Nerve Damage – the Lungs

Yesterday, someone shared an article on one of the fibromyalgia support group Facebook sites titled, “Is Nerve Damage Affecting the Lungs in Fibromyalgia?” on  As a general rule of thumb, I don’t look too far into articles like this one. Its author is some guy named “Cort,” and there is no reference section to say where he’s gotten most of his information.  The article is based on an online survey which depends on self-reporting. In short it’s not too “scientific.”  However, Cort does reference research that I’m aware of and appears in my library, (see Albrecht et al), which is ongoing and very interesting. The particular article he references is one that I need to read, however, and I will.

What caught my attention with this article is the lung aspect. I’ve had trouble with shortness of breath and difficulty taking deep breaths with any sort of physical exercise for years, in particular since my massive pulmonary emboli episode near the turn of the century. At first, it was a scar tissue issue. There was damage from the emboli, and since there were clots in every lobe of both lungs, the damage was widespread. When I was doing the Crossfit Bootcamp, which was an extreme cardio workout twice a week, I could feel improvement in my lung capacity. I could take deeper breaths and catch my breath quicker. By the end of bootcamp I was able to work in my garden without feeling like I was going to pass out.  That was great, but it was temporary.

Before the end of summer, while I was still exercising but in a different program that had less cardio and more weightlifting, my lungs started slipping back into their old habits.  I have not regained the lung capacity I had during and shortly after bootcamp. It amazed me at the time how quickly it all slipped away from me.  It’s like my body requires constant extreme exercise to keep my lungs functional. Swimming has not increased functionality; yoga didn’t either.  I’ve never blamed my lung dysfunctionality – which is not real, by the way, because my lungs test just fine and the doctors are quick to blame deconditioning – on fibromyalgia.  Never connected them. However, if there is something to a dysfunction of blood vessels, which starts the dominoes falling, it would certainly affect lung function. It could also explain the near immediate decline after bootcamp.  It’s something I need to look into further, find other articles and studies that may be looking at this possibility.

In the meantime, it’s also a reminder that it is possible to feel better, but (that big old but) extreme exercise is… well, extreme… and I’m not an athlete. The only reason I made it through bootcamp was because there was a defined timeframe for it. I couldn’t put myself through it indefinitely, which was one of the reasons for failure of the post-bootcamp program I was in. This blog started being all about exercise for fibromyalgia.  I haven’t lost sight of that. There’s a key, but I’m not sure which door it’s supposed to open.


Just wanted to say hi, in case anyone has given up on me.  I haven’t given up my search, but it’s definitely on the back burner at the moment.  At the same time, fibro isn’t on the back burner.  I’m having a heckuva time with my back and legs, but at the same time I’m in just such a good mood.  I’ve started a new job that’s going to be fun and exciting, the man in my life is in my life and we’re planning a commitment ceremony for October, life is just good.  And busy.  I have some ideas that have been swirling around aimlessly but haven’t had time to herd them into a general direction.  Hopefully soon…..

The Stress Test

Everyone has a fight or flight response to stress.  It’s what saves us from peril. Our ancestors were able to run from or take down that woolly mammoth because of extra levels of glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormone and prolactin. I wonder if fibromyalgia has developed due to the lack of woolly mammoths in our world. Our bodies give us a woolly mammoth reaction when we really only need a rabid chihuahua reaction. After all, pretty much all of the stress hormones are what are out of whack in fibromyalgia, whatever the cause.  Fibro sufferers should at least be able to lift a Volkswagen whenever we want. Maybe that’s why we’re tired all the time.  We’re always on the woolly mammoth high alert.

Of course, stress comes in all forms.  Today I had to admit to my therapist (yep, I’m in therapy, learning to cope with stress and depression) that happiness was stressing me out a little bit. My fight-or-flight instincts seem to want to kick in even with happiness.  Bizarre, huh? Is it a chemical reaction – these stress hormones being out of whack? Or is it my personal history rearing its ugly head?

I’m now a fiance – not a girlfriend anymore. I’m living with a wonderful person who understands me and is patient and kind, no matter what.  He even understood (although was a bit concerned) when I declared that someone has switched out my microwave.  It’s not my microwave.  I know it’s not.  But he assures me without sarcasm that indeed it’s the same microwave I’ve had since he’s known me. His presence soothes me. I’m happy – people tell me I’m happy, that they can see it in my face. I don’t doubt it because I feel happy. So what the heck are my stress hormones doing to me?

Yes, there is a lot going on – changing jobs (with a promotion), thinking about starting to plan an event in the fall, adding a second household to my tiny house.  It’s all good, it all makes me happy, and I’m severely stressed. Who knew happiness could take so much out of a person?