Experimenting with Happiness: Fibro Flu Day 2

There is still lingering doubt in some people’s/doctor’s minds about fibromyalgia as a form of mental illness.  After all, stress can bring on a fibro flare, so it must be all in our heads, right?  Thank goodness this way of thinking is falling by the wayside, and research supports very real physiological causes for fibromyalgia (even while they don’t agree on what they are, but one step at a time).  Still, I think a lot of people with fibromyalgia have the idea rubbing on the back of their minds: “Am I in pain because I want to be? Am I exhausted all the time because I’m lazy? Am I looking for attention? Am I just crazy?”  I’ve had all those thoughts over many years.  After all, I’ve met enough people who just look at me with doubt.  The spine doctor who looked at my x-rays and essentially told me I must be a wimp because people usually have much more damage before they have the pain I was complaining about.  The doctor who sent me home when he saw fibromyalgia in my patient chart when I actually had a massive pulmonary embolism. Friends who have just said, well it’s all part of getting older (I apparently started aging at 15). Experience trains us to doubt ourselves.

So now as part of another phase of using myself as a guinea pig, I have begun experimenting with happiness.  Can being happy stop the pain?  My hypothesis, based on the last six months is, no, it won’t, but maybe it will make it more tolerable.

Last week was momentous.  I have decided to share my life and my HOME with someone for the first time since my second divorce in 2000, and he moved in on Saturday, which meant a day of loading and hauling furniture and boxes in the rain.  My tiny house is a mess and may burst at the seams, but it’s all doable…in baby steps.  I’m on day two of a really solid fibro flare that I woke up with yesterday morning.  It’s not sore muscles – I’m very strong and didn’t lift more than I could.  It’s the aching pain of a flu bug without the flu bug – scalp to big toenail.  In addition, last week I finally walked away with a promotion at work into a job that will be exciting and fun.  Lots to learn and new people, even a little travel.  It’s very exciting.

I’m happy.  I’m happy at home for the first time in more than a decade (contentment is not happiness); and I’m happy at work.  Stress, yes, happiness, yes. Possible to have both? Yes. So what will the happiness do for me physically?  We’ll see.

Not Giving Up

Just a quick note to let you know (whoever is out there and reading), I’m not giving up. Life has suddenly accelerated.  I’ve been working on my house so a very special person can come share my life with me, it’s spring so the garden is shouting at me, I’m working on changing my job yet again, trying mostly unsuccessfully to ignore the political swamp, working everyday, swimming twice a week, and when I’m not not doing that, I’m flat on my back going, “Ooooooohhhhhhhh.”

But I’m still working on my quest for understanding fibro better. I’m currently looking at a blood test for fibro that’s being offered. I found out that while insurance companies are jumping on the bandwagon to cover this blood test, the medical institution I work for (in the laboratory medicine department which does blood tests) does not offer this test.  I want to find out why.  I also want to look into the blood test being offered for two reasons that aren’t necessarily for the betterment of the patient: 1) as a way to soothe a patient’s mind and stop him or her from bothering physicians for more tests; 2) as a way to tap into the fibro market and make some money off us. I know, both are pretty cynical, but I think it’s worth asking the question.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi, and stay tuned.  In June life will hopefully have slowed down a little and I can get back on track.  I have lots of articles staring at me, begging me to get reading.

The Accidental Chocolate Chip Cookie and the Art of Self Destruction

I wish I had hives.  Or rashes.  Anaphylactic shock? Nope.  None of them.  Well, that’s not true.  One night maybe 12 years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night looking a lot like Quasimodo with a rash.  My face had swollen and I was tearing my skin apart trying to get to an itch.  A trip to an allergist yielded nothing but an expensive EpiPen that I never used because it never happened again.  Of course, there was the time I suddenly became allergic to penicillin and discovered I was allergic to sulpha – rash and hives respectively, so I do know what I’m saying when I say I wish I had hives, rashes, or even an occasional bout of anaphylactic shock (with an EpiPen within reach, preferably). The fact is, I don’t have food allergies.  But I have extreme food sensitivities.  Peanuts, onions, chocolate, wheat, sugar, and more. I think I talked about that already once, but I have to start facing a very big problem I have. I can’t leave food that I’m sensitive to alone.

Last night was the first night away from home for a week while I take care of a friend’s horses, doggy, and kitty while he visits his mom out of state.  I do this on a regular basis, but this time is different. I’m missing home more, missing my special guy who is going to be moving in with me in just a week and a half, missing my furry buddies purring on me, even my nice comfy bed.  It’s okay, I love helping my friend out.  His mom is old and frail and has suffered a couple strokes.  He needs the time with her. The problem comes in when I start to feel that pressure, that stress – is it an I’m-not-doing-what-I-would-prefer-to-be-doing stress? I get it at work too, not surprisingly.

How I react to that stress is self-destructive. I will figure it’s okay to grab that chocolate chip cookie.  Just one.  I don’t have to eat the whole pack. It’s from a bakery, so it’s not so full of chemicals… I can rationalize with the best of them. Last night, first night away from home, knowing I have a week away, a package of three luscious chocolate chip cookies – I’ll only have one, yeah right – and within an hour, palpitations, heart racing, blood sugar dropping – sugar and caffeine.  Should be a good enough reaction to stop me from taking that chocolate chip cookie plunge? No.  It’s not hives or a rash.  I’m just sensitive, not allergic. But one day, I will be the first person to die from eating chocolate chip cookies.  Unless they make an EpiPen for palpitations and increased heart rate.  Then I’m golden.

Disgusted and Annoyed