Taking it One Day at a Time Here

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39 Week Bump

One more week until Little Nixon is due. An eviction notice WILL BE PROMPTLY POSTED if he hasn’t arrived by then! I didn’t post an update for 38 weeks because all I really had to write about was how I am battling carpal tunnel caused by edema, as well as a pinched nerve in my back. It’s awful and not very much fun for anyone. I’m just trying to take one day at a time because it’s too overwhelming to think about all the days I could have to go through before this little baby is born. I wish I could just put my feet up and relax, but it’s better for me to keep moving and take short rests.

My days are filled with tending to my swollen hands, going for walks, keeping the house tidy, drinking corn silk and red raspberry leaf tea, eating hydrating foods, running errands, seeing caregivers, wandering around the house rather aimlessly and bored, visiting the loo, folding and unfolding baby clothes (this is surprisingly fun for me)… I can’t do any one thing for very long. Lying down and sitting for extended periods compresses the nerves even more. I’m a wee bit stir-crazy…but in good spirits despite the pain. If only the feeling would come back to my fingers, it would all be so much more bearable! They are numb, but hurt at the same time. It’s sort of like that feeling your hands get when you come inside to the warmth after making snowballs outside in the cold. That burning tightness.

Well according to the midwife, baby has “dipped” a bit in the past few days. I’m still breathless at times, but my tummy suddenly seems like it’s in my lap when I sit. He has a bit more to go, but I think he is getting ready. My bet is that he’ll be here in 7 to 10 days. But who knows! It’s all a guess. We are so close, that’s for certain.

Still feeling a wee bit scared about the whole “giving birth” thing but I’m trying not to let the “what ifs” take over my thoughts. Just seeing what they are about, and then letting them go. Focussing on an easy, gentle and comfortable birthing time, and holding that sweet little baby in my arms.

Those “OMG I’m having a baby” moments are becoming more frequent again too. Sometimes I just can’t believe this is happening to me. I’m trying to wrap my brain around how my life is going to change but it’s so bizarre to imagine having a baby. Bizarre, but kinda thrilling too. *glee* I can hardly wait to meet the little human being I’ve been growing for the past 9 months. What a wondrous moment that will be.

April 16, 2014 Pregnancy 2

Misery Needs Company

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37 Week Bump

I must admit, it has been a difficult week. Sleeping well is now an impossibility. Beware, this is where I get to whine a bit. Okay, maybe a lot. But I gotta tell the story!

I have edema in my hands, wrists, feet and ankles. Yes, I’m that swollen pregnant woman now! Ick. The heels of my feet are hard and achy and it’s exhaustingly painful to stand in place for even just a few minutes. No waiting in line at the grocery store for me. My hands are tight and I have little sausage fingers! (Gross.) I may have a bit of carpal tunnel too as they are sore constantly.

It wouldn’t be so troublesome but for the fact that my arms and hands become numb and tingly when I lie down in nearly any position, so I can’t sleep or rest comfortably. Thankfully, after many sleepless nights, I was able to sleep in three blocks of about three hours each last night, although only on my back, neck straight up and arms spread out—about the most uncomfortable sleeping position for me. I must have been just too tired to NOT sleep. Still, when I woke up, my left arm and hand was all numb and tingly, and it took about 45 minutes of icing and stretching before the sensation went away.

Frankly, I’m totally miserable. I can’t believe I might have to do this for a few more weeks. Omg.

I’m at my wit’s end with every day being such a struggle. I’m drinking tons of lemon water, a homemade “sports drink” (water, maple syrup, orange juice and salt), and store-bought chocolate milk (seems to be most helpful actually) to fight off the edema. All those fluids aren’t making it better, but I think they are keeping the pain from getting worse.

And here I thought I would have the last few weeks to take care of a few final things. Ha. I wish someone had told me a long time ago to have EVERY SINGLE THING ready by week 34. Then I’d have weeks to just put my feet up and get cozy with Netflix. Ahh…that would be so nice right now. Instead I’m trying to get my to-do list finished. Which is proving to be rather gruelling seeing that I can’t do any one thing for very long. But the essentials are taken care of. We have diapers, clothes, a car seat and a place to Little Nixon to sleep. And a new slow cooker. We’d be okay if he decided to make his entrance into the world this very day. (Knock, knock. Hey baby, you’re welcome to make your appearance if you’re ready! No, really, it’s super awesome out here. I promise!)

I am super thankful for Bob’s formula for women iron supplement. Since I’ve been taking it, the incredible fatigue I was suffering from has dissipated. We also hired a house cleaner, both for a deep clean of some areas, like the kitchen (OMG how did it get so dirty??) and for regular cleaning, for at least a couple of months while we find a routine with the little one. We hired a gardener for this coming week too, to clean up the garden because it’s impossible for me to do any time soon. And of course I’m thankful that I’m on the home stretch. Just a little longer…

I also made a mommy friend. She is super nice and thoughtful, lives right in Maple Bay and has a four-month-old who is totally precious. So she doesn’t mind talking about pregnancy and babies all the time. And she likes to shop online so I’m sure we’ll be fast friends in no time. Honestly though, it’s really nice to have a friendly ear when all you want to do is whine and sigh about how much being nine months pregnant kind of sucks. Misery indeed loves company. And a cup of warm nettle tea.

Thanks for listening, my friends.

April 6, 2014 Pregnancy No Comments

Don’t Squish the Butterfly

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36 Week Bump

“I know that when a woman births on her own power, and finds her rhythm, and her postures, and her sounds, and her moment of ecstasy with birth, that she is a changed woman, and she is a fierce mother.” ~Ina May Gaskin

I’m 36 weeks + 4 days pregnant, which means baby is just days away from being full-term. After this Wednesday, I will exhale a massive sigh of relief because Little Nixon can come any time. And he’ll be welcome sooner rather than later! Because all those women who said the last month is the worst were absolutely correct. Most of the time I feel pretty awful and enormously uncomfortable. I am awkward and restless. Everything is difficult to do. Finding a relaxed position to sleep in can take hours not only because of my belly, but also my hands and arms become numb. The swelling in my hands and feet is painful. And I’ve been having quite a bit of fibromyalgia pain in my arms and legs this past week.

Omg I am SO done with being pregnant. It was actually kind of fun up until a couple of weeks ago!

But I do hope Little Nixon stays in for a few more weeks. I still have some mind training to do. One of the primary pain relief methods I am working on is hypnosis, through the program called Hypnobabies. Hypnobabies retrains your brain to think of childbirth as easy and comfortable, and uses hypnosis and deep relaxation to reduce or eliminate labour pain (create a natural anaesthesia). One aspect of the program is the replacement of certain words and phrases with ones that are positive in order to reframe the experience. For example, contractions are “pressure waves” (this falls in line with Ina May Gaskin’s substitute—“rushes”), labour is “birthing time”, transition is “transformation”, and pain is “intensity” or simply “pressure”. But it goes farther than just changing the language used—the program attempts to replace the fear and expectation of pain with confidence in the body’s ability to birth comfortably, safely,  gently and—of course—painlessly.

“Hypnosis advocates give several explanations of how the process works. One theory holds that when a woman feels fear during childbirth, her body releases stress hormones that trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response. This causes muscles to tighten and interferes with the birthing process. By training the subconscious mind to expect a safe, gentle birth, they say, women can avoid going into the fight-or-flight state, allowing for a smoother birth.” ~BabyCenter

There are 12 half-hour hypnosis sessions to listen to over the course of six weeks or longer. Each has its own intention and instruction, such as breaking down old beliefs, relaxing in your own sacred place, releasing fear, learning how to put yourself into a state of hypnosis, creating anaesthesia, and pushing the baby out. I could be a tad behind if Little Nixon arrives early—I’m in week three—but it’s actually working. I’ve been using the finger drop technique to put myself into a deep relaxation when I’m feeling pain or am very uncomfortable in bed at night, and the pain honestly decreases. I do have trouble, however, maintaining the reduced pain for very long, as I tend to lose focus.

(During the past year, I’ve noticed that when I’m in a lot of pain but my body is in a state of tension and my mind is upset, the pain intensifies. If I go for a walk or meditate, the pain is reduced. I just haven’t been disciplined enough to keep the pain away completely or regularly through entirely natural means. That would require a lot of work that I haven’t had the time for. I don’t even know if I could—chronic pain is a devil beast to tame. It’s easier to take medication to dull the pain. Although I am sure there would be great benefit to using hypnosis during especially nasty flares.)

Other relaxation methods during my birth time might include breathing (4 count in through the nose, 8 count out through the mouth is working well for me), visualizations, affirmations, keeping my mouth relaxed by making noise (groaning, mooing like a cow, or blowing “raspberries”), trusting that my body knows what to do, walking, resting, using my personal mantra, releasing endorphins, and humour (apparently a good belly laugh is an effective form of anaesthesia). I’m open and willing to do whatever helps create a “pain-less” birth.

I really think I can do this. My mind is very powerful, and with the right tools, it can accomplish great tasks—mentally, physically and spiritually. I am a strong and fearless woman about to become a mother. I am going to BREATHE this baby out and it will be the most empowering experience of my life.

And then there’s the “but”. That part of me that questions. The part who has suffered through considerable physical pain since January of 2013 and who is terribly scared of not only being in pain I can’t handle, but of feeling like I FAILED at the challenge I have given myself if indeed it does become too much for me. I’m scared that it will hurt MORE for me because I have fibromyalgia. I’m afraid of having complications and being transferred to the hospital. What if I just totally fall apart?

One of my midwives said something a few weeks ago that resonated with me. “Hold your intention here,” she said, her hand outstretched, palm up. “But don’t squish the butterfly.”

Que sera sera.

March 30, 2014 Pregnancy No Comments

Something Remarkable

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Here I am now at 30 weeks—10 weeks to go (April 23 is the due date). I have books to read, a nursery to furnish, supplies to buy, a birth plan to put together, dogs to train and prepare, my labour and birth “tool box” to establish, a yoga pose guide to put together…omg it all feels just a tad daunting.

30 week belly

AND! Of course I keep having these moments of HOLY CRAP I’M HAVING A BABY. Moms reading this will understand. It’s like it doesn’t really sink in, even though I think about the life growing inside of me nearly every waking moment these days. I imagine him from head to toe: his smooth white hair, tiny feathery eyelashes, wide inquisitive eyes, that squishy newborn mouth, his little fingers curling out and then into a fist, that little elfin bum, those scrumptious little baby feet that I will nibble on and inspect with the curiosity and intensity of every first-time mother. But it won’t be REAL until I am clutching him to my chest, all wet and warm. I honestly can’t believe sometimes that this is happening to me. For most of my life I didn’t expect I would do this.

Lots of people over the years told me I would change my mind. Those people usually explained that at a certain age women just naturally develop an insatiable “urge” to procreate. I didn’t have that. What changed me was more of an uneasiness with my life, a feeling that something was missing. From reading the stories of mothers, I came to realize that a child can be a woman’s most influential teacher. And I want that for myself. I want a teacher. Heck, I NEED a teacher. My life is becoming less and less adventurous as I grow older, and my spirit is calling out for something truly remarkable in my life. (Climbing a mountain or travelling the world aren’t things I crave to do. I’m quiet. And I like being at home.)

Then I read this article on how *not* having children was defeatist. The article’s general argument was that couples who decide to be childless because of the frightening political state of the world, because of the exceptional expense, because of the drain on our valuable natural resources in a time when they are becoming so depleted…these couples are admitting defeat. They are defeated by the cynicism, the pessimistic future, the unfavourable conditions likely to plague planet earth in the coming decades. And that’s when it really hit me. Those reasons shouldn’t be WHY a person decides to have children or not, and those reasons had definitely shaped my decision (and my husband’s) to not have children. Pair that with my rapidly approaching mid-life digits (the “ticking clock” if you will) and many discussions, and the choice was made to expand our family, to create a human being to join us on our life journey.

For all the shite in this world, there is much more awesomeness, and much more wonder and beauty to behold, to hold dear, to nurture and cultivate, to create, and to be a part of. That’s what I am most excited about: creating and nourishing an awesome life for our child. I want him to say one day, “My mama and papa made my life awesome and they made the world a better place for creating me.” I want him to know that he was created from love—to love wholeheartedly and to be loved wholeheartedly.

——

Remember my comments on the lack of consensus around the gestational diabetes test? My midwife called on Tuesday afternoon to let me know that the guideline numbers for gestational diabetes had JUST changed (yet again) and I don’t need to have nutritional counselling (unless I want to). My 1-hour test was 10.3, which now falls under the new number of 10.6. Still close enough that I should be a tad careful, but nothing to be all insane about, so BRING ON THE VANILLA LATTES and CHOCOLATE BROWNIES and BEN AND JERRY’S ICE CREAM. Yes, all is good.

The past week has been busy…I honestly don’t know where my time goes. I’ve been walking almost every day at the estuary, even though I’m actually feeling quite fatigued and a little breathless at times. The exercise is good for me, and I cherish my walks with the pups. It’s a moving meditation. My hunger has picked up noticeably, and the baby’s activity has increased dramatically. I literally felt him change positions over the course of a few hours earlier in the week, from the left side to the right. It was incredible.

We’re taking a childbirth class this weekend. Day one was this morning. I’ve read enough books and watched enough movies to not be learning all that much actually, but I think it’s quite helpful for Tyler. Myself, I was anticipating more hands-on learning.

Yesterday was kind of a crummy day. I did not feel all that well when I woke up, and after trying to accomplish a few things on the computer, I went to bed and stayed there all day. I felt depressed, my arms were throbbing and aching, and I just had a general feeling of malaise, and I cried on and off. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t concentrate on a book, so I cuddled with the dogs and my belly. Even though it was a painful day, Baby Nixon and I communicated through touch for hours on end. He would poke me with an elbow or foot, I would poke back in that spot, and then he would respond with a gentle nudge. Back and forth we would play. Sometimes I would tap once, and he would answer with one kick back. I would tap twice, and he would react with two kicks. This book I’m reading, Nurturing the Unborn Child, said to try this in the third trimester and I was amazed that it actually works! Not all the time, but enough to show that my baby can feel what is going on outside the womb and that we can communicate with one another. This is mind-blowing stuff. So my awful day was also a wonderful day of connecting with Baby Nixon. Maybe I needed to feel rotten in order to stay in bed all day and rest. I keep pushing myself every day and I have to slow down, but it’s hard when there is so much to be done.

Like having that sweet, succulent, heavenly latte. With whip on top. Oh mama.

February 15, 2014 Motherhood 1

Breaking Point

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27 Week Belly

27 weeks. Honestly, getting through each day is quite a struggle but I’m managing to keep a little gas in the tank by resting as much as possible and retiring early. I still have this weird muscle pain in my belly that renders me useless by about 5 o’clock or earlier. And my arms ache all the time. Not complaining, just saying.

I went for a walk today with the dogs on the estuary. It was intensely beautiful out today. A thick blanket of fog, the sun aching to break through, a field of a thousand geese, a sharp cold air penetrating winter attire. The pups loved the walk. Charlie bounding like a cheery fawn and pouncing like a fox amongst the tall grasses made my heart soar. Dogs racing each other down the levee.

Cowichan River Estuary

I made it to 26 weeks with just one pair of maternity pants—no, not pants, tights with a belly band. Last weekend I had to go shopping. My intention was to shop at a locally owned maternity store in Victoria, but when I arrived I found they were closed. So I went to a mall and died a little inside. Then I went to Old Navy and sold my soul for $140’s worth of cheap but fairly stylish clothes. I try my best always to support small and local, but this was a case of dire need and few options. Hopefully I don’t need to buy anything else in the next few months. Although, there will be bras!

Next Tuesday I am set to have my gestational diabetes test. There are two tests offered and I’m doing the more difficult of the two: fasting for 12 hours, then drinking icky glucose drink and waiting for two hours in the lab. I hope desperately that I don’t have GD. My sweet tooth is insatiable sometimes and I can’t imagine not being able to indulge. Right now I’m heavily addicted to the caramel flan latte at SB and Coffee Toffee Crunch Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Things I am worried about: Getting the pups ready for this big change. Not having enough time to mentally and physically prepare for labour (have NOT been doing any yoga for over a month). Not having enough support. Not having the bedroom painted a soothing, comforting colour. Figuring out how we’re all going to sleep. Feeling scared about everything. OMG HAVING A KID TO TAKE CARE OF WHAT THE HELL WERE WE THINKING?

I have five days of work left. I’m taking sick leave before mat leave because I really can’t live with this pain any longer and going to work makes it worse. It’s hard to believe I’ve been able to go this long. Everyone says I look wonderful and I’ve got that “pregnant glow”. Little do most people know how much I’ve been suffering. It’s breaking me in more ways that I can count and I just need to rest so badly. So while I’ve been waiting (im)patiently for the day to come, now that it’s so close it feels rather strange–like it won’t happen. But I’ve been training my replacement and she is amazing is so many ways; I feel like she’s nearly ready to take it all on. Wow, not working is going to feel incredible. (Not making as much money is going to suck balls.) I just hope I get enough rest before my life turns into a circus.

Baby Nixon has been super active this past week. I AM LOVING IT. There really is a human being in there. Damn, I kind of like being pregnant. It’s pretty awesome.

January 26, 2014 Pregnancy 2

My Life is About to Begin

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26 Week Bump

My belly at 26 weeks. While it might look a tad large, it’s not out of the ordinary and I’ve gained just 10 pounds. Everything is NORMAL, which doesn’t make for very exciting updates. Oh, except for the agonizing pain beside my belly button this little turd is causing me. But if I talk about it too much, it seems like I’m complaining. Jeez, I can handle the PGP and the FMS pain any day; this muscle spasm/tearing in my tummy is nearly unbearable. My movement is drastically restricted. The weekends have been *okay*, but work is really tough. I’m training my replacement (she’s so lovely and smart), so I’m soldiering out two more weeks if I can and then I’m out.

I have this idea floating around in my head that my life is about to begin. That sounds weird, obviously, and it’s sort of a blanket statement, since I’ve been living for 39 years and it’s been just fine. What I mean is, the LIFE I’ve been pining and aching for over the past few years. Hold on. That doesn’t mean being a mother. For about 98% of my life I had no intentions or thoughts of having babies. I think it’s that with all of this change, I am going to be much more conscious than ever about my decisions, about how I’m shaping my life, about what I am creating for myself and my family.

Like, I’m going to dance a lot more. In fact, I’m going to dance right now while my second cup of coffee is warming up in the microwave.

Do-da-da-do-doooo-da-doooo… Yeah that feels good.

I’m looking forward to all of the wonderful learning experiences coming my way. Something I see a lot of with new parents is letting go. Letting go of the worry about things that don’t really matter. Letting go of that mental chatter. What’s important comes into a much sharper focus. For me, that’ll be baby, family, and creating a career that is suits my lifestyle. And just simply creating a lot more, even if the finished product kind of sucks.

Knit Headwarmer

Over the holidays I knitted a head warmer. With my own two hands. It ain’t fancy and it’s only a basic knit stitch, but I did it and it feels freaking awesome. Damn, if I can make a human, I can knit. If I practice (knitting, not making humans), I’ll be able to knit well. Bring it on.

Back to the belly to end this post. He’s a feisty one—still bootin’ and bashin’ me and I’m loving all of it. See, someone I know, not very well, but a woman I admire and respect a lot, had a horrifying end to her pregnancy this week. I can’t imagine how much emotional pain she has been going through and will continue to suffer before the healing can begin. So for all the pain, for every sleepless night, for all the sacrifices, I am at heart utterly grateful I have a healthy baby inside and that my pregnancy has been fairly easy so far.

We are extremely blessed in so many ways. Many many many thanks to the universe.

January 19, 2014 Personal No Comments

A Hooked Fish

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I’ll begin first by apologizing for what may be a rather boring update for some. My intention with these weekly updates is to keep my family and friends apprised of events related to my pregnancy, to share my own personal story with other pregnant women, and to journal the last few months of this incredible journey I am on.

It’s now been 25 weeks and it seems like a lot has changed since last week. I’m feeling really pregnant. I’ve had an increasingly difficult time getting in and out of the car, moving myself in bed, getting OUT of bed, putting my socks and shoes on…you get the idea. And all this is only going to get worse as my belly grows bigger and bigger. Honestly, I am a bit worried. I had such an easy six months; I wonder if the last three a half will be tough.

I’m measuring totally normal for 25 weeks, but look at that bump! I’m in awe of it. It’s so lovely.

25 Week Bump

I had an appointment with one of my midwives today and she confirmed that the pain in my hips, pelvis, and thighs is pelvic girdle pain. The pain is usually non-existent in the morning but by the afternoon it hurts quite a lot to walk (er…I mean waddle—yep I’m sportin’ a foxy new mini-waddle) and it’s very uncomfortable to sit for more than an hour or so. Pelvic floor exercises and sitting on an exercise ball seems to help. And oh lordy I went and bought myself a maternity belt. Seems a tad uncomfortable, and it certainly doesn’t lend itself well to tight-fitting tops, which I prefer to wear. But if it relieves some pain, then so be it. Wincing and waddling around the grocery store is garnering some double-takes and slightly concerned faces.

A few weeks ago I noticed a desensitized area to the left of my belly button. It’s a very odd sensation and I don’t like it. But the spot is causing some intense pain. I can’t even explain the feeling it’s so peculiar, but I can tell you that it sucks super bad. The only relief is to lie down on my back and squish the skin together. My midwife said it’s the abdominal muscles stretching and the nerves are being pulled, and possibly there is some scar tissue there that is causing this terrible pain. It progressively gets worse throughout the day and by the time I’m incapacitated (and crying), I feel much like there’s a hook in my belly and I’m a flailing fish. It’s awful. A few hours in bed, and it’s gone. Clean the bathroom and do some dishes, it’s back.

It’s not surprising there is a lot of pain when growing a human being in your belly. Check out this animated gif that shows the organs shifting inside a woman’s body during pregnancy. Insane what our bodies can do and how they can adapt.

Pregnancy Changes

This Flash interactive from the Museum of Science and Industry is also worth visiting.

My FMS pain has been ever present. I’m feeling it mostly in my arms. They ache and sting and burn. Saturday I spent the day in bed. On Sunday Tyler took me to see his acupuncturist in Nanaimo, and I felt pretty good afterwards. Hardly any pain on Monday. But, it was back again last night and today. I’ve been in bed since 5 o’clock.

I had an ultrasound back at 19 weeks and I just got the results today from my midwife. Everything is totally normal. Except that I have a very “long cervix” (5.8 cm?), which really means nothing right now.

I didn’t realize how bad the flu has been the past month in BC. I’ve never had a flu shot and I don’t want to start, but of course I’m certainly concerned for myself and baby if I were to get sick. I’ve been struggling with it the past couple of days, but I can’t argue that it’s best for both of us. However, there aren’t any vaccines available in Duncan at the moment. Have to wait until Tuesday at least. I’ve been extremely careful about washing my hands and kissing strangers…

More next week!

January 8, 2014 Fibromyalgia 1

I Hurt

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On October 15, 2013, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).

I am writing this as part of my healing process. I have not talked much about the pain or my diagnosis to my family and friends; and most people I know are not aware of what my body and mind has been through in the past 12 months. I became withdrawn. I put on a mask to disguise what was happening to me. I had to; otherwise I would have fallen apart. But hiding is not who I am. The essence of me is emotional, engaging, honest, unveiled. I want to be vulnerable again. I *need* to be. It has taken me nearly a year to realize this.

I think people are afraid to ask me what it’s like to have chronic pain. Or maybe they just don’t want to know. People don’t know what to say, or how to offer support. So they often don’t say anything at all. Like many diseases, fibromyalgia is a vast and endless sea of loneliness for the sufferer.

My hope and intention is that by writing and sharing about my life and FMS, I will repair the emotional damage. I think that I know why I have FMS, and I will explore these reasons in future posts. First I have to tell some the story of the past year.

The pain started in early December of 2012 with a stinging sensation in my left ankle that radiated up the side of my leg. I didn’t think much of it of course, and in a few weeks it dissipated. On Christmas Eve my right arm was sore and heavy for no apparent reason. Little things like that started happening. By mid-January, I was having electrical shocks in my arms, hands and legs, muscle twitching and an overall feeling of malaise. My GP ordered blood tests and everything was normal. No signs of an autoimmune disease, arthritis, inflammation, vitamin deficiency. Nothing.

The sequence of events in late winter and in early spring and summer are hazy. The short version is that my body was in agonizing pain, work was busy and stressful, I didn’t know what was wrong with me, and something happened that was emotionally traumatic. Looking back, I just want to cry. It was a really difficult time. All of *my self* was in distress and I felt quite alone in my pain and despair. I have no idea how I endured.

The pain is cyclical. By late spring I had noted a pattern of three to four weeks of pain, which started mildly and grew in intensity, then would taper off and then I would feel okay for a few weeks. Every time the pain disappeared, I would think, hey maybe this is just stress and it’s in my head. But it kept coming back, and every time there would be different and new symptoms.

In the beginning my hands and arms swelled a lot and would tingle with numbness. I would wake up in the middle of the night with pins and needles in my arms and legs. My legs would ache and throb and spasm. Pin pricks, razor blades, bee stings, knife stabs. I felt really, really sore all the time. My arms were pinched and tight. Quality sleep became non-existent. I would awake all throughout the night and in the morning it felt as though I had slept on rocks. For a few weeks I had excruciating nerve pain in my lower back that radiated to the front of my thigh. I thought something must be wrong in my spine. Pinched nerve? Bone spurs? Spondylosis? Spine cancer?

In late spring my neck and upper back began to feel tight and sore. After my third chiropractic appointment, the pain was devastating me — it was the worst pain I have ever experienced. That neck pain has been persistent for months on end. It’s agonizing. I can’t even describe it.

Then there is the “voodoo pain”, which feels like sharp metal objects being stabbed into various spots all over my body. I have the sensation of my skin being burnt. Many days it feels like I’m coming down with the flu and every muscle is sore. It hurts to stretch. It hurts to do yoga. It hurts to sit. It hurts to hold my arms up. It hurts to sleep. I’m often fatigued and my sleep is not refreshing. Pain, noise…everything is amplified and irritating. I cry a lot because my body hurts so much. Simple tasks are sometimes impossible.

Fatigue is prevalent. I tire easily when walking up stairs, and when the fibro-flare is peaking, I can barely get out of bed. Showering, dressing, and drying my hair can be a monumental undertaking that is more like a medieval crusade and less like the everyday routine it is.

I have tried acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage therapy, physio, a multitude of meds and vitamins, epsom salt baths. Nothing ever helps for more than 24 hours at the most.

I had an MRI scan of my brain and cat scan of my lumbar. Both came back normal. I saw a neurologist, who said my symptoms were not related to any kind of nerve disease or disorder. I had more blood tests. All normal. A physiatrist found nothing immediately wrong with my neck and back and said that even though she did not deal with musculoskeletal conditions, she seemed certain that I had FMS. It was only at that point that I began to consider this as a real possibility. I had sort of ruled it after all of my research.

I don’t have many of the common symptoms of FMS. I don’t suffer from digestive disturbances or TMJ or “fibro fog”. I’m not depressed. I’ve been able to soldier through it and continue working full-time. And nothing unordinary triggered the onset of the condition, which is often the case.

My GP had referred me to a rheumatologist. I waited five months for an appointment that lasted 20 minutes. By the time of my appointment, I was certain what he would say. FMS was making more and more sense. He confirmed what my GP had suspected all along.

Having someone tell you that your pain is real and it has a name is the weirdest feeling. It’s devastating…and it’s relieving at the same time. The part that is hard to come to terms with is that FMS is diagnosed by the elimination of any other diseases and by having pain in 11 of the 18 “tender points”. So the natural response is, could this really be what is wrong with me? But, I will take it because it really doesn’t seem like it could be anything else. And with a diagnosis comes the ability to manage it and maybe the chance to cure it.

From all that I have read online, it seems that the most common symptom for sufferers of fibromyalgia syndrome is basically widespread body pain — and each person describes it a little differently. I think this is because the pain doesn’t always feel exactly like something else others can relate to. It’s not always “sore” or “stabbing” or “burning”. It moves around the body and it changes in intensity from day to day. The pain mutates, travels and shifts with no apparent schedule. You can’t know where it will go next, or when it will recede. There are patterns, but they are learned with time; I am only beginning to understand my own.

This pain sucks away my motivation and it paralyzes my intentions and it is rapidly transforming my life.

And now it’s up to me — because I am the only one who can determine HOW this pain will change my life. I can take but one road.

If you would like to read more about FMS, this article on the University of Maryland Medical Centre is quite thorough but succinct.

December 12, 2013 Fibromyalgia No Comments