Why I’m Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible

I’m over these poisons that are marketed as the only thing to help those of us with chronic pain or Fibromyalgia. Some medicines are definitely necessary, I’m not anti medicine, I’m pro natural options first.

Yoga and meditation have been my mainstays for a long time. I’ve paid $60 a fortnight for physiotherapy for a long time because I’d rather skimp and take that than utilise the heavily subsidised medicine I’d have to take instead.

Why I'm Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

For the last few months I’ve been researching a lot of natural options including essential oils, herbs, supplements and other options. You will also notice that my book has more chapters about natural/non medicinal options as I am a big believe in things you can administer yourself whenever you need.

Here are some recent posts:
Essential Oils and a Pain Cream I’ve Been Loving
Natural Pain Relief Options – Herbs for Teas or Infusions
Natural Pain Relief Options – Supplements for Fibromyalgia Pain 
Natural Pain Relief Options – Supplements for Fibromyalgia Energy

Here’s a round up of what I’ve Been Using

Free report: Essential Oils for Natural Health sign up here and find it in the free Resources page

Essential Oils

Lavender – multi use for pain, relaxation, insomnia and more. I use it as is with coconut oil or in the bath.
Chamomile – calming and said to help with insomnia, I adore it.
Peppermint – this is handy with coconut oil for spasms.
Pain cream from Bunguin Babies– this has become my go-to for first-line pain. I use it at bedtime and throughout the day. This is not an affiliate link, I use it and love it and a fellow fibromyalgia mom blogger makes it herself.

Herbs

I learnt about thyme, borage, lemon balm and others but since finding out I was pregnant I couldn’t use these. They are still on my radar!

Supplements

Magnesium oil – I apply this nightly to my calves for the nutritional deficiency of magnesium that is prevalent these days and in pregnancy to avoid calf cramps.

MSM – this is my favourite for wrist and hand joint pain. It’s said to be good for other things too. See my post here.

CBD Oil – On my Wish List for the Future (as soon as it’s legalised here)

In New Zealand a committee is considering legalising CBD oil. They recently shot down the application to make medical marijuana available to those with chronic pain, which was disappointing. The research is positive. The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. The side effects are negligible! See this post from Counting My Spoons about MMJ and CBD for more information. I would use it for sleep, pain and fatigue. If it worked, the combination of this and LDN would surely get me off the amitriptyline – and after more than ten years, that would be a massive win.

As you may have noticed, I don’t stop researching so more will need to be added to this list as time goes on. Though, my personal experiments are stalled while I am pregnant and then nursing. Look out for the pregnancy edition of this post coming soon.


For more information

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There is a PDF report about essential oils as well as several other free printable/downloadable reports and templates in the free resources page.

Free eCourse sign up you vs fibromyalgia

Join my free five lesson micro course for more information about managing Fibromyalgia.

pumping or expressing for your baby

Pumping or Expressing for Your Baby: Parenting (Fibromyalgia or Not)

The one thing I disliked about the antenatal classes that we attended, is that they were not allowed to talk about bottles or expressing at all. I had to learn the hard way that mix feeding is a very good option to help your baby get some of that precious liquid gold.

In my Nursing with Fibromyalgia article, I recount my first two experiences with nursing. After three awful days with my son, during which I had to hand express onto a spoon while he screamed next to me while alone (they refused to let my husband stay and the night midwives didn’t want to help as I wouldn’t have their help at home *sigh*) the midwives showed me to the expressing machine. I didn’t even know that expressing was an option. My mum nursed all of her five children and if babies weren’t nursed they had formula, I hadn’t heard of this middle ground!

pumping or expressing for your baby

I wish I’d known about this middle ground so I didn’t have to take a crash course when so sleep deprived and sore.

Other articles you might like:

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia The First Trimester Diaries

Navigating Pain Relief in Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia

Necessary Baby Items for a Fibro Parent

Now I always include expressing/pumping as an option when I discuss nursing with Fibromyalgia because my number one tip with coping postpartum is to express early, go to bed early and then have a support person give the baby the next feed. As someone who cannot nap, I need those precious hours of sleep at night. So, I would express at 9pm, go to bed right after and then my husband would do the next one or two feeds (depending how early on it was and if he was going to work the next day). I would then wake after a few hours sleep in a row to deal with the baby for the rest of the night. We couldn’t do this for our second because his reflux was so bad that we had to keep each other company to get through the scream-filled evenings. And I suffered for it. There were nights when I fell asleep upright while feeding him.

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase using these links I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The Breast Pump and Supplies

For the first two I used a heavy duty hospital grade electric pump (Unimom, not currently available on Amazon UK or US). This is necessary if you are looking at exclusively expressing or regularly expressing.

If you are going to express semi-regularly, say a few times a day (at work perhaps) then a double electric breast pump, like this Avent one, is a good idea.

If you are going to express once or twice a day, like I plan to with number three, then a single electric breast pump, like this Avent one, is a good idea. This is actually on my Amazon Baby Registry, and as a third time mama not many things are on my to-buy list.

If you only plan to express occasionally, a manual pump, like this Avent one, may be the way to go. I didn’t like manual pumps, they hurt me to use (I only tried two brands that were given to me by the hospital to use when my son was sick), but the Unimom hand pump was the best for me for a tight spot. I want to try this Hakaa manual pump this time, this is more for catching let down from the other side while nursing or helping you out between feeds if you find yourself without a baby or a pump.

The reason I am so amped about using Avent this time is because their bottles are our favourite, we have used them for both of our first two and will use them for our third. I believe the shape of the teat helped Wyatt to avoid nipple confusion and enabled mix feeding. The anti colic bottles are what we used. Don’t forget to start off with the newborn teat size! We had no idea there were different flows with our first baby and that was terrible at first (far too fast a flow does not help wind!).

You can buy the Avent steam steriliser, which would make things easier, but we were on a budget with our first and found that a basic tub that we filled with water and put sterilising tablets in did the job. You should sterilise all bottles, teats and dummies for at least the first six months.

There are special bottle warmers that some people swear by, but we found a jug of hot water to be sufficient. Please don’t microwave your milk to reheat it, it may heat unevenly and burn baby.

The process

If you are exclusively expressing then you need to express as often as the baby would feed, approximately three hourly. You will need to do this until your supply is established at around six weeks. After this you can try reducing the frequency (say once overnight) or four hourly or both. The trick with expressing exclusively seems to be keeping up with what baby consumes, you may need to express more often than they feed to keep up with the growing amounts they consume.

If you are mix feeding, then you choose which feeds you are replacing to express (say 9pm). If baby is due for a feed near the same time, then you can choose to pump before or after according to your comfort level or routine. This is best while you’re establishing your supply. You may be able to just always use formula at the late feed and your supply adjusts, just don’t do that with more than one feed at a time or you may find your supply reduced.

Sit as comfortably as possible, if you have a good pump then you just sit upright and time yourself for the 10-15 minutes. To get started it helps to massage your breast and it can help to look at baby or a picture of them to encourage letdown. Start on a lower suction level and gently work your way up (without getting too strong). I was advised to pump for no more than 15 minutes at a time with my hospital grade electric double pump, check what the recommendation for yours is.

If you’re feeling a bit lumpy or sore (like a clogged duct) a hot flannel on the breast can help as does massaging down toward the pump to help clear it out. I also gave myself a good massage in a hot shower when I had that blocked/lumpy feeling.

It’s also good to treat expressing like nursing directly and have a big glass of water and a snack. Hydration is important as is adequate nourishment.

When you are finished you can store the milk in a milk storage bag, like this, label it and put it in the freezer. They are useful with the zip close top for reopening if you are putting in multiple expressions before freezing.

A few tips

If you are expressing exclusively, or regularly that day, you can place all of the pump parts in a snap lock bag in the fridge between expressing sessions (so you don’t have to wash them all every time).

You can keep one milk storage bag in the fridge and put it into the freezer when full (or at the end of the day).

Generally you can keep milk in the fridge for three days and in the freezer for up to six months. This was great for me as I made an abundance of milk for my first baby very early on and was able to keep him exclusively breast milk fed for another four weeks after I stopped expressing. For more information about storage, see this article.

If you want to use previously frozen breast milk, put the milk storage bag in the fridge overnight. Use the thawed milk within 24 hours.

It takes several weeks for breast feeding to be established, but once this point has been reached you can generally reduce the expressing frequency. With my second I expressed four hourly during the day and once overnight to mimic how baby fed – but I did stop making the total amount he fed and that was OK because he had to have thickened formula for the bulk of his milk anyway.

Further information

For two great sites (I don’t want to overwhelm you with heaps of extra reading, but you can definitely Google “exclusive pumping” or “expressing breast milk”), see Kelly Mom and Exclusive Pumping.

The conclusion

I feel like my whole life was taken up by milk for my second baby’s first 12 weeks, between the expressing, the thickened formula (for the reflux) and the direct feeding. When I read the research that suggests even 12 weeks of partial feeding breast milk is protective against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, I felt very proud. So please don’t think it’s all or nothing. If you can give 20ml a bottle like I did (it made the milk too thin if I put more than that in the bottle) – that’s amazing. If you manage to give baby only breast milk for six months, that’s amazing too. If you can’t manage to nurse and you give your baby formula – you’re still amazing.

I found it ridiculous when people tried to say that giving the bottle was more impersonal, I didn’t feed with the baby an arm’s length away – I cradled him as if I were nursing directly and I looked into his eyes, spoke to him and stroked his skin in the same way, however I fed. And as a bonus, my husband was able to feed him about as often as I was and they bonded beautifully too (not that they can’t bond without that!) just a silver lining. The biggest silver lining was that I was better able to bond with my first baby this way, nursing directly was so painful for me and it was such a strain on me physically and emotionally – I was so relieved when parenting no longer included my breasts. Your physical and mental health is vital, your baby needs you more than your breasts.

Please remember that all of my learning shared above is just that, personal learning through a lot of reading and personal experience with two children. Always seek support from a lactation consultant or midwife if you need help, particularly with latching. However, if you feel that those who are supposed to be supporting you are just forcing you to do something you can’t or don’t want to do, I hope the things I share help.


Do come and join the Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia Facebook group, we are happy to chat through nursing, expressing, whatever with you.

For more information about Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia you can read my book! pregnancy and fibromyalgia def ed angle

My Daily Log, Why I Track Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Keeping an eye on our health and maximising the many choices we make each day can have tremendous impact on our quality of life. I firmly believe that we have the power to impact our life, dramatically, with each little choice.

How Keeping a Daily Log Helps me Manage the Fibromyalgia

Even though I’m not actively logging my Low Dose Naltrexone experiment any longer (please see my Etsy store for my How to Choose a Treatment Option with template for experiments), I keep track of a few key details.

Namely: Sleep hours and quality, three key symptoms (neck, back and fatigue), medicine/supplements, exercise and self-care.

By jotting down quick notes each day, I can see patterns arise and continue the good ones and work on the bad ones.

I believe self-efficacy is vital in managing pervasive symptoms like pain and fatigue. I also believe we are our own best advocate. And with brain fog as a likely issue, we need to write things down.

You can scribble notes in a journal, make a bullet journal or try a template.

My Daily Log

I have one in my Etsy shop, it’s exactly what I use myself. There’s three options: Pink and green two to a page, blue and grey two to a page or pink and green full page with additional symptoms and a notes section. They are editable and printable so you can choose to stay digital (and save them to your Google Drive or computer) or print them out and put them in a pretty binder or punch a hole and tie ribbon.

However you choose to do it, I would encourage you to keep track of your key symptoms in order to help you manage this beast.

More about fighting Fibromyalgia:

Why I’m Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible
Free Printables from Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Book
Spoonie Gifts – Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary? What to get a Friend with Fibromyalgia
My Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibromyalgia One Year Experiment

My Video: How Tracking Symptoms Helps me Fight Fibromyalgia

I’d love to hear if you track your health and how it works for you.


If you’d like more information:

Free eCourse sign up you vs fibromyalgia

Come and join the conversation in the Melissa (you) vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group. Here I share my research, articles of interest I find and my content.

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Diaries Weeks 7-13

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia The First Trimester Diaries

During my second pregnancy I wrote diaries here on the blog to share what my experience was like in case other people with fibromyalgia were curious. I would have loved to know I wasn’t alone with my symptoms during my first pregnancy – and that is why I started this blog, wrote my book, created the Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia Facebook group and now am videoing my diaries.

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Diaries Weeks 7-13As I’ve frequently mentioned in posts and videos the this pregnancy, despite the symphysis pubis disorder, it’s been a far better experience than my first two. It’s all thanks to low dose naltrexone improving my sleep, pain and fatigue levels. I started in a better condition and am continuing better.

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Week Seven

 

 

 

 

I experienced a few weeks of rather bad nausea and fatigue which is all very normal.

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Diaries Weeks 8-9

 

 

 

 

 

I went from very nauseas to very hungry (it was no joke, no food in tummy meant nausea big time!)

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Diaries Weeks 10-11

 

I started to get more tired, the 17 month old has been growing his double teeth and so has woken every night from week eight ongoing (still at week 16!). The symphysis pubis disorder (SPD) turned up *sigh*.

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Diaries Week 12

 

 

 

We had the nuchal scan (screening for genetic disorders) and I outline some ways I am managing the SPD.

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Diaries Week 13

 

 

I discuss the confusing matter of simultaneously being thankful that this pregnancy is not as miserable as the last two and upset because my much adored gains from LDN have started to recede (less sleep, more pain, more fatigue).

If you want to learn more information about pain relief during pregnancy, then check out my 15-page printable PDF Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Micro Course Workbook. It goes through the existing information about pain relief during pregnancy, my experiences, a list of natural pain relief options, a list of further reading, a template to make your own pain relief plan (pregnancy edition) with space for notes and the brand new Advanced Pain Relief sheet with links to research about medicine use in pregnancy. I have gathered the information and created these printables to make it easier for you to make the best decisions for yourself- it took me years to get it all together.

So that’s all the videos from the first trimester. Week 14 will go up next week (I’m posting approximately weekly) so do subscribe to to my YouTube channel to be alerted about those.

Feel free to come and join the Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia Facebook group where we chat trying to conceive  pregnancy and nursing with Fibromyalgia.

Don’t forget to check out my video about coping with early pregnancy symptoms and fibromyalgia.

Find my book Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia here for everything I have researched and learnt about pregnancy with fibromyalgia. pregnancy and fibromyalgia def ed angle

Check out my course Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia – it’s a full five module course for planning the best pregnancy possible despite Fibromyalgia including a module on pain management. I am experimenting with offering the course for free with the option to purchase my book (technically the textbook) and/or the workbook which is available in my Etsy store. Find more information about the course here.

Pregnancy Diaries 2018: The First Trimester of Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia

Surprise! We’re having baby number three. It was indeed a surprise, but here we are! During my first two pregnancies with Fibromyalgia I shared my journey. Since then I have written many articles, tips, a book and a course.

Now I can share my third pregnancy! This post is a round up of the first trimester.
Pregnancy Diaries 2018 The First Trimester
Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Baby development

A ton of physical development happens in the first trimester, baby had been conceived, implanted and developed all organs. They went from a speck in their dada’s eye (so to speak) to a fully formed miniature human.

Symptoms

The hormone overload that is growing a baby hits hard during the first trimester. I first knew I was pregnant by sore breasts, low back pain, bloating and mild food aversions.
Knowing the hormones usually hit me hard enabled me to prepare.

Early Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia
Necessary Baby Items for a Fibro Parent
Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book 

I had my ginger lollies, peppermints, teas, acupressure bands and snacks ready.

The fatigue, as always, is a whole other story. I am always super grateful for meditation when I get so exhausted and my sleep becomes more disrupted.

I managed stiffness and discomfort in my low back, hips and shoulders with my natural pain cream and yoga stretches such as downward dog, forward bend and child’s pose.

I was super thankful for the low dose naltrexone making such a difference for me. I looked back at my nine week diary with my second pregnancy and I was in a lot of pain already and was taking codeine just to try and get some sleep. This time I was only using essential oil pain cream a few times a day and Deep Heat in the night. I was also still achieving a few hour blocks of sleep despite Wyatt waking multiple times with his double teeth coming through and peeing.

At week 10 my pelvis started to get a bit achy (reminiscent of the symphysis pubis disorder which caused miserable pain levels in the third trimester with Wyatt) and my physio confirmed that it would hopefully calm down again once the uterus had “popped” up from behind the pubic bone in the next couple of weeks. I have spoken about SPD in my most recent pregnancy diary videos on my YouTube channel here.

What’s happened

In addition to a busy nearly four year old, I had a newly walking one year old. Active is a good adjective to describe our life.

We also went to Hawaii! It was my first flight longer than four hours. It went pretty well with good planning.

I started a new job! The job is good, the nausea in the first week was not. The intense hunger in the following weeks was much more manageable.

Look out for the next updates as we go.

In the meantime you can

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Join the conversation in the pregnancy and fibromyalgia facebook group.

Have you Considered Becoming a Fibromyalgia Blogger? How To Do It.

Did you know that my blog got started as simply as me posting diary-like updates while I was pregnant with my first baby and feeling miserably sore and alone?

Once I completed the pregnancy, I began formulating what I had learnt into tips. By my second pregnancy I had hit my stride and utilised my own tips and began gathering the resources that now find their home in the free resources pages.

I wonder if you have considered sharing your unique perspective about fighting Fibromyalgia (or chronic pain, fatigue, xx symptom)? I thought I would share this post about what I did and some resources that might help you if you had though about it but didn’t know where to begin.

Have you Considered Becoming a Fibromyalgia Blogger_

Please note that some of my links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my link, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. It all supports me running this blog.  

The Tech Stuff

I started my blog on WordPress.com the free version. After a while, reading a lot of advice that we need to be self-hosted, I chose a hosting company and transferred to WordPress.org. Well, I ended up hacked, lost my information and having to fight with the company for automatically charging my credit card three times the amount they had charged for the first year. I am now back on WordPress.com and pay for the personal plan. It’s worth it to me to not have that stress. Plus I don’t have a lot of extra money lying around, so I run my blog on the smell of an oily rag.

I pay WordPress.com a small annual fee. I pay Amazon a percentage of royalties on my books, Etsy (digital products) and Teachable (courses) take a cut from sales. So for my products, I don’t pay much upfront.

How to Start a Blog

If you want a free course on how to start a blog from the bottom up, see this free one by Michelle from Making Sense of Cents. Do also browse through her archives, she has a lot of good content.

If you want to learn about making digital products and an Etsy shop, I love Paper and Oats. Great content, free products and eCourses to get you started and products you can buy later to take the learning further.

Kenz Soliman has a cool blog, YouTube channel and free course about blogging and passive income. I enjoy her content.

A Blog I’ve Been Following for a While

I like Caroline Vencil. She talks blogging, side hustles, budgeting and making money. This link is to her whole shop which has a selection of paid and free options. I particularly like 10 Steps to Start a Profitable Blog.

The Blog Structure Blueprint, Goal Setting Workbook for Bloggers and 7 Tips to Boost Your Income Overnight are all free.

This blogging bundle is for those who are ready for the next level with their blog.

Blogging for Those with Chronic Illness

I have done everything bit by bit over five years, as my health has allowed. Don’t be afraid to start small.

Here’s my blog post process:

  1. Idea into Evernote
  2. Flesh it out when I have the time and energy
  3. Load it into WordPress, format
  4. Create an image for it (or ask my brother, when I wasn’t able to use the computer as much)
  5. Set it to post
  6. Share it on social media

Please don’t think that because you can’t sit at the computer for hours and hours that your story shouldn’t be heard. I’d like to hear your story. Let’s #havefibrodoitanyway

My Resources

Below are the resources I have created, in the order that I created them.

My blog posts (over 170 now)

Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia Resource Page – this finally looks how I envisioned it, but I really had to do one step at a time.

What I Offer Page – includes the way to get access to my free library of resources and printables.

Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book – published first in November 2017 and updated March 2018.

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia – written slowly over five years!

Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia course

You vs Fibromyalgia: Arm Yourself with Knowledge FREE Micro Course.

Etsy Shop with printables, templates, micro courses and workbooks.

Please do let me know in the comments if you start a blog, or if you already have one – I’d love to come visit and say hi!


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Early pregnancy symptoms and Fibromyalgia

Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Fibromyalgia (2018 Edition)

Pregnancy is an exciting time but it can also be tricky dealing with the early symptoms. Adding the fibromyalgia complexity makes it just a bit more difficult.

Here’s my tips for managing pregnancy symptoms with Fibromyalgia:

Early pregnancy symptoms and Fibromyalgia

Affiliate notice: Some of my links may be affiliate links, I may make a small commission if you make a purchase at no extra cost to you.

(Find this as a FREE printable report Managing Early Pregnancy Symptoms on the Resources page)

Manage your normal human stuff first

  • Sleep as best as you can
  • Rest
  • Eat as healthily as possible
  • Pregnancy multi vitamin
  • Drink lots of water

(Don’t forget I literally wrote the book on Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia)

Specific for morning sickness

If it’s bad, as in you’re not keeping water or food down, seek medical attention. Hydration is crucial, as is nutrients for your developing baby.

There are a couple more options that I used that you need to do your own research on – essential oils.

(Catch your free report on Essential Oils for Natural Health on the Resources page )

Here’s two starter articles for you.

https://www.mamanatural.com/eo-pregnancy-birth/

http://www.thehippyhomemaker.com/using-essential-oils-safely-for-pregnant-nursing-mamas/

I used lavender for pain and peppermint for nausea and headaches. See here for my post about my journey into using Essential Oils.

Managing fatigue 

For me, fatigue is the big issue to manage. My fatigue levels can cause nausea and orthostatic intolerance even without morning sickness.

Really prioritise sleep and rest! After the children are in bed I found lying down to read (with my knees up to rest my low back) really helpful. Even if insomnia is plaguing you, resting helps. Try a meditation.

If, like me, increased pain hits you in pregnancy you might like to try these

  • Stretching – cat and cow pose, child’s pose, forward bend, hip flexor stretches, low back stretches etc.
  • Keep exercising gently
  • Warm baths and showers
  • Arnica pain cream
  • Physiotherapy/massage/osteopathy etc.

If you want to learn even more information about pain relief during pregnancy, then check out my 15-page printable PDF Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Micro Course Workbook. It goes through the existing information about pain relief during pregnancy, my experiences, a list of natural pain relief options, a list of further reading, a template to make your own pain relief plan (pregnancy edition) with space for notes and the brand new Advanced Pain Relief sheet with links to research about medicine use in pregnancy. I have gathered the information and created these printables to make it easier for you to make the best decisions for yourself- it took me years to get it all together.

If you’re trying to head off pelvis issues like me, here’s what I’m doing (my physiotherapist taught me how to do these appropriately),

  • Knee presses
  • Mini squats
  • Calf lifts
  • Pelvic floor, stomach engaged pelvic tilts
  • Superman pose

Please remember that this is a finite time and you’ll soon be thinking on other things, namely your fast growing passenger.

Would you like this post as a PDF printable so that you can refer back to it? Find it on the Resources page


For more information:

Pregnancy and Fibro eCourseThis is the full eCourse for planning the best pregnancy you can have. It has five lessons and plenty of templates for you to turn the learning around to make your own plan.

If the full eCourse isn’t something you have the time for right now, you might be interested in the full workbook available in my store. You can work through this at your own pace.

And do come and join our Facebook group Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia to chat with other mamas doing pregnancy with Fibromyalgia.

 

Free Printables from Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Book

Did you know that I wrote a book (well, I’ve written two, Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia and Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia)? It was a bucket list goal to write a book and a more recent life goal to write a book to share my experience of fibromyalgia in case it helps others.

In this book I provided templates and these are available in the free resources page (along with many other resources) that you can sign up for here.

Free Printables from Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Book.png

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a commission if you purchase using my link at no extra cost to yourself. See my full disclosure here

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia book cover

These templates are all mentioned in my book Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia. This book is everything that I have researched, trialed and experienced in seven years of actively fighting this illness and over a decade living with the symptoms of it. I wrote this book in the hope that it helps even one other person not lose so long to the pain and fatigue – I lost the entirety of my twenties until I realised that the only person who was going to fight this illness was myself. No doctor would take the lead here. I became my own researcher, advocate, scientist and lead carer in one. It has made all the difference.

My Sleep Diary

This is to help you to track your sleep and any supplements/medicines or sleep hygiene tips you try. You can find the template here. You can download and print it out and start using it today.

My Passion Worksheet

This takes you through questions like what do I really enjoy to do? and what would my ideal day look like? so that you can see how you can incorporate your passions into your new life. Find the template here.

My Supplement Log

So that you can track and log supplements you might decide to try. I find it really important to keep a list of those I’ve tried (because I forget) and to track how they might have helped me, because supplements can be costly so we want to be taking the most effective ones. Find it here.

My Support Worksheet

Support is vital to us as human beings and fibromyalgia can be isolating. In this sheet we work through our support options such as creating a plan for the harder days. I found it enormously helpful to have a pre-written plan for flare days in ascending order of ability so that I didn’t have to think about what to do (I tend to quietly panic when the pain gets severe). Find the template here.

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As I said above, these are available in the free Resources page that you can sign up for here, there are also several printable reports and other resources in here to help you on your journey.

 

I hope all of these resources help you in your fight.

 

 


For more printables and templates to fight fibromyalgia:

Etsy Shop

For my free course You vs Fibromyalgia:

Free eCourse sign up you vs fibromyalgia

8 gift ideas for your spoonie friend with fibromyalgia

Spoonie Gifts – Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary? What to get a Friend with Fibromyalgia

Do you have a friend/partner/spouse/whatever with Fibromyalgia in your life? I thought I would make it easy for you by giving you a round up of all of the things I am currently wishing for!

8 gift ideas for your spoonie friend with fibromyalgia

Please note that some of my links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase I will make a small commission without extra cost to you.

Does your person with Fibromyalgia read a lot, like me? You can try Amazon Kindle Unlimited! Just sign up here Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans. Amazon Kindle Unlimited gives you unlimited reading (say what?), unlimited listening to their audiobooks. I would enjoy this.

Amazon Prime Gift Membership – you can give 3 or 12 month plans. They have access to: FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items; No minimum order size; Instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows; Unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs and hundreds of playlists. All of these are useful for tired night ins, flare days and just life in general! You can find it here Give the Gift of Amazon Prime. As I said above, I read a lot and one of my favourite authors is Jennifer L. Armentrout – and I cannot think about Amazon Prime without thinking of a character in the book Brave who is obsessed with Amazon Prime!

Sunbeam Microplush Heated Electric Throw Blanket – I’ve written a lot about how heat helps. A self-heating heat pack would have been my ideal, until I saw this. It’s like an electric blanket for the couch. Perfect for a cold winter’s night or the sore Fibro friend.

Morning tea – maybe your friend would love to get out of the house and have a cup of coffee and a croissant at Starbucks with you. If they don’t drive, perhaps you could pick them up and drop them home.

Dinner – as a related item, perhaps you could bring them your signature delicious dish and share a meal with them at home.

Essential Oils Starter Kit – I have been learning a lot about essential oils for natural health lately. You can sign up here for access to my free resources page with downloadable report about Essential Oils. This set of six is a nice starter pack.

Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia – how about my book? This is everything I have researched, written and learntMelissa vs Fibromyalgia book cover about to fight Fibromyalgia. It’s how I went from miserable to thriving – I still have Fibromyalgia, but it doesn’t dominate as much as it used to.

Something that is completely free – a compassionate ear. Please be there for them. The best gift we could ever receive is unconditional acceptance.

 

 


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My Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibromyalgia One Year Experiment

It’s been a year since my giant experiment with low dose naltrexone (LDN). What a year it has been.
 See my post LDN, Fibromyalgia and Me for my last update. Also see Low Dose Naltrexone: An Experiment my first post introducing the experiment.
How Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Changed My Life

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

How Low Dose Naltrexone works in a nutshell

It works in the endocannabinoid system – it temporarily blocks the receptors encouraging the body to make more endorphins. There’s research and explanations in my introductory post here and in the chapter about LDN in my book Melissa vs Fibromyalgia. I also created a printable of the LDN chapter from my book with research list so that you can do some research and take it to your doctor in my Etsy shop here.
What I love most about this medicine is that it is not a typical medicine and does not have any of the nasty side effects that most medicines prescribed for Fibromyalgia have. The worst I experienced was vivid dreams when I was titrating up to find my ideal dose. It essentially tricks the body into producing more endorphins, there is research theorizing that people with Fibromyalgia suffer from endocannabinoid deficiency. I believe it took nine months for me to see effect because my body was slowly healing from a deep sleep deprivation behind the scenes. This leads me to believe that LDN may be the only way to address an insufficiency that currently has no other satisfactory treatment option. I certainly prefer it to pain killers that have many negative effects and few positive ones.
There is also plenty of research and patient evidence available – groups on Facebook about LDN and the LDN research trust have a wealth of knowledge.

So here are the five benefits I have noted from LDN:

Five ways LDN is changing my life

Benefit One Sleep

What it’s helped me with – first and foremost is sleep. For the ten years or so prior to LDN I had not slept in more than one hour blocks, that’s rarely completing a whole sleep cycle, therefore my body was in chronic deep sleep deprivation. Since LDN, I can sleep in two, three, four or even five hour blocks! I am so grateful for this, I can’t even tell you. I believe this is what has created the other benefits.
Please do note that I still have to take amitriptyline to get to sleep and enact my sleep hygiene list daily.

Benefit Two Pain

Since about nine months into treatment I have noticed a reduction in neck pain. Neck pain has been a 24/7 issue for over 10 years. In 2017, while starting LDN, I learnt that my neck issue is actually myofascial pain syndrome. After throwing the severe, recurring “muscle knots” (trigger points) into the fibro basket, I finally had an answer. The physiotherapist has been helping me to work on these trigger points through intramuscular needling  (gently inserting a tiny needle into the trigger point and letting it relax a little) and neck mobilisations. This and the sleep (potentially reducing the fibromyalgia worsening the issue) has helped. My pain levels were 6-8/10 with severe headaches (with dizziness and nausea) daily back in 2010 before I started this journey. Just prior to LDN they were approximately 4-6/10 with occasional severe headaches. In early 2018, after one year on LDN, the average is 3-4/10 with the occasional spike to 5/6 with a bad headache and it’s usually when I’ve overdone it.

Benefit Three Emotional

If you haven’t lived with pain that interrupts sleep, interferes with daily life all day, every day for over a decade or been unable to sleep for more than an hour at a time for about the same length of time – it’ll be hard to convey the depth of impact on my emotional well-being.
Not fighting to sleep at 3am, not swapping pillows, getting my heat pack, applying pain cream and basically not sleeping due to unrelenting pain is huge for me.
My quality if life is so much better. I never let myself lose hope, but it was dwindling. This was a necessary win.

Benefit Four Stamina

Slowly my stamina increased. Activities that used to wipe me out can be tolerated for longer. I can exercise slightly more. I can do slightly more.
Having had a baby with reflux, I feel I coped exceptionally well and that is down to LDN. The demands on a mama of two is much higher than a mama with one! It’s been a busy year.

Benefit Five Fatigue

Fatigue is the second of my two worst symptoms (neck pain being the first). Yes, that’s “is” not “was”. It’s improved but I still have a limited energy envelope. I can get through the day on a 15 minute meditation and a brief sit down with the heat pack. I still can’t physically stay up past 9pm and that’s a fair trade off to me.

A Note on Pregnancy

I did some research around the use of LDN in pregnancy for my book and found a fertility doctor who has been using it for years and it’s had benefits for mama and baby.
There isn’t a lot of literature around medicine use in pregnancy, but I took what I had and presented my choice to stay on it to my doctor. We decided for my context it was worth continuing. But that is individual and you need to take the research to your doctor if you are considering taking it during pregnancy – know your stuff in case your doctor doesn’t, they’ll hopefully appreciate the information.

Conclusion

LDN is not a miracle medicine nor standalone treatment option for me, but it is changing my life and I’m so thankful.

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