Separate Courses

The past couple months has been spent in doctor’s offices and hospitals with my dad. Just a brief rundown: He’s 85 years old (looks maybe 75), former long distance runner, very active when he was younger. He has had problems with chronic subjective dizziness (CSD) and chronic pain for maybe 45 years. He taught himself to walk and run after the CSD stepped in because there was little the medical field was doing to help conditions like that at the time. He’s a very determined person. But pain really got the better of him several years ago. And age is messing with him too, so there’s a lot going on right now. That’s the very very condensed version.

I’m really very lucky because my chronic pain started early enough that I honestly do not remember what to be pain-free feels like. My dad, on the other hand had years of pushing his body to do what he wanted without too many consequences (I won’t mention the permanent damage to feet that running will do – but it’s a choice). He can remember the freedom of movement without pain. That makes it worse, I think.

Dad and I have had very different courses. My doctor almost immediately suggested fibromyalgia after all the stuff I didn’t want were ruled out (Lupus, MS, etc). She handed me a book, told me to read it and let her know what I thought. Fibro has not been a consideration for my dad even though he definitely fits the profile of a fibro sufferer. He is, after all, male. His doctor was male. Fibro isn’t a male thing. Right? (Wrong, but I’ll leave it for now.) The difference between us became very basic: I had to learn to ignore or just live with pain and how to discern if I was actually injured/ill; my dad stayed in the doctor’s office talking about his pain, getting tests, trying meds. He spent a week in a Pain Clinic where he learned he had to do work through his pain (what I was already doing – I got turned away from the Pain Clinic). However, by then the pain was so ingrained in his mind as a bad or dangerous thing, while he could move more freely, pain was and is still his focus.

I will never say what the “right” way to live with pain is. Everyone has to find their path. Between my dad and me there are generational, social, and gender differences which account for our two different courses. I’m just not too sure those are legitimate reasons for having such a varied course. Sitting with my dad listening to him detail pains to the doctor that have nothing to do with the current serious health concerns he has is frustrating. He is unable to describe pain or explain how bad a pain is. He was never given those tools because all he had to do was say “my foot hurts” and he would get a test. When I say my foot hurts, I’m usually told it looks okay, let’s just watch it. I’ve learned how to express disagreement to doctors when I need to. My dad never had to learn that. It was never an issue.

What I’m trying to say, I think, is my dad lost out on some very valuable chronic pain tools as he has gone through his course. At the same time, it has become very difficult for my mother who has to sort through all the pain experiences my dad has to help decide if he needs to see a doctor or not. Those decisions are becoming more difficult for them to make. So I’m lucky I’ve developed those tools even though they need to be sharpened every little while. And I can help my folks navigate while I learn about the double threat of fibro and age. It’s a learning curve – my dad hangs on tight when I drive around curves. He’ll just have to keep hanging on.

When You Don’t Have a Choice

The key to managing chronic pain and the inevitable fatigue that goes with it is making choices. I can only speak from the fibromyalgia perspective. People with other chronic pain conditions have to find their own keys to live life to the fullest without hurting themselves. Fibromyalgia, pain does not equal injury. Therefore, the key to living life to the fullest is to make reasonable choices to do the things you really want to do knowing there will be consequences – but not necessarily injury. Key word – reasonable. If I go jogging, I will injure my knees, feet, and ankles. If I go bungee jumping, I’m pretty sure my spine would rip right out of my back and then I’d have to have someone there to do a quick cleanup. Not that I’m catastrophizing or anything. But I can go to the Renaissance Festival in the fall, cheer on the jousters, people watch to my heart’s content, eat very well (i.e. badly), and stay on my feet from dawn to sunset. I will wake up the next morning (maybe, probably afternoon) and wonder when I wandered out on the highway and got hit by 3 pickups, a sedan, and a semi, and why am I not in traction. It may take me a few days to get fully back on my feet. My choice. My consequences. Mine. No one else’s. Mine.

There are times, however, I don’t have that control. For example, the last few weeks. While we all thought 2020 was a PTSD year, 2021 hasn’t been particularly kind either on a personal level. I’ve ended the year with my octogenarian parents deciding to suddenly become…. less young. I’ve had to request my mother to no longer drive on the highway; my father just had open heart surgery and has not been able to drive on the highway for some time. I am the chauffeur for them both. I sit in on appointments with them to be sure everything is understood and questions are answered. I help with decision making and am an occasional referee. At the same time, I have to work. Retirement to care for my parents (who are actually very young for their age, don’t get me wrong) is not an option. At work I have 25 residents and a fellow to care for, and several faculty including a program director and associate program director. And I care about every single one of them, what happens to them, how they are managing the stresses of their roles, and how I can help them with all of it. Home and work have converged to consume… me. Not just my time, but my energy, physical and emotional.

The choice is not really in my hands, because walking away from any of the people in my life that I care for is never an option. Everyone always says, self-care. You can’t care for other people without properly taking care of yourself. It’s true. But it’s a struggle.

I think of my energy and ability as finite. Like a beehive. It grows and shrinks, takes on more bees when it can, and hopefully produces something good at the end. But if wasps move in or a bear comes in and starts to steal out of the hive, there’s destruction I can’t control. The choice is not mine. However, I can choose to accept the destruction and simply work on rebuilding or rail against that which is not in my control.

So I can remember to take my antidepressants. I can be mindful of the moments that are my own. I can go to bed on time and get a full night’s sleep. I can eat properly. I can forgive myself when I don’t do any of these things – when my brain is rushing too hard to sleep, when I have to have dark chocolate covered salted caramels because it’s the holiday, when I zone out with a video game instead of rest. I can also get up and work when I feel like I have the flu and stay up throughout the whole day. I can do that, and when I have time, I can tell myself I’m doing a good job, and I’m doing the right thing. I’m doing what needs to be done, and I can do it. Gotta run :o) Thanks for listening.

Things to Be Sure Your Doctor Actually Understands: Part 3

I have dry eyes. Really dry eyes. They usually feel like I’ve been rolling around on a beach. I’m only exaggerating a little bit. The phrase bursting into tears doesn’t usually apply to me, not that I wouldn’t like to now and then. Usually if I tear up, I’m so surprised I don’t remember why I teared up. It’s not emotional or the lack of emotion; I’m apparently just drying up from the inside out. So that led me to the eye doctor with swollen, red, dry eyes and a very cranky attitude. The ophthalmologist leaned back in his chair and explained he doesn’t understand why, but as he understands it, for fibromyalgia patients doctors should just do whatever they can to make them feel better even if they can’t figure out what the underlying problem is. He proceeded to cauterize my tear ducts, so they can’t squeeze tears out of my eyes and into my nose. Yeah, it’s not pleasant. Okay, it hurts a lot. During the procedure, the ophthalmologist commented on my ability to hold still and not complain. “Fibromyalgia patients,” he said, “Are saints.” Do you know how hard it is not to roll your eyes while you have a cauterizer a nanometer away from your eyeball? While I appreciated that he didn’t question the discomfort I was having and that he appreciated my ability to make his job easier, he needed to understand something important: Fibro patients can differentiate between types of pain and react accordingly, anticipating the actual pain we will feel, when we will feel it, and how bad it will feel.

There are a few different, very distinct types of pain – using my own, non-medical terminology:

  1. Chronic pain/White Noise: While fibro is considered a chronic pain syndrome, there is a “chronic pain” component in fibro that is different than other types of pain. I call it white noise. It’s like static in my head when my tinnitus is acting up. It’s there all the time. It’s relentless. It’s also a very low-level pain, sometimes barely noticeable. Static, not fireworks. This is the generalized pain that seriously exhausts the fibro patient. It eats away at energy levels by its persistence, not its pain level. When I give a doctor a relentlessness scale for my pain, this is the pain I am rating. For me, this pain rests in my muscles.
  2. Acute pain/Fireworks: This is the opposite of the above. It’s the fireworks. It can come in clusters or focus on one spot. The key is, it’s not relentless. It comes and goes unexpectedly and shoots around like a shell out of a mortar, and it usually has a higher pain level than the white noise pain – close to the kidney stone/childbirth pain I will rate a 10. For me, this pain hits my joints most often and is usually associated with motion.
  3. Temporary pain: This is cauterizing my tear ducts or getting a cortisone shot into my hip bursae. It may hurt like heck during the procedure, and it will linger while things heal, but there is a deadline for the pain. It’s going to go away. I can do that.

Most importantly, all three of these pains are connected and relative. Pain is worse when it’s unexpected. It’s worse when it will not go away. Expected pain, not so bad. Pain with a deadline, not a problem. Fibro patients, not saints. We’re pain realists.

Things to Be Sure Your Doctor Actually Understands: Part 2

Next month I have my yearly checkup with the doctor. It’s a new doctor – I work with residents, so every three years I get to break in a new doctor. Some people don’t like that and prefer to get a consistent consultant. Between you and me, I like breaking them in before they settle into their opinions. When they graduate, they have a good understanding of fibromyalgia patients, whether they want it or not. Since this is my first visit with this new doctor, we’ll have a little talk. I have a few concerns that I need to know are or are not fibromyalgia- or weight-related, because let’s face it, I’m getting old. I’ll be 60 in a few months, and I have to learn what to expect as I age. And any doctor who sees fibromyalgia patients needs to understand a few things about aging from the perspective of the fibromyalgia patient:

  1. It will be very difficult for fibro patients to differentiate between aging pains, fibromyalgia pains, and pain signifying illness. Guidance and patience will be an absolute must for the aging fibro patient. We will have to relearn how to perceive the pain we feel. Not only will we feel pain that has no real origin or cure, but we will start feeling pain that does have an origin and may have a possibility for relief. We won’t be used to that. Fibro patients may not know to ask, or they may be very wary of medications because of a history of side effects and allergic reactions. It will be very easy to overlook significant symptoms of critical illnesses. It will be very easy to lose patience when a fibro patient contacts their doctor too much.
  2. Education about aging symptoms will be much more valuable than a “well, you’re not a spring chicken anymore” attitude. We’ve already gotten that from friends and relatives for years. I’ve been hearing that since I was about 35. I haven’t felt like a spring chicken… ever. I have no comprehension of life or movement without pain. Being told essentially to put up with aging pains as a part of life is, frankly, a little insulting. Doctors are usually pretty good about telling patients about, for example, cancer symptoms to look for, early warning signs. That is much more helpful.
  3. Fibro patients will feel aging pains differently. Our brains tell us we’re in pain when other people may not perceive pain at all or a much less intense pain. It’s not just the basic fibromyalgia pains that are intensified, it’s any pain. I’ve gone on the theory that I’ve had a rheumatic process that is so mild the doctors have not been able to discern it, but my pain sensors are so darn good, I have been able to feel it. Of course, if (when) I actually get a rheumatic diagnosis, it will be very difficult to prove that it’s an ongoing process, not a new condition.
  4. Fibro patients already struggle with mental health before the aging process. We struggle daily when we’re young. As I get older and realize how much I have not done, how much I lost to time spent waiting, resting, the struggle intensifies. That very normal end-of-life mental weight people feel is exacerbated by chronic pain. I suspect we feel it sooner. I have wondered for many years now, if I felt 80 when I was 30, what will I feel like when I’m 80, and do I want to know? Since mental health is integral to physical health, doctors need to be consistent in monitoring for depression and suicidal thoughts as the fibro patient ages.

Again, mutual respect and communication between patient and doctor are better than any prescription medication. I’m going to have a sit down with my new doctor and express my concerns about symptoms that seem suspiciously like aging rather than fibromyalgia and see what happens. As always, I am not expecting a miracle cure or even anything curable, but I’ll listen, just in case.

Things to Be Sure Your Doctor Actually Understands: Part 1

All pain scales are worthless to fibromyalgia patients. I’m making the mistake of sounding like I talk for everybody. I don’t talk for everybody. I talk for myself. Pain scales are worthless. There are many different types of pain scales: rate your pain on a scale of 1-10, show me what you think your face looks like, and other more complex yet equally useless scales.

Here’s the problem: for fibromyalgia, pain is a constant, not a symptom.

More appropriate questions to ask fibromyalgia patients:

  1. What is your baseline pain? For example, when asked that persistent 1-10 question, I always say, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being childbirth and kidney stone… If there’s no point of reference for your worst pain ever, there is no meaning for the number you give.
  2. How would you rate your pain when you move? How would you rate your pain when at rest? Yes, they’re different. And if I’m sitting in the doctor’s office and they say what’s your pain right now, I will give a different number than I would have 30 seconds earlier walking into the office. Again though, there has to be a baseline. To many a nurse’s chagrin, I give them two numbers: Right now, sitting still I’m at a 4. If I get up and move around I’m a solid 8, with 10 being childbirth and kidney stone. I don’t care if they don’t have a spot on their worksheet for 2 numbers.
  3. How relentless is your pain? This is the key to fibromyalgia. It’s not the level of pain; it’s the relentlessness of the pain. That is what exhausts fibro patients. Once a psychiatrist who was trying to fit me out with an antidepressant told me he didn’t understand fibromyalgia patients. He will show a fibro patient all the different faces of the pain scale and ask them to rate themselves, 1-10 and they’ll say 12, but their face shows a 3. He didn’t understand that. I did. If you have pain at a level 3 for 78 days straight, you will rate your pain at a 12. It’s not the level of pain the patient is rating. It’s the relentlessness of the pain.

The first step for a doctor to understand and treat a fibro patient is to understand the pain. The only way they can understand the pain (since so many doctors are incredibly healthy) is for you to be able to express in clear terms what your pain is like. If they understand that you understand your own pain, they will listen better when you have a concern.

I hope it doesn’t happen so often anymore, but I had a near-fatal episode in 2002 when a doctor sent me home instead of investigating my complaints. He saw fibromyalgia in my records, his eyes glazed over, and he stopped listening, even when the nurses were all commenting on how terrible I looked. I had a massive pulmonary embolism and was going into heart failure. A week after he sent me home without proper tests, I was rushed to a different health care facility, and those doctors saved my life. In 2002 I was unable to express myself properly to make that doctor understand what I was experiencing was not normal. Almost 20 years later, I understand much better how to explain to doctors how I feel. When I’m in normal pain, I tell them yeah, it’s normal, I’m not worried about it. When I have a new incessant pain, I say, no this is not normal and explain why it’s not normal. It can take some persistence, and that means walking a fine line between standing up for yourself and being aggressive about getting care. As important as it is for them to listen to you, it’s equally important for you to listen to them. The best thing for your care is mutual respect.

Just FYI

So I have been working from home since March 2020, so doing things like vaccinations have to be purposeful. My employer requires both flu and COVID shots, which I’m good with, and the flu shot is free to employees – I don’t really want to get sick and I don’t want other people to get sick because of me. In addition, my doctor has been nagging me to get the shingles vaccine for the past maybe 5 years. I finally found out my insurance will pay for it, so I thought what the heck, I’ll go for it. This week on Monday, I got the second shingles vaccine. On Wednesday (yesterday) I did both the COVID booster and the flu shot.

Now I don’t know if it’s fibro related at all, but if you have a reaction to any vaccines, I’d strongly recommend spreading them out over time. Let’s just say, last night at about 4AM, every joint in my body said nope. And deserted me. I woke up with no joints. It’s very hard to bend without joints. Fever, fatigue, aches, all the usual symptoms I get with just the flu shot, times 100. Of course, I’m a wimp – I can own that. I know the pain I feel is exaggerated by my brain. I know I’m not ACTUALLY dying. Knowing that doesn’t make it easier to function, however. And besides, it’s always cathartic to fall into my dramatic swoon just before climbing back into bed under my fluffiest fluffy blankets. So I’m going to do my best, most dramatic swoon and cuddle up with my personal heaters – Lady the hi-temp Springer and two mildly mopey kit kats.

In short if they say, just get them both at once, and remember you need that second dose of Shingrex… beware… Give them the over-the-top-of-your-glasses look and just say, huh? come again?

Public Perceptions

As a middle-aged stereotypical woman, I watch true crime stuff. One of the shows I’ve been watching lately is American Monster. I like it because it focuses on the story of the people around the person who suddenly turns out to be a “monster” – very dramatic that title – and the impact of the victims, and not just the one in the morgue. On the whole, it’s trash TV; I won’t try to claim otherwise.

Just recently I saw an episode called “Stay with Me.” It’s about an active, beautiful, and in-love couple. The wife eventually gets someone to attack her husband in order to settle a custody battle after they’re no longer in love anymore. Lots of years for attempted murder and conspiracy, but the husband survives. That’s the short version.

The reason this episode stands out to me is because the narrator points out that the wife, after a few blissful years of marriage has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, “a condition marked by widespread muscle pain and chronic fatigue.” Their world is turned upside down. There is no treatment, he notes, other than rest and reducing stress.

Fibromyalgia is not the focus of this episode. However, after that description, we find out that the wife, who is a technical writer, cannot continue to work. She doesn’t have enough energy to get up and work. We have all been there, right? Fortunately, she had a husband with a good job who could support them both when she stopped working, right? We haven’t all been there, have we?

After the couple had a child, things sort of fall apart. She believes the baby also has a health condition like hers, which is not substantiated by a pediatrician, and the couple starts to fight about whether or not the baby should be treated, among other things. It’s never just one thing, right? You know the rest of the story.

A few thoughts because this episode bothered me a bit:

  1. The description of fibromyalgia is so off. It’s good that they didn’t describe it as a so-called condition, but it’s very easy to hear “widespread muscle aches and chronic fatigue” and say, yeah so? It’s so much more, but since it’s not the focus of the episode, what else could they say? I see similar descriptions on commercials (when I’m not quick enough to skip them) that are touting pills for fibro. It’s superficial and harmful. There are people who will scoff when they hear the diagnosis, and there are people who will hear the description and jump to the conclusion that they have fibromyalgia. Harmful either way.
  2. The wife, who started out fit and trim before the diagnosis, stayed fit and trim throughout the rest of the drama. There was no fibro-50 for her. I wonder about her diagnosis. Not everyone who gets fibromyalgia gains weight, but it is dominant.
  3. More importantly, if she had not been given this diagnosis, would she have reacted to her symptoms as much as she did? There are a lot of us out there with fibromyalgia who do not quit their jobs and who do get out of bed every day even cloaked in morning brainfog. I sometimes wonder about getting a diagnosis. It helped me because I realized I could still do what I wanted to do, that I wasn’t actually hurting myself when things hurt. But it seems to have been the opposite for this person.
  4. There was no discussion about mental illness at all, either before the event or during the trial. Depression is (I think) almost inevitable. If she was focused on her child possibly having the same thing she did, was she missing signs that she needed mental health treatment? Was her focus on her child’s health a sign in itself? We don’t know whether a physician talked with her about anything related to mental health, but I would argue it should be part of any treatment plan at the very least to monitor for depression. I’m not saying fibro is going to make you talk someone into shooting a high powered weapon at your soon-to-be-ex husband. There was obviously so much more going on in this situation. Is it possible she had a mental health condition that was mistaken for fibromyalgia and then exacerbated by the stress of having a child?

I have no major insights here. It matters, though, how fibromyalgia is described in mainstream media. No, I’m not going to start a campaign about how fibro should be talked about or described, but I will point it out when it bothers me.

Summer’s Over

This blog has gotten a little more personal than I intended it to be when I started it. Part of the reason is because I have not been finding the research articles and poring over them like I did at the start. In fact, I’ve done very little reading lately. Another part of the reason is because it feels like every ounce of energy I have is spent on work. That’s both physical and mental/emotional energy. It has helped so much to commute only on occasion, but by the end of the day, I’m done. And if there’s something fibromyalgia people know is when they’re done.

At the same time, I have been self-destructive this summer. I have not been taking care of myself. I certainly haven’t been taking the extra care that’s necessary to function with fibro. Instead of exercise and stretching, I go in the yard (a perennial garden, no grass) and work, including heavy lifting and lots of bending and kneeling. My back and knees are worse than they’ve ever been. I’m not eating regularly – not three times a day for sure, oftentimes only once, and usually not well-rounded meals. Evenings include a glass (or two) of wine. My body does not like sugar, but I like wine (and margaritas).

I think there are a lot of reasons I have not been kind to myself. I’ve had some emotional impacts this last year, beyond the way COVID sort rampaged through the world, and it has impacted my self-perception, self-worth, self-esteem. I’m having a hard time even just caring that I’m not taking care of myself. If I’m honest with myself, it’s a slo-mo suicide. I’m aware of the drama of a statement like that, and I’m not intentionally trying to shock. I’m trying to be honest with myself and to remind myself of all the reasons I should care about myself and my life, as well as all the people around me who love me. And there are a lot of reasons.

Mostly, this summer has felt insurmountable. The things I want to do aren’t done. And there’s so much I want to do, but when the time comes that I can carve out a little time for myself, it gets taken away, either by the needs of other people, by work, by pain and fatigue, by brain fog, or very often by an overwhelming “what’s the point?” If I do X, I know the consequences. It’s been hard to choose life knowing that tomorrow I’ll regret it. In addition, my world outlook has changed so dramatically, I can’t comprehend the optimistic lens I used to look at the world through. My sense of a power to change even my little corner of the world is pretty much gone.

It’s been a bad summer physically too. My back is constantly in pain making just walking difficult. Pain is constantly shooting down my legs, whether I’m up and moving or sitting and working. I can’t completely straighten my left leg. It takes several minutes when I get up from working at my desk to walk normally. The joints in my fingers are swollen and painful every day. The pointer finger on my left hand is numb. I know I have to see a doctor and ask for a referral to a rheum doctor. I made an appointment for a yearly checkup, but I don’t want to go.

I’m very aware of the depression symptoms I’m manifesting. I’m very aware that I have to return to counseling. I also know that I have made the conscious decision to not do the things I need to do to maintain my physical and mental health. I’m calling myself out. Life is all about choices. I’ve been deliberately making bad choices. Summer’s over. I need to change seasons too.

Adding Pain to Reduce Pain?

The other day I came across a Try Guys YouTube video where Zach Kornfeld (@korndiddy, apparently) tries out products that have been developed for people with chronic pain, things like a “bed of nails” (Zach describes using it as a peaceful pain), and home cupping products, home TENS units, etc. It got me thinking about the need to relieve pain.

Some of the products reminded me of when I was a kid and had a huge headache. To make the headache “go away,” I wanted to thump my head against a wall. Not hard. No brain damage. I realized that was pretty counterproductive and didn’t do it. The point is, if you have pain, creating a more intense pain to counter the original pain is tempting. Is that where self-harm comes from? People are hurting inside, and that external pain they inflict on themselves gives them relief from their inner turmoil? I’m having a little bit of a hard time seeing how some of these products are doing more than self-harm.

There were some products that helped to stretch muscles or massages, which seem more productive. One guest on the show brought a large bag of what she called her “little angels” – products to help with chronic pain. Included were a pair of mirror glasses, which allow people to lay flat, look forward, and see downward so they can watch TV without putting their neck in an awkward position. Useful – my dad broke his back and spent months in bed with a pair of mirror glasses to read and watch TV while he mended. Most of the products, however, didn’t seem worth the money or – frankly – the hope. The guest with the bag of toys suffers from trigeminal neuralgia, which a friend of mine was dealing with for some time. It’s a condition where essentially the nerves in your jaw connecting to your head get all bundled up and twisted. The pain can be unbearable. My friend has told me about several people in his support group who have committed suicide with this condition. He was lucky – he was able to have surgery to actually cure the pain. But I wonder when someone with that kind of pain orders a product and gives in to hope, does it make it worse?

Bottom line, none of these toys are cures. None will stop the pain. They may relieve the pain; they won’t cure the pain. The cynic in me says these are products put out there to take advantage of people with chronic pain, and since a lot of people with chronic pain are on disability and not necessary financially fluid, that’s a shame. These things are not inexpensive. At the same time, when I wrestle my cynic aside, I am a strong believer in the placebo effect. People can feel better when they convince themselves they feel better, just like they can convince themselves they don’t feel well. If putting a home TENS unit on your back gives you relief, there’s nothing wrong with that.

And then I look at the bottle of naproxen slowly going out of date on my bedside table. I have it there for one specific pain I get in my side, right about where my ovaries are (TMI, sorry). It’s the one pain that naproxen helps with every time. However, I don’t take it immediately. I wait for a few days. If that pain doesn’t go away in a few days, it won’t go away for a few weeks, it disrupts my sleep, and I take the pill. When I find something that helps, I have to be careful not to overuse it. Ibuprofen used to help – now it hurts me. More than anything, however, is I’ve learned to live with it. I’ve stopped hoping. That’s not a negative thing. I look out my window at the garden I’m putting together with baby steps, at my work and all the things I’ve done and will do. I’m generally happy and satisfied with my life. The hope was dragging me down. I’m not going to spend money on things that might help me for a few minutes. The most productive pain reduction for me has been to make choices about how to live, to accept the things I can’t do and to push myself to do the things I can even when they hurt. I don’t succeed all the time. I’ve been struggling, but none of the toys on Zach’s show will help more than that. Try Guys, btw, love them. They make me smile every time.

Dee Dee Darkly…

…is my alter ego.I actually write this blog with Dee Dee in my mind. That is why it’s deedeefibro.com. I’m actually a very shy, very private person. It’s sort of fashionable right now to identify as introvert, but true introverts are probably not the ones who say, excuse me, but I’m an introvert. It’s easier for me to put thoughts out to the world as Dee Dee Darkly than as me. I have a hard time putting myself out there, so I don’t. I put Dee Dee out there. Don’t worry, she doesn’t talk to me or tell me to do questionable things involving sharp objects. Alter ego, not demon.

I bring this up because I’m going to put myself out there. I’m going to ask you, if you read this blog and you appreciate the content to please like or follow. I’m trying to pull myself out of the funk I’ve been in and climb out of the rut where I’ve been nesting. It’s time. I’m almost 60 and I don’t plan to live forever. I have to say what I need to say before I fall and break a hip. It helps to think people may be looking for something, that people may want to hear what I have to say. I function best in the fear that I’m disappointing someone. If I do it just for me, I can put it off or find plenty of distractions that seem more important.

Please like or follow me.

You can also find me (and Dee Dee) on Good Reads. About a year ago I self-published a few Dee Dee stories, Dee Dee Darkly: Spontaneous Traveler and Erstwhile Sleuth. Available through Amazon (paperback or Kindle). Dee Dee is a writer and traveler – what I’ve always aspired to be. She doesn’t know it yet, but she has fibromyalgia. It’s okay – I’ll help her through it.