were you disappointed afterwards. In most cases, its not because the therapist was bad, but because the client had the wrong expectations for that they asked. In this post, we’re going to go over the differences between two very basic massage techniques and what you can expect.

Swedish Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage

 

quick outline

 

There are several types of massage modalities, but the standard options offered by day spas, studios, or what have you are: Swedish Massage and Deep Tissue massage. You might be wondering the difference. Firstly, pressure has nothing to do with whether or not a massage is considered deep. Secondly, price doesn’t determine whether or not the massage will be good.

The major difference is is intention. One style of massage is designed for relaxation and the other is considered “therapeutic”. Let’s break them down a bit.

 

Swedish Massage

Wellness, Massage, Relax, Relaxing, Woman, Spa

Swedish massage is meant to be relaxing; the pressure is really just preference (with consideration of your therapists abilities). It can range from light to firm, but should remain comfortable.

Imagine the youthful, smiling woman wrapped in a white towel on a spa or luxury lotion ad. The goal of this type of massage is to create the feeling that look represents and increase circulation in the body. Expect long, smooth, fluid strokes during your session. Your therapist may use forms of kneading to gently break up muscle fibers and allow them (and you) to relax. Most places will have soft music playing in the background and use aromatic oils to enhance your experience, per your request.

During the session, you may feel tender areas on your body you never noticed before, especially if its your first massage. This is normal. The therapist isn’t causing you to hurt;, her touch is just bringing about your awareness. Many therapists, including myself, use Swedish massage as a precursor for bodywork needs later. It allows us an opportunity to evaluate several muscles at a time; it makes you aware of areas needing more attention; and helps us begin thinking of a possible treatment plan if more work is needed.

To sum it up, Swedish massage is mostly designed to put you to sleep on the table.

 

Deep Tissue Massage

Massage, Edge Muscle, Hip, Connective Tissue, Back

Deep Tissue massage isn’t as scary as it looks on TV. Basically, your therapist works on specific muscles or muscle groups at a deeper level in a therapeutic manner with a specific goal in mind. Typically, the goal is to relieve pain, release adhesions (knots), and loosen tightness.

Contrary to popular belief, deep tissue massage doesn’t have to be painful in order to be effective. If you’re in pain, don’t muscle thru it (pun not intended). You may end causing more problems for yourself! Don’t be afraid to speak up! There are so many different ways to approach a deep tissue massage to it less uncomfortable. So don’t let one bad experience deter you from receiving needed bodywork.

Quick sidenote:  Don’t expect a full body deep tissue massage. Its ill advised and not very practical. I’m letting you know this so you aren’t disappointed if your therapist tells you no. If you happen to get a therapist that says yes. Well, prepare for that “deep tissue pain” for the next week.

Which is Better?

So, now that you know a little more about what each massage is, each sounds pretty good, right? One is going to help you forget about your troubles, the other will work out those stubborn knots that your husband or wife always seems to miss. Neither is necessarily better than the other.

If you’ve never had a massage before, go for the Swedish. Its a great way to just become acquainted with receiving touch.

Swedish is also great when you don’t have any actual goals aside from feeling good and taking a break from the world. Its great for generalized full body aches as well. Guys, don’t think its not manly to get a Swedish massage. Most of the time, thats all anyone really needs.

If you’re someone with recurring, localized pain go for the deep tissue. Find a skilled therapist through a physicians office that will be precise with your needs. In cases of injury, relaxation is just not enough. It’ll feel good, but it isn’t going to really help anything. Some clients actually find deep tissue to be relaxing, so maybe you’ll hit two birds with one stone!

 

Whichever type of massage you choose, circulation is increased and endorphins are released. I encourage you to drink plenty of water before and after a massage to aide in the circulation and minimize discomfort afterwards. Your muscles will appreciate the hydration and so will you!

Feeling dizzy or even “drunk” after a massage are normal. Fluids and feel good hormones have just been pushed and moved around in your blood stream and your blood pressure may have dropped. Just take your time getting off the table.

 

I hope my quick intro and explanations have been somewhat helpful. In later posts, I’ll go into more detail about the benefits and different styles of massage work. Please, talk to your therapist with any questions or concerns. As usual, you are also welcome to comment or send me a direct message.

 

Posted on

Choosing to Live the Life of Fi

Today is feeling like a not-so-good day. So, I’ll take a moment to write a new blog entry while I rest in bed. **Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.

After coming to the realization that I literally only have a couple of  pairs of black leggings recently ordered from Groupon that semi-fit, and that I now weigh as much as I did 8 months pregnant, I became inspired to do something! I accept I have a chronic illness; I cannot accept that I am doomed to forever feel unhealthy.

I first decided to stop taking my Amitriptyline every night  and only take it “as needed” since it was my number 1 suspect for the latter weight gain. That didn’t last long… I skipped one night and was repeatedly woken up with the familiar pulling, jerking, and spasming of my body, along with the crawling skin feeling throughout the night. The next night my insomnia overpowered the medicine so A little weight gain suddenly felt more feasible.

After that experience, I took to the internet. Surely there’s something I can do! I first thought about trying a direct sales company. My thought was, I could try a product and if it worked, I would offer it to others in a similar position. One company I’m actually already a promoter for is Le-val for their Thrive products. I was originally turned on to them from another roller derby player from a different team. I don’t have any complaints about the company or products. I stopped using the system because I was at the peak of a really bad flare up but didn’t have an official diagnosis, so I had no idea what was wrong with me. I may actually try their system at a later time. They have a great variety of items and are an overall health and performance system. I just want to learn my body better first. Because of fibro, i have to do things differently than normal people. If you’re interested in the Thrive system, but don’t know any promoters, click here to learn more and order, or feel free to message me with any questions.

The second product I found that I am not associated with is actually what got me to research deeper about what I could do to manage my fibro symptoms and achieve weight loss goals. The company name is Prüvit and their product is called Keto/OS. I’m sure everyone has heard of the ketosis diet. Quickly, it is essentially cutting net carbs in order for your body to go into a state of ketosis where the liver converts certain fats into ketones. Not to be confused with ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition in diabetics  I’ll get more in depth later.

As I really started to research and ask questions, I realized there was something I could do. I needed to create and follow a fibro-friendly lifestyle and diet. One of my issues was the inability to let go of the idea that just because I can’t do what I used to that things are hopeless. No, I can’t just go run a couple of miles or lift weights right now, and completely eliminating carbs and cutting calories to zero are not options either, but there are things I can change.

So, for my chronic pain and fatigue, I have found several key ingredients that I’m missing from my life in order to be healthy and counter the side effects of my medicines. If you’re like me and are ready to live and thrive in the life of fi, subscribe to receive updates and keep checking my website as I go step by step with changes and reactions! If you have some suggestions or success stories of how you came to live and thrive in the life of fi, share your experience! Comment, or leave me a message so that I can read and possibly share with others! The life of fi is rough, but it doesn’t have to be miserable!

Posted on

Two Common Concerns For New Massage Clients

Your neck and back hurt. You’ve been downing over the counter pain pills and bathing in Icy Hot with little relief. So, you’re finally considering trying massage therapy. You let last years gift certificate expire, but now you’re desperate! So, you came across this website and read my blog explaining what massage therapy is. Now, what can you expect??

I talked very briefly about my first thoughts of massage therapy: cue in Olga, Helga, and Sven. I’ve since learned that a lot of my misconceptions were born from watching too many TV comedies. Through the years, I’ve found that most new massage clients have the same two fears: pain and nudity. I hear: “I don’t want it to hurt” and “Do I have to get naked”.  I’m here to put your mind at ease!

So… Does it hurt?

 

Well… I can’t promise there wont be some discomfort or intensity in sensation, however, much is dependent on the type of massage, how aggressive the treatment, and how much body work is needed. Also, most importantly, how much you communicate with your therapist! If the massage is so painful that you feel yourself trying to jump off the table, you’re not receiving much benefit. You shouldn’t need to be sedated in order to get through your session.

Tip: Be open with your communication! Never be afraid to talk to your therapist before, during, and after the massage. Let him or her know what feels good, what doesn’t, and any preexisting conditions and/or medications that may interfere with your experience. Your body will appreciate it! 😉

Underwear On or Off?

Trousers, Underwear, Nostalgia, Past, White, Wash

New clients tend to have this fear of being naked in front of me. Let’s debunk that fear right now. There are blankets for a reason! A professional therapist is not going to require you to lay nude on a table. Even doctors give you gowns before an exam.

New or old, I always let my clients know they’re welcome to undress down to their comfort level AFTER I’ve left the room and that they’ll be covered throughout the entirety of the massage. I stress after because I’ve had a number of clients start stripping down while I’m still standing in front of them. This doesn’t bother me personally; I’ve helped so many people dress, undress, and shower over the years the human body is just that, but this isn’t a nursing home or Europe. While its great to be comfortable in your skin, nakedness is generally a private matter.

Nope. Still Not Getting Naked.

Muslima, Muslim Woman, Eyes, Fashion, Traditional

Some clients choose to leave garments on, which is perfectly acceptable. It may be a little difficult to achieve the results you want, but massage can be performed over clothing. Sports style massages don’t require you to wear much less than a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. There are so many options. Every therapist is different, but we all (should) follow similar codes of ethics, which includes keeping our clients in a safe environment.

 

What to Expect

You may be wondering how bodywork is performed with blankets and clothing. Blankets are pretty easy. The therapist will uncover the area he’s working on, then cover it back up when he’s ready to move on to a different body part. This is for the back and front of the body. No exposure of private areas, I promise! So, yes, it is OK to be fully nude. You’re covered up.

Garments can a little more tricky, if you are wanting a Swedish style massage. Typically, the same draping protocol as with the blankets is used. In my practice, I either massage only the areas of the skin I can reach and perform compressions over the clothing (this just means I’m offering pressure for the muscles) or I create friction with my hands over the clothing with the flow of a Swedish massage. Usually, after a few minutes of this, my clients offer to remove the articles that are blocking their experience. Plus, the fumbling thru shorts and bra straps usually becomes more bothersome than just laying naked under blankets, in a dim-lit room.

What do you think? If these were fears of yours, are you now more comfortable with the idea of receiving bodywork from a professional? What are some other concerns you have about receiving your first massage? If you’re a therapist, what are some the things your clients have expressed to you and how did you help them feel comfortable? I’d love some insight from a client’s point of view, or some input from other therapists!

Why not sign up for the mailing list to be updated when Kneading Fibro puts out more helpful information? 

** I do not speak for any other therapists, massage or otherwise. This is a generalized account of the massage practice

Posted on

Spandex, my saviour…

Vanity be thy name. I’m going to blame my shallow need to look good on my placement in the stars. A Leo I am, therefore, I must be the pride of the pack, the beauty of the ball, even if all I can manage are sweatpants and a hoodie.

Before now, I wasn’t really familiar with taking prescription medications over a long period of time. Its taken me months just to remember to take them all daily, hence why birth control never worked out for me. Memory loss is another awesome symptom some of us experience. What I do know is they have side effects. Thank you TV and radio. I knew from day one I didn’t want narcotics and I wanted take the minimal amount of pills I could get away with. Three years of working in a psychiatric facility instilled a sort of phobia in me about being put on medications. I’ve seen some crazy things, no pun intended. Being a massage therapist does also draw me away from pharmaceuticals and into more natural remedies. Don’t think I won’t take ibuprofen when I need it though! I’m only a part-time hippie.

My main focus of this post is a side effect of some medications many people go through that has seriously affected my self esteem: weight gain. While I’m happy I have a supportive partner that doesn’t seem to care about my weight, my ever growing waistline is becoming problematic. I admit, I don’t feel very credible with my clients when I don’t look as though I take care of myself. Leggings have preserved for me some kind of dignity, but I now find myself with a closet full of clothes meant to fit a person I no longer know.

At my latest doctor’s appointment I mentioned my concern, at which he responded dryly that I needed to “get moving” and handed me a standard weight loss packet printed from the internet. I already know these things, thanks Google. If moving more was a realistic option right now, I would do just that. Unfortunately, its not that simple. He’s not a bad doctor, but I do wish I had someone more experienced. I walked out of the office feeling unsatisfied and disregarded. I’ve concluded that my options are to either stop taking my medicine and use mental strength to get through each hour so I can lose the extra pounds or continue taking the medicine and deal with my lowering self esteem wrapped in comfortable stretch pants. Side note: while the medicines do prolong good days, they don’t completely eradicate my symptoms and I do still have flare ups. My only true reason to stop taking them would be for the sake of vanity. Its a tight race as far as I’m concerned.

Before I made the decision to stop drinking and received my diagnosis, I did my best to stay active. I worked out, I played a recreational team sport, I enjoyed going out with friends; however, all could only be accomplished with a strong, liquid numbing agent and handfuls of drug store pain relievers. Terrible for my stomach and liver… Eventually, the pain and fatigue (and possible ulcer) became so debilitating, I could barely dress myself, let alone get out of bed. I dropped over 30lbs in a short period of time and was in and out of the ER and doctors’ offices. My friends thought I was being poisoned by the person I was dating at the time. Now, I’m on the opposite end. I’d managed to get back to my normal weight, but was soon after given my diagnosis along with experimental drugs. Thus began my weight gaining adventure. In my latter efforts to find relief, I’ve put on 50lbs in less than a year and the numbers are still rising. It almost doesn’t seem fair. I take the doctor prescribed medicines that help me stay somewhat functional, but I now feel so uncomfortable in my own skin that I don’t want to be seen.

To answer the question that may be on your mind: yes, I do still try to work out. When I’m not feeling as if I was scraped from the bottom of a trash can, I attempt to walk on warm days and do at least 10-30min of pilates. In my opinion, pilates is similar to yoga. It’s low impact with great focus on core and supportive strength. It’s one of my favorite forms of exercise next to roller skating. I’d even contemplated becoming an instructor. I often feel defeated though. One day I may be able to do 30 minutes, but the next I’ll be lucky to get through 5. I’ve tried pushing myself harder and longer, but it backfires and leaves me laid out for days. This is why it’s not as simple as just moving more or doing more. In the past, that was the obvious solution, but I’m now finding myself having to redefine my approach to a health and fitness routine.

One of my goals is to not only lose weight, but to find an effective way to stay healthy without burning myself out. Sadly, I was not blessed with a fast metabolism so strict dieting is just not enough, or desired. I would still love to one day pursue the distant dream of becoming a pilates instructor and opening my own pilates and massage studio. My other goal is get back on the roller derby track as my alter ego Dirty Dan. I bet you didn’t know I’m a hippie and a badass! For now, I would just be happy to walk to my living room without needing a nap… And to not split anymore pairs of pants.

Posted on

Scooting

The running joke is I’m a 90 year old woman in a 20-something year old body. Two of my infamous quotes are “I’m too young to be this old” and “I’m too old to be this young”, pending how I feel that day. The other morning I was reminded of how this disease affects me everyday.

My girlfriend was laying in bed with her eyes closed when I came into the bedroom to grab something. She looked up and laughed, “I was wondering which dog was making that noise, but its just you scooting across the carpet.” I tend to drag my feet when I walk, as she so kindly pointed out. I feel like an old lady without her walker most of the time. I stay cold so I’m constantly curled up trying to preserve heat, which certainly doesn’t help my hunchback situation. I lose my balance often, saved usually by a counter top to grab on to or by her arms. I have taken a couple of unexpected falls at home. Thank goodness I’m not 90! “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” I laughed along with her, but I was also bothered because I was actually feeling pretty good that day. In fact, it was the best I’d felt in weeks. Regardless, my body was still stiff and showing off my poor posture.

If I was my client, I would explain to myself how my movements, or lack there of, affect my body, then give myself self care tips to correct my stance and gate at home… But its difficult to be my own therapist and I sometimes neglect to correct the correctable dysfunction. Once the body is conditioned to move a certain way, it takes manual effort to fix it. I’m an honest hypocrite. I know what I need to do most of the time, but sometimes I just don’t.

I mentioned in a previous post that fibromyalgia is more than just being sore. Having a chronic illness becomes a lifestyle, one that I’m still adjusting to. Every aspect of life is affected by it and everyday is different. Of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but I do believe most people with any sort of illness can relate.

One of the issues I run into frequently is body stiffness. Usually being still for over 20 minutes makes my body and joints feel incredibly stiff, but its not always accompanied by great amounts of pain. Then I enter into the vicious cycle of being too rigid to move, but needing to move in order to counter the stiffness… Think of Grandpa trying to get up from his favorite recliner after a long sports game. Ok, now imagine Grandpa is a 20-something year old woman. Yea, I look pretty pitiful sometimes.

Because of the stiffness and my permanently cold state, it takes me a little while to get moving fluidly like a normal person my age. I grunt to stand up, I often grab at my lower back, i crack, i pop, and I scoot along while waiting for my hips to activate and for my feet and ankles to stop feeling like they’re going to break with each step. It usually takes quite a few steps to really get myself loosened up. I make jokes that I want a walker with wheels and a basket under the seat. A wheelchair would be nice for the really bad days! I try to stay light and laugh at myself, but some days I genuinely cannot walk very far or move without feeling fatigued or like my body has been trampled over.

Its been a rough time, but I’m learning to enjoy my good days, however few and far between. I’m also trying to take note to not push myself as hard as I used to. Its certainly a process, but this is my life now, so I have to make the best of what cards I’ve been dealt.

Posted on

What are Massage Therapy and Fibromyalgia?

If you’ve ever received a legitimate massage (from a professional, not the young college student from Craigslist or your partner rubbing your shoulders), you should have a good idea of what massage therapy is. Fibromyalgia is a bit more complicated, but we’ll keep things simple. While I do have personal experience with both, I’m not an expert by any means! I discover new things everyday!

 

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy seems self explanatory: rub lotion over the body or dig elbows into someone’s back until they cry. I mean, these were my thoughts anyway. I had always pictured a middle aged hippie that rubs feet in her living room or a large couple of spa workers by the names of Olga and Sven pounding their fists into their clients. Of course, there’s also the most unfortunate image of the young masseuse offering a “happy ending” in the back a shady salon. Thankfully my preconceived interpretations didn’t stop me from finally going to school and making this my career. Small Fact: masseuse is no longer an acceptable term in the profession. Its actually quite offensive.

Massage, Dogs, Friends, Bestfriends, Pet, Treatment

Simply put, massage therapy is the manipulation of muscles thru a series of strokes, kneading motions, and stretching. I’ll stop there for now. If you’re a therapist reading this, you should already have an understanding. If you’re not, I doubt you want a long textbook explanation. Basically, I try to help my clients feel better.

 

What is Fibromyalgia?

 

Sad, Depressed, Depression, Sadness

Now, for the harder topic: Fibromyalgia. I say harder, because aside from its existence there really isn’t a lot of solid information or medical explanations. If you type the word into Google you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of medical sites offering expert theories and several companies selling overpriced vitamins, medicines, and dieting tips to eliminate and even cure fibro, but there is no sure cause or cure. What we do know is, fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome often accompanied by specific tender spots, widespread pain and soreness, and fatigue. There is a big difference from someone who is tired and sore, and someone with fibromyalgia. 

This is the simplest way I can explain either, but there is so much more to both! In later posts, I plan to enlighten those interested in massage therapy and its benefits. I would also love to connect with and inspire those who suffer from and treat chronic pain illnesses.

To end, I would love your input! Please, share your thoughts and resources if you have anything to add!! It’ll give me something to read between clients or the next time I’m involuntarily confined in bed.

Why not sign up for the mailing list to be updated when Kneading Fibro puts out more helpful information?