Sleep, sleep tips, hygiene and tips to help you sleep with fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Framework Series Four – Sleep: Sleep research, sleep hygiene, sleep tips

Welcome to part four of the Fibromyalgia Framework Series! I hope you’re enjoying this series and have come to join the conversation in Melissa (You) vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group.

The fibromyalgia framework series has been presenting my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research. I’ll share this with you.

We have discussed: 

The Fibromyalgia Framework – with your free framework template!
Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books
Tracking Your Progress

Sleep, sleep tips, hygiene and tips to help you sleep with fibromyalgia

My newsletter subscribers have been getting access to this content first along with exclusive freebies, if you want early access to the fifth part of the framework – sign up here.

SLEEP WITH FIBROMYALGIA

Sleep is huge. I had theorized that sleep was a crucial missing component in my healing journey for a long time. Research is starting to bear this out. Doctors specializing in and writing about fibromyalgia know it. It still hasn’t trickled down to most practitioners.

Once I began low dose naltrexone I started to sleep in more than one hour blocks. Getting restful sleep has been the basis of all the improvements I experienced over 2017 and 2018 despite having tiny children and a third pregnancy.

SLEEP RESEARCH

There’s a lot of research about the sleep issue in Fibromyalgia and chronic deep sleep deprivation is no friend to our pain, fatigue or brain. We can do quite a few things ourselves to impact our sleep, but sometimes we need a doctor to step in and help. I am very lucky that a locum GP I saw once noticed my history of being very tired and not sleeping well and put me on amitriptyline. This was before I was diagnosed so I’m unsure if he suspected Fibromyalgia or not. This was the only way I could get any sleep for years. That doesn’t mean it helps me to sleep well or that I don’t have a list of sleep hygiene rules that I live by.

Dr Ginevra Liptan, MD, writes about sleep in her book The Fibro Manual (2016):

Sleep studies show that Fibromyalgia subjects show abnormal ‘awake-type’ brain waves all night long, with reduced and interrupted deep sleep and frequent ‘mini-awakenings’ (Brandi 1994; Kooh 2003). This deep-sleep deprivation leads to pain, fatigue, and poor brain function (Lerma 2011; Moldofsky 2008; Harding 1998). Treatment focused on increasing deep sleep is the key to improving all these symptoms.

In plain terms, people with Fibromyalgia don’t tend to reach stage four of the sleep cycle (the deep, restorative stage), and therefore, they suffer from chronic, deep sleep deprivation, which causes all sorts of issues with the body: pain, fatigue, fog, anxiety, etc.

In his article, 8 Tips for Better, More Effective Sleep (n.d.) (available on the Paleohacks website), Casey Thaler explains that sleep deprivation is “very similar to speeding up the process of dying of old age.” No wonder we feel like fibromyalgia is progressive – our bodies are progressing toward death until we take the sleep problem seriously.

In a talk in 2013 Dr Jacob Teitelbaum said the defining way to separate fibromyalgia from any other cause of widespread pain and fatigue is to ask how well they sleep. If a patient sleeps with no trouble, according to Teitelbaum, they don’t have fibromyalgia. His SHINE protocol puts sleep at the beginning of the treatment. Without sleep, we can’t get better. I would agree. Both of Teitelbaum’s books have resonated with me and his treatment approach gels with everything I have experienced. Without the sleep LDN was able to give me, I would never have begun to experience the rest of the improvements. Though I do wonder, of the large percentages of people in his studies that are lots better or better after the SHINE protocol, what that “better” means for them. For me, my quality of life is currently hugely improved, but I still definitely have a chronic illness that impacts me all day, every day. We might have different definitions of improvement.

Based upon my reading of the research, books by my favourite fibromyalgia authors and my experience, my number one recommendation to anyone suffering from chronic pain or similar illnesses is to get your sleep.

MY SLEEP HYGIENE TIPS

alarm-alarm-clock-analog-1162967 attribution fre

Go to bed and get up around the same time each day.

  • Manage pain – take prescribed medicines as directed.
  • Pacing during the day so you are not over-exhausted.
  • Don’t have caffeine after lunch.
  • Have a wind-down routine (that doesn’t involve technology).
  • Go to bed and get up at approximately the same time each day.
  • Adjust your bed to your needs (i.e. suitable mattress, mattress topper, the right pillow, weather-suitable blankets).
  • Adjust your room to your needs (i.e. the right temperature, dark etc.)
  • Eat a small protein-based snack before bed.
  • Have a warm bath with Epsom salts.
  • Dab lavender oil on temples, wrists and/or feet.
  • Do a body scan meditation.

EXTRA SLEEP HELP

Once you have tried the above sleep hygiene tips, it might be worth exploring natural sleep options such as:

  • Lavender essential oil
  • Chamomile
  • Valerian
  • Lemonbalm
  • GABA supplement
  • CBD oil (if it is legal where you live)
  • Magnesium

If you have been struggling to sleep for a good while, have tried all of the sleep hygiene and natural options available it is time to discuss options with your doctor.

  • Melatonin
  • 5 HTP
  • Low dose naltrexone – do your research, take it to your doctor, but please note that for some it causes insomnia.
  • Stronger sleep aids for short term use, under strict medical supervision.

This article from Dr Teitelbaum might be of use for further sleep help.

Sleep is one area where we really need our doctors to be on board. If yours is not, then try to find another one.

My sleep logs and sleep hygiene tips

You can purchase your Sleep Hygiene Tips sheet, My Sleep Hygiene Plan and My Sleep Diary templates from my Etsy store to help you get started today on improving your sleep.


My newsletter subscribers have been getting access to this content first along with exclusive freebies, if you want early access to the fifth part of the framework – sign up here.

Impatient? Want to work through the content now? The Fibromyalgia Framework Workbook is available to purchase, with all of the templates (freebies and templates recommended from my Etsy Store) with space for notes to work through the content as a course. Find the Fibromyalgia Framework here (digital). Find it physically here.

Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

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tips for coping with a newborn and fibromyalgia, chronic pain and fatigue

Tips for Coping with a Newborn and Fibromyalgia (Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue)

Having done this three times, I have formulated some tips for coping with a newborn and fibromyalgia. They are split into the key areas for dealing with fibromyalgia in general – sleep, general health, pain management and expectations.

tips for coping with a newborn and fibromyalgia, chronic pain and fatigue

Sleep is king

  • Give baby to your partner/support person with a bottle (formula or expressed breast milk) and go to bed early. With our first I expressed at 8.30pm and went to bed at 9pm. Husband would hold sleeping baby, feed him when he woke, wind him and bring him into the room. Those precious hours of sleep made a huge difference, especially as I flared the worst with him. Unfortunately we haven’t managed this with our second (reflux and colic, we had to keep each other company in the storm) and third (I’m breastfeeding and he refuses the bottle) and I so wish for those three or four hours of sleep!
  • Find a person each day to visit and hold baby while you nap. Unless you are lucky enough to have a baby that naps in their own bed for more than 20 minutes at a time, I never got one of those!
  • If you don’t have a visitor to hold baby and baby isn’t napping in their bed for you, lie down while holding baby (meditate, pray, read, watch television -just don’t move) -they will probably sleep better and you can rest.
  • Help baby sleep. With all three babies I fell into the trap of doing all the things and just made it harder to fall asleep.

    With our first we waited five overtired months to sleep train and after much trial and error we found he needed a good 15 minutes alone to decompress before he slept 7-7 with a 10pm dream feed (anything we did just prolonged it and made it super difficult for him to sleep).

    With number two at 22 months (the reflux made us nervous to sleep train) we started ignoring him in the night, he would grizzle for 10 minutes, go back to sleep and wake in the morning so much more refreshed than us going in and out all night.

    With number three I was standing, jiggling, patting and shhing and it took ages to get him off. Then I noticed my husband would sit on the couch, jiggle him a little, baby would cry for a few minutes and then go off to sleep! If I catch him before he’s overtired, ensure he is well winded, swaddle him, sing his songs and put him down awake he will go to sleep himself with literally a minute of grizzling. I haven’t figured out how to get him to do longer than 20 minutes of sleep but it is much nicer for both of us. We are setting the foundations for later sleep. Sleep is important for mama and baby.

Physical health

  • Drink lots of water
  • Eat healthily and regularly
  • Take a multivitamin
  • Check your iron levels and address low levels
  • Stretch
  • Massage yourself with lavender oil regularly
  • Take a hot shower or bath every day
  • Get into the sun for at least five minutes
  • Go for a gentle walk, even if it’s five minutes in your garden or down your street

Pain relief

  • Do all of the above
  • Enact your natural pain relief mechanisms from pregnancy
  • Discuss medicines for breastfeeding (if you choose to/are able to nurse) before baby comes (and there are medicines that are alright for nursing – see this article).

Other

  • Aim for one or two tasks a day outside baby that are crucial and let the rest slide (ie dishes and washing).
  • Keep in touch with your family and friends, even if only by text.
  • If something doesn’t seem right, ask for help (excessive wind etc).
  • Know that the newborn that takes two hour naps every 45 minutes and sleeps from 7-7 with two or three feeds is NOT the norm.
  • Enjoy that baby and take lots of pictures, they will grow and this stage will pass.

I’d love to hear your tips?
If you are a new mama with fibromyalgia do come and join Pregnancy and fibromyalgia Facebook group.

Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Three Tracking Your Progress Fighting Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Three – Tracking Your Progress Fighting Fibromyalgia

Welcome to part three of the Fibromyalgia Framework Series!

The fibromyalgia framework series is going to present my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research. I’ll share this with you.

Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Three Tracking Your Progress Fighting Fibromyalgia

In this series we will address the components of my framework including diagnosis and misdiagnosis, tracking your progress, sleep, basic human needs, pain management, the central nervous system and fatigue.

Did you grab your free Fibromyalgia Framework Puzzle and Grid templates in the first part of  The Fibromyalgia Framework?

TRACKING YOUR PROGRESS FIGHTING FIBROMYALGIA

As you may have noticed, I firmly believe we have the power to impact our quality of life. Our daily choices make a big impact on our wellbeing. Only we know our bodies so intimately. So we need to take charge in order to help our doctors to help us.

Fibromyalgia is complex and unique, so good record keeping is an important step in managing the myriad of symptoms and potential treatments.

By tracking our symptoms and things that we have tried we can notice patterns and make informed choices. Relying on fogged brains is not the easiest way to go. I have tried a great many things that I cannot remember! By keeping track you have created useful data to discuss with your doctor at appointments, it can help you see clearly what you need to discuss first and to give feedback for any changes they have previously suggested.

You can track notes in a journal, make a bullet journal, find an app or try a template.

It is good to keep track of:

  • Your sleep quality and quantity
  • Key symptoms and severity
  • Any medicines or supplements you are taking, and
  • Any self-care and exercise you manage.

I personally love printed templates to physically write on and have created several options that are available in my Etsy Store. Below are a couple of them. The one on the right includes the option to write down the top five things you are thankful for each day, which I find is a nice way to add some mindfulness to our day. Some days it might only be that you are still breathing. Others you will have trouble limiting it to five. The one on the left is gives the option of two to a page or a full page tracker.

My daily health log blueMy spoonie daily log

You don’t need to be tracking all of the time, but it is especially useful for identifying patterns periodically and for tracking experiments. It is important to know if things work. Especially over the course of this series!


Impatient? Want to work through the content now? The Fibromyalgia Framework Workbook is available to purchase, with all of the templates (freebies and templates recommended from my Etsy Store) with space for notes to work through the content as a course. Find the Fibromyalgia Framework here (digital). Find it physically here.

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Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

the pacer's guide to cleaning aka cleaning with a chronic illness

The Pacer’s Guide to Cleaning: AKA Cleaning With a Chronic Illness

It isn’t easy managing our health, our family and our home. Pacing is a valuable tool in managing chronic illnesses that cause chronic pain and fatigue. Even those with more normal energy levels can benefit from spreading out all of the expectations.

I have watched and enjoyed YouTube videos of busy mamas showing their “deep clean” videos where they clean the entire house in one go. I just don’t have the time or energy for this and with small children it makes sense to schedule things like this in chunks.

the pacer's guide to cleaning aka cleaning with a chronic illness

Here are my key tips for paced cleaning:

Write a list of:

  • The seasonal tasks
  • The monthly tasks
  • The weekly tasks
  • The daily tasks

Divvy them up over the month according to what you think you can manage and fits with your schedule.

Edit the schedule as you go according to how your days/weeks/month pans out with energy, pain and commitments.

My Template Set

I created a template set (because, of course I did, I am an avid planner and template my paced cleaning plan, weekly monthly seasonalmaker). It is essentially the print and go lists I mentioned above that make it super easy to plan ahead for the month.

Your List and Tips for Paced Cleaning

However you make your lists and track your progress, I suggest you start with your bare minimum tasks that need to be done daily (such as dishes and washing – I have three small children, the washing needs to be kept on top of). Then look at what needs to be done weekly (like the vacuuming, a proper clean of the toilet and bathroom etc) and then add in the monthly and seasonal tasks.

The next level is to consider if there are things on your list that you cannot do and assign them to someone else (if you can). Or if there are things that you need to break down into smaller chunks. When I was pregnant and my pelvis issues were severe I couldn’t vacuum so my husband had to take care of that. Even when I am not pregnant I do not vacuum the entire house at once (our house is spread over three levels), I almost never do the rumpus room downstairs and I vacuum the bedrooms upstairs less often then the living areas.

A few tips to close our pacer’s guide:

  • Continually tidy up as you go so you avoid large messes to clean – I especially do this as I am cooking.
  • Involve the children in tidying up, my boys have to tidy up their own toys and have been included in cleaning efforts (at an age-appropriate level).
  • Keep your cleaning supplies all together, easily accessible and find your best tools and products and keep them stocked.
  • Don’t go out and leave a mess in the kitchen and lounge.

Do you have any tips for managing the cleaning with a chronic illness?

Part two fibromyalgia framework series diagnosis, misdiagnosis and great fibromyalgia books

Fibromyalgia Framework Series: Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibromyalgia Books

Welcome to the second part of the fibromyalgia framework series.

The fibromyalgia framework series is going to present my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research. I’ll share this with you.

Part two fibromyalgia framework series diagnosis, misdiagnosis and great fibromyalgia books

Did you see the first part and download your free Fibromyalgia Framework Puzzle and Grid template?

Fibromyalgia Framework Part Two Video

Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books

WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?

For a succinct introduction to the definition, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments for fibromyalgia see this post here.

Essentially, fibromyalgia is a chronic pain-based illness of unknown origin and cure. It effects approximately 3-6% of the world’s population. It is said to effect far more women than men, but there are definitely men who suffer with it too. It appears in-discriminatory in race, education level and socioeconomic demographics. As I said in the first part of this series, it is complex in that it is triggered, manifests and is helped by very different things for different people. Diagnosis and misdiagnosis is also a problem.

DIAGNOSIS

There are not many fibromyalgia fighters who have a short diagnosis story. A study of 800 patients found it took an average of 2.3 years and seeing 3.7 doctors prior to receiving a diagnosis[1]. It took me several years as the symptoms came on slowly and I was young; the doctors were disinclined to believe me, especially as my symptoms and their severity changed.

It is a tricky diagnosis: Fibromyalgia is often referred to as a “wastebasket” diagnosis. Doctors do have to rule out other illnesses before they can diagnose it. There is no specific test for Fibromyalgia that is widely used yet. The symptoms are very generalised: widespread pain on both sides of the body (subjective) for at least three months, fatigue, difficulty sleeping and difficulty concentrating. The tender point count used to be one of the defining features of diagnosis; however, tender points were found to be unreliable – you needed 11 of 18 to be diagnosed, and some days, you could have at least that many; others, you may have less. Often, you also have to find a doctor who wants to help you and believes in fibromyalgia. I do so hope this is becoming a thing of the past, but it certainly was an issue for me.

Diagnosis may not change much for you; I was already on Amitriptyline, so the doctor basically gave me the confirmation and sent me on my way. But when I was ready, and when the world had caught up with some information, this word led my search. It is also important to note that not everything you experience will be the fibromyalgia. For years my severe neck pain was considered part of the fibromyalgia and therefore not looked into further. However, the fact that the physiotherapist could feel a reason for the pain (trigger points) and treat it (temporarily) in a manner that didn’t work for any of the rest of my pain made me curious. It wasn’t until 2017 that I met a physiotherapist who told me about trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome that it all clicked into place. Researching this avenue has brought me much more success than just thinking it was the fibromyalgia.

During pregnancy, I experienced severe back and pelvis pain that was also dismissed as part of my experience of fibromyalgia and pregnancy. It turned out it was pelvic girdle pain and is treatable. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, rather than have the pain disperse once I gave birth, it continued for several months after. I experienced a lot of unnecessary pain. So please don’t let your doctor throw every single thing you experience into the fibromyalgia wastebasket.

MISDIAGNOSIS

One issue with fibromyalgia, besides the difficulty in obtaining a diagnosis and help, is misdiagnosis. One research paper puts it this way, “There is a disturbing inaccuracy, mostly observed to be over diagnosis, in the diagnosis of FM by referring physicians. This finding may help explain the current high reported rates of FM and caution physicians to consider other diagnostic possibilities when addressing diffuse musculoskeletal pain.”

One doctor who writes about fibromyalgia, David Brady, posits that as many as two thirds of patients may be misdiagnosed. Interestingly one of the things that he finds often misdiagnosed as “classic fibromyalgia” is myofascial pain syndrome. Whereas in my case, there is the presence of both – which adds another layer of complexity to these illnesses. Other issues mis-attributed to fibromyalgia include thyroid problems and nutritional deficiencies as well as other illnesses.

For an interview with him about misdiagnosis see this blog post from Fed up with Fatigue. I also mention his book, The Fibro Fix in my post on my five favourite books for fighting fibromyalgia below.

MY FAVOURITE BOOKS FOR FIGHTING FIBROMYALGIA

My Five Favourite Books About Fighting Fibromyalgia

I highly recommend reading From Fatigued to Fantastic (2001) by Dr Jacob Teitelbaum and The FibroManual: A Complete Treatment Guide to Fibromyalgia for You and Your Doctor (2016) by Dr Ginevra Liptan. These two authors are doctors who have fibromyalgia themselves. Their processes are useful and a very good place to start. I re-read these books periodically for a reminder or when I am exploring a new area.

See my blog post of My Favourite Five Books for Fighting Fibromyalgia for more information about these books.

[1] Ernest Choy et al, 2010 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874550/


My newsletter subscribers are receiving this series first along with exclusive freebies that I have created to go with it. Sign up here to be one of the first to receive the next part! You will also receive access to other free templates and articles for fighting fibromyalgia.

Impatient? Want to work through the content now? The Fibromyalgia Framework Workbook is available to purchase, with all of the templates (freebies and templates recommended from my Etsy Store) with space for notes to work through the content as a course. Find the Fibromyalgia Framework here (digital). Find it physically here.

Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

January update for Melissa vs Fibromyalgia

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia January Update

In this January update, I share how the first 11 weeks with baby have gone. Discuss helping baby to sleep. My pain levels. The Fibromyalgia Framework and the future of Melissa vs Fibromyalgia.

 

Links I discuss:

Newsletter list for the rest of the Fibromyalgia Framework series

Fibro Framework physical book (affiliate)

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group – come and discuss our fight against fibromyalgia.

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia book (affiliate)

Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia Facebook group –  come and chat pregnancy, parenting and fibromyalgia.

Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book (affiliate)

January update for Melissa vs Fibromyalgia

fibromyalgia framework series: the fibromyalgia framework, introduction to fibromyalgia, tracking progress, sleep, central sensitivity, pain management, fatigue, normal human needs

The Fibromyalgia Framework Series

Welcome to the introduction to my Fibromyalgia Framework series!

The fibromyalgia framework series is going to present my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research. I’ll share this with you.

fibromyalgia framework series: the fibromyalgia framework, introduction to fibromyalgia, tracking progress, sleep, central sensitivity, pain management, fatigue, normal human needs

In this first part I will show you my Fibromyalgia Framework, which will likely look different to yours on account of the unique nature of this illness and where we are on our journey.

My mission is to help you cut your journey down, I lost too much of my life to chronic pain, fatigue and insomnia, so I share what works for me in case it helps you.

In this series we will address the components of my framework including diagnosis and misdiagnosis, tracking your progress, sleep, basic human needs, pain management, the central nervous system and fatigue.

My Fibromyalgia Framework 

My fibromyalgia puzzle pieces: meditation, sleep, physiotherapy, lifestyle changes, gentle exercise, additional health issues, medicine, deal with trauma

Fibromyalgia is a complex illness with no known cure or cause. The way it manifests, how it is triggered and how we find relief differ from person to person.

Here are my key components that I’ve found crucial to my wellness journey. I created this after several years of intense experimentation and research and after decades living with the symptoms.

Your Fibromyalgia Framework

Grab your free Fibromyalgia Framework puzzle and grid and start populating what you think are your key puzzle pieces. You may be early in your journey and have only one or two things, or you may be further along, like me, and have the whole thing filled out. This doesn’t mean you have it sorted, it just means you have more direction.

Once you have filled in some puzzle pieces, you can begin to research those areas and make some goals to tackle them!

Action: I’d love to see your components, feel free to come and join Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group and share what you think fits in your puzzle.

Further reading that may help:

22 Ways to Increase Your Energy
My Top Three Treatments to Fight Fibromyalgia
Why I’m Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible – Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia


fibromyalgia framework

Impatient? Want to work through the content now? The Fibromyalgia Framework Workbook is available to purchase, with all of the templates (freebies and templates recommended from my Etsy Store) with space for notes to work through the content as a course. Find the Fibromyalgia Framework here (digital). Find it physically here.

my third birth story with fibromyalgia, the day Nathaniel joined us

My Third Birth with Fibromyalgia

It’s taken a while, seven weeks to be precise, but it is time to share a brief account of my birth story.

If you have followed any of this pregnancy journey (my third), you will know that this has been a much better pregnancy despite severe pelvis issues and it is all thanks to low dose naltrexone. You can check out my Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia playlist on YouTube for my honest pregnancy updates.

my third birth story with fibromyalgia, the day Nathaniel joined us

In the closing days of October (2018) I began to experience pre labour pains. I spent the weekend with period like pains which turned into mild, irregular contractions. During this time I read and ate and relaxed, knowing full well it might be a long journey to getting baby. On the Monday things escalated and I knew I couldn’t safely drive my children or look after them well, so I asked my husband to stay home from work. By that evening the contractions were getting closer together and more painful but I was coping well using my breath and heat pack.

At 3am I thought I had lasted til nearly the end and called my midwife. I was 3cm. Sigh. After a few more hours the contractions were still manageable but the pelvis pains were not, I began to panic with each contraction due to the low back and front of my pelvis feeling like they were being ripped apart.

Heavily pregnant 2018 Melissa Reynolds

One of my last bump pics

We went to the hospital with the plan to get some rest with pain relief while my midwife got some sleep after an overnight delivery. By the time the hospital midwife examined me I was in active labour (4cm) so they gave me gas and left me to it for some time. At 11am I begged for the epidural to give me a break from the pelvis pain. Unfortunately it didn’t cover the pelvis pain at all. So every three minutes I continued to feel the excruciating pain.

Thinking that it would be some time yet, I sent my husband off to get some lunch so my midwife could place the catheter and check my progress. The second she tried to get in there my body began to push explosively. I had no control. Suddenly I was fully dilated and pushing. My midwife called my husband. I desperately sucked on the gas for some relief from the pelvis feeling like it was being wrenched apart.

24 minutes of pushing and just over two hours of active labour produced my precious baby boy. He was born so fast he was a bit shocked upon arrival and needed a little air to remind his lungs to breathe. Within minutes he was on my chest and not long after that he was nursing.

It was amazing! nathaniel montage

Nathaniel Joseph was born weighing a healthy 3.76kg.

I was so happy that it hadn’t taken anywhere near as long as with my other two sons. It made the world of difference for recovery. So did going home that evening. I got to sleep in my own bed (well, nurse) and eat my own food and drink copious amounts of Milo. For some reason when I am low on energy I crave Milo. It’s probably the iron and other vitamins as well as the sugar.

Our nursing journey will fill a whole other post, but the short version is that we tackled cracked and bleeding nipples, thrush, mastitis and many growth spurts in order to achieve my longest breastfeeding journey. We are still going! I am pretty proud of myself. I do have to say that I wouldn’t be nursing if it wasn’t for my husband. In those first weeks he cooked, cleaned and did the lion’s share of care for my older two boys. Nursing may be reliant upon the mama, but mama wouldn’t have survived without dada. We also have had a lot of help, especially with the older boys. There haven’t been too many days where I have been alone the whole day with all three, which has really helped as Nathaniel doesn’t nap much in his bed and gets quite bad wind.

I am so blessed.

My Year End Review, Goals for 2019 and Your Free Templates

End of Year Health, Life and Goals Review Plus Free Printable to do Your Own

If you’re a planner and an analyzer like me, you’re probably applying this to your chronic illness journey. And it’s about that time of year to start our evaluations.
I like to treat myself like I’m a human in addition to having a chronic illness, in other words I don’t focus solely on the illness. So part of my year end round up includes questions like:
My Year End Review, Goals for 2019 and Your Free Templates

End of Year Review

What was my top five for this year?

  1. Going to a Celine Dion concert (this was a bucket list/life goal!)
  2. Publishing Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia (this was a bucket list/life goal!)
  3. Managing to work 24 hours despite two tiny children and early pregnancy
  4. Starting my Etsy shop 
  5. Going to Hawaii

What did I learn?

End of Year Review snip

Click image to get your free template

  1. Improved my (amateur) graphic design skills
  2. About SEO (through a course on Lynda.com)
What was my low five?
  1. Severe pelvis issues in pregnancy
  2. Having to stop work (due to above issues)
  3. Not being able to exercise (due to above issues)
What happened in my health journey this year? What did I try, what improved and what got worse?
  1. LDN really helped me to cope despite a pregnancy, two tiny children, a part time job, severe pelvis issues and life.

Planning Ahead for 2019

Goals to carry over to next year?
  1. My general sense of pacing limits – don’t get pushed back to work too soon or too much.
New Goals
  1. Survive the first year of being a mama of three!
  2. Start a Virtual Assistant business so that I can work from home and use less childcare for tiny children.

Things I want to Learn

  1. More digital skills

Things I’d Like to Try for My Health

  1. I’d like to redo some old experiments now that the Low Dose Naltrexone is making such a difference with sleep, I feel some things might have more effect now.
As I like to do I made myself a template with these questions and you can sign up for a FREE copy of My End of Year Review here.
If you are game, come and join the Melissa (You) vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group and share pictures of your filled in sheets!!

 

Fibromyalgia Definition, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

Fibromyalgia: Definition, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain-based illness of unknown origin and cure. It effects approximately 3-6% of the world’s population. It is said to effect far more women than men, but there are definitely men who suffer with it too. It appears in-discriminatory in race, education level and socioeconomic demographics.

I have struggled with this illness for most of my life. I have also put a lot of work into my wellness journey. In 2017 I was the most well I had been since I was 17 years old.

Fibromyalgia Definition, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

For the concise, all in one place story of my journey and all that I do see my book Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia. Please note that this is an affiliate link, if you make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

For a brief run down of what Fibromyalgia is, the symptoms and some treatments see below.

What is Fibromyalgia?

On the University of Maryland Medical Center website, Fibromyalgia is explained in this way: “Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons; fatigue; and multiple tender points on the body.”

And on the same page, they list the signs and symptoms of Fibromyalgia:

  • Widespread pain and stiffness
  • Fatigue [and]/or trouble
    sleeping
  • Paresthesia (tingling)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Heightened sensitivity to noises, bright lights, smells
  • Depression
    Headaches
  • Pain after exertion
  • Memory lapses/difficulty
    concentrating
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Hemorrhoids

However, the trouble is that Fibromyalgia seems to be very unique to each person: how it comes on, what symptoms are present, what helps said symptoms.

There is also a debate as to whether trigger points are present in Fibromyalgia or part of a separate issue called Myofascial Pain Syndrome. A lot of the above symptoms overlap with a lot of different conditions.

Some Associated Physiological Abnormalities

Research has found alterations in neurotransmitter regulation, immune system function, sleep physiology and hormone level control. A lot of research suggests that Fibromyalgia is the result of central nervous system dysfunction – specifically an overactive nervous system, stressing and exhausting the brain (Dennis W. Dobritt, Fibromyalgia – A Brief Overview).

Getting Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia

This great article from Fibro Daze explains why it takes so long to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the process and the Widespread Pain Index and Symptom Severity Scale.

Long story short, it takes a long time to be diagnosed – years on average and multiple doctors – because it is a tricky illness with no widely accepted test and because a multitude of other illnesses must be ruled out. This is particularly difficult because Fibromyalgia tends to co-exist with a multitude of other conditions. It is a disease of mimicking and misdiagnosis.

Fibromyalgia: Definition, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments.

Treating Fibromyalgia

There are a multitude of treatment options on offer. Some of them help a little, some help a lot, some help one person a lot and another person a little – therein lies the difficulty.

I have been sharing my journey for the past several years because I want to help you cut down the time it takes you to find what helps you. I have carefully researched, trialed and written about all of the treatment options I have tried.

There are few certainties in treating Fibromyalgia but here are some from a seasoned Fibromyalgia fighter:

  • Treatment will require multiple options
  • One option can help me incredibly and you not at all and vice versa
  • Sleep is king. Tackle sleep first. With medication if you must. This is a widely agreed finding from key doctors who treat Fibromyalgia including Dr Liptan, Dr Teitelbaum and Dr Vallings.
  • You can impact your quality of life. 

Treating Fibromyalgia: Manuals

I wrote about My Top Five Books for Fighting Fibromyalgia in this post. Start with Dr Teitelbaum and Dr Liptan – both of these doctors have Fibromyalgia themselves and treat people with Fibromyalgia.

What Works for Me

My Top Three Treatments to Fight Fibromyalgia
What Works for me: 9 Things to Fight Fibromyalgia
My Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibromyalgia One Year Experiment

Treating Fibromyalgia Naturally

Why I’m Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible – Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia
Natural Pain Relief: Supplements for Fibromyalgia Energy
Essential Oils for Pain Relief and a Pain Cream I am Loving
Natural Pain Relief: Supplements for Fibromyalgia Pain
Natural Pain Relief: Herbs for Infusion or Tea for Fibromyalgia
Giant Meditation Post
Yoga for Fibromyalgia with Handy Links

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia

See my resources page here with all of my articles and products to help you have the best pregnant possible despite Fibromyalgia.

All My Articles on Fibromyalgia

What I Offer – this page lists all of my articles and products that I have created to help you fight Fibromyalgia.

My Journey: 2018

As of 2018, I am struggling with my third pregnancy and severe Pelvic Girdle Pain (my pelvis separated too far causing severe pain). Despite this I am still coping better with this pregnancy than my first two. This is wholly due to Low Dose Naltrexone making such a difference and helping me sleep.

I am hopeful and I am excited as to what the future brings as I finish the time of my life where I am up at all hours of the night with babies.

My hope for you is that you keep fighting for yourself. Don’t wait for a doctor to do it for you. But do work with your doctor, find another if they won’t.


For more information

Try my free micro course You vs Fibromyalgia: Arm Yourself with Knowledge