Thursday, January 28, 2016

Flying Pens and Other Fibromyalgia Symptoms

When we were learning to print in first grade - kindergarten was for play back then, the teacher would walk around the classroom and randomly try to remove the pencils from our hands. If using the proper amount of pressure, she could take the pencil out easily. She was never able to take mine away. I think it was the pressure, but it might also be the unusual way I hold writing implements. It is similar to the picture, but my thumb is on top of my fingers.

Source: Pre-Primary to Post-Graduation
Yes, this method of writing does cause my hand to ache after writing for an hour or so. 

Imagine my surprise when my pens started flying out of my hand, sometimes landing on the table/desk, but they would usually go a few feet. It was a mix of annoying and funny, and, fortunately, nobody was ever hit.

Fibromyalgia symptoms related to this: 
  • Painful weak grip that may let go
  • Dropping things
  • Handwriting difficulties
  • Carpal tunnel-like pain in wrist (watchband area)

When looking for the symptoms related to flying pens, I noticed others that I did not know were related to fibro. With over 100 symptoms, it might be impossible to remember all of them, particularly with fibro fog. 


How many times have you lost a word? Did you know nail ridges were a symptom? My eyesight changes so often, I need new lenses several times each year. I do not get them, but I do notice the changes. 

My small school did not have a gymnastics team, but we did gymnastics every February. I could be found on the balance beam about 90% of the time. I doubt I could even stand on the balance beam today, much less do tricks on it. 

This is probably one of the more disconcerting of symptoms. I am nearing senior citizen status when bones break more easily. In the last six months, I have fallen backwards-ish onto the floor once, and lost my balance/was dizzy while showering. I do not want to be the person saying, "I've fallen, and I can't get up."


I wonder if the balance issues and the flying pens are linked in the neurotransmitters of my brain. What do you think?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Feeling "Stuck" with Fibromyalgia

I joined a group on Facebook for people with chronic illness. We provide emotional support for each other and offer helpful hints. This is not what I had intended to write about today, but something important was part of the discussion today. Feeling stuck. Not as in "I have writer's block," but in the "I am overwhelmed and cannot get started." Thanks again, fibromyalgia.

I had a dirty little secret. My living room was so cluttered, there was only a path to walk through. I would stare at the clutter, but I could not seem to move to take care of it. It was not hoarding, because it was all things that just needed to be put away. I would not let anyone come over, because I did not want people to see the state it was in. I have never been like that before!

However, when I called for an ambulance late in 2015, I had to walk out of my apartment, because there was no way a stretcher could make it through the narrow path. Let me reiterate: there was no garbage or dirty dishes, just things that were not where they actually belonged. That incident - and embarrassment - caused me to do something about it. 

I started by making a list, something I am very good at, including sub-tasks within the list. Having sub-tasks gave me more things to cross off when complete, and, therefore a greater sense of getting things done.

It was definitely not a one-day task - I did not have that many spoons available. Over a period of a week, my living room was emptied of 95% of the clutter - I still have a small stack of paperwork on one end of my couch. 
I shredded, tore pages out of magazines to save only what I wanted to read or glue into my vision book, and put the leftovers into the paper recycling.

What a sense of accomplishment when I finished by vacuuming my floor! I had vacuumed each area where furniture was being moved around as it was happening, but I am referring to the nice, large area that is no longer a path. The EMS personnel would have no problem getting a stretcher in here now! 

A side effect of getting the living room cleaned up was realizing that a many things were not in an ideal location. I rearranged a couple of pieces of furniture and moved the desk organization (ironic?) tools to better places. It has also given me the incentive to start clearing out other things.

I used my bullet journal to create a Master To-Do List. It started with 17 items, and I have been able to mark three of them as done. I have a feeling the list is going to grow as more tasks come up, but there will be a more "done" things, too.

Have you started a Master To-Do List? If not, is it something you need to have? Let me know, please.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Voting is SO Important

I have been avoiding writing a column all year, because I knew I would write about this. And I try not to offend my readers, but I am taking that chance today. 

On September 27, I wrote "Bullying is NOT Okay." I try to keep politics out of my blog, but there is some major bullying going on from the leading candidate of one party. I keep hearing that people like him because he is not "p.c." and "says what others want to say." I am not sure it is anything more than ignorance, although I think he thinks it is hubris. 

An old friend of mine has a major position at the Flynn Theater in Burlington, Vermont, and she worked the event. For that reason, I knew about it in advance. I was not surprised when he told people to kick out a person who was heckling him. I was majorly irritated when I heard this:

- Donald Trump
WHAT? "...don't give him his coat"? Thankfully, it was not "ten degrees below zero outside;" it was 18 degrees above. Still below freezing, though. I doubt this candidate has ever been out in the freezing cold without a coat. Maybe if he was walking the 15 feet from his building to his limousine. And, I believe that is theft.

This is far from the only abusive thing he has said - making fun of someone with a disability, insulting the looks of the female candidate in his party, disrespecting the media, saying Iowans are stupid because he fell behind another candidate, and more.

He has also been critical of women and his competitors. The worst, however, is his disparaging remarks about other religions - Muslim, Seventh-Day Adventist, and other nationalities - Asians, Mexicans. 

It is so easy to say nasty things about "the other," whomever that might be. Blame someone else for the way life is - they take our jobs, they are all terrorists, they come in and rape our women. When a powerful person gets away with saying these things, where does it stop?

I was watching a show about the rise of Hitler on the History Channel. As I was watching it, I kept thinking of the similarities with the candidate I have been talking about. It also made me think of the quote,

Hitler started with Jews, but they were not the only ones he persecuted. He also persecuted Poles, Catholics, Roma Gypsies, people with disabilities, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals. I may even be missing some groups, but where would it have ended if he had not been stopped? 

Is my reaction extreme? Maybe. However, I fit in several of the groups who were persecuted by Hitler and insulted by the current party leader, according to polls. It makes me wonder what would happen with the USA's relationships with other world leaders and countries. The United Kingdom just had a big discussion in Parliament about whether to allow this particular candidate into their country again. The video of the discussion can be found at:

I live in the state with the first primary, so I think my worry is warranted. It may be a small state, but a lot of decisions are made after the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucus - who will stay in the race, and who will drop out. I think it would be terrible if the candidates who stay in the race are, not only the candidate I have been writing about, but a couple more who are also spewing vitriol. 

If you are an American, please vote in the upcoming caucuses and primaries. Please consider who you vote for carefully. What works in the board room does not always work in the Oval Office.

If you are not registered to vote, it is important to do so. Need ID, but you do not have a ride to get there? Call the nearest party office and ask them if someone there can provide a ride for you. The same with voting day; we cannot allow redistricting to stop us from voting, which is what it is designed to do.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcome 2016!

I read a blog post by Gary McArthur today - "Meeting the Ghost of My Former Self." As I was commenting on his blog, I realized that the comment was going to be the source of this post.

Mr. McArthur finishes his post with, "I've set myself a goal for 2016: To find the spirit and the grit and the determination and the hope I had as a sixteen year old boy, and laugh once more in the face of my illnesses. To challenge myself in the way I did when I joined a career path I knew I wasn't suited to, simply to face my fear of all things physical."

I wrote:

"Wow! I think we were in the same place in June 2015. I came close to suicide, because my problems had overwhelmed me. I had NEVER considered suicide before. NEVER! 

I started thinking about the way I used to be. I had taken back my maiden name and wanted to become Amelia Vincent again. The way I used to be before all the health problems.

Now, I know I cannot become 100% healthy again, but I can get better than I am now. Unfortunately, I gained weight as a side effect of medication, so I have started seeing a nutritionist. I can no longer walk any distance farther than from parking spot to motorized shopping cart, and I know a lot of it has to do with my weight; my spine is degenerating, so the girth is not helpful at all. My goal for 2016 is to walk a mile by the end of the year. And to lose weight.

I am also "growing myself up" by nurturing myself, being my own health and life advocate like a parent would. I am allowing myself playtime, like coloring or making paper crafts."

Age 15
My life has progressed like this: school, marriage, motherhood, divorce, (repeat), college, brief period of work, disability.

Age 47
I did not take the opportunity to sow my wild oats, so to speak, when I was young. While pregnant with my first child, I went out dancing with my cousin almost every night, but that is about it. (I was back out on the dance floor a week after he was born.) And, although I was separated, I was still a married woman, so I was not available.

Now, I am going to focus on me. Self-centered? Absolutely! However, I have always been last on my list of things to take care of. This is my time to find out who I am, who I might have been. I cannot work in a job, but I can work on myself.

Taken a few weeks ago - Age 56
I have chosen green to be my color this year - I have never done this before. Green represents rebirth, growth, prosperity/wealth (safety and good health), balance, and self-respect. 

The words I have chosen are:
  • Peace
  • Power
  • Prosperity
  • Purpose
I am hoping/wishing/praying that 2016 is one of the best years of my life. I want the same for you, too!