Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Six – Pain Management for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain

Welcome to part six of the Fibromyalgia Framework series! I hope you’re enjoying this series and have come to join the conversation in 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.

fibromyalgia framework part seven pain management

Note: My newsletter subscribers get access to the content first and exclusive access to the freebies I’ve made – if you want to sign up in time for part seven, click here.

We have discussed: 

The Fibromyalgia Framework
Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books
Tracking Your Progress
Sleep
Central Nervous System

PAIN MANAGEMENT FOR FIBROMYALGIA/CHRONIC PAIN

We could spend a long time going through pain management options in depth, but that is outside the scope of this series. I will give you a brief introduction to the multiple options and give you extra reading you can follow up on. As you will recall from my fibromyalgia puzzle, low dose naltrexone and physiotherapy are key pain management options for me. Yours might be entirely different.

LIFESTYLE FOCUSED PAIN MANAGEMENT

  • Sleep
  • Gentle movement
  • Rest
  • Seeing food as fuel
  • Observing your work/life balance

SPECIFIC FOR PAIN – WHAT I DO:

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

  • Heat pack. This is my first line of defense, I use it on my neck first thing, whenever I can during the day, in the evening and at bedtime.
  • Essential oils – lavender is my all time favourite for sleep, pain and relaxation.
  • Deep Heat, a non-medicated heat producing rub that eases muscle pain, especially when combined with a good massage.
  • Biofreeze – a cooling pain reliever, especially good for during warmer weather.
  • A hot bath is my best treat and the first thing I want when the pain increases.
  • I see the physiotherapist every three weeks and they do neck tractions and place acupuncture needles in trigger points in my neck and shoulders. This is the only thing that keeps the neck free and keeps the severe headaches, dizziness and nausea that accompanies the severe neck pain away.
  • A Theracane trigger point massager for self-trigger point release. You can use your fingers, but mine get too sore for this now, you do have to push rather hard.
  • Magnesium oil on my back and shoulders at bedtime.
  • Low dose naltrexone. Over a period of 12 months, it has decreased my neck pain levels more than anything ever has. It is not a miracle drug – if I don’t take it, the fatigue skyrockets, and if I overdo it, my neck pain increases. It is not a standalone treatment. But I am super thankful for it!
  • It helps me get to sleep where nothing else has ever worked. I do have to combine it with a heap of sleep hygiene routines, but it’s the base of the plan. In addition to helping me sleep (and thereby, reducing pain), it reduced the wider spread pain and near constant headaches.
  • MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) for muscle and joint pain. It helps with the pain in my index fingers as well as a little difference in my neck.
  • Slow release, high dose ibuprofen for period pain, for about four days – it’s pretty severe.
  • Ibuprofen or paracetamol (Acetaminophen) for headaches or low level pain that breaks through.
  • A muscle relaxant for spasms in the neck or back – the frequency of these has decreased since I began LDN.

OTHER PAIN RELIEF OPTIONS:

  • TENS machine
  • Foam roller
  • Essential oils
    • Lavender
    • Chamomile
    • Peppermint
  • Herbs
    • Thyme
    • Devil’s Claw
    • Jamaican Dogwood
    • Cayenne
    • White Willow Bark
    • Corydalis
  • Supplements
  • CBD oil

For medicinal pain relief, please discuss these options with your doctor and do your own research. Do always check for interactions between herbs/supplements and medicines that you are on.

LOW DOSE NALTREXONE

I haven’t been quiet about the benefits of low dose naltrexone (LDN). Since beginning it in 2017 I have experienced the best improvement of any single thing I have ever tried. I believe it is all down to sleeping better. The offshoots of this have been many. I have decreased pain levels, increased stamina, decreased fatigue, dramatically improved quality of life.

Find my Low Dose Naltrexone One Year Experiment post here. It includes a full write up of how it is changing my life with some links to further information.

For an overview of LDN see this website.


You might like:

Do you wish that you could have all of the parts of the Fibromyalgia Framework Series, along with the templates to help you plan with space for notes in one place? There is! The Fibromyalgia Framework Series Workbook is available here. 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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health update four months postpartum with fibromyalgia

Health Update 4 Months Postpartum with Baby #3 and Fibromyalgia

I haven’t given you a proper health update for a long while. I kept you updated about the pregnancy and have given a full rundown on my low dose naltrexone experiment. But nothing about my general health recently.

Being consumed with children and nursing and surviving has impacted my health, but not as badly as I feared it would. I had a bad flare after Noah, pretty much his entire first year was a flare. With Wyatt I did better thanks to starting low dose naltrexone (LDN). But this time I am fully established on LDN, and the difference is huge.

health update four months postpartum with fibromyalgia

Pain

Average pain levels are sitting at 4/10 for my neck and shoulders. These trigger points are irritated by carrying my 7kg baby and lying on my side to feed him in the night. I have had several bad headaches and one so bad I had to go to bed for an entire morning. I am not taking pain medicines regularly, only paracetamol/acetaminophen during the worst headaches (I take the water soluble one as I cannot swallow pills when the headaches are bad and cause nausea so paracetamol is the only option at these times). My pelvis, glutes and legs are getting very sore at the end of days that I have had to carry the baby more and nights where I have had to lie on my side with baby for a long time. I have a feeling that this is due to active trigger points from labour. But generally, day to day, I am doing much better. I am using my heat pack, topical, un-medicated creams and hot showers daily.

Talking about trigger points – I have put more effort into researching and treating them. I have been using my Targeted Symptom Plan template (part of this kit in my Etsy store) to work on these.

Fatigue

Living on 6-7 broken hours of sleep is difficult for anyone and I am so thankful at how well I am coping. A 20 minute meditation makes all the difference on the days when I can. I cannot wait for baby to consistently sleep in four hour stretches!

New things to try

A person in a group I am in on Facebook suggested a brand of magnesium to try called Magnesium L-Threonate (please note this is an affiliate link and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you). Apparently it crosses the blood-brain barrier effectively. You might like to research this.

Baby product that has been saving my life

I have been so grateful for my baby wrap (affiliate). The day that I first put it on the baby stopped an hours long fussing spree! This holds baby closer to your body which reduces the strain on your back and shoulders. It also sits around your waist, not near your pelvis, this relieved the pressure that the normal front pack placed on it. At first I had to use it for all naps. Then just for naps that he woke up early from (read: all) and needed extra sleep time to be less fussy. I also use it when I am taking the four year old into kindy with the two year old and baby. I prefer my Beco Gemini front pack (affiliate) for this as it is much faster to put on, but it was stolen with our car a couple of weeks ago.

Stress

Speaking of cars. First, I was rear ended while driving one car with the baby in it. That car has been written off (in a very slow process) so we are hunting for the ideal replacement. Then the second car was stolen (with my baby carrier and three car seats in!). Very stressful. On the day of the accident I had to practice careful breathing and some relaxation techniques. I dealt with it much better than I would have several years ago. But it hasn’t been much fun navigating all this.

What’s next?

I am studying a life coaching course on Udemy to support my mission here on the blog. Do come along and join my Facebook group if you want access to super special discounts while I am setting up this service. I am trying to get baby to begin taking a bottle so I can catch a break one day. I am also considering how and when to get back to work with three tiny children – one of whom seems destined to be breastfed forever!

How are you doing?

fibromyalgia framework part five central sensitivity and how meditation can help

Fibromyalgia Framework Part Five: Central Sensitivity and How Meditation Can Help

Welcome to part five! I hope you’re enjoying this series! Did you catch the last one Sleep? It was pretty meaty and I hope very helpful.

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 seven pain management for fibromyalgia and chronic pain

We have discussed:

The Fibromyalgia Framework
Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books
Tracking Your Progress
Sleep

CENTRAL SENSITIVITY/OVERACTIVE NERVOUS SYSTEM IN FIBROMYALGIA

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)[1]. Other literature suggests that the chronic pain causes the central nervous system to go into overdrive. However you look at it, the nervous system appears to be involved.

The theory of autonomic nervous system dysfunction resonates with me as a big part of the puzzle – not the entire answer.

A lot of programmes are popping up and claiming to “cure” chronic pain (Lightning Process, Curable app, the CFS Unraveled programme, various books with similar programmes) based upon the idea of retraining the brain. If these programmes are the entire answer for someone, I am happy for them. But mostly they are going to be one part of the puzzle.

MEDITATION

Meditation promotes a calming of the central nervous system, allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to activate. In the short-term that meant achieving deep rest during meditation, in the longer term it meant a dramatic reduction of the misfiring of my fight or flight response to minor stimuli.

The benefits:

  • Complete rest
  • Calming the central nervous system (Martinez-Martinez et al, 2014[2])
  • A break from stimulus
  • Focus on the body, accepting it as it is (mindfulness).
  • Not trying to nap, which can be frustrating for those who can’t.
  • For those who have trouble with orthostatic intolerance, just lying down can make you feel better.
  • A boost in energy (however temporary).
  • Improve the immune system (University Health News Daily, 2018)
  • Treat depression
  • Reduce pain

MEDITATION OPTIONS

You can:

  • Simply focus on your breath for a few moments. How you breathe in, how the breath feels a little warmer on the way out. How your body feels when you exhale. How your breaths get a little longer as you relax. Don’t push anything, just observe.
  • Do your own body scan meditation – by quietly thinking of each part of your body in turn, noticing the feeling in each, accepting it, willing that part to relax and moving to the next.
  • Do progressive relaxation – by tensing and releasing each part of your body in turn you can encourage it to relax deeply. As an example you could start with your feet, tense and release, your lower legs, upper legs, glutes, abdomen, arms, face.
  • Guided meditations – YouTube has a heap available including Yoga Nidra, mindfulness meditations, meditation specific to pain or fatigue etc.

As an extra form of rest, you can lie down or recline in a chair with a heat pack.

Blue one way traffic sign

MINDFULNESS FOR FIBROMYALGIA

A working definition for mindfulness is to be observant of thoughts and feelings without judging them. To allow our body to be as it and accept it as it is.

A research paper (Cash et al 2016) found that mindfulness meditation “ameliorated some of the major symptoms of fibromyalgia and reduced subjective illness burden.” Other studies have also shown the effects to be sustained at three year follow ups, with consistent practice.

There are plenty of courses and books around learning mindfulness. One such book is by Vidyamala Birch, founder of Breathworks (a UK based organization that teaches mindfulness) and chronic pain warrior, You Are Not Your Pain: Using Mindfulness to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress and Restore Wellbeing – an Eight Week Program. I enjoyed this book immensely.

The concept of mindfulness can follow you out of the practice of mediation and into daily life.

FURTHER READING

Books

  • You Are Not Your Pain: Using Mindfulness to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress and Restore Wellbeing – an Eight Week Program by Vidyamala Birch and Danny Penman (2013)
  • Back in Control: A Surgeon’s Roadmap out of Chronic Pain by David Hanscom
  • Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body by Jo Merchant (2016)

Articles

Activities

  • Free writing for 5-15 minutes per day, then destroy the paper.
  • Deep breathing (minimum of five quiet breaths when you feel the need, up to 10 minutes of specific mindful breathing a day) this is a nice 3 minute
  • Write down your happiness level and social connection level each day, keep a gratitude list and remember your people.
  • Do a loving-kindness meditation each day like this one
  • Do a chronic pain relieving meditation like this one.

Special opportunity! I am passionate about incorporating mindfulness and meditation into coaching sessions- if you would like to find out more or grab a special session to learn to meditate see here.

[1] Dennis W. Dobritt, DO, DABPM, FIPP. Fibromyalgia – A Brief Overview (a presentation). Retrieved from https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/fibroacpsm_246421_7.pdf

[2] L.A. Martínez-Martínez, T. Mora, A. Vargas, M. Fuentes-Iniestra, & M. Martínez-Lavín. (2014). Sympathetic nervous system dysfunction in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and interstitial cystitis: a review of case-control studies. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24662556


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

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.

You vs Fibromyalgia eCourse my research your plans to fight chronic pain chronic fatigue and insomnia

You vs Fibromyalgia Equipping You to Fight

I am super excited to announce that I am running You vs Fibromyalgia: Helping You Fight Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia full eCourse!

 

You vs Fibromyalgia eCourse my research your plans to fight chronic pain chronic fatigue and insomnia

While my micro course You vs Fibromyalgia: Arm Yourself with Knowledge is a free introduction to some of the modules in the full course, it isn’t exhaustive. This course has a lot more information, so if you’re ready to dive in for more and create your own pain management plans, trial some sleep tips, learn about low dose naltrexone for fibromyalgia and more – then come and join us!

If you learn only one thing from anything I ever write, I hope it is that you can impact your quality of life. I have made a huge difference to my quality of life through research and personal trial and error. But it took a lot of time. I want to save you that time.

See below for my brief introduction video about You vs Fibromyalgia

I have just enough time to run this course before baby comes in November, so it won’t be offered again until next year.

The stats of the course aka what you get

  • Seven modules with
  • Short video lessons
  • Templates to make your own pain management plans, a sleep diary, a list for keeping track of the things you’d like to try and a form for working out how you could create some space and make the most of your life despite fibromyalgia
    information sheets
  • The workbook – with all of the lessons, information sheets, templates, heaps of extra reading with space for notes!

Between this course and my book Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia (affiliate link) and my free resources pages – I am content that I have shared everything I can to help you not suffer as long as I had to. Obviously I am not a doctor and there are often more issues than just the fibromyalgia at play. A doctor and medicine definitely have their place in treatment, but I want to also share all of the things you can do yourself – today – to fight the fibromyalgia.

Yes, I am just as ecstatic to join the journey!

The Pain Companion book review by Melissa vs Fibromyalgia

The Pain Companion: Everyday Wisdom for Living with and Moving Beyond Chronic Pain by Sarah Anne Shockley

Recently I was lucky enough to be given a chance to read and review Sarah Anne Shockley’s book The Pain Companion: Everyday Wisdom for Living with and Moving Beyond Chronic Pain.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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

Synopsis of The Pain Companion

The Pain Companion cover image

In the twenty-first century, one might wish that pain were an easily treatable nonissue. It is not. Millions of doctor and emergency room visits stem from pain, and addiction to pain medications, rampant in the United States, often takes root in an attempt to manage unremitting discomfort. 

In The Pain Companion: Everyday Wisdom for Living With and Moving Beyond Chronic Pain (New World Library, June 12, 2018), author Sarah Anne Shockley, who has personally lived with chronic pain since 2007, offers fellow pain sufferers a compassionate and supportive guide for living with pain that can be used alongside their ongoing medical or therapeutic healing programs

“I cannot know your personal suffering, of course; only you can,” writes Sarah. “But I do understand the experience of being in significant and relentless pain for long periods of time, and I understand the fear, sadness, and frustration associated with long-term physical debilitation. So I can say that this book has been written from inside of pain, a perspective on the experience and the healing of pain that we are seldom offered.”

Further reading you might like:

For more about meditation and Fibromyalgia see my post about it here.

My Review of The Pain Companion

In this sensitive, beautiful book Sarah Anne Shockley explores what it means to live with chronic pain and how she manages it using meditative approaches.

The book is divided into parts: The pain moves in, the emotional life of chronic pain, meditative approaches to physical pain and when pain is a teacher.

Shockley defines chronic pain early in the book: “Chronic pain is a very complex condition involving much more than just the physical symptoms of the body. It includes emotional and psychological aspects as well, due to the incredible stresses of living with pain on a daily basis, and the ramifications of basically losing one’s life to pain.” P18

The Pain Companion book review by Melissa vs FibromyalgiaAnd she hits the nail on the head. The emotional and psychological aspects are just as important to address as the physiological ones.

Shockley explains how she came to understand this and how it ultimately helped her cope with the pain: “This practice of extending understanding and compassion to myself was more than just a psychological wellness exercise. It was a crucial interior movement that created space for real healing and unexpectedly began to relieve my physical pain as well.” P22

In part three Shockley talks of meditative approaches and not fighting the body and the pain so hard (extending understanding and compassion to herself and the pain). She explains how she began to listen to the pain, to see what it was trying to tell her. And in doing so she reduced the intensity.

We need to ask ourselves: What is this pain trying to tell us? What is its origin?

We are given 12 meditative exercises to work through starting with the breath. Now I have been a meditator for several years now but I still find visualisation and the idea of talking to my pain difficult. However, there are many exercises here that are excellent gateway approaches, especially the noticing the breath and learning to relax this way.

Usually I devour books, but this one I savoured. I read it in sections and really absorbed what she was saying. This is not a guidepost for curing chronic pain, or even how to overcome it, but more about how one woman managed to coexist with it in a way that ultimately reduced her suffering.

If you want to see an interview with the author about this book, see here.

You can get your copy of The Pain Companion here.


For more information:

Come and join my free You vs Fibromyalgia micro course.

pain relief in pregnancy with fibromyalgia

Pain Relief in Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia

Pain relief is a big issue for those who live with chronic pain. It becomes an even bigger issue during pregnancy. For those of us whose symptoms worsen during pregnancy, it’s a minefield.

Author’s Note: This article appeared first on The Mighty

pain relief in pregnancy with fibromyalgia

My fifth tip for pregnancy with Fibromyalgia is to get a pain management plan in place – preferably prior to becoming pregnant.

There are some medicines that are categorically unsafe for pregnancy. There are a lot of medicines that they just don’t know enough about, performing experiments on pregnant women, particularly involving something that may harm a baby, would be unethical. So literature relies on data provided by pregnant women. This website Mother to Baby  provides fact sheets, access to professionals about medicine in pregnancy and more.

The first thing to do when considering pregnancy with a chronic pain-based illness would be to discuss plans for pregnancy with your doctor. With my first pregnancy, we didn’t talk to the doctor before conceiving, and then when we were discussing the only medicine I was on (amitriptyline) I nearly had a panic attack at the thought of going off it. My doctor called a specialist and they agreed that the benefits outweighed the potential risks – for me and my unique situation.

Sleep is a big battle for me, I enact a long list of sleep hygiene tactics every day; take a low dose of amitriptyline at 8pm, take a low dose of naltrexone (I only started this after I had my second baby, prior to this I would take pain medicine at this time) at 9pm, get into bed with my heat pack, do a body scan meditation, and if I’m lucky, fall asleep for a few hours at a time. A good night sees me fall asleep relatively quickly and only lose an hour to awake or restless times. It would appear that the second the pregnancy hormones enter my body, sleep runs away screaming. Pain also becomes a much bigger issue when I have to lie on my side (as you must once baby gets big enough to put pressure on an important vein when lying on your back).

More articles about pregnancy with Fibromyalgia

Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia The First Trimester Diaries
Necessary Baby Items for a Fibro Parent
Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries: The Delivery
Pumping or Expressing for Your Baby: Parenting (Fibromyalgia or Not)

You do not have to be miserable, there’s also research that suggests that under treated pregnancy and fibromyalgia def ed anglepain can negatively affect the pregnancy.[1] So if your doctor refuses to help you with pain relief, get a second opinion. Do some research for yourself and present it to them. I provide what I did during pregnancy to be as well as possible in my book Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia.

Here are a few natural pain relief mechanisms that I enacted during my pregnancies:

·         Heat pack
·         Warm shower or bath
·         Essential oils such as lavender and peppermint (for external use only and with a carrier oil after the first trimester) – see my Resources page for my free report about Essential Oils for managing pain
·         Magnesium oil (I never got a calf cramp in my second pregnancy using this)
·         Gentle walks and stretching
·         Meditation – especially ones specifically for pain relief on pregnancy, there’s heaps on YouTube to search up
·         Massage – either for yourself, or from a partner, friend, or therapist
·         Rest and sleep as much as you can
·         Belly support belt – I had symphysis pubis disorder (my pelvis basically widened too far) and this really helped.

If you want to learn even more information about pain relief during pregnancy, then Pain Managementmicro coursecheck 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.

I always recommend remembering that pregnancy is finite, there is an end date and a beautiful baby as the pay off. I also was a bit smug in my second pregnancy because I knew that I am one of those very rare women who actually sleep better with a newborn baby than pregnant, the pain levels are just so high that sleep is almost non-existent in the final trimester. Last year, once I delivered my second baby, my bed that had previously felt as hard as a rock seemed luxuriously soft. So in those one, two or three hours that the baby was asleep – I slept like the dead, which is a very rare occurrence for me.

I really hope that this post helps you on your way to relieving some of the pain involved in pregnancy with a chronic illness.
[1] Malaika Babb, PharmD, Gideon Koren, MD FRCPC FACMT, and Adrienne Einarson, RN. Treating pain during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. 2010 Jan; 56(1): 25, 27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2809170/


For more information about pregnancy and Fibromyalgia:

This article is also available as a free PDF printable in my free Resources page.

Pregnancy andFibromyalgia_resources

 

 

6 Books for those with Chronic Illness and a Giveaway!

Are you ready to spring clean your healthy habits in 2018?

We’ve compiled a list of books perfect for people living with chronic illness who want to make impactful changes to their health and life.

6 Books about Chronic Illness and a Giveaway!

Enter to WIN 6 BOOKS!

If you would like a chance to win all of these books, then head on over to the giveaway page!

The books are:

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

yoga for chronic pain coverYoga for Chronic Pain: 7 Steps to Aid Recovery From Fibromyalgia Through Yoga by: Kayla Kurin – In this book Kayla tells us how she utilises the benefits of yoga for chronic pain. See my review here!

Thriving in the Workplace with Autoimmune Disease: Know Your Rights, Resolve Conflict, and Reduce Stress by: Holly Bertone – “This is the first book ever to educate individuals specifically with autoimmune disease on their legal and disability rights in the workplace.”

Melissa vs. Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, CMelissa vs Fibromyalgia book coverhronic Fatigue, and Insomnia by: Melissa Reynolds – This is my book! This is where I share everything I have researched, learnt and do to fight Fibromyalgia.

Radical Health: Insightful, Humorous, Compelling by: James Lilley – “This book will help you get from simply surviving to thriving in easy to understand steps.”

The Complete Guide to Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis: A Road Map to Long-Term Healing by: Alexa Fredrico – “There is no clearly defined path that newly diagnosed people should follow and therein lies the author’s motivation for this book.” Alexa is another chronic illness blogger who found a disappointing lack of whole-person health-focused information for her illness and so created it!


If you love reading 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.


The Easy Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Fast and Simple Recipes for the 15 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods (HARDCOPY) by: Karen Frazier – “Chronic inflammation has been linked to just about every health concern out there, and research indicates that certain foods are the root cause. But with the plethora of information available on the Internet, it can be difficult to know exactly which foods an anti inflammatory diet consists of—and moreover, how to easily incorporate it into your daily life.”

If you would like a chance to win all of these books, then head on over to the giveaway page!

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necessary baby items for a parent with Fibromyalgia

Necessary Baby Items for a Fibro Parent

There are a multitude of nursery items and almost as many articles about which ones are necessary. Here’s my recommendations for a fibro parent, or really, any parent!

Some of my links are affiliate links, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you purchase using these links. I never promote anything I don’t 100% support myself.

necessary baby items whether you have fibromyalgia or not

Below are some the items I found indispensable for a mama with Fibromyalgia:

My boy in his bouncy when he was teeny tiny

My boy in his bouncy when he was teeny tiny

  • Cot. With an easy to put up and down side, or an opening in the front.
  • Bassinet. We tried a different option with each baby. Both were easy to move and that was very helpful. I wished for a beside bassinet with fold down side so I didn’t have to get in and out of bed so much and to make co-sleeping a safe option. This 3-in-1 is a great idea, it is a bedside crib and a pack and play.
  • Changing table. We weren’t going to buy one, I had thought that I could get by without one. But, being given one has been a lifesaver. I have everything I need to change them on the shelf and can lay them down at the right height for changing. You could even use a set of drawers that are the right height with a change mat on the top and the top drawer full of your supplies.
  • A rocking chair. My husband and I clashed about this one. He didn’t think it was necessary. I believed with all my heart that it was. I ended up getting a second hand one and it has been so useful. For nursing, expressing or just rocking when you’re too tired to stand, it was worth it. Nursing for a mama with Fibromyalgia can be tricky, so a comfortable place to nurse is a good idea – check out my post on nursing with Fibromyalgia here.

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

Pregnancy Diaries 2018: The First Trimester of Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia
Coping with a Toddler (Fibro or not!)
Fibro Mama Interviews: Natalie from Surviving Lifes Hurdles

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Out and about with our City Mini

  • Infant capsule seat with folding pushchair frame. We didn’t get one before Noah was born because I thought it would be too heavy for me to lift. I was right, very quickly it became a real burden to carry. However, with the frame and the fact that Noah was not a good napper, it turned out to be invaluable. At some stage early on I noticed that he was tired by about 9 in the morning, but struggled to get to sleep. So we began leaving the house (rain or shine) either via the car or walking. He learned to nap this way. The seat and frame meant that I could seamlessly move from car to shops to car to home easily.
  • A Boppy pillow/feeding pillow. I loved this, it was so useful for nursing and to let the boppy feeding pillowbaby’s lie down and watch the world go by. It was a real lifesaver when the boys were small to sit them on it and let them watch me potter around the living area. It was also great for Wyatt with his reflux, he took some of his naps on it. We always used it with supervision because there is a chance of baby slipping down and cutting their airway off by pushing their chin forward.
  • A front pack. This is a difficult one. On the one hand, you are going to hold the weight anyway, so why not distribute it more evenly. On the other, from about six months my little guys became too heavy for my shoulders to bear for too long. I would like a sling for the first few months if I do it again.

I loved the Gemini Beco – it goes from 7 pounds/3kg, which both of my babies started off at!

  • A bath seat. This has meant that I don’t have to hold their weight while they were in the bath and it’s far more easy to wash them.
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Noah enjoying his bathseat

  • Jolly Jumper. We used this once his neck was strong, at about four months. This was lovely for me when he was super fussy and I was super tired. It gave me ten minutes of time out from holding him.
  • Portacot. We didn’t get one until Noah was eight months old as we thought it was unnecessary once he outgrew the bassinet stage. We were wrong. It has been invaluable. The portacot means that my boys could sleep at either grandparents house, so we don’t have a to squish a visit in between naps or push out naps. This one is lightweight and easy for travel, I like Phil and Ted’s brand but the prices in New Zealand are prohibitive. This one is actually similar price to what we paid for a very basic one.
  • One thing they can use to pull themselves up with. When he started to develop the ability to pull himself up, we got a table type toy where he can stand and play. This is a useful thing to let them stand without you holding them.

We got one similar to this. Again, this lasted for both of our boys.

  • Baby seat. This was something I wanted but didn’t purchase until he was already baby bumbo seatsitting on his own. It would have been useful before this as he loved to sit and see so it could have bought me more non holding time. Now we use it, strapped to a chair as his highchair. We can also take it when we go away. He will be able to use this until he’s tall enough to sit on a chair at the table, without the space a highchair takes.

We used a seat very much like this. We bought it for Noah and now use it for Wyatt when we are out.

  • Bouncinette/Electronic Rocker. This was one of those things that buys you some non holding time that you so desperately need when they’re clingy or your sore or you need to get stuff done.
  • Breast pump. This was a lifesaver for me with nursing my children. I had to exclusively express for my first and then expressed a fair amount for my second. For my third, I have chosen the Avent breast pump in the above link because I will only express once or twice a day – with three children four years old and under, I won’t have the ability or energy to express more. Our favourite bottles were Avent too – because the teats were shaped more like breasts and therefore helped us to avoid nipple confusion.
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Noah in his electronic rocker

Did you know that Amazon has a baby registry? You can sign up here Shop Amazon – Create an Amazon Baby Registry It’s basically a mobile registry (available anywhere!)and you will be eligible for discounts and rewards. If you’re going to purchase some of your items from Amazon, you may as well sign up.

Is there anything else to add? Was there one awesome thing you would not do without?


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Living the Best Life with Fibromyalgia: A Book Review

At this point, I’ve read a lot of the research and books by doctors with Fibromyalgia, what really perks my ears up is a book written by a fellow fibro fighter.

Alisha Nurse interviewed me for her Overcomers series recently and I began reading her book Living the Best Life with Fibromyalgia. She gave me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Affiliate notice: Please note some of my links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase, I may make a small commission. 

It has a pretty and inspiring cover:

living your best life.PNG

Image from GoodReads

In the introduction, Nurse shares how she was diagnosed – after years and years of being fobbed off by doctors (sounds familiar).

The chapters are broken into: Challenges, Diet, Recipes, Medication and Supplements, Lifestyle, Meaningful Living with a summary at the end.

In challenges Nurse presents some of the key issues we face.
The symptoms

“Each of us battles our demon symptom, the one symptom that is king above all else. For me, that’s the chronic exhaustion. But my GP says there is nothing she can recommend for me except exercise.”

I can relate to this, my demon symptom is my neck and doctors have been generally unhelpful.

Other challenges include: the people who disbelieve us. The impact of stress. The invisibility of our illness.

In Diet, Nurse outlines how she (step by step) implemented dietary changes. She provides a list of healthy foods.

The recipe section includes some nourishing teas to try and some delicious, nutritious foods.

In the medicines and supplements chapter she discussed an important point around medicines:

“When I consider how fibromyalgia steals our dreams and lives, I staunchly decided that I would have some quality of life on medication than have a longer life in a worse off position.”

I want to thank Alisha for this piece of honesty with which I wholeheartedly concur.

In Lifestyle, Nurse lists some good, practical tips for living well with fibromyalgia. Including eating well, Epsom salt baths, exercise, pacing, managing stress.

Meaningful Living – help others, have empathy and faith.

“Have faith, believe and work without ceasing.”

In this compact handbook, Nurse provides you with some of the things that have helped her. Hopefully you can find something here to help you on your journey.

Find her book here.
Find her website here.

If you love reading, 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


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