Thursday, December 31, 2015

My ADHD Life: Am I a Hypochondriac, or Do I Have Fibromyalgia?

My ADHD Life: Am I a Hypochondriac, or Do I Have Fibromyalgia?: If you are someone who has fibromyalgia, you probably know how hard it was to get properly diagnosed. You also know approximately how many...

Am I a Hypochondriac, or Do I Have Fibromyalgia?

If you are someone who has fibromyalgia, you probably know how hard it was to get properly diagnosed. You also know approximately how many different illnesses/disorders you have added to your list of ailments. So how do you know it is not hypochondria?
The brain is a very powerful organ, but it can be highly influenced by suggestion or stress. I knew someone who went blind suddenly! She had a good doctor who asked the right questions, and she was diagnosed with hysterical blindness brought on by stress. I think knowing what it was helped her to regain her eyesight.

Hypochondria is psychosomatic, most often caused from anxiety. One might read an article about an illness in a magazine or online, and then starts thinking they have the symptoms listed, so they must have that problem, too. Have you ever watched a commercial for a certain drug and wondered if you have the illness the drug is for because you have the cough, the rash, the pain, or whatever symptoms are given in the spiel? 

When I was in college, I had to participate in a debate. The topic was advertisements for medications and whether they were a good thing or a bad thing. I was assigned the bad-thing side. In order to debate properly, one must learn both sides of the issue. 

One of the things I learned was that some people will go to their doctors and demand the drug being advertised. Some doctors will give them the medication, even though they do not believe the person needs it. I also learned that many side effects are not known for the first 5-10 years a drug is on the market. 

After getting an EKG from taking one round of phen-fen back in the 1990's, I decided not to ever take a new drug - it was discovered that some people were dying from phen-fen's effect on their hearts and pulled from the market after my first round. Hence, the EKG to make sure my heart was not damaged. Thankfully, it was not.

Ironically, some of the treatment for hypochondria is the same as for fibromyalgia. The anti-depressant needed for pain in the fibromyalgia patient helps the hypochondriac deal with anxiety. Therapy to help the fibro patient deal with their life changes can help the hypochondriac deal with the mental issues causing their issues.

So, what is the difference? Well, the fibro patient has actual pain and other symptoms that can definitely be diagnosed. Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion - when the cause of real symptoms cannot be ascertained, that is when fibromyalgia is the diagnosis. 

No, I am not a hypochondriac. My many symptoms have been building over the years, and each has been definitely diagnosed, but there does not seem to be a definite cause of the symptoms - what brought them on. After many tests - many tests, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Fibro is the totality of the variety of ailments, not one specific thing.

If you have fibromyalgia, do not allow people to say it is all in your head. You know what you went through just to get the proper diagnosis. Some people cannot be convinced; do not even try, because it will not do any good. If necessary, sever communications with the naysayer. It sounds harsh, but your health is most important.

Take care of yourself,
Amelia

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Looking Forward to 2016


I am not going to lie; 2015 was the second worst year of my life. Being told I was disabled in 2013 was just the start of a downward spiral as I was diagnosed with one thing after another. It was hard to accept that the education I had waited so long to get would not be used - I went to college and university from 2007-2012, going from freshman to MBA from ages 47-52.

It has been hard hearing people say, "Why don't you get a job?" and "You can work if you want to." Trust me, I would rather be working. However, I never know when I will be asleep/awake. Yesterday, Christmas Day, I slept from 4 a.m. - 8:15 a.m. and from noon until 10 p.m. It is a good thing I did not have any place I needed to be, but I canceled plans to go to a luncheon. That is the thing: I cannot plan anything. 

I struggle Seasonal Affective Disorder - SAD, for short. It is a depression caused by lack of daylight. My doctor has me on Vitamin D3 and it has been a tremendous help. Here it is December, with the shortest days of the year, and I am not depressed! I have been awake since last night, but it is a gorgeous day outside - it is sunny and 32(F) (0-C) degrees, so I will definitely go out today. 

In 2015, I spent months trying to get help, bringing packets of paper to various agencies and being sent to doctors to see if I was faking it. I think all the information provided by my health care providers helped - like the MRI's that show my spine falling apart at the neck and the lumbar region. 

That is easier to prove than fibromyalgia, because fibro is a diagnosis of exclusion. A bunch of tests are run to find the cause of the musculoskeletal pain; when none can be found, the diagnosis is fibromyalgia. The fibro currently causes more pain than the spinal issues.

I know 2016 will be better, because the fight is over. I have the help I need, and all I need to do is provide more paperwork periodically, but not the sheaths I had to this year - my medical records from just one of my many doctors were two inches thick! Finally, the log jam broke in the middle of 2015, but it was hard.

This blog is one of the things that kept me going. Writing is something I have loved to do for a long time; so, during a serious bout with depression (major depressive disorder), I was writing about types of journals and creating free printables for my readers. 

It kept me going - a sense of responsibility that kept me from committing suicide. I have always been the responsible one, the perfectionist, the high achiever, the optimist, running many shows. All of a sudden, I had no shows to run, no work to do, no family to raise, no.... Well, you get the picture. For the first, and I hope last, time in my life, I was giving up.

Link to Home Page
But, I had started a blog to share information with whomever happened along. My little blog, My ADHD life, has been viewed more than 66,000 times, mostly thanks to "Sophie's Universe" and Dedri Uys. Mrs. Uys is the talented designer of Sophie's Garden (the center piece) and Sophie's Universe. I participated in a crochet-along (CAL), which led me to post many of the CAL participants Sophie's. At the end of all the posts, Mrs. Uys included links to my blog from her very popular blog.
Link to Home Page

Enjoy 2016!

-Amelia

Friday, December 18, 2015

9 Ways to Ease Holiday Pain

The holidays. They are supposed to be a time of celebration and reflection, but for someone with fibromyalgia or arthritis, they can also be a painful time. Cooking and cleaning and decorating and shopping - all the hustle and bustle. And stress. 

For "normal" people, it is stressful enough; when you are dealing with chronic pain, the stress can exacerbate the problems. The pain can make it near impossible to enjoy Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's, etc. So what can be done to make it less stressful and, therefore, ease pain?


Holiday celebrations do not need to be the way they always used to be. Coco Chanel once said, "Before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory." Well, change that to "Remove one thing from your traditions."

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My First Pattern Design - Felted Crocheted Mittens

I am very excited to announce written my first pattern. After crocheting for over 50 years, this is the first pattern where I have not just changed someone else's pattern to fit my needs. I would grade it as "Easy" since it is only single crochet.


Before felting
I have a medium-size adult hand, and the pre-felted mittens are just a little longer than my fingers. These are a present for a friend with small hands. Add rows before and after the thumb if making for medium hands. If you want to use acrylic yarn, then the pattern will fit medium-sized hands.

















If making for a large hand, add more rows and more stitches to the width - add to the middle of the rows equally on both sides. Adding to the ends will mess up the increases and decreases. When ending the mittens, more of the decrease pattern will be needed if for large hands.

You can get the free pattern here. I hope you will let me know if any changes need to be made. 

Of course, you may use as many colors as you wish. They should take only one 3.5 oz (100 g) skein if making them a solid color. It might also be a good way to use odds and ends. 

I am working on a hat pattern now. It is going slower than the mitten pattern - I think making mittens is harder than making a hat. 

Enjoy!

-Amelia

This post can be found here!

And here!



And here, too!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Searching for 65,000 (Success!!)

My dear readers,

UPDATE: We made it! 65k+ as of 12/22/2015. I appreciate your taking the time to read this blog.

I appreciate your stopping by to read a post or two on my blog. I am currently sitting at 63,300+ posts. I would really like to reach 65,000 by the end of the year. With your help, I can. Please come back each day between now and December 31, and  it can happen!

Enjoy!

- Amelia


Find me here!

Friday, December 11, 2015

6 Fibromyalgia Gift Idea Links


It is that time of year when our thoughts turn to gift giving and gifts we would like to receive. Several fibromyalgia bloggers have put together suggestions for friends and family members of people with fibro. The links are below.

2015 Fibromyalgia Gift Guide

- Among her suggestions is an OXO Good Grips Jar Opener - $9.95. If this one works as well as the one I bought about 15 years ago, it is a gift that I feel would be appreciated. I live alone, so there is no one to ask to open jars for me. If you do not live alone, there is not always someone else home when a jar needs opening. (Mine is from Pampered Chef - $12.00.)

9 Gift Ideas for #Spoonies

- One of her gift ideas is a Kindle. If I am home and not on my computer or crafting, I am on my Kindle. I think this is my fourth one, and it is a 7" Fire HD. I read books, check my email, check my social media accounts, watch Amazon videos and Netflix, go on Facebook, read magazines, listen to Pandora, check The Weather Channel, and play video games. 

There is a comparison of different Kindles about halfway down the linked page above. The 7" now starts at $49.99 - I wish mine had! 


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia Gift Ideas

- I wish this one had the vertical list the other sites have, but there are 11 slides to view. I do not agree with the way everything is listed because it looks like a suggestions, but it is really a "do not" do/buy list. There are still some good ideas here, though.


5 Holiday Gifts for Friends With Fibromyalgia 


- Again, a slideshow. This one includes ads which can be skipped after a few seconds. I liked the suggestions given, especially the coupon book.


Fibromyalgia Gifts

- This is an online shopping site, and I would be a happy camper with almost anything found here. It would show me that I am understood and supported if I received one of these items.

10 gifts for someone with chronic illness this year

- I included this one, even though the suggestions are more informational and tongue-in-cheek. It gives great insight into those of us with fibro.

Enjoy!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thank you, Thomas Sweezey

Dear Mr. Sweezey,

We do not always get the opportunity to tell teachers what they meant to us. Most of my 8th grade – high school memories revolve around you and the band. I will always be grateful for those years you were my teacher.

At the beginning: your military background resulted in language that we had not heard teachers use before. You cleaned it up a lot, and those who stayed in band got used to it. I was a little intimidated in the beginning. Okay, more than a little.

When you came, I was playing at a Grade 2 level and I think all the concert music was Grade 2, also. I managed to progress up to a Grade 6 (which I did not practice enough) solo and the concert music was Grade 4, I think.

Those competitions! My clarinet keys got bent while I was waiting for Chris and my turn for our duet. Somehow, I fell off my platform shoes while standing still in the hallway. We had to track you down very quickly to fix them, or we would not have been able to compete. And we each still had our solos, besides. Mike’s “I Got Rhythm” marks we picked on him about on the bus back to Lake Placid.


Parades:
  • Veteran’s Day - includes the day the flag was raised in honor of my father, who served in the Army during World War II
  • Memorial Day        
  • Firemen’s parades – where the heat was pretty awful in those ugly, wool uniforms. I remember the trip to Alexandria Bay, because Patrick and I watched the sunrise while sitting on the hill alongside the school driveway before getting on the bus.         
  • Annual Saranac Lake Winter Carnival - where I got frostbitten fingertips at least once, not to mention it felt like my toes had fallen off inside of my shoes.  In all honestly, I never did memorize all the sheet music, but I got better at it       
  • And my last parade – the groundbreaking ceremony for the Olympics. I think that is the one where Lori lost the end of her flute, which ended up flattened somewhere along the parade route

Pregame and half-time shows when the school still had football. The Buddy Rich concert – I had no idea who he was beforehand – at Potsdam State.

Pit orchestra (since I cannot sing) for a number of plays, including the one where Mrs. Money’s head landed on my shoulder and her wig landed on Mike’s drum (or was it Bobby’s?) during the parade passing by us. I still remember you telling me that I looked stunned, then lifted her head up for the actors to continue. The line, “Mrs. Money, what did they do to you?” was never funnier!

The biennial concerts and competing with Chris for first chair – sometimes I won it, sometimes I lost it. I took it as a compliment when you asked me to not compete with her my junior year/her senior year, because you needed a strong second clarinet player – we only had one first and one second then.

You worked with my mother to get me a wooden clarinet, because I had progressed so much and it would sound better. Music lessons, even during the summer. You taught me how to play the saxophone so I could join the stage band – and did not eliminate my turn during the improvised solos, even though I was horrible at it.

Playing first clarinet my senior year and doing a terrible job as the music librarian. And, finally, graduation. It seemed so strange not to be sitting with the band when “Pomp and Circumstance” started playing!

So, I am taking this selfish opportunity to tell you that I appreciate your hard work with me, and all the other students you taught throughout the years. I am very happy that Facebook has allowed so many of us to reconnect with you and each other.

Thank you,
-Amelia

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dating as a Disabled Person

This post is not written as a how-to for other people are disabled. I am seeking advice for myself. How does one go about dating while disabled? My last "boyfriend" was five years ago - we dated for six weeks. Since then, I had only two more dates, one of which was since I became disabled. 

ClipArtBest.com
I am not from the town where I live, and I did not work in the typical way - I was the office manager in a two-person operation. I was also married then - not a good time to date.

From there, I went to college - too old for my fellow students, not able to date the professors for ethical reasons. I had barely graduated when I became (officially) disabled.

So, how does one find someone to date when too young for the retired crowd and too disabled to meet someone at work? When do you disclose that you are disabled? In the case of multiple health issues, how much do you disclose? 

Any advice would be appreciated. Please leave a comment below or email me at myadhdlifeisfun@gmail.com 

Enjoy!


Friday, December 4, 2015

Gender Neutral?

When I was little, I was not "Daddy's Little Princess." Far from it, because I was a tomboy. If anything, I was "Daddy's Little Buddy," or the son my father never had. Scrapes and skinned knees for this girl who could be found riding her older brother's skateboard down a hill (yes, I know I said "the son my father never had") or climbing trees. 

I played baseball and kickball with the boys in the neighborhood and loved my brother's army men and trucks. In the days of "The Lone Ranger" and "Bonanza," we played "Cowboys and Indians" and "Cops and Robbers" with cap guns. (I cringe now when I think of how realistic they looked.) My best friend was even a boy.

This was a time when girls had to wear dresses to school, but I switched to pants as soon as they were allowed - fifth grade. Jeans came a few years later, and we had to buy boys' jeans at first. 

BUT, I was definitely a little girl, too. I knitted, crocheted, played with dolls, and loved paper dolls and making homemade clothes for them. (I did not have a tea party until I was in my 30's, though.)

Would a gender-neutral pronoun have been better for me then? I started thinking about this when I saw this article earlier: "10 Up-and-Coming Marketing Terms You Need to Know," and #9 in particular:

Shutterstock.com

Now, I trained diversity for many years, and took Human Resource Management courses in graduate school (MBA, Clarkson University, '12), so I found this interesting. I have used "their" and even "s/he," but I had never heard of any of the other terms before today. Have you heard any of them before? If not, you have now, too.

Enjoy!

-Amelia

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Weather's Effect on Chronic Pain and Depression

I have been thinking a lot about the weather the last few weeks. We have had temperatures from 6-70 degrees (F.) in November. Yes, I do mean six. Tuesday, the 24th, was 21 degrees and it was 55 degrees on Friday, the 27th. It has also gone from sunny to gray and all shades in between. 

Source: Clipart Panda
The changing temperatures cause achy joints and/or muscles. If you have a dual diagnosis of fibromyalgia and arthritis, you ache all over. I long for a jetted tub on those days. 

I have found it is useless to make plans; I was supposed to help with a craft station today, but could not make it out. I told my friend she should call me at the last minute so she does not count on me and neither of us is disappointed. She said, "And we will sneak up on your body." 

The cold and damp keeps many of inside when we really need to get some sunlight. Also, some of us have trouble driving when it is dark outside; the shortened hours of sunlight and long, black hours also keep us inside. There is a good reason the acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder is SAD. Where I live in the USA, we have been known to go all February without seeing sunshine.

(For those that may not know about SAD, it is depression brought about by the lack of sunlight and long hours spent isolated indoors. For most, this occurs in the winter, but some have SAD in summer, also. Some people, like me, are kept indoors due to allergies.)

So, what can we do? Be kind to ourselves. 

Heating pads, ice packs, creams that go on cool but heat up, acetaminophen or NSAIDS, and hot cocoa (with or without marshmallows). On the old-fashioned, but effective, side, a hot-water bottle.

Count our spoons and choose the wisest use for them. If you cannot get out, use Facetime or Skype or Messenger or what-have-you to keep in touch with people if you are having a hard time getting out. Join support groups or interest groups to meet new people. 

Most of all, "Enjoy!" all you can.

-Amelia