Holiday Survival Kit in Your Purse

Have you ever been judged by the type of purse you are carrying? Kathy Eisman reveals just what our handbags reveal about our personality, inside and out in her book, How to Tell a Woman by Her Handbag. She suggests that the colors and styles of our handbags say more about our personality than most might first believe. For example, if are a woman that just carries a clutch with the basic essentials- phone, wallet, and keys- you are a minimalist with organization down to a science.

So this got me thinking, how do I go to all my holiday parties without my purse revealing, “ My feet hurt! I would really love a glass of wine, but if I do I’ll get sick- Oh, and I caked on the eye make-up to hide the fact that I’m really tired and in a lot of pain. Damn, is there somewhere comfy to sit down around here?” Through years of planning and of course many parties, I think I have finally figured it out.

Party Date Make your purse a pretty survival kit for the holidays:

Packing the perfect purse is an essential tool for managing chronic pain especially during the holidays. Temptation lies around every corner this time of year, whether it’s staying up into wee hours of the night, eating too many sweets, not getting enough exercise, or just extra holiday stress; all of it can make us grumpy, tired, and in more pain than normal. So, when you do go out to paint the town red, pack your survival kit in your purse!

Plan your survival kit depending on the length of the event and the location.
First place aside the your basics:

The Basics:
• Phone
• ID
• Insurance card(s) (health, car, etc…)
• Cash
• ATM and/or Credit Cards
• Keys
• Lip care (Some medications can dry out your lips. Carry your favorite chap stick, gloss, or lipstick with you to keep your smile looking it’s best!)
• Mint strips (Medications can give you dry mouth. Try either mint strips from Listerine or small Altoids for relief. Plus, their small size makes them the perfect purse accessory.)

As long as I can rest my feet, get some water, and find a little nosh within my diet, the above basic list can take me to any holiday party, and it fits perfectly inside any fashionable wristlet.

The Basic Plus:

Don’t know what to expect from the party? How are you getting there? Will food be served that is on your diet? How late will you be out? Too many unanswered questions? Then, carry a bigger purse for your party survival kit.

• The Basics (see the list above)
• Water bottle
• Snacks- either a granola bar, some nuts, or dried fruit
• Paper and a pen

It’s amazing what a little food and water can do to keep the party going! By stabilizing your blood sugar, or helping your stomach with your medication, a lil’ bit of food can make a huge difference. I bet you are wondering why the paper and a pen? Besides getting cute guys numbers, just kidding (not really) I use it to write notes to my friends such as, “I’m tired, I’m going to catch a cab home. See ya! Love Amy.” Or just “Can we go soon?” In a big, loud party a simple note works wonders instead of trying to yell into your friend’s ear.

Other things to carry:

• A scarf or a wrap- Tend to get hot/cold a lot? Stay comfortable with an extra layer.
• Ear plugs- A party can sometimes be too loud. Need a break from the noise, but you don’t want to leave yet? Try on a lovely set of earplugs to step away from the main action. The really cool thing is that no one will notice. Everyone will just think you took a look around, or sat down for a bit.
• Anti-bacterial lotion (Purell)- Holiday season= flu season! Keep yourself sanitized.
• Hand Lotion- Medications and cold weather can make your hands dry. Help keep them soft and comfortable.

Arm yourself with your own holiday survival kit, and you will always be the life of the party!

Fun blogs to read:
www.girl.com.au
chick lit is not dead

Chronic Pain: High Wire Act

In the early morning, as the dew is still wet on my window, I catch slight glimpses of what can only be images of my past life. I am on a high wire inside a big brightly colored red and yellow striped tent struggling to find my balance. Light-headed from the lack of oxygen, my arms fully stretched out, and the view of the dirt floor many feet below me, this early morning dream leads me to believe that even the slightest move will send me falling to my death. Each journey out across that tightrope should be easier; however, every walk is different, every crossing new, and each path comes with it’s own challenges.

Living with chronic pain is like walking that high wire. You must find your own balance to make it through your day. The Flying Wallendas had courage every time they journeyed across their high wire. Just like them, living with chronic pain is a performance art of unfathomable courage and skill. For when I hurt, I have to pick myself up and try all over again, never showing pain or fear. For just when you think your life is under control, something happens to throw you off. It always does. The audience gasps in amazement. You can hear them almost whisper in your ear, “You can do it, just one more step”. While others are just there to watch you fall. The question is who are you going to listen to as you make your journey across your own tightrope. Even without all the glitz and glamour inside that big red and yellow striped tent, we are walking that same high wire on a tight balance of survival.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

I love to be in the heart of the action. I love the rush, the thrill, the feeling of your heart beating out of your chest as you are about to reach your goal. With my Fibro, I now have to watch on the sidelines. I can’t run at the head of the pack, for when I do, my body only stays there until it gives out, and I end up paying for my over exertion. You pay to play. And, my Fibro makes me pay a lot. It’s taken me years to figure out the checks and balance system of this syndrome, and I am still redoing equation as I go.

That’s the most confusing thing about Fibromyalgia, how to balance your life with your disease. Because they are not the same yet they do affect one another. As soon as you figure one thing out, another changes on you.
For comparison, let’s take a healthy individual in their early 30s; we’ll call her Jane. She eats right, exercises, and gets plenty of sleep, just like me. On the outside we look the same, except I have the added bonus of living life with Fibromyalgia. Which in simple terms means that I am always in pain. I have to continually work on gaining control of my body. Jane and I might look the same on the outside, but we are worlds apart on the inside.

If Jane slips on her diet, she might gain a few pounds. No doubt the same thing will happen to me if I ride the same slippery slope; however, my diet diversions come with extra perks, which are not polite to speak about in public. If I followed the rules and was a good girl, I would be eating a very restricted diet, saying goodbye to some of my favorite vices like sugar and caffeine. In fact, most fibromites avoid many of the delectable delicacies that life has to offer, sticking to an alcohol, sugar, and gluten free diet. Life is too short. I take what I can get in small doses. I don’t know how I would eat gumbo without cornbread. It just wouldn’t be civil.

When Jane falls behind on her excise program, she might lose a little of her muscle tone, or her jeans might be a lil’ tighter. It takes her a few days to get back in line. If I fall behind, I feel it everywhere, not just in my jeans. My joints hurt, my bones ache, and it takes every ounce of effort I have just to get out of bed. To make it worse, my bowels get out of whack, and I have trouble sleeping. The longer I leave my dancing shoes off, the harder it is to put them back on; nonetheless, all the more reason I should.

I try to get a full 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Yet when I wake up in the morning, I might as well just have taken a two-hour nap. With Fibromyalgia, your body never goes into full REM sleep mode. Your muscles might continually twitch throughout the night, leaving you tired and sore in the morning. ‘Jane’ can go out with her girl friends dancing all night, get three hours of sleep, and then, maybe she might just feel the same way I do on a normal Monday morning.

Having said all that, this is not a tale of woe. This is not an explanation of how ‘Jane’s’ life is easier than mine.
This is a story of triumph over obstacles. Remember my checks and balance system?
Check one, a normal gal, ‘Jane’ can eat a normal diet.
Check two, ‘Jane’s’ exercise program is easy to develop and maintain, compared to a person diagnosed with Fibro. Check three, ‘Jane’ can maintain REM sleep patterns in order to feel rested after a full night of sleep.

But how does the balance side of the equation come into play? My negative checks far out way the positive side of the calculation. Sure on the outside ‘Jane’ and I look alike. Two healthy looking young women, who eat well, get 6-8 hours of sleep, and exercise regularly. But why with all my constant pain am I better off than her? That’s right, read it again! I said with all my constant pain, I am better off than her.

I have learned to look at life with a different set of eyes. I think the saying goes, “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.” Yes, I am tired all the time. Yes, I hurt all the time. Yes, I don’t get to eat or drink just anything that I want in the world. And yes, my exercise program is not easy to keep up or forgiving. But with all these issues, I have learned to accept them, work around them, and dare I say it, almost enjoy them.

My value system now is keenly different than what it was before I was diagnosed with FM. I find that the littlest things do not bug me anymore, except when my pain is at its worst. You see, there are few days where I feel close to 100% well; days where my body does not hurt, my muscles do not ache, my mind is clear, my bones are strong, and my bowels are fully functioning. Of course those days are few and far between. Actually, I think I can count on one hand how many perfect, pain free days I have had in the past year alone. And on those days, those precious days, that is when I am truly alive.

Now, you must be wondering how do I make my lemonade from such sour lemons? Finding beauty in the smallest things is key. I love hearing live music, but the loud thumping bass and large crowds make my nerves stand on edge. That kind of made rock concerts out of the question. And mosh pits at a punk show, yeah right, ain’t gonna happen! So, my musical lovin’ brain and my body had a little heart to heart chat. Now at the performances I attend, I will either sit down, or stand in the back away from the bass and the crowds. If I really need to get my angry punk self on, I blare it from my truck in rush hour traffic! There’s nothing better to calm my nerves than Fumanchu singing King of The Road on the 101 at 8am! Over the past five years, I have discovered a new love for 20th century composers as well. I thought Beethoven had fire in his arsenal, then I heard Shostakovich, and my mind was blown away.

Before FM, I used go out at night to dance clubs. I was really never a drinker. My friends would go out to drink, and I would dance. I would like to feel the music through my body. Dance gave me that, and for a while Fibromyalia took that away. It was not until I found opera, ballet, and jazz, did I find that just seeing other forms of musical performance could help me feel the music without hurting.
Opera fills your entire body with emotion. The scenery fills your eyes with visions unlike your daily world. The sounds are so emotional that they help me escape the pain I feel. The opera itself transforms you into another world.
I loved all of these forms of art before my illness; now, I love them even more.

Thomas Moore said it best, “To the soul, there is hardly anything more healing than friendship.” My friends and family are now more important to me than ever before. They help keep me sane in the darkest hours. And they are there to help celebrate the best of times! Without them, I would not make it through many of life’s challenges. I don’t know if it being older, wiser, or the plain fact that with FM, I just don’t have time to mess around with any bull or drama, I now am very picky with my quality of friends. I might have fewer friends in numbers than I did before I was diagnosed with FM, but what I lack in quantity, they make up in quality!

And even when my life seems to have too many sour lemons to make any lemonade, I find sweet pleasures everywhere I turn. It doesn’t always have to be perfect to make me smile. The weather might be gloomy outside. I might be flipping a coin to try and decide to take 2 or 4mg of pain medication. My heating pad might as well of been unplugged for all the help it is giving my lower back. And yet, there is still something to smile about, if you know how where to look for the simple pleasures in life!

My simple pleasures: morning light on a dew drop, star lit nights, the smell of fresh rain, a nice cup of tea, a good book next to a fire on a cold night, my soft pillow, my bike on a twisty road, mixing yogurt w/fruit on the bottom, sharing good food with a friends, watching kids marvel at the fish feeding at the Cal Academy of Science, Tosca’s aria during Act II, and my list goes on…

What are some of your simple pleasures?

thanks to Sally W. Pruden for her beautiful lemon picture
See The National Pain Foundation’s Triumph of the Spirit Awards

Tips on how to get moving when you body says “NO”

Some days it just seems like the if the wind blows, I’ll hurt. I just want to stay in bed and shut out the world. Here’s the trick- DON”T! Keep that body moving! Do what ever it takes to stretch a little here or move a muscle there. Staying in bed can lead to your body tightening up too much and if you shut yourself out from the world, you can easily get depressed. Here are a few tricks on how to get just a few moments of exercise in on those really bad days:

– take a hot shower and do some simple stretches
– set a goal to get dressed and walk once around the block
or if it is a really bad day, go once around the house
– do 5-15 minutes of yoga after you get out of soaking in a hot bath
– practice controlled breathing exercises before you go to bed
( take slow big breathes in and let them out slowly,
concentrating on relaxing your body and mind)

Or, if all else fails, scream curse words at the top of your lungs! According to a journal by NeuroReport in their August 2009 issue, swearing will help reduce some levels of pain. I wonder if screaming will be accepted in my next yoga class?

Exercising with Fibro

I know what you are thinking, ” Exercising with Fibromyalgia? Are you nuts? I hurt all over. How on earth am I supposed to exercise?!” I know that is exactly how I have been feeling for the past 8 years of my life. Then one day I woke up and said, “Fibro will not win. I might have a chronic condition, but it does not have me!” That was step number one, making the mental choice to change my life for the positive.

Step number two is a little harder. It came when I physically tried doing something. My body does not respond the way it did before fibromyalgia was apart of my life. Some days I hurt too much to even get out of bed. And other days I feel good enough to go to work and out with friends in the evening. Therefore, the challenge is how to add exercise into my daily routine on my good days and my bad.

Now at this point, I’m sure you are asking why exercise at all, especially on the days where my pain is the worst. Here is why:

Exercise will:

* Help alleviate your pain naturally

* Increase your flexibility

* Strengthen your muscles and joints

* Strengthen your immune system

* Help you sleep better

* Help your circulatory system

* Decrease risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart attack and stroke

* Help you lose weight; which reduces stress on your joints

For more information on why exercise is important, please see this research study done by Dr.Rooks, published in Archives of Internal Medicine.

%d bloggers like this: