Fibromyalgia and Me

I have Fibromyalgia. Well, technically, I probably have Fibromyalgia. According to my doctor there is no single test that can tell you that you definitely do or don’t have Fibromyalgia. It’s all about looking at the “constellation of symptoms” and ruling out other possibilities. It boils down to me “most likely” having Fibromyalgia. There is no cure.

It’s good to have a label, I think. It’s useful to have a named disorder to explain why you’ve had more days off sick than the average person. Although having a label doesn’t really change anything in terms of how I am feeling.

I also have disk degeneration in my lower back.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a neurological condition where our bodies, in essence, overreact to things. This causes pain, fatigue, digestive issues, anxiety etc.

Here’s a quote from a website called VeryWell which I think explains it well:

Imagine you’re planning a party and expecting about 20 guests. Three or four friends told you they’d come early to help you out. But they don’t show, and instead of 20 guests, you get 100. You’re overwhelmed.

That’s what’s happening with pain signals in those of us with this condition.

The cells send too many pain messages (party guests), up to five times as many as in a healthy person. That can turn simple things like mild pressure or even an itch into pain.

When those pain signals reach the brain, they’re processed by something called serotonin. However, we don’t have enough serotonin (the friends who didn’t show up to help), leaving the brain overwhelmed.

This is why we have pain in tissues that show no sign of damage. It’s not imagined pain; it’s misinterpreted sensation that the nerves and brain turn into actual pain.

Other substances in the patient’s brain amplify a host of other signals—essentially, “turning up the volume” of everything. That can include light, noise, and odor on top of pain, and it lead to sensory overload. This can lead to confusion, fear, anxiety, and panic attacks.

From: https://www.verywell.com/a-simple-explanation-of-fibromyalgia-716142

It seems that Fibromyalgia can be triggered by a physical injury. I can only assume that when I first hurt my back 3 1/2 years ago, with the hideous sciatic pain, it sent my nerve system into meltdown. All because of a cold, where my coughing made my back twinge.

How does it affect me?

  • I am in pain all the time. The severity and location varies. My legs hurt. My left leg in particular hurts all the time. I get pain in my feet, knees, calves, thigh, and hips. My arms hurt. I get pain in my hands, lower arms, upper arms and shoulders. My neck hurts. My head hurts. I can usually deal with the pain around my body, although of course it gets me down and makes physical activity difficult. It’s when it is in my neck and head that I am at my worst. It generally turns into a migraine and I am unable to function. I also have pain in my back that I put down to the disk degeneration.
  • I am nearly always tired. I rarely if ever wake up in the morning feeling refreshed. Generally I don’t sleep through the night. I wake up repeatedly and struggle to get back to sleep. I go to bed around 9pm each night because by then I am physically exhausted. Since I’ve started taking some new meds I have occasionally slept through the night which is an improvement, but I still wake up tired. As my family will tell you, I’ve always been grumpy and irritable when tired, so imagine what I’m like when I am almost always tired
  • I am anxious. I have always been a bit of a worrier. In recent years this has become worse and I get more physical symptoms of the anxiety like palpitations.
  • I have digestive issues. I have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) which is affected by both physical and emotional stress.
  • I have issues with smells and light. I can feel unwell due to having to deal with bright light or strong smells.

Why am I telling you this?

I’m telling you because I’ve been having a flare for the last couple of weeks, and I haven’t been able to find the motivation to blog. I usually do the weekly photo challenge, but I couldn’t find the right photos, and the weather wasn’t helping. I’ve just been surviving. Even though I’ve been in pain for the last 3 1/2 years, I always used to hope that one day it would stop and I’d be fixed. But now I need to adjust to the fact that this is me now. This is me for the rest of my life. I need to learn my new limits and avoid pushing myself too far. I need to accept that this is how things are, and make the best of it.

Remember that there are many other ‘invisible’ illnesses like Fibromyalgia. People who look fine may not be. Whether it’s physical or mental illness (or both), everyone has their own burden to carry.

Let us be kind. That’s all. Just be kind.

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Droplets on Catkins

Admittedly these may not be the obvious things that spring to mind for most people when thinking about the topic of ‘a good match’, but as I glanced through recent photos these leapt out at me.

At this time of year, if there is sunshine after the rain, there’s a good chance of capturing some beautiful droplets as they rest on the Willow catkins in my garden. They look so good together. Fluffy white catkins, and sparkling jewelled droplets. The droplets seem to defy gravity. Perhaps the hairs on the catkins help them stay put.

I think they are a very good match 🙂

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: a good match

Springtime

Spring is a lovely time of year. It’s still cold and it may seem that there’s not much to see, but if you look hard you can find lots of lovely signs of hope. Sometimes it can feel like it has been winter forever, but against all the odds, the spring comes again. Flowers start to show themselves even though temperatures still dip quite low, and everything begins again. In the last few weeks the Snowdrops and Crocuses have been appearing, as well as Celandines and Daisies. And the first few Daffodils too. It makes me so happy to see them emerging – little splashes of colour and hope, lighting up my world.

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Dainty Snowdrop covered with raindrops
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Snowdrop neighbours
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Golden Crocus seems to glow
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Delicate lilac Crocus with beautifully contrasting stamens
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Bright orange stigma and stamens
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Celandine like a drop of sunshine
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Humble Daisy
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Elegant Daffodil

This post was inspired by springtime and by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Against the Odds.

Solitude

Solitude is something I crave at times. I don’t enjoy crowds and noise. I don’t enjoy having to make small talk. Some days I just don’t want to be around people at all! So when I thought about solitude the first things I thought of were quiet walks in the countryside, or sitting quietly crocheting or reading. But how to sum that up in a photo?

Then my mind jumped to Solitary Bees … who unlike Bumblebees and Honeybees, live alone, in solitude, rather that in a big hive. My kind of bees, I guess 🙂

Here’s some photos I’ve taken of Solitary Bees.

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude.

Stardust Cardigan

 

I’ve recently finished a crochet project, so I thought I’d share it here.

This is where it all began on 29th December when I started to crochet the Kamila Fitted Cardigan with my lovely new Scheepjes Stardust yarn that my Mum gave me for Christmas.

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After 17 days I’d finished the body. This pattern is great as there are no seams to sew! I started at the neck and then crocheted downwards all round the cardigan.

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At 23 days, I’d added buttons and one sleeve. The sleeves are continued on from where I left off in the previous picture – just picking up the stitches around, rather than needing to sew anything together.

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Then on Wednesday evening this week, 27 days after I started, I got to the end of the 2nd sleeve! This may be a record for me – a project finished in under a month … and actually finished, rather then me getting distracted by something new!

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I’m feeling rather proud and I love the yarn so much!

Next thing I’m starting (although there are several things I should finish first) is a Butterfly Shawl using a different Scheepjes Stardust yarn which has colour changes through it. I’ll tell you more about that when there’s something to see!

If you’re interested in my crochet, or what equipment I used, there are some pages on my blog here.

 

Grace in Petals

I’m looking forward to spring and the arrival of insects and flowers. In the meantime I’m remembering the summer and some beautiful graceful flowers I saw down in Compton Acres in Dorset.

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful

Transformed by Light

A change in the light can transform the world.

Simple windows wouldn’t be so interesting without the glow of the sunset reflected in them.

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A distant Red Kite wouldn’t make much of a photo but silhouetted against a golden sky, maybe the photo is worth saving.

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The glow of sunshine in the forest highlights every detail of a fern.

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Or an ordinary insect becomes something magical.

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Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Ambience.

I like to give things names …

I like to find the names of things. I’m not usually satisfied to title a photo ‘blue flower’ or ‘some kind of insect’. I like names. Sometimes it takes me ages to figure out what something is called, scouring various websites trying to match my plant or creature to one described.

Here are some of the things I’ve had to find names for over the last year. Most of them are things that were new to me this year, or if I’d seem them before I hadn’t found out what they were called. It’s always surprising that even though I generally stick to visiting the same areas again and again, I can still find something new!

By the way if you think any of my IDs are incorrect, please let me know – I’m always learning 🙂

Turkeytail Fungus (Trametes versicolor)
Turkeytail Fungus (Trametes versicolor)
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Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea)
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Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)
Ruby Tiger moth caterpillar
Ruby Tiger moth caterpillar
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Black Darter dragonfly (female)
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Black Darter dragonfly (male)
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Emerald Damselfly (male)
Sand Wasp
Sand Wasp
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Pale Toadflax (Linaria repens)
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
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Silver Y Moth (brown colour form) – Autographa gamma
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Buff Footman Moth

 

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Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata)
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Bumblebee-mimicking Hoverfly (Volucella bombylans)
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Lacewing
Six-Spot Burnet Moth caterpillar
Six-Spot Burnet Moth caterpillar

 

4-spotted Chaser
4-spotted Chaser dragonfly
Green Hairstreak butterfly - Callophrys rubi
Green Hairstreak butterfly – Callophrys rubi
Green Tiger Beetle
Green Tiger Beetle
Bogbean
Bogbean
Thistle Tortoise Beetle - Cassida rubiginosa
Thistle Tortoise Beetle – Cassida rubiginosa
Yellow Ophion
Yellow Ophion

If you find yourself trying to identify a plant or creature, here are some really useful websites to help you. These are only relevant if you’re in the UK. I’m sure there are equivalent websites elsewhere though.

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Names. I went a little off topic as it said:

This week, share a photo that includes a name… Whatever you choose, make sure we can read the name!

No actual names visible in my photos I’m afraid, but they do have names 🙂

2016 Top 10

I thought I’d see what the usual WordPress Year in Review said about what went on here in 2016 … but there isn’t one this year for some reason. So instead I looked up my stats myself and here are my top 10 posts from the year. Hope you like seeing the featured photos from the posts again.

All of the photos are of wonderful natural areas, creatures and flowers, which can be seen year after year as the seasons continue to roll. They have such resilience, and I look forward to spotting the damsels, dragons, spring flowers, butterflies and ferns as 2017 unfurls.

If you want to read a post, just click the title (clicking the photo will let you see a larger version of the photo).

I think my personal favourite is number 5 when I witnessed brand new damselflies emerging by my garden pond 🙂 Feel free to let me know your favourite if you like.

  1. The Simpler the Better
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  2. Seeing the Future in a Flowering Currant
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  3. Spring will come
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  4. Weekly Photo Challenge: Time
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  5. Privilege
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  6. Light and Gentle
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  7. Tasty Treats?
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  8. Fluctuating State of Mind
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  9. Pure Joy
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  10. Unfurling
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Thank you for reading during 2016 🙂 Happy New Year! May 2017 be a peaceful, happy and hopeful year for you and yours.

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Inspired by the turning of the year and by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Resilient.

Frosty Morning

It was a frosty morning at my parents’ house this morning so I went out in the garden to see what I could see. My favourite thing was the combination of frozen and melting droplets on the grass as the sun warmed everything up. So pretty 🙂

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Season’s Blessings

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields.

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And may the blessing of the earth be on you,
soft under your feet as you pass along the roads,
soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day;

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May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day.
May songbirds serenade you every step along the way.
May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that’s always blue.
And may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.

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May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.

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May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.

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May you have warm words on a cold evening,
A full moon on a dark night,
And the road downhill all the way to your door.

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May brooks and trees and singing hills
Join in the chorus, too.
And every gentle wind that blows
Send happiness to you.

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Words from various Irish blessings found around the internet. Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

Then and now

I held you in my arms
exhausted but triumphant
a tiny baby
grown in me
each feature
perfectly formed
the overwhelming wonder
the rush of protective love
the fearful anticipation
what now?

Now looking up
as you tower over me
how did those years pass so fast?
I can no longer rock you in my arms
I cannot sing you lullabies
(so embarrassing)
but my love is as fierce as ever
and you are just as precious
and my only wish
is for your happiness
for your life to be full and content
as you step out
control your destiny
choose your direction
and I will be there
in the background
cheering you on
and lifting you up
with every breath

Happy 18th Birthday to my son x