Happy New Year! Happy New Decade?

As I anxiously await the turn of a new year (this one has been rough) I started to think about my year in review…. and it occured to me that we will also be turning over a whole new decade. That got me thinking about all the things that I have experienced in this past decade. Wowzer!

So, for a little bit of amusement and some reflection before moving forward….let’s review.

DECADE IN REVIEW

2000 – Moved out of my parent’s place, Bought my first car, Became a full time step-Mom, Became a stay-at-home Mom, Got pregnant, Got married, Moved out of hickville

2001 – Gave birth to my son, gallbladder surgery, separated from husband for 3 months, Moved, September 11th, Baby’s 1st Christmas

2002 – Moved, Conceived my daughter on my 23rd birthday, Moved

2003 – Gave birth to my baby girl, bought my first home – finally, Moved out of ghetto

2004 – Pickle had first seizure, Breast reduction (DD –> C),

2005 – Admitted to hospital for a week for a high fever, 5 year anniversary/vacation alone, Adopted my Pickle

2006 – Mom’s A-Fib, Went back to college, Marriage Counseling, The 27th Birthday, Husband doesn’t come home, Back to the workforce, Filed for divorce, Husband arrested for domestic violence, Separation,  best friend’s son killed, took a chance – accepted date w. Jer.

2007 – Divorce final, Dad’s Parkinson’s diagnosis, Jer proposes on 1 yr anniversary of day we met

2008 – Relearning happy, Wedding Planning, The Bachelor/Bachelorette Party, Married, First trip to California for honeymoon – Lake Tahoe, Pickle admitted to Rainbow Babies for week.

2009 IN REVIEW

January – Inaguration of our first African-American President, Barack Obama.

February – Jedi turns 8, Surgery to remove endometriosis and  tumor from left ovary -benign, Jer and I moved into OUR new home

March – Pickle turns 13 – I am now the mother of a teenage boy.

April – Diva turns 6/Jer turns 31 (same birthday), Jedi learns to ride his bike – no training wheels!

May – Surgery to remove left ovary after another tumor is found -benign!

June – Almost losing my father on Father’s Day.

July – Dad back to hospital after 4th of July, Dad’s 55th Birthday, First visit to Chicago for college graduation – Bachelors in Legal Studies. Turn 30.

August – Pickle started Middle School, left law firm where I had been for two years, met a wonderful legal mentor, celebrated my 1 year anniversary

September – Hired in by legal mentor, Trip to Kentucky for Labor Day weekend

October – Chest lumpectomy – BENIGN!, Court w. ex, Mom’s cancer scare

November – Took my daughter to her first concert – Miley Cyrus, Mom’s surrgery, Dad back to ICU, Court w. EX, 1st Thanksgiving in our new home

December – Dad back to hospital, Fibromyalgia diagnosis, 1st Christmas in our new home.

Do you realize that I got married, became the mother of three children, got divorced and remarried in the past 10 years? Wow!

I’ve learned sooooo, so much from all of this. I don’t even know where to begin. So much has been captured here, forever. Crazy, thankful for that.

The most important things I’ve learned all deal with God’s greatest gift: love.

I’ve learned that is that you have to love yourself before anyone else can. Children truly are the best teachers of your capacity to love and that love, true love truly is patient, it is kind, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. I get that to my core.

With all this behind, whats coming has got to be a more smooth ride. I predict that my 30s are going to be the best years of my life. Here’s hoping anyway. And if not, the lessons I’ve learned now will only strengthen me for what’s to come.

Happy New Year!

Finding Fibro : Emerging Evidence Suggests that the Pain in Fibromyalgia is Real (-gasp!-)

I just felt compelled to share this because when I read it I finally felt like someone else “got it”. I know exactly how discourgaing and sick and tired I am of feeling like a “head case”. Feeling like a “head case” is more likely what delayed me REALLY getting to the bottom of what was wrong with me than I can fault any doctor for. I was only recently officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia, but have been affected by it for years. I would guesstimate since I was a teenager. Many people can tell you, it’s not the kind of diagnosis that is easily handed out or one you like to openly share. I have become so accustomed to  friends, teachers, co-workers, lovers and family…looking at me like I am some pathetic, whiny piece of poo that I learned to shut my trap about it long ago. Not only that, but I have always been the kind of person who believes there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that my time is better spent finding it, then sulking in the dark. My husband is the only person who even comes close to knowing the extent of what I’m dealing with, and even he could tell you, I don’t like to talk about it. But, it’s nice to have someone there saying “We’re in this together.”

While, I’m still researching and gathering information and making decisions about treatment options, I can tell you that it is very much real and it is very much painful and that I literally feel these women’s pain.

by Kevin Fontaine, Ph.D.

Pam, a short, pleasing looking woman in her early 50’s, has days when her body hurts so much that just arising from bed and going to the bathroom is an act of physical courage.  “Some days are awful.  Everything hurts.  It always hurts but some days I cannot do anything at all.”

She is not alone.  About 6 million Americans, the vast majority, about 90%, women, suffer from this chronic condition of unknown origin and with no cure.  Its symptoms, mentioned as far back as the Old Testament, were first thought to be the result of inflammation of muscle or connective tissue.  Over the years it has been variously referred to as chronic rheumatism, tension myalgia, or psychogenic tension.  Because it produces pain (algia) in the body’s fibrous (fibro) ligaments and tendons and in the muscles (my), it was labeled fibromyalgia (FM) in 1976. 

Generalized pain, aches, and stiffness are what characterize FM, but that’s not the full extent of the malady.  Most people with FM also experience almost constant fatigue that can make just walking to the mailbox equivalent to running the Boston Marathon.  This, in conjunction with its other common, yet diverse symptoms including, but not limited to, irritable bowel syndrome, trouble concentrating (called “fibro fog”), poor sleep, chronic low back pain, depression, anxiety, makes FM one of the most disabling and least understood illnesses. 

Despite the comprehensiveness of “dis-ease” experienced by people with FM, it has, by and large, been viewed skeptically by the medical community.  For in the clinic, FM cannot be detected or diagnosed by an objective test – there is no laboratory test to confirm its presence.  As such, physicians, depending on their temperament, tolerance, and training can sometimes view persons presenting with this constellation of symptoms as crazy, lazy, or worse.  It is common for persons with FM to spend years (one study says, on average, 7 years) going from physician to physician until they find one who finally makes the diagnosis – the glue that holds together the range of symptoms that plague their existence.

In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology developed diagnostic criteria for FM.  They decided that FM is diagnosed by poking flesh.  If the person reports having had widespread pain on the left and right and top and bottom of their body for at least three months you are almost there.  However, you then, to “confirm it”; apply about 3kg of pressure (until your fingernail blanches) on 18 so-called tender points, insertion points where tendon attaches to muscle, and if the patient gives a definitive “Ouch, that hurts” to at least 11 of the 18 you can diagnose FM.   

Imagine; modern medicine with its futuristic application of technology, with gadgets that can look inside the heart or the lungs or the colon, with surgeries where donor  hearts and livers and kidneys can be implanted relying on someone to say “Ouch” 11 times to make a diagnosis.  This is the crux of it, the reason more than a handful of physicians have such disdain for FM and its sufferers: they don’t know how to see it, how to measure it or how to effectively treat it.  In short, FM is a mystery many physicians would rather not contemplate.

Professor Daniel Clauw, Executive Director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan, thinks that pressing tender points to diagnose FM is not only ridiculous but counterproductive and disrespectful to patients. “There is nothing magical about pressing 18 stupid areas of the body.”  He believes that tender points are often sensitive as a response to the psychological distress of having FM, not a means to actually diagnose it.  He contends that, in fact, there is ample evidence that FM is real, not merely the subjective musings of the patient.  “Whether it’s using functional imaging, such as functional MRI, evoked potentials, experimental pain testing, sensory testing – there is a tremendous amount of evidence suggesting that the pain in Fibromyalgia is very real and that it can be seen objectively.  Essentially with the person with Fibromyalgia there is an increase in the volume setting in the pain processing such that they don’t have damage or inflammation in the muscles or joints or tissues in order to experience pain.  It’s just that their volume control is turned up too loud.”

Among practicing physicians, however, the consensus still appears to be that FM is not a disease in the way that, for example, diabetes or arthritis are.  This de-legitimization goes a long way toward explaining why many people with FM develop a penetrating aversion toward medicine and its practitioners. 

As one particularly blunt woman from Texas said during a meeting of FM sufferers, “I’ve been treated like crap by doctors, like I’m some kind of nut because I have this.  It’s like if they can’t figure out what’s wrong with you they have to label you as mental.  It’s very discouraging”

Clauw believes, or at least hopes, that physician’s attitudes toward FM will change as genetic studies begin to identify people with polymorphisms that might affect sensory processing and as new treatments are developed that help “turn down” the ramped-up pain processing volume control, “As treatments have been developed that work fibromyalgia is being more widely accepted as a legitimate, scientifically credible disease.”  In other words, FM might become increasingly viewed as legitimate because physicians are becoming better able to do something definitive to attenuate the suffering. 

For many, like the lady from Texas, however, the damage might be irreversible.  Having been thought of as mentally defective or a malingerer may forever sour her from seeking medical therapy and, as such, might compromise her ability to take advantage of improved treatments for FM that come down the pike.    

Open Letter from Jesus regarding Christmas

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are
taking My name out of the season.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily
understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your
own.

I don’t care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth,
just
GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in
which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of
a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your
own front lawn If all My followers did that there wouldn’t be any need for
such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all
around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday
tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can
remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish:

I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in
relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one,
look up John 15: 1 – 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my
wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday
is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from
home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell
Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don’t have to know them
personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the
cards his staff sent out this year, why don’t you write and tell him
that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up… It
will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and
they don’t need or spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and
why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them
that I love them.

5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own
life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you
don’t know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it
could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the
holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm
smile and a kind word. Even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a “Merry
Christmas” that doesn’t keep you from wishing them one.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary–
especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never
heard My name.

9. Here’s a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your
town who not only will have no “Christmas” tree, but neither will they have
any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them, buy some food and a
few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which
believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and
loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret
that you wouldn’t do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you
are one of mine.

Don’t forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do
what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest. Check out the
list above and get to work; time is short. I’ll help you, but the ball is now
in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you
love and remember :

I LOVE YOU,

JESUS