light and temporary

When You Don’t See the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Interviews with Chronic Pain Warriors #4

I know! It’s strange to write these words “light and momentary” when talking about chronic pain. I have been in an R.A. flair most of the past year and now facing some heart issues. I sometimes wonder just how much more I can take. Not that I want to end it all, but when I look at myself at 58 and then (judging from my family history) look forward to maybe 30 more years, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And I wonder,

“Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?” #chronicpain #endurance #lightandmomentarytrouble Click To Tweet

“Light and momentary” comes from the scriptures where the Apostle Paul shares that when we arrive in heaven this will all seem small and insignificant. (2 Corinthians 4:17) He shares that one of the purposes of our trials is that when we get through them we can encourage and comfort others who are experiencing the same type of pain.

So this year, I’d like to offer a series of interviews with chronic pain warriors. I would like us to all share and encourage one another so that we can “all patiently endure as we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:6)

 And then though “we were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” Even when we expect that we will die, we will stop relying on ourselves and learn to rely only on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8,9)

And now Interview #4 with Terri Sutula.

light at the end of the tunnel

Terri is a certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach who also lives with fibromyalgia and IBS. She has made it her mission to walk alongside others with fibromyalgia to help them find what works for them to help them thrive. Find our interview below.

divider
curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Would you share the short story of your chronic pain journey? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.

This is a little tough because I can’t remember a time that I didn’t have pain. Even as a child, I suffered debilitating headaches on a regular basis. Fast forward a few years, and I started having migraines in addition to the regular headaches.

Finally, when I was around 30, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. These things made my life difficult at times, but I retired after 20 years in the US Air Force, then went on to work as a Finance Officer of a small town, then as a Personal Trainer for about 6 years.

Where’s the Light at the End of the Tunnel?

In 2011, I started having widespread pain (as in, everything hurt, all over my body), severe abdominal pain, and lots of other strange symptoms. I could no longer work. Some lab results caused concern, but then when repeated, the labs came back normal. I just couldn’t understand how I could feel this horrible and not have something seriously wrong with me. At one point, I was spending my days in bed, just waiting for each day to be over.

Eventually, in 2012, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and IBS. It was actually a relief to have a name for what was going on. Once I realized I didn’t have something that was going to kill me, I got on with learning how to live my best life in spite of my illnesses.

What a long journey. Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get stronger?

When I was at my worst with my fibromyalgia symptoms, my relationship with the Lord was the closest it’s ever been. I had absolutely no strength of my own; I had to depend on His strength to even get through the day. The longer I live with it, the more I’ve learned to lean on Him for even the mundane things in life. He’s always there for us, through the big things and the small ones.

What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey?

The scripture I mentioned below, Romans 8:28, has been a huge comfort for me because it reminds me that God is using this for my good in some way, but the one I cling to the most is Isaiah 41:10,

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

isaiah 41:10

One thing that has been especially difficult for me on this fibromyalgia journey has been the weakness I experience sometimes. There have been times that I wasn’t even sure my legs would hold me up, but I always know that when I’m weak, God is strong, and He will hold me up when I can’t hold myself up.

How do you find comfort during these ‘ light and momentary’ painful days?

I remember that God is going to use this in some way. He never wastes any experience or difficulty we have. Romans 8:28 tells us,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

I firmly believe that, and that’s what helps me get through the really tough days.

What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?

I’m fortunate to have family and friends who try to understand and make accommodations when my symptoms are not cooperating. My husband has really been a Godsend through all of this. He does everything he can to make my life as easy as possible.


Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this?

I consider my blog to be my ministry. When I first started experiencing all these weird symptoms and right after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I wanted some real, actionable tips for getting on with my life and I needed to reclaim my hope that I could still have a good life. Once I started figuring things out, I wanted to be that resource for others, Reclaiming HOPE was born.

In Conclusion, Can you offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey?

Sweet friend, I know this isn’t easy. I know there are some days that you feel you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you are not alone. You have others who have been where you are and who are willing to walk alongside you as you go through this.

And know that God is always there with you. He’s promised us in His Word that he’ll never leave us or forsake us. Life may not ever go back to the way it was, but you can still thrive in spite of your circumstances. You’ve got this!

Offering a light at the end of the tunnel,

~Terri

certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach 

Thank you, Terri, for sharing your story and these encouraging words.

Readers, I encourage you to comment below or connect with Terri on social media or her blog.

Mandy Farmer

It’s Your Turn

legacy link-ups

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Are you a Chronic Pain Warrior? Can you offer a light at the End of the Tunnel?

Would you be willing to share your faith story and encourage others? Contact Mandy for more details about an interview for this blog. See Guidelines Here

We Often Link-up With at These Blogs

Fibro Blogger Directory
wedding

How I Managed Fibro/FMS/RA and Survived my Daughter’s Wedding

This being the two year anniversary of my daughter’s wedding, I thought it appropriated to update this post about how I managed fibromyalgia and enjoyed my daughter’s wedding.

divider
curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Dear Friend;

You asked me recently how I am doing after my daughter’s wedding. It took me until now (about 6 weeks) to recover but it was worth it! It was the most beautiful day and I was able to be right there and most importantly, not in pain! I shared about the wedding on my family page The Farmers Place. [Just in case you are curious. 🙂 ]

Mandy & Mikaela
Mandy with her daughter before the wedding

To be honest, I was really concerned that I would be in a lot of pain on the wedding day. I asked all my chronic pain friends for their suggestions and took as many as I could into consideration.  One thing I know, whether a person has a chronic illness or not, is that a wedding can quickly get out of hand. My strongest advice to anyone planning a wedding is to

KISS – KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID

So here are a few things that I did:

Set Your Goals

If worse comes to worst, what is the very least you want to be able to enjoy? What are the most important things concerning the wedding? I had one goal in mind. To walk down the aisle as the mother-of-the-bride pain-free and possibly without my cane! And I made this happen.

Mandy ecorted in by son #1, Daniel
Mandy ecorted in by oldest son, Daniel

Clear Your Schedule for the months preceding the wedding.

The wedding was in May. I decided the first of the year to do nothing that didn’t have to do with the wedding. I scheduled guest writers on my blog (See My Series Letters-To-Friends) and I turned down speaking engagements. Even some of the smaller opportunities were given a “No” response in order to keep my energy for the big goal.

Get on an Anti-inflammatory Diet

I struggled with this one because, in all truthfulness, I am a sugarholic. But I stuck to my guns pretty well for 5 months. And it truly did help me have not just a good wedding day, but all the planning days went pretty well too! I even lost 10 pounds. [I hate to admit it but after the wedding, I kinda fell off the wagon again. So I’m struggling with more pain now but trying to get straightened out again.] I guess that shows that getting on the right diet does, in fact, help a lot.

Prioritize the Wedding Events

Which events do you really, really want to attend? You may have to be selective about which events are most important to you, especially during the week of the wedding. Let’s be honest, we just can’t go like this without paying the price. If we go to everything planned for the week, we could likely miss the wedding altogether. I skipped out on the bridesmaids’ lingerie shower.

Also, plan to block out a day or two after each event because you will probably need it. In our case, both the groom’s mom and I have a chronic illness. She and I got together to address invitations. Who knew that just a simple job of writing addresses on envelopes would be so taxing. Both of us were worthless for a day or two. I might suggest getting the addresses printed on the envelopes. If you are savvy with the computer, you can do this yourself much easier.

Plan Your Doctor Visits Wisely and in Advance

I get an injection in my neck at Mayo Clinic every 4-6 months. Typically, by the time I get to the next appointment, I am usually in a lot of pain. This is a long day trip for us and I am usually down for the count that night and the next day. So when I was there last December, I asked if we could go ahead and schedule for the spring about a month before the wedding. My doctor was happy to oblige me. And I had no neck pain the entire month of May!

Delegate Responsibilities

Leaving the ceremony with son #3, Brett

Another tough one to follow. I am a Type-A personality. Apparently, most fibro warriors are Type-A. We want to be right in the middle of all the planning and doing. Thankfully, I have family members and very good friends that took on much of the work. Our daughter-in-law is a go-getter and also doesn’t let people get by with too much slack. She did a lot of the running and directing for me. The wedding gown was being altered about a 1.5-hour drive away. I was able to attend all the fittings but the last one. It was the week of the wedding. Our Daughter-in-law went with our daughter and picked up the gown. She got the instructions for steaming it and such. This saved me that day trip the week of the wedding. Sure, I hated not going, but it kept me in good shape for the most important day .. the wedding!

We found other people that we trusted for things such as flowers and decorations and reception. We gave them basic instructions and then let them run with it. I did have a few sleepless nights because I wondered if they were doing everything just right. But it all turned out beautiful.

By the way, be sure that you delegate people to specific clean-up duties for after the wedding. Especially if this is at your church, it will likely be your responsibility to get everything back in order. With chronic illness, by this time, you will be too tired to do it and everyone will have gone home leaving it to you. For example,

  • the sanctuary platform furniture returned to normal places,
  • reception hall cleaned and returned to normalcy,
  • kitchen cleaned
  • bathrooms cleaned
  • and other rooms used by the bride and groom all straightened and clean, waste cans emptied. 

[As a pastor’s wife, I know from experience that these are often forgotten. The regular janitor did his work BEFORE  the wedding for you, it’s your responsibility to do it after the wedding or pay them to do it again before Sunday worship – which is often the next morning.]

Have Your People Come to You

A friend arranged for someone to do my hair. We actually went and did some hair trials. But then I learned that I was going to have to get up early and go to her house to get it done. I knew this would be too taxing on the day of the wedding, so I decided to fix my own hair at home and arrive at the church in time for pictures with my daughter. My neighbor ran around town looking for a pretty barrette and voila! we had it done. Sure it could have been nicer but I got to enjoy the wedding.

If your beautician can come to your house it will make your day so much easier. I’ve also heard that nowadays there is such a thing as a mobile hairstylist. This would be awesome if you can afford it.

Bring Your Own Chair

I knew that the church had no comfortable chairs. So I had my son transport my chair and footrest to the church the day before. We had this in the bride’s room so that I would have a comfortable place to rest and get my feet up before the ceremony.

I was also concerned about sitting on a hard folding chair during the reception. I had a padded folding chair at the house so we took it in as well. You might take something even better than that. I considered renting comfortable chairs for both family tables and then rent chair covers for them. This really wouldn’t be that great of an expense in the whole scheme of things especially if you are already renting linens.

Provide Accommodations to Visiting Guests Other Than in your Own Home

I have no family nearby. This meant everyone was traveling in for the wedding. In order to keep my home a peaceful place to retreat, I arranged for other accommodations for family members. Check out vacation condos or a bed and breakfast. I went to Airbnb and found a townhouse right in our neighborhood that could house all the bridesmaids and another family just a mile or so away that was renting a suite in their home which was perfect for my parents.

Honestly, I had a wonderful day at the wedding. I was tired, for sure, but who wouldn’t be? It’s taken me some time to get back into my old and new routines but I’m getting there. I hope that your wedding plans go just as perfectly as ours did.

Just Remember to KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

The Farmer Family

With Love and Kisses;

Mandy Farmer

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Sometimes We Link Up With:

How Does Cool Weather Affect Pain?

Does a change in weather affect your pain levels?

This is a question often posed to the fibro warrior. In short, the answer is YES! After a long night of restless “sleeping”. I finally, got up and wrote about it.

divider
curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Dear Friends;

I’ve been tossing and turning all night because I just cannot find a comfortable position. The pain has been so troublesome since the change in weather back in October. I’m not sure if it’s fibro pain, RA pain, or “good ole Arthur” pain but it is definitely pain. Maybe all of these guys are culprits.

I’m one that has to get busy doing something in order to relieve pain so I decided I would get up and write to you about it. I’m already feeling some better just getting up and moving about.

The Arrival of Cool Weather is a Mixed Blessing.

I have always loved the Fall. It’s my favorite season of the year. Donning a sweater is so warm and cozy; like a big hug. But cool weather brings pain along with it. That part, I don’t especially care for. Yes, the cool weather can affect pain a great deal. The temptation is to curl up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and watch movies all day. But there is danger in that.

Avoiding the Temptation to Stay Still

It’s kind of an oxymoron-type thing for me – motion. You see, if I stay still for very long and then try to get up and move about, I have extreme stiffness and pain. It takes maybe 30 minutes of gentle moving to relieve the stiffness. But on the other hand, I must take care not to overdo it.

Too much walking and my knees suddenly swell up until it feels as if someone has tightened a belt just below my knee. After that, pain and achiness extend down my leg. (I was never an athlete but my guess is that it feels like shin splints.)

But wait, it doesn’t stop there. At this point, my ankles begin to hurt and then pain shoots down the tendons to my toes with every step. None of this pain subsides until I get home and off my feet for a while. A heating pad usually helps alleviate the pain as well.

But don’t stay there long.

Stiffness will return if I sit for more than 30 minutes.

So, there you have it. How cool weather affects pain from my point of view. Science doesn’t seem to really know why it happens, but if you want their opinion, you can check out what WebMD has to say about it.

Is there anything that helps or anything you can do for me?

hmmm.

Your prayers mean the world to me. Trust me, I feel the prayers of my friends and family. I really couldn’t make it without them.

I would love a swim in a warm saltwater pool. Water therapy is amazing. It lifts all the pressure off your body. But there doesn’t seem to be a pool around here.

So other than prayer or a vacation to the Carribean 🙂 …anything that will distract me:

  • Give me a call once in a while. (I get lonely sometimes)
  • Drop by for a visit. (I get lonely sometimes)
  • Come watch a movie with me. (They say, laughter is the best medicine and companionship is probably a good second.)
  • Buy my a new heating pad, blanket, good book, or CD (Music, I love music)
  • Foods that help or at least don’t worsen the pain: Smoothie, Dark chocolate at least 70% Cacoa (Here’s my favorite-no soy), green tea

Well, I have sat here writing too long and my knees are stiffening up. So I best close this letter. Be sure to ask me anything you would like to know about my pain journey. I’ll do my best to give you an answer.

Thanks for asking and caring,

Mandy Farmer

Is There a Cure

Is There a Cure for Fibromyalgia?

Is there a cure for Fibro?

divider
curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Cure: Unknown

Five Minute Friday Prompthttp://www.fiveminutefriday.com

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for fibromyalgia (FMS). Myriads of symptoms make it nearly impossible to narrow down the problem. Additionally, and the reason the cure is unknown is that researchers are uncertain what triggers fibromyalgia. Studies show that most patients have had some kind of traumatic event in their life, such as surgery, an auto accident, abuse or even living in a war zone. The pain can be triggered at any time.

In my case, there is not any real event that we can point a finger too. However, I can see several indications that I have been dealing with the pain of FMS most of my life. In 5th and 6th grade, I suffered greatly from what they called ‘growing pains” and I have always had curious scalp pain from wearing a hairpin or a hat. So Who really knows.

Is It Even a Disease?

Fortunately, in 2015 the CDC finally came up with a diagnosis code, declaring that Fibro IS a disease and that all these patients have not lost their minds. Without this code, doctors did not take the problem seriously. Diagnosis has been difficult because there are no markers to show that one has FMS. Patients have terrible pain but a cause is not found. Nothing shows up in an x-ray or in the blood work. It has been called the Invisible Disease. Doctors can only arrive at the diagnosis by the process of elimination.

For me, it took 6 months of extreme pain to finally arrive at Mayo Clinic for three days of lab work (drawing 16 vials of blood), x-rays, body scans, balance testing and more. These tests ruled out MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Lupus, and other diseases.

Associated with Other Problems

Fibro likes to hang with a dozen other syndromes that all fall under the umbrella of Central Sensitization Syndrome (CSS). One can have several of these syndromes and likely will add more of them as time goes by. At this point, I have Chronic Pain Syndrome, FMS, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, and recently added TMJ to the mix. Along with these, we found later after reducing my steroid intake that I do indeed have RA.

Hope For a Cure For Fibro

Researchers have recently found some new markers and with a little more research it is possible that they may have found some indicators in the blood that are common to all patients.

If you would like to keep up with the latest news on FMS, follow my pain warrior & blogger, Donna at Fed Up With Fatigue. She reports on any important news in the field.

Thanks for asking;

Mandy Farmer

This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday Prompt: Unknown. FMF writers accept a new prompt every week and write for 5 minutes. No editing. Come read what others were inspired to write today.

Legacy Link UP

Finding Joy in the Pain


Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5 ESV

Finding Joy in the Hard Places

FInding Joy in the Hard Places
photo credit Canva
Modified by Mandy

Throughout my years of reading the Scriptures, this verse has been one of my favorites. It has brought such comfort and joy in so many hard places. When night fell it seemed that the problems always loomed much larger in the dark than in the light of day. And as my heart ached with the weight of so many burdens, I held tightly to the promise that the Lord would bring the dawn of His light–the night of the trial could not last forever. And He did bring such peace to my heart as I watched the light dawning in so many of those dark, hard struggles.

The Hard Place of Chronic Illness

However, when chronic illness fell upon me several years ago, I found this verse taking on a literal meaning that hit me in a new way. The physical pains brought new tears in the evening. Every time I lay down, needing rest so deeply, the throbbing would heighten. Every time I finally drifted off to sleep, a jolt of fresh pain would awaken me. And the anxiety that accompanied so many of the medications brought nightmares and levels of pain that finally left me weeping before my Lord.

“How long will this night last, Lord Jesus? When will You bring the rescue?”

Finding Joy in the Morning

Finally, every morning, when the rising of the sun would finally light up my window, I could hear His words echoing in my heart:

“Rejoice, my child! We made it through one more night! My own heart is filled with joy to see you trusting Me even here.”

I could hear His words, and I could rejoice in the sunlight, but I could not rejoice at the coming night that I knew would fall again, all too soon. Recently though, He has been asking me to offer even that pain in the night up to Him as an offering. It has made little sense to me until I came across these Scriptures recently. Words that again, I have read so many times, suddenly jumped off the page for me:

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 ESV

Jesus Feels Our Pain

Additionally, Jesus endured the cross, and suffered that shame for us, but why? For the JOY that was set before Him. He offered Himself, every pain and every burden that was taken for us, and He gave it all over to God, for the joy of bringing us to His Father. Could I offer my own pain in that same way? Could I see my own sleepless and pain-filled nights as a place of offering to Him?

“Oh Lord, how I long to be able to offer it all to you? But even that offering is too hard for me. I don’t know how I can do that.”

Into the midst of my tears, He brought His Words to me yet again. This time they were ancient words, uttered to God’s people who had been long at work, obeying the Lord to rebuild His dwelling place and the wall of protection around His city. And God had called them to celebrate their place with Him:

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 ESV

Finding Joy in the Morning Through Jesus

Consequently, it was the very answer that He had been whispering to my heart every morning. It is the JOY of the LORD that will be my strength. I cannot strive to attain that. But He has already won it for me. He bore all that pain for me, and now He is the One who can show me how to offer my own pain back to Him again and again, every dark night.

And always, the morning of HIS light of Joy will dawn in my heart, because it is His gift, His fruit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22,23 ESV

Bettie Gilbert


Your Turn… Legacy Link-up!

legacy link-ups

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Be Our Next Legacy Guest Writer?

If you are a blogger, you might be interested in being our next guest Legacy Writer. Click on over to the guidelines and then contact us to sign up.

One More Thing – Featured Posts

I was featured
Post this on your featured post.

Here are the featured posts from October 2019 Legacy Link-up. Kudos to Tammy Kennington and Karen Sebastian.

Most Clicked

Tammy Kennington had the most clicks last month. Go check out her post What Freedom in Christ Looks Like.

What Freedom in Christ Looks Like

My Favorite Linked Post in October

My favorite post was Karen Sebastian’s post. Karen was participating in the 30-day writing challenge. She wrote on the theme “How to Live 101 Wonderful Years” in celebration of her father. This post on Joy was a perfect segue into the November theme of joy.

How to live 101 wonderful years. Joy in the Hard Places

my former life

Grieving My Former Life Before Chronic Pain

Do You Think You Will Come Back to Work?

I’m grieving my former life before Chronic Pain. Fibromyalgia and other Chronic Pain illnesses are classified as “Invisible Diseases”. For the most part, one can look at a Pain Warrior and not see anything wrong. And yet this person stops working, turns down invitations sometimes at the last minute. They seem to be checking out of life. But in all reality, they want nothing more to be in the middle of life. Often grief is part of their illness because they want so much to have their life back.

So what are we to do as a friend? Do we continue to include them in our lives and plans? Most definitely! Here’s a bit from my point of view.

divider
curleque by Coffee at pixabay

About this time of the year, in 2011, I lost my former life. I grieved for quite a while because I truly did miss it.

I was busy, too busy really

Let me share a list of the things I was involved in.

too many irons in the fire
Too Many Irons in the Fire
  • Mom – two children still at home
  • Homeschooling – be this time only one high school student left
  • Homeschool Co-op – Director, teacher
  • Pastor’s Wife – ’nuff said
  • Children’s ministry director
  • Sunday School teacher
  • play director – two a year
  • Bible Quiz coach
  • Regional Bible Quiz Moderator
  • Church Office Manager
  • Women’s Ministry Leader

Now, just writing these things makes me tired. But back then I was quite a go-getter. I always had several irons in the fire, so to speak. They say that those with fibromyalgia seem to be Type A personalities. I don’t know if it’s true but it is certainly true with me.

Grieving My Former Life

Grief can be very real for the one who loses everything they once loved. It’s a process and just like losing a loved one, there are seasons that are harder than others. For instance, after my husband and I left our full-time ministry, we grieved the hardest during the holidays. One thing we loved to do was create exciting services, especially at Easter. It’s probably still the hardest time to go to worship and only be a participant rather than the leaders. I wrote about this not long after Michael retired.

It Just Takes Time

The rawness of one’s loss can be very difficult to bear. Dealing with the “why’s” and the “how did this happen” and “what did I do to deserve this?” On top of that, we just missed those activities just as you would miss your loved one when they are gone.

One of the first things I did was start a blog. I came across a challenge to write every day for an entire month. So, I decided I would write about my journey with Chronic Pain. I wrote about the pain, the waiting, the doctors and more doctors. I dealt with the process of the Why’s and the How’s and the Now What’s?

This turned out to be very therapeutic. Not only have I been able to help people become more aware of my illness but it turns out that writing about the frustrations of chronic pain helps relieve the pain.

Plus, I have met a world of new friends, literally from around the world, an unimaginable support group full of love and understanding. They also became my greatest cheerleaders, encouraging me to keep writing. They shared new things they had learned and connected with me because of our similar issues. (I also found that I didn’t have much to complain about because there are many people who have much worse issues than I have.) Two of my favorite Facebook groups, Fibro Bloggers Directory and Medical Musings with Friends.

Lessons from Flat on Your Back

For the first few months, I was flat on my back, unable to even roll to my side without a great deal of pain. I had to drink my meals and have assistance doing all those normal life activities like using the restroom and taking a bath. Believe me, this was hard to take for this Type-A girl.

But while on my back I did a lot of reading and assessing my life. I found myself getting much closer to God, realizing that in some ways I had left Him completely out of my life. Instead of placing Him in full control. I spent a lot of time reading The Holy Bible. I set to reading it through in a year and ended up reading it three times in three versions.

My favorite book was suggested by a friend. I had heard of it but never read it, Now that my pain is managed well, I sometimes slip into grieving my former life. I begin to wonder, “If God is my Healer, Why Am I Still in Pain?“. I wrote about that recently.

But I know this new life is much better. Walking with Jesus step by step, day by day is wonderful. Having this pain is like having a reminder of WHO is in control. And it’s not me!

People will often quote Romans 8:28 claiming that God has a plan. And yes! He does have a plan. I don’t believe that God caused my disease, but He did allow it “for my good”. I may not see the reason why in this lifetime, but I will see it from heaven and rejoice. So I will do as Jesus did as he faced the cross.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2

God can take anything that happens and turn it into good. Are you trusting Him with your trial today? Whether it’s pain, or sickness, or loss He can turn your tears into rejoicing. He sees the whole picture and His plan is a good one! Trust me on that.

Mandy Farmer

P.S. I have created a verse of the day calendar for October. The scriptures are all about comfort. Download it for free by clicking on the image below.

October Calendar

Suggested Reading {affiliate link}


handle the holidays

How Chronic Pain Warriors Handle the Holidays

Should I invite your to me holiday party?

Should I Invite You to My Holiday Party?

Sometimes family and friends are not certain how to help the chronically ill handle the holidays. Debra Lyons offered to write a letter to you. Read on…

divider
curlicue by Coffee at Pixabay

Dear family and friends,

It is hard to believe that October is here and with that comes the anxiety of handling the upcoming holidays.  I realize that we all experience some form of anxiety and pressure when the holidays come along. But the anxiety, I am referring to is not caused by last-minute shopping or not being able to find the perfect gift.  It’s a result of being chronically ill and not knowing what to expect from one minute to the next.  This makes all the planning that goes along with the holidays quite stressful and emotional for me.

Being Chronically Ill adds stress to handling the holidays. #thisisfibro #chronicpain #holidayblues Click To Tweet

I Love the Holidays

Don’t take that the wrong way. I want nothing more than to…

  • spend the holidays with you,
  • visit with family I may not have seen for a while,
  • take pictures that will save memories that most likely my foggy brain won’t retain itself,
  • stay long enough to enjoy dessert and
  • bask in all the glory that the holidays used to mean to me. 

Handling the Holidays Is A Fight

Handling the #holidays with #chronicpain

But I fight my body every day and I fight even harder on holidays because I don’t want to disappoint you and, I truly don’t want to miss spending the day with you.  I love spending time with you and when I am around you and others, I try to be the me that you remember.  I try to put on a happy face, smile, laugh and enjoy my time with you.  You have no idea how much effort is put into pulling that off.  

Every day I am in pain, it’s just the degree of pain that changes.  Some days I can’t even dress while other days I can be self-sufficient.  It takes me hours to get ready because I must take breaks in between every act I perform. 

  • Shower,
  • Rest,
  • Blow-dry hair,
  • Rest,
  • Style hair
  • Rest again
  • you get the idea.  

And then, of course, there are those days, no matter how much I think I am up to the challenge, I simply cannot will the strength to make it out of the house.  I’m not complaining.  I love to be with you, and I do appreciate the invitations so please don’t stop inviting me.  I may have to say no on occasion but please give me the opportunity to say yes to that one moment I can get together with you.  I truly don’t want to miss it!  See Shona’s letter about Getting Ready for Church.

Please give me the opportunity to say YES! #holidayblues #chronicpain #thisisfibro Click To Tweet

And please, don’t tell me NOT to bring anything to your house. 

I don’t want to feel like there’s something special or so frail about me that I can’t pick up a bottle of wine or make cupcakes.  It may take me a few days to get to it, but I CAN do it!  And if I must buy the cupcakes, well, it won’t be the end of the world.  There are many things that I am no longer capable of doing but still so much that I can do, using the coping tools I have learned, and I ask that you let me decide what I can and can’t do.  Just ask me. I have had to learn to be brutally honest with not only others but myself.  “No” has been the hardest thing to learn, but I would like to be the one to decide what is too much for me. 

Grieving my Losses

I’m reflecting on last Thanksgiving.  I made it!  And it was so good to see everyone.  I felt so bad that everyone went through so much trouble to make me comfortable, but I ended up having to leave early.  At home, I have so many tools to ease my pain and make me comfortable. And for me, when I am feeling ill or in pain, there truly is no place like home.  It has no reflection on you or your home.  It’s often difficult to handle the holidays.

Precious Memories

I don’t know about you, but even if I only get to spend an hour with you, the memories that were made in that hour are very precious to me.  I spend a lot of time alone, so I make an extra effort to get to these get-togethers.  We have been doing them for so many years and some of our loved ones have gone onto a better place and we remember and celebrate them during the holidays while we are all together.  There’s mom’s biscuits or your mother’s stuffing recipe. 

These are moments that are so precious to me.  I don’t want to miss them, and you can bet that if I do, it’s because I lost the battle, temporarily, with this body of mine.  I think about when the kids were little, and I would run out after work to do some secret “Santa” shopping before I got home.  I could be going for hours hopping from store to store and still get home and make dinner.  Now I do most of my shopping online and meals are often, take-out.  See Mandy’s Pain Comes for the Holidays

Making the Holidays Less Stressful

I hope that having some of the information I’ve shared with you will help us all handle the holidays.  I appreciate you for taking the time to read my letter and for trying to understand what is often difficult for me to understand myself.  What I do understand is that even though our visit may be short, and the efforts I had to take to get to you can be quite painful, if I can make it, I’ll be there. 

While my body has changed drastically, the core of who I am and how I love has not.  #holidaystress #chronicallyill Click To Tweet

Thanks for the Love

I care about all of you and I thank you so much for your compassion and understanding as we handle the holidays together.  While those looking in at my life from the outside may see a broken woman, I see me as I’ve always been, just with a broken body.  And I am thankful and truly blessed to have the love and support that you all have shown to me. 

Happy Holidays!

With Love,

Deb

ATTENTION FIBRO WARRIORS: Would you be interested in writing a “Letter to Friends”? Click here for details; then contact Mandy.

#topposts #thisisfibro

Dozen Most Read Posts About Fibromyalgia

As we celebrate the first year of our new blog, we don’t want to leave out all the information about fibromyalgia that Mandy and her friends have written about. This area seems to be the most favorite section of the blog. We certainly hope that you have learned much about this invisible and painful disorder.

A Dozen Most Read Fibro Posts

#topposts #fibro #fibromyalgia #letterstofriends
image created in canva

Here’s a dozen our the most favorite posts. Have you read them? What have you learned? What other questions do you have that we can answer in the future? Please leave your question in the comments.

  1. What is Fibromyalgia?
  2. Is Fibromyalgia Really for Real?
  3. What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
  4. What Were Your First Signs of Fibro?
  5. What is Fibro Pain Like?
  6. Why Are You So Tired?
  7. What is Fibro Fog? Why are you Crashing?
  8. How Can You Help Someone With Chronic Pain?
  9. Supplements & Opioids: Good, Bad, Daily Decisions
  10. Simple Things I No Longer Do With Fibromyalgia
  11. Volunteer with Disabilities like Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain
  12. Ten Steps to a Restorative Rest

On A Separate Note

faith and fibro
image created at canva.com

Mandy finds that her faith is what helps the most in managing her pain and her life with Fibromyalgia. Here are two posts on the subject of Faith and Fibro.

  1. What Happened to your Faith? I seldom see you at Church.
  2. If God is my Healer, Why Am I Still Sick?

Yes, Fibromyalgia IS FOR REAL.

So this is the cream of the crop of Letters to Friends. if you have read these, you can understand that this disorder is definitely a real problem.

What subjects haven’t we covered? Leave a question in the comments. I’ll answer personally here, but will most likely also write a post concerning the subject in the near future.

I am toying with writing some about Rheumatoid Arthritis since I also have this rheumatic disease. These two often go hand in hand. Would that interest you?

Mandy Farmer

ATTENTION FIBRO WARRIORS: Would you like to write a letter answering a question others ask about your fibro or something you want to explain to them. We accept guest writers occasionally, for more information click here.

One More Thing

Please take our survey. We really want to know what you think and what you want to see in the future. We’ll send you some printable scripture cards for your trouble. Just click on the ribbon below.

survey
Take a survey & receive a free downloadable

explain the pain

Explaining What Fibro Pain is Like

I’ve never really experienced pain. What is it like?

For me, it’s hard to imagine what NO PAIN is like. I have had pain most of my life. Some of it, I thought was just normal for everyone.. until I was diagnosed. Come to learn it’s fibro pain. I’ll try to explain below.

You've never experienced pain? Well, let me tell you about it. #fibro Click To Tweet
 #fibromyalgia a #pain in the butt and the neck and the...
divider

Dear Friend;

fibromyalgia is real real pain fibro pain
This post was updated and moved from Mandy previous webpage ggmandy

To really understand what is happening with Fibromyalgia, we need to understand how pain works. We have an amazing body. The whole system of how messages are sent through our body to the brain is remarkable to me. We have thousands, maybe millions of little tiny nerve endings that speak to each other and pass the message along. It’s mind-boggling how it works. But it’s a safety mechanism of sorts.

Each tiny nerve has a receptor on the end which “talks” to the connecting nerve receptor These messages move along the nerves until they reach the brain. Then the brain returns a message to tell your muscles how to handle it. It does this all with lightning-quick speed. Think about if you were to touch a hot stove, your hand quickly pulls away. You don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to do anything, your body just responds. And this is wonderful.

Fibromyalgia nerve receptors send the wrong message. #fibro Click To Tweet


However, with fibromyalgia, the nerve receptors are sending the wrong message.

Reminder:  I am a patient, not a doctor. What I am sharing comes largely from what my doctors taught me and what I have discovered in my own searching.

I am sharing to hopefully help you be informed enough to support friends with this syndrome or possibly acquire informed questions for your doctor. Please talk with your doctor or visit the Mayo Clinic website for official information, diagnosis, and treatment.

Explaining fibro pain with the phone game
Telephone Game – photo credit free at Pixabay.com

Remember when you were a kid and you played the telephone game? One would whisper a message to one person, then he whispers to the next one, and she whispers to the next, and so one. What happened by the end? The message was completely different.

Our bodies have nerve all over. Each nerve has a receptor on each end. These receptors pass the information along to the brain. Then the brain sends back a message on how to respond. Such as,

  • “No danger move on”
  • “That hurt a little”
  • “Good grief that hurt” Rub that spot a bit.
  • “severe pain” double over and scream
  • “You are in grave danger” “run, move quickly away”

This is how fibro pain works.

The nerve receptors are passing the message along, but then one receptor changes it up. And what was a small prick is now amplified.  Like the dial on your radio, the more you turn it up, the louder it becomes. By the time the message arrives at the brain, it is telling the brain, “This is a severe situation”. So the brain responds in kind and sends the message back that something must change to stop the pain. But the receptors keep sending that PAIN message back to the brain.

Here’s an example we were given at Mayo Pain Clinic. When you put your socks on in the morning, at first you can feel your sock, but your brain says this is ok, not a problem. And after that, you are hardly aware that you have socks on. However, with fibromyalgia, the brain keeps sending the DANGER message. “There’s a sock on your foot!” “There’s a sock on your foot”

www.mayoclinic.org
Reminds me of this from Disney’s Monster’s Inc movie

With fibro pain, the message may just keep coming back as “DANGER” or the message is greatly amplified. [The pain can be multiplied by up to 200 times]. The brain receives the amplified message and responds accordingly.

This is why just a touch, a poke, or a hug can be so painful.

Fibro Pain Fact #allodyna #fibropain #chroinpainmonth #fibroawareness
photo credit for all photos: Fibromyalgia and Lupus National Coalition Butterflies
#fibromyalgia pain can be multiplied, or turned up, 200 times the actual pain. Click To Tweet

Amplified Fibro Pain

This amplified sensation can affect not just the sense of feeling but also your sense of hearing, smelling, and taste. For myself, I have become less tolerant of noise, such as a roomful of children, or even a vacuüm cleaner running. And lately, I’ve even noticed that spicy food is spicier than usual. I recently wrote about some of the things I can no longer do in another post. Check out this diagram to see all the areas that can be affected by this amplified pain.

Areas of Fibro pain. Fibro pain photo credit #fibrocolors #fibro #sinsitivity
photo credit for all photos: FibroColors on Facebook

I hope this explains the pain for you. What’s really strange is that you never really know from day to day how the pain will be. Some days a quite normal. Others, not so much. Also, it depends on the person how much pain is involved. Different people respond differently to protocols for maintenance. Some are helped with medications, some with exercise, therapy, diet, etc. It’s all still pretty much a crapshoot.

Watch for more “letters” from me and my friends to learn more about this crazy invisible disease.

Mandy Farmer

ATTENTION FIBRO WARRIORS: Would you like to write a letter answering a question others ask about your fibro or something you want to explain to them. We accept guest writers occasionally, for more information click here.


SOURCES


Fibromyalgia National Coalition  – Background information

Mr Doctor dot Com  – Pain and How You Sense it

opioids forfibromyalgia

Supplements: Good, Bad, Daily Decisions


Question: Are you taking any supplements for fibromyalgia? What about Opioids?

With all the discussion about the opioid crisis, I thought it would be great to get some feedback from other fibro warriors about opioid use. Heather Calvert has written to us on how she chooses her supplements and how she manages opioid use and determines if an opioid is even necessary.

divider

Dear friends,    

I am so excited to say that today is a good pain day.  I woke up relatively refreshed and a little stiff, but not miserable.  I’m excited to have a good day and actually enjoy living my life!  This is the first day in several weeks facing the day did not involve a sense of dread and anxiety.  You see, the last few weeks I have battled my most severe fibro flare in years. The pain was excruciating, nausea and IBS are disruptive and embarrassing, and the fatigue is overwhelming. I’m 43 going on 103 on those days!  The best news is today I only have to take my maintenance meds for asthma, reflux, and allergies, as well as my usual supplements for energy and focus.

 First, I should explain that I absolutely despise taking medicine of any sort, especially those that affect how clearly I think or that result in grogginess (think about the “My cold made me do it” commercials).

  • Unfortunately, I have adult-onset asthma that started in my 30’s that requires one pill and an inhaler twice a day to prevent attacks. 
  • Second, I have GERD treated with a single pill each day to prevent the belching, nausea, and vomiting that occurs if it gets out of control. 
  • And of course, I live in the south where pollen season is our fourth season so practically everyone I know takes allergy medicine daily! 

Supplements for Fibromyalgia

My supplements are based on years of trial and error, and with the support of a great family doctor who listens and offers alternatives to prescriptions, I have finally discovered a combination that seems to help.  I don’t just willy nilly take random pills to see what happens!  My husband and I do tons of research and discuss ideas with my doctor before we try something new. 

D-Ribose for Energy

  D-Ribose is the difference between my having the energy and stamina to trek through an amusement park with my family and friends and me being stuck at home on the couch while everyone else has a good time.  Research shows D-Ribose was initially used for cardiac patients to help improve cardiac function.  It gives the mitochondria (energy producers) in your cells a form of sugar that is easily converted to energy.  I was skeptical at first, but it definitely works! 

Daily Supplement

My other daily supplement is Focus Factor, a blend of magnesium, B vitamins, and a whole bunch of stuff I can’t pronounce.  Originally marketed as a treatment for ADHD, this supplement fills my body with vitamins and minerals commonly deficient in fibro patients so I only have to take 2 pills twice daily instead of a handful of vitamins multiple times a day. 

So, a good fibro day means 4 pills with breakfast, 3 at supper, and 2 a bedtime.  Woohoo- that leaves room for dessert!

a good fibro day means 4 pills with breakfast, 3 at supper, and 2 a bedtime #fibroawareness #thisisfibro #chronicpain #opioidsforpain @heatherc Click To Tweet

               

I know, I know – why am I excited about only taking 9 pills a day? 

Well … on a bad day, let’s just say there is no room for dessert! On top of my usual 9 pills, there’s a  myriad of what we call my “crisis” meds. 

  • Prescriptions for nausea and IBS,
  • muscle relaxers,
  • migraine treatment,
  • and the ever-controversial opioid for pain. 

Why do I choose to take an opioid in what is identified as an “opioid crisis” by the media? 

To be honest, I hesitate every time.  I choose to be an informed, cautious user.  In fact, I refuse to have personal access to my opioid medication.  It stays locked up in a small, fireproof safe that only my husband has the key for. 

In fact, I don’t even know where he keeps the key! When I think I am to the point where I need the “crisis” med, my husband and I sit down and discuss what other options I have already tried and how severely the pain is affecting my ability to function. 

We are well aware that abuse can lead to addiction and overdose.  We also know that with teenagers in the house, misuse is a high risk.  So, together we make the decision to keep it locked safely away and when to use it. 

 How do we know an opioid is absolutely necessary? 

To be honest, the pain must be completely and totally overwhelming me.  And I’m not talking the can’t get comfortable, no sleep, crying kind of pain.  I’m talking the can’t even make words, just barely groaning kind of pain.  The truth is, I should probably take it sooner, but a family history of addiction often clouds my judgment.  We know it was the right call when the pain eases and I am actually more alert and active, not in a medication-induced fog. 

 Being a fibro warrior tests your ability to think critically and creatively for solutions. 

The good: supplements with low side effects, finding a doctor who listens and is willing to try new things, prescription meds that are available for treating symptoms, a husband who is just as invested in my treatment as I am. 

The bad: fear of addiction that forces me to suffer more than necessary, cautiously treating a myriad of symptoms on flare days, anxiety that I may be viewed as a lazy, addicted, drug seeker. 

The daily decisions: never-ending research, choosing to face my fears even when I’m exhausted, trying alternative treatments, brutal honesty with my family and doctor. 

#Fibro – the life-changing, life-challenging diagnosis.      #Fibromyalgia #supplements #opioids @heatherc Click To Tweet

Heather Calvert, Fibro Warrior


We may earn a small commission for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support our work in bringing you spiritual encouragement and other favorite product reviews. Thank you.