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.

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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.
  • Coaching can help you on your journey. See how you can work with me here.
My growing list of fibromyalgia treatments

Come and get your free list of treatment ideas

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: 2019

As of 2019 I am currently enjoying my third postpartum period. Both the pregnancy and this time have been much more tolerate thanks to LDN and all the things I have enacted to be more well. I am so thankful every day.

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. If you want to work with me one-on-one then see here for more information..


For more information

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

Curious about coaching for fibromyalgia?

Creating an income at home with a chronic illness my etsy shop

My Etsy Store: Creating an Income at Home with Chronic Illness and Kids

Since I learnt that working full time was not conducive to maintaining my health I have dabbled with part time work of varying hours and freelancing. Since I was put off work sick with pelvis issues at 23 weeks pregnant in 2018, I’ve begun looking for potential income generating options that I can physically maintain with three small children.
Creating an income at home with a chronic illness my etsy shop

My Etsy store

I opened my Etsy store originally as a way to share my products for fighting fibromyalgia.
My journey has been all topsy turvy and not at all planned. It sprung from realizing that I enjoy designing templates and printable images.
See this handy article on how to set up a store.
Then I began playing with templates, then affirmations, then planners, then printable art
I started to research how to make a successful Etsy store. I love the Fuzzy and Birch blog for tips on making your store successful.

In brief what you need to make a successful etsy store:

  • Good images
  • SEO for keywords in tags and product descriptions
  • At least 20 items
  • Free marketing
  • Shop updates

Tools I use for my etsy store:

  • PowerPoint
  • Canva
  • Etsy app
  • Marmalead
  • Pinterest
The broad categories I created
my scripture designs for my etsy storePlanning for wellness printables from my etsy storeMotivational and affirmations from my etsy storeplanning printables in my etsy store
The beauty of my Etsy store is that most of the work is done once I create the listing. So once I have my baby, the store can keep ticking over provided I continue my marketing measures. The product is automatically delivered upon payment so the process doesn’t tend to include me. This is the much coveted passive income people talk of so much. Much work done upfront with little (but definitely required) ongoing work.

My home office

My home office is in the landing of the junction of three parts of our house. There is a built in desk with shelves.
My other office is my lounge chair with my phone. Smartphones are an amazing invention for chronic illness and mama digital creators!

How I manage my etsy store, pelvis issues and small children:

  • I work in tiny increments
  • Alternate between computer and phone
  • Ideas go into Evernote
  • I design in PowerPoint on the computer
  • At some point I also use the computer to make the listing images, research keywords for the listing and actually create the listing
  • At another point, using my phone I promote and share listings
  • If I’m feeling particularly sore, fatigued or have my boys home alone all day I might not get anything done.
Side note: I will not be making my fortune off this. I create products I genuinely use or would use myself. I keep my prices at the affordable end. Ultimately I enjoy it and am learning transferable skills for when I reenter the workforce and any income earned will help us out in the meantime.
Business notes
I already had a company setup from freelancing prior to my last job and I have basic bookkeeping knowledge so the business side of things is less of a learning curve for me, but I still had to research sales tax on digital sales etc. carefully. Make sure you don’t get caught out. Create spreadsheets from the beginning tracking income and expenses and document your business practices as if it was a brick and mortar store. Then at year end it won’t be so tricky to go through it with your accountant.

Where my Etsy store is at now:

As at the end of September 2018 I made two sales which covered all of the listing fees of all my new products loaded that month. So anything I sold in October was for a profit (after Etsy’s cut). So that was pretty exciting.
I then loaded a few coffee art prints and scripture prints – which I had loads of fun designing – during October to see if that was a direction my store could take. It’s all about playing and having fun at the moment.
A serious note re creating products – adhere to copyright, use your own images and words or ensure they are free for commercial use (or pay for this license). I am paying for nothing that isn’t necessary until I have made more than I have invested so free is good.
A sneak peak at my next few products going up (yes, I am obsessed with coffee):

Coffee printable art work in MelissavFibromyalgia etsy store

I’d love to hear anything you do to create a side income as a chronic illness fighter.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points, Fibromyalgia, Definition Diagnosis Triggers and Treatment Options

Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points and Fibromyalgia: Definition, Diagnosis, Triggers and Treatment Options

Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is a term I came across in 2017, when a physiotherapist finally explained that this is what was causing my severe neck issues. In this post we go through what it is, examine if it’s part of Fibromyalgia, and my at-home treatments.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points, Fibromyalgia, Definition Diagnosis Triggers and Treatment Options

Definition of Myofascial Pain Syndrome

A good definition of Myofascial Pain Syndrome that I have come across explains it as: “hyper irritable spots, usually within a taut band of skeletal muscle or in the muscle’s fascia that is painful on compression and can give rise to characteristic referred pain, tenderness, and autonomic phenomena” 1

Are Trigger Points Part of Fibromyalgia?

There is often confusion between the tender points characteristic of Fibromyalgia and trigger points. This article discusses the differences and similarities and provides a chart for distinguishing between the two.

The propensity for medical professionals to throw every symptom into the Fibromyalgia basket set me back for a decade. If they had realised prior to 2017 that my neck pain was really caused by trigger points, then we could have begun working on them sooner. These tiny hyper irritable spots have caused me over ten years of sleepless nights and 24/7 pain that nothing completely relieved.

Whether or not one wants to accept trigger points as part of Fibromyalgia or separate, research has noted that where trigger points are present in those with Fibromyalgia, the treatment of trigger points relieves the Fibromyalgia symptoms associated – such as pain in that area and fatigue.

Diagnostic Criteria for Myofascial Pain Syndrome

MPS does not have universally accepted diagnostic criteria, so it also does not have reliable statistics as to the prevalence. An estimate, using data around musculoskeletal pain in general puts estimates of myofascial pain as a patient’s primary complaint at 30%. 2

Other posts you may like:

Tools to Fight Fibromyalgia
My Top Three Treatments to Fight Fibromyalgia
9 Inexpensive Items I Use to Fight Fibromyalgia (including items I use to treat trigger points)

Causes or Contributing Factors for Trigger Points

  • Fibromyalgia or other conditions, especially inflammatory ones
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Postural (including bad ergonomics at the computer)
  • Trauma to the area
  • Excessive or lack of exercise
  • Emotional stress
  • Fatigue
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Excess weight

Treatment for Trigger Points

The above quoted literature review (2) discusses general treatments for MPS: aside from eliminating as many aggravators of the condition as possible (like proper ergonomic posture at computers), treating any other present diseases, the treatment usually includes NSAIDS (usually stated as unhelpful for Fibromyalgia), heat pack, and acupuncture applied by a specific methodology.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Trigger Points, Fibromyalgia: Definition, Diagnosis, Triggers and Treatment

Some treatment options

In my case, I found that placing acupuncture needles into the trigger point (gently, without aiming for muscle reactions like in dry needling) and leaving them in for 10-15 minutes followed by neck mobilisations and tractions, provides the best relief I have found. By going to a physiotherapist to do this every three weeks, in addition to my home treatment plan, is the best way to treat the trigger points. But they always come back. We have made some progress over the past year, but they are always there and re-triggered rather easily.

Whatever may work for you, it is likely to be multi modal – involving a few treatment options, including pharmacologic and alternative approaches.

My At-home Treatments for Trigger Points:

  • Heat: heat pack, hot bath or shower
  • Topical creams: Essential oil blended pain cream, Deep Heat
  • Trigger Point Massager cane for self-trigger point activation (you can use your fingers or thumbs but mine get too sore for the level of pressure needed)
  • Rest/pacing
  • Stretching
  • Limiting computer time and using good ergonomic set up
  • Medicines: Brufen, when they get to spasm level then a muscle relaxant

Would you like to work with me to help you tackle myofascial pain syndrome? I offer personalised one on one coaching to help you take control of your healing journey!

Your turn: Do you have trigger points too? How do you treat them?

  1. Travell, JG, Simons, DG. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction. The Trigger Point Manual: Upper Half of Body, 2nd edition. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore 1988.
  2. Overview of soft tissue rheumatic disorders Author:Irving Kushner, MDSection Editor:Zacharia Isaac, MDDeputy Editor:Monica Ramirez Curtis, MD, MPH Literature review current through: Mar 2018. | This topic last updated: May 12, 2017. on UptoDate.com

For more information:

Come and join my free micro course You vs Fibromyalgia: Arm Yourself with Knowledge

Low dose naltrexone for fibromyalgia project

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibromyalgia Survey

Since I have written up my one year experiment conclusion about low dose naltrexone (LDN) and Fibromyalgia, I have developed a bit of an itch to share my knowledge. I want others with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, Fibromyalgia to hear about this potential treatment option.

To this end, I am creating an eBook about LDN for Fibromyalgia.

I believe that patient-evidence (this term, which I love, was coined by Julia Schopick in her book Honest Medicine) is very important – that’s your voice, not the researcher’s voice (though, I will include research too).

Low dose naltrexone for fibromyalgia project

If you are on LDN could you please take some time to fill in this survey for me? Please do send it on to anyone you know taking LDN for Fibromyalgia. It is my hope that we receive a wide number of audience responses to really show the breadth of experience with this medicine.

For my previous posts on Low Dose Naltrexone see:

Low Dose Naltrexone: An Experiment

Low Dose Naltrexone: Update 16 Weeks

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), Fibromyalgia & Me

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

I also reference LDN in both of my books, more so in the Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Melissa vs Fibromyalgia book coverJourney Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia book – because it is a big part of why I was able to write this book.

Affiliate note: Please note that the link to my book is an affiliate link, if you make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

If you have any questions, please do use the contact page and send me an email. Or come along and join the Melissa (you) vs Fibromyalgia Facebook page and ask me there.

Here is the survey link.

 


For more information and to stay up to date:

sign up to newsletter

Fibromyalgia Flare Ups, What is a Fibromyalgia Flare Up, How do I cope with one

Fibromyalgia Flare Up, What Is a Flare Up and How to Cope

A flare up is a temporary exacerbation of symptoms in a chronic illness. A fibromyalgia flare, for example, is a period of time when one or more of the symptoms of fibromyalgia gets worse for a time.

Sometimes it can be tricky to tell you’re in a flare as it can be a progressive worsening that lasts for a period of time such as postpartum. Other times you just wake up feeling like you were hit by a bus. On yet others if can feel like you just slide into being unwell, unexpectedly during a normal day.

Fibromyalgia Flare Ups, What is a Fibromyalgia Flare Up, How do I cope with one

Possible triggers for a fibromyalgia flare up

  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Hormones
  • Weather
  • Lack of sleep
  • Overdoing it
Some people are able to accurately pinpoint their triggers and try to avoid them. For others, like me, it tends to be a confluence of events but mostly my overdoing it.

My key tip for coping during a flare is having your plan in place for what to do. 

My second key tip is to remember it will pass, and in the meantime you can do things to help yourself.

Fibromyalgia flare up planning

When my symptoms were much worse and I had flares more regularly I had a list of things I could do in ascending order of ability. I utilized this during the early and later parts of my pregnancies. In trimester one, in the midst of those weeks of intense fatigue and nausea my go-to was an audio book of Pride and Prejudice. I know the book well enough that it didn’t matter if I lost focus or fell asleep while listening with my eyes closed.

I have also found that it helps to have a few reminders set up for things that comfort me (I tend to forget even the simplest things that can help me during a flare). I will just wilt away and wonder why. Whereas if I get onto it early I can head off the worst of it.

It also helps to just immediately follow a plan rather than dwell on the severity of my symptoms. It is very easy to panic that these symptoms will never fade back to manageable levels or that the gains I have made over the past several years might be gone.

In order to help you do this, I created My Chronic Illness Flare Planning Kit which is a printable set of plans to help you make your flare plan ahead of time. It includes:

  • My Pain Relief Plan
  • My Medicine List
  • My Flare Plans
  • My To Read List
  • My To Watch List
  • My Support List
  • Bonus: Natural Pain Relief Mechanisms List

To get you started on your plans, here’s some posts that might help guide you:

Tools to Fight Fibromyalgia

9 Inexpensive Items I Use to Fight Fibromyalgia

Why I’m Treating the Fibromyalgia as Naturally as Possible – Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia

Here’s what some people in my groups said they do in a flare…

“Try and get home to my heat pack as quick as possible. Rest.”
“I alternate between heat and ice.  I don’t find ibuprofen or creams help much, though Tiger Balms is a nice twenty minute distraction from the pain.  Epsom salt baths don’t really help me either — actually make me feel irritable unfortunately.  Also, I’m strange in that going for my regular walks usually makes me feel better — just for the length of the walk though, then the pain returns.”
“Sleep…a lot lol. And lots of baths/hot showers.”
“Take something for pain. Sleep. Do as little as possible.”
“Snuggle up on the sofa with my quilt, pillows and teddies. Watch TV and cuddle my cats. That’s how I deal with a flare haha xx.”
Your turn, will you share your tips for coping during a flare?
My growing list of fibromyalgia treatments

Grab your free list today!

8 tips to cope with children, symphysis pubis disorder and fibromyalgia

How to Cope with Two Tiny Children, Symphysis Pubis Disorder and Fibromyalgia

As my third pregnancy progresses and the symphysis pubis disorder reduces my mobility and increases my pain, it is getting more difficult to manage everything else. Namely the two tiny children and the fibromyalgia.

In case other fibro parents are struggling, I thought I’d share how I’m managing. This is not to say I’m doing amazingly, I get discouraged and disappointed with my limitations. But I acknowledge I am doing my best thanks to several things.

8 tips to cope with children, symphysis pubis disorder and fibromyalgia

  1. I wholly believe I am coping this well this time due to sleep – or the low dose naltrexone helping me sleep. It may be disrupted by pain and pee, but it is more restorative than before. Sleep is king.
  2. Meditation– I cannot nap but the fatigue has been creeping higher so I am eternally grateful for guided meditation to help me achieve 30 or so minutes of deep rest to keep me going.
  3. Routine – my boys and I are creatures of routine. We have the same morning and evening framework daily and set plans during the week. They expect the routine and I can provide it even when greatly diminished.
  4. Flexibility – within this routine there is flexibility. For example, some evenings when husband is at work and I’m exhausted we will do a fish and chip, movie evening. Some nights we skip the shower.
  5. Time saving – I bunch jobs. I make their lunches at the same time. I throw dinner in the pressure cooker or slow cooker in a gap in the day. I shower the boys together (Wyatt adores showering with big brother). We sing a family song together at bedtime and they are going to bed around the same time.
  6. Help – we have kept them in their routine from when I was able to work. Noah does kindy two mornings and they both go to their carer’s for two school hour days. This enables me to get to appointments, cleaning, cooking and resting, which I was not managing while at work.
  7. Easy activities – I keep a snap lock bag with crayons and a scrapbook to get out on a whim. There’s a tub of outdoor chalk in the lean-to outside. A box of play dough and supplies lives in the cupboard. We have a trampoline and small slide structure for backyard fun. I keep a rotation of toys going in the lounge so they don’t get stale, the boys both love blocks. Indoor parks are great in wet weather too. And books, they both have their favourites. Don’t underestimate balloons! My boys will play balloon for ages. (Actually I can and will write a whole post on this, look out for it!)
  8. Television – at that time of day when the kids are tired and I need a break, we will sit and snuggle and watch the tele. No mama guilt y’all.

Do you have any other tips?


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Surviving the newborn period and baby care log printable

Surviving the Newborn Period and Baby Care Log Printable

When I was a brand new mama, waddling after my episiotomy with an unsettled windy baby, I took real solace in having a miniature framework to follow at home.

Surviving the newborn period and baby care log printable

Frameworks for the Newborn Period

I am a big fan of frameworks over rigid routines, not that newborns are into routines either.

At first it was just feeding 2-3 hourly and taking medicine at 6-8 hour intervals. This was enough to keep me feeling tethered.

A quick note on feeding in those early days (first 12 weeks): 2-3 hourly tends to be a good guide but both my boys cluster fed in the evenings and look out for growth spurts. I don’t believe in “stretching out” to a certain length between feeds until baby is bigger.

I created a chart that I populated for several months. I am a pretty chart person as opposed to an app person. But apps do the job too.

By the time my second baby came along I had learnt many good things. Including the magic of appropriate wake times per age. So my chart became augmented not just logging sleep but helping to pre-empt when it was due. It made a huge difference not letting baby get overtired. Who knew you had to tell a baby they needed sleep?

It also helped as I mix fed my second, so I had to track feeding physically and formula and expressing. It was crazy, this alone took most of my day!

I also made it a point to track my rest and medicines so it wasn’t all about baby. “Rest” includes a nap (if you can), meditation, restorative yoga, a hot bath or shower etc. Things that are nourishing for you. As in pregnancy, the postpartum period is not a time to forget mama’s quality of life.

Baby Care Log Printables

As I anticipate my third baby, I have reincarnated my chart, but not just for me this time, it is now available in my Etsy store! So head on over and pick yourself up one too. As an aside, being off work due to severe pelvis issues that left me requiring crutches to walk, I found that I really enjoyed creating templates and helpful products for those of us fighting fibromyalgia and being mamas!

I created the New Mama Daily Log which includes baby feeding and sleeps, with your own self-care such as mama meds and self-care/rest tracking. The Breastfeeding and Expressing Log is for those who want to carefully track these, this is handy for mix feeding and exclusive expressing too. The Baby Care Log has the choice of simple and complex logging – baby feeding, nappies, sleeps, expressing and bottle feeding with a log that enables more detail when you need it and one for less detail (when you’re tired?).

More Information About the Newborn Period

For more information on wake times by age, I love this article with this chart.

For more information about nursing see my article about it here and about expressing/pumping for your baby here.

I like this article on the fourth trimester (aka the first three months).

I like these tips for newborns from the author of The Gentle Sleep Book.

Did you have a framework you followed in those early days? How did you track feeding, sleeping (and other baby stuff) and your medicines and other stuff?


pregnancy and fibromyalgia def ed angleFor more about pregnancy and fibromyalgia, from fertility through to coping with toddlers, grab my book.

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If you are serious about digging in and learning about fighting fibromyalgia while pregnant and during the postpartum period, you might like my Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia Workbook – it will take you through the information and help you to make a pain management plan as well as plans for coping during the third trimester, delivery and the first six weeks. It also goes through nursing with fibromyalgia.