The Benefits of Nordic Walking for Those Living with Fibro and Chronic Pain

If you’re looking for a safe, fun way to get active while getting outside, then Nordic walking is ideal. Nordic walking is a full-body workout that appeals to all ages and fitness levels. It actually originated as a way to train for skiing during the summer. It’s essentially hiking with poles which help to enhance your experience.

Good demo for how to correctly use trekking poles (used for hiking) and nordic walking poles (used for exercise).

Nordic walking can be done anywhere in the countryside, the local park, from the mountains to the beach, and even in urban areas. Why not discover some hidden gems near you? It’s a great way to meet people and there are many groups online that organize walks. And the bonus side of this, it is supportive walking (to help with balance issues), arms are a part of the process (so it’s all over strengthening and off-loads pressure on the hips), and you can go at your own pace and distance (slowly gaining strength and cardio) Here are some more benefits of Nordic walking:

Ideal for neck, shoulder and back problems


Nordic walking has many physical benefits. It’s good exercise and uses 90% of the skeletal muscles. If you have problems in that area it could be very beneficial. Always speak to a back doctor for an expert opinion before you take on any new hobbies or sports. The poles also help to reduce pressure on your knees and joints, while at the same time burning almost 50% more calories than regular walking.

Physical Therapists talk about how and why walking benefits for back pain.

Improves mental wellbeing

Getting in touch with nature is important for many aspects of emotional and physical healing. The fresh air, the scenery, and the enjoyable exercise all contribute to improving your mental wellbeing. Research has shown that humans react positively to being in nature; our brains even function differently. By using the poles, you can also walk in all the seasons. Nordic walking is a great way to get out of the city and away from the stress of your everyday life.

Accessible to all ages and fitness levels

Nordic walking is accessible to all ages and fitness levels. Athletes do it for training, but it’s also appealing to seniors and anyone with lower levels of fitness. Those living with Fibromyalgia know that exercise is important and walking is a gentle form of cardio is wonderful. However, using the Nordic poles can add that extra physical support which can’t hurt. It’s a very versatile sport and it mainly depends on where you do it. If you’re new to the concept, here is a beginner’s guide to Nordic walking with more tips and advice. 

Why it’s especially good for those living with chronic pain

Minimal equipment needed

All you need for Nordic walking is a good backpack or water pack, a sun hat, some good hiking shoes, and a set of poles. One of the great things about this activity is that you don’t need to break the bank buying all the equipment. Here are some of the best walking poles of 2020 to give you an idea.

The poles play an important role. They not only support your joints but they also enhance the workout. The poles help to propel you along which means you move faster without realizing it with less force placed on your hips. 

Social benefits

There are many social benefits of Nordic walking. You can arrange a hike with friends or family or even your dog. In this time of COVID-19, walking is one of the safest ways to be with others while social distancing. It’s also a great way to meet people are there are plenty of hiking groups online. You just have to search in your neighborhood. Nordic walking is a wonderful way to discover the amazing landscape near you, or alternatively you could even organize a walking vacation.

And….you can use the poles for supported stretching and strength training!

  • Arm and shoulder stretches
  • Hip stretches
  • Leg stretches
  • Supported balancing

With so many health and social benefits, it’s not surprising Nordic walking is among the fastest-growing fitness trends around the globe. If you want to explore more of the outdoors and get the movement you need in a safe, gentle to your body, why not try it out?

Thank you for visiting my blog. I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.   However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes  I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through as planned. Thank you for your understanding.

In celebration for moving to the next level with a new website, I am giving away a free eBook that I created on Massage and Myofacial Release.

Click on link below to get a download of my free new eBook (available through 11/1/2020)

The Benefits of Nordic Walking for Those Living with Fibro and Chronic Pain

If you’re looking for a safe, fun way to get active while getting outside, then Nordic walking is ideal. Nordic walking is a full-body workout that appeals to all ages and fitness levels. It actually originated as a way to train for skiing during the summer. It’s essentially hiking with poles which help to enhance your experience. Read more The Benefits of Nordic Walking for Those Living with Fibro and Chronic Pain

Teaching Remotely: Pandemic Teaching 2020 Start of the School Year

As a retired teacher and grandmother of a kindergartner about to start school remotely on August 30th, I am finding myself wanting to help my fellow teachers in any way I can. You all are so amazingly flexible and talented. You have so much to give. But I know, setting up for this type of … Read more Teaching Remotely: Pandemic Teaching 2020 Start of the School Year

Five Steps to Take When In Pain

Those of us living with chronic pain know its full effects on a system that has gone out of control: constant roving, random pain, utter fatigue, brain fog so thick it’s hard to put words together coherently, deep sadness, and withdrawal from others. Fibromyalgia (FM), which is defined by widespread pain lasting 6-months or more affects around 1 in 20 people nationwide. The pain that people with FM experience can very from extreme pain from being touched to deep, aching pain with in the muscles. Whether it’s you or your loved one who has received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, it will help to know what you can do mange the pain and symptoms of FM.Read more Five Steps to Take When In Pain

Teaching Remotely: Pandemic Teaching 2020 Start of the School Year

As a retired teacher and grandmother of a kindergartner about to start school remotely on August 30th, I am finding myself wanting to help my fellow teachers in any way I can. You all are so amazingly flexible and talented. You have so much to give. But I know, setting up for this type of teaching takes so much brainstorming and trial and error. Many of you have figured out a lot of this last spring.

I’ve run into several helpful ideas for teaching remotely. When I retired (June 2019), I was close to paperless in my 6th grade ELA classroom, albeit I had 2,500 books all around my room. One of my favorite resources for all things tech (especially Google Tools and Google Classroom is Alice Keeler). She has a YouTube Channel that is so helpful: https://www.youtube.com/c/AliceKeeler/featured

One thing I would be doing (and the 6th grade teacher who took my place is using) is Bitmoji classroom. It’s a great way to have things organized in a virtual classroom for your students to use when your not live with them. Another great resource I had always found good information and resources is We Are Teachers Website. This article shows you how to create a virtual classroom to put up on whatever online platform you’re using: https://www.weareteachers.com/virtual-bitmoji-classroom/

Here’s how to use it in Google Classroom:

Teachers are sharing their online classroom set up. I love these ingenious ways some have figured out how to make remote teaching as personal and interactive as possible.

First Day of Kindergarten Using Remote Learning Kindergarten Example

My daughter-in-law has been stressing about how her 5 year-old, antsy, talkative daughter will be able to do remote learning. She has visions of her having to chain Copeland to her seat and be at the computer for five hours a day. I’ve assured her that teachers know what their students can handle and will adjust accordingly.

Sure enough, Mr. Greg pulls it off! I can tell that he has been in contact with families prior to this first day and somehow sent them the necessary materials ahead of time.

I love that he recorded the entire class including waiting for everyone to arrive and break time:)

Districts Need to Be Flexible and Creative, Too

In the article I shared on LinkedIn, it talks about creative was that school districts can look at handling the change in delivery of education for our youngest learners. I feel that not only can we do this it will be a must.

As my son and daughter-in-law are preparing for the beginning of this school year which for their district will be doing remotely for at least the first few weeks, one of their biggest concerns for Copeland is that she connects with other kids. She is an only child and surrounded by her parents, grandparents, and aunt regularly, but she has very little time with any peers.

One thought I’ve had is that once school is started, is to ask her Kindergarten teacher to set up small “play groups” from the class roster. Then, either by Zoom or even planned, socially distanced meet-ups at a park or other safe meeting places, doing activities like making slime where everyone brings their own supplies and 2 or so adults monitor as the kids work at separate stations facing one another so that they can still experience, talk, show, and play together.

Even interacting with Zoom can be pretty fun and allow at least for some connection with peers. But this is also great for teachers to do a BRAIN BREAK while online with their class.

This was a last minute idea to put together this post. I just want you teachers who are trying to figure out how to do this year if you are teaching remotely to see there are all sorts of good ideas out there. We, teachers, are known for “beg, steal, and borrowing’ from one another and then giving it our own spin.

For A Few Laughs Thanks to This Very Creative Principal:

Fortifying you from a far. You can do this!

Thank you for visiting my blog. I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.   However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes  I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through as planned. Thank you for your understanding.

Further Reads:

Contact me if I can help you with anything teaching related or if you would like to share something that would fortify other teachers.

Five Steps to Take When In Pain

As humans, we know pain from very early on in our lives.  It’s a part of a normal life. We don’t think about how it’s there to protect us, nor how it teaches us.  My granddaughter has experienced pain several times in her five years on earth.  Today, as we drove to visit the zoo, she told her baby dolls about the first time she bled after falling down the stairs and about how she burned her hand when she had grabbed the still hot roasting stick while we were making s’mores around the fire. She went on to explain how the pain went a way after a short while with ice or hugs and how her body knew what to do to heal after both events.  (This is a theme I have made sure to emphasize with her.)  

Our Body Knows

Illustrate pain

Without us doing much to help, our body immediately jumps into action lessening pain and healing any injury. When we really think about it, our bodies are so amazing, and its pain system is a highly effective tool to keep us safe.  However, for some reason that doctors and pain researchers have yet to figure out, when someone develops chronic pain, that system has gone out of whack from a gentle candle flame easily quenched to a raging forest fire that is being spread by high winds. Bodies with chronic pain continue doing what it knows is right, but for the wrong reasons. 

Those of us living with chronic pain know its full effects on a system that has gone out of control: constant roving, random pain, utter fatigue, brain fog so thick it’s hard to put words together coherently, deep sadness, and withdrawal from others.” Fibromyalgia (FM), which is defined by widespread pain lasting  6-months or more affects 3-6% of  people worldwide. The pain that people with FM experience can vary from extreme pain from being just from someone’s touch to deep, aching pain with in the muscles.  Learning what works for you to manage the pain (for most it will never be at a 0-level) will also help lessen the other FM symptoms and allow you to not just function but FULLY live.

Real Pain and 'Explosive' Brains

Five Management Protocols

One frustrating thing about a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is there is no one set treatment protocol.  While those living with FM have common symptoms, they also have a wide variety of levels of each of those symptoms at any given moment. In that same vein, each FM patient reacts differently to treatments, so learning how to manage FM pain and its corresponding issues will take some time to figure it out for each individual.   However, there are a few starting protocols that are a must.

 

Movement:

The Fibro body needs gentle movement and cardio to stave off severe pain.  This can seem counterintuitive to those living with FM and before understanding what FM is, many will find themselves spending a lot of time in bed which ends up making things worse.  Gentle movement such as chair and Yin yoga, Tai Chi, walking, swimming, and water therapy are just a few. In the article Workout Tips That Can Ease Fibromyalgia Pain it states, “Exercise consistently (aim for daily) for 15 minutes.” and “As little as 5 minutes a day can reduce your pain.”  

When I first started physical therapy, I would have a hard time getting out of bed to go.  On arriving, my PT would see that I was in pain, down, and tired. She’d get me on the treadmill for 20 minutes.  It amazed me the first several times that how after that short stint of cardio, my pain would be much less, my mood lifted, and the fatigue gone. As always, listen to your body.  Take breaks and be gentle with yourself. 

  Related Post:

Medication:

Medication and supplements can help.  But not all work for everyone.  There are three prescription drugs approved by the FDA to treat FM (2014): the antidepressants Cymbalta and Savella and the anti-seizure drug Lyrica. However, many in the Fibro community will say that these are not the best.  Because they are approved by the FDA, insurances tend to cover them, and some find good results.  (I struggled with Cymbalta and the side-effects and the addictive nature of it made me decide to stop taking it.)  I am having very good results with an off-label prescription drug called Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)-see below for related posts that give specific information.

There are also some highly recommended supplements that you will see talked about in online Fibromyalgia groups: magnesium, SAM-E, vitamin D, and CBD.  I have tried all of these supplements and have had good help with FM symptoms.  I stopped using SAM-E (which helped with fatigue) due to LDN and the Vyvanse I take for ADHD helping with that. I would still take it if I didn’t have that combo, however. I, also, use a full-spectrum CBD oil to help me with sleep and anxiety. I found that for me both LDN and SAM-e caused me to feel physically anxious.  If you chose to use CBD oil, don’t go cheap.  Make sure you have a lab-monitored for quality reviewed source.  

Related Post:

Massage & Myofacial Release: 

In an an article by Dr. Ginevra Liptan, FM doctor who also lives with Fibromyalgia, she enthusiastically recommends myofacial release techniques.  This can be done through physical therapy, by a professionally trained massage therapist, or on your own.  She states, “Manual therapies that gently unstick these tight areas of fascia, such as the John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Approach (MFR) can be hugely helpful in reducing fibromyalgia pain. In fact it is MFR that gave me enough improvement in pain that I could get back to medical school after developing fibromyalgia.” 

I have learned a lot about myofascial release from my massage therapists, physical therapist, and at my yoga studio.  I have continued to research myofacial release, and use several videos I’ve collected to guide my use of therapy massage balls of various sizes, foam rollers of different sizes and density, yoga blocks, and a Renpho Percussion Massager. I have written a detailed eBook manual on massage and myofacial release that I am giving away free (see the link below).  The digital manual gives suggested tools and that you can use at home along with a good collection of videos that explain how, where, and why.

 Related Posts:

Meditation & Mindfullness

Stress has a big impact on those living with chronic pain.  When we are stressed, our body tenses all over, creating more pain.  It is widely understood in the FM and medical communities that stress increases pain, albeit it’s not fully understood why.  In the article,  Eliminating Stress Brings Pain Relief, Dr. Stanos states, “Because pain [is regulated by] the nervous system, the brain is a key player in how we perceive pain. The brain is always trying to inhibit pain signals. But if you’re stressed, simply put, the brain’s ability to filter these pain signals is affected in a bad way and pain can be increased.”

Meditation and Mindfulness have been shown to be great stress release modalities.  A well-respected study done on a program called Mindfully Based Stress Reduction by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn showed that those who practiced meditation had significantly lower levels of pain, anxiety, and had better sleep.

I have taken a free 8-week online MBSR course through palousemindfulness.com. This jump-started my understanding and use of mindfulness and meditation as part of my daily wellness protocol. See  my related posts for details of my experience.

Related Posts:

Jon Kabat-Zinn Discusses MBSR

  • Counseling:
Those of us living with Fibromyalgia often develop anxiety or depression. Researchers are not fully sure why, but studies have shown that FM patients produce lower levels of endorphins, even when exercising compared to their healthy counterparts. Just dealing with the effects of chronic pain, fatigue, and brain fog on our daily lives and relationships can take a huge toll on our mental health. 
 
Therapy has helped me to see things from different angles and has given me the tools to handle of those times of anxiety and depression. As we know, our mental pain then leads to more physical pain. It’s a viscous loop. Talk therapy helped me to break that pain cycle.
 
There are three types of counseling that work very well with those living with FM:
  •  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) “is a form of short-term psychological treatment that’s based on the premise that yes, how we feel and behave can influence our thoughts, but also our thoughts can affect how we feel and behave. By learning ways to change our thinking, therefore, we can learn to change how we feel and act.” The article in Everyday Health goes on to say, “CBT is a goal-oriented, problem-solving therapeutic approach that’s been shown to be useful for people whose quality of life suffers because they have a chronic illness, and it specifically has been found to be helpful for people with Fibromyalgia.”

  •  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of counseling that helps you accept what is in your life. This is the type of therapy I had when I went through a 10-week pain management program.  It helped me to reframe my situation so that there was less struggle, thus less stress and less pain.

  •  Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is new on the scene that is finding some good success in help those who have gone through trauma.  Research has shown that most FM patients have had trauma that could have contributed to developing the syndrome. For some, it was a major car accident. For others, like myself, it is trauma stemming from childhood. EMDR is not talk therapy. It relies on working through traumatic memories, in a safe space, by using the patients own rapid, rhythmic eye movement.  I know, it sounds strange, but after learning more about it and its efficacy with those suffering with PTSD, I’m willing to give it a try.  *I had started just before the COVID-19 lock-down and have decided to wait on it as it really needs to be something you do in person. 

Related Posts:

As I’ve mentioned, all of us who live with Fibromyalgia have to figure out what are best protocols for managing the symptoms; however, learning from one another as to what works has been an essential element to making my search go along more quickly and efficiently than if I had not. 

A couple of week’s ago, I went for my yearly physical with my General Practioner. He had not seen me in person since he’d prescribed the LDN that I had asked him for three months prior.  While he had hesitated, he gave me a one month’s prescription.  After my first month, noticing wonderful improvement, I wrote to him explaining what was going on.  Then, in this appointment, he was amazed by the progress he saw and heard from me.  He said, “I’ll make sure to remember this if I get another patient presenting with Fibromyalgia.”  The fact that I had brought a new treatment tool for him to use really made me happy. The only way I knew to even ask for this prescription was due to fellow FM bloggers sharing their own experiences.  

Here is my post explaining all the resources that have helped me live my life FULLY despite the pain and other symptoms of FM: Come So Far! Last Summer to This.

Please, share with us what has worked for you.  Are there any things that others found helpful but you have not?

Thank you for visiting my blog today. I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.  However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes 

I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through 

as planned. Thank you for your understanding.’

Smile Power! Emotional and Physical Healing

This is going to sound very weird. I’m smiling while lying in bed. I’m smiling while typing these words.  I’m smiling when no one is around and there’s nothing particularly amusing going on. I’m doing this after reading the book The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh a  Buddhist Monk from Vietnam who played an important role in the 1960s and beyond. When he talks about meditation, he talks about posture, breath, focus, etc. but one thing he also emphasizes is putting on a half-smile as a part of your practice. “Now, begin to follow your breath and to relax all your muscles. Concentrate on keeping your spinal column straight and on following your breath. As for everything else, let it go. Let go of everything. If you want to relax the worry-tightened muscles in your face, let the half-smile come to your face. As the half-smile appears, all the facial muscles begin to relax. The longer the smile is maintained, the better.  It is the same smile you see on the face of the Buddha (1).”

This made me curious because it’s brought up a few times in the book- how smiling when meditating, leads to smiling while being mindful, leads to smiling in every moment.  I think of my resting face.  I’ve not ever liked it.  I look mad.  I once had a student say that they had been told I looked like the woman who hosted the 2000-2017 TV game show called The Weakest Link.  She was worried I was going to be mean and say something like, “You’re the weakest link!” Ugg! That has stuck with me.

However, smiling all day does NOT come naturally for me.  When our 6th-grade level moved from a middle school building to a K-6th elementary building, everyone smiled all the time, so I tried, too.  I remember joking with my partner teacher that after the first few days my cheeks actually hurt.

I decided to look into this whole smiling thing because according to Thich Naht Hanh, it really has a major impact on our inner perceptions and also on those with whom we interact. So, I decided both to research and start this smiling thing throughout the day as much as I could remember to do it (and not make others think I was losing touch with reality).

THE SCIENCE OF A SMILE

In the article World Smile Day-How Smiling Affects Your Brain, the author explains, “Smiling activates tiny molecules in your brain that are designed to fend off stress. These molecules, called neuropeptides, facilitate communication between neurons in your brain. Also, when you smile, your brain releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are associated with lowering your anxiety and increasing feelings of happiness. In fact, serotonin is often the chemical that anti-depressant medications attempt to regulate. This natural, feel-good chemical cocktail that your brain serves up helps you feel happier and more relaxed, and it can even lower your heart rate and blood pressure (2).”

The Hidden Power of Smiling 
Ted Talk presented by Ron Goodman

In the article What’s the Science Behind the Smile? the author, Ding Li states, “This is the start of the positive feedback loop of happiness. When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system, and further increasing our level of happy hormones, or endorphins. In short, when our brain feels happy, we smile; when we smile, our brain feels happier (8) .” 

In addition to feeling happier, a 2011 study by researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland found that when we smile,  we actually are better looking to others! “A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing an attractive, smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that processes sensory rewards. This suggests that when you view a person smiling, you actually feel rewarded (5).”

Another study of the effects of smiling on the brain conducted in Sweden showed that it was very difficult for subjects not to smile when shown photos of people smiling.  They were told to frown at every photo with a smiling face. Participants’ first natural reaction was to smile.  They had to consciously choose to frown in order to follow the directions (4). 

In the workplace, studies have shown that smiling increases the feel-good aura which in turn increases productivity as well as creativity (6). Researcher and economics professor, Andrew Oswald’s found,  “Happier workers, our research found, were 12% more productive. Unhappier workers were 10% less productive (3).” 

Smiling can even help keep our bodies healthier.  Some research says it can add on years to our lives because our cells change their functioning due to our thoughts and emotions.  “When we smile, we reduce the rigidness of our cells, and this physical relaxation can help combat the risk of stress-induced cell mutations that can lead to the development or persistence of various cancers (7).” It is thought that less cellular stress allows for better balance in the body which then leads to health and overall wellness.

MY SMILING CHALLENGE

There are times a grin comes to my face naturally. Do you see the crow’s feet at the sides of my eyes?  This is a true smile of happiness according to scientists, called the Duchenne Smile (6). When I’m around this kid, my face lights up to her bright smile.  I have noticed a sense of energy and happiness comes nearly every time no matter where I am physically and emotionally before she comes over.

While writing this post this morning, I received a phone call from my cousin. My uncle Bill and surrogate dad passed away today.  He was someone who never spared a smile for me. I wish right now that I had somehow captured that smile in a photo from the last time he gave it to me when we visited him and my aunt in Arizona. His smiles were always quickly followed by a hand holding or hug.  In the last year when he couldn’t speak his thoughts due to Aphasia and dementia, his smile said so much, “I’m so glad to see you! I love you! You make me happy!” That smile is etched in my memory as are the countless before, but I don’t want them to fade.

My Uncle Bill playing a game (a favorite past-time)
,giving his warm and mischievous half-smile.

And so, I’m going to follow Thich Nhat Hanh suggests in his book by smiling more.  I’ll let you know how my experiment goes on World Smile Day, October 2, 2020. If nothing else, it will strengthen my zygomatic major muscle, which resides in the cheek and tugs the lips upward and my orbicularis oculi muscles, which encircles the eye socket and squeezes the outside corners into the shape of a crow’s foot (6). Or I’ll make everyone wonder what I’m up to!  Both are worth the effort😁

SMILE RESOURCES:

  1. The Miracle of Mindfulness
  2. World Smile Day – How Smiling Affects Your Brain
  3. Happy Workers Are More Productive
  4. Smiles and What They Mean
  5. There’s Magic in Your Smile
  6. The Psychological Study of Smiling
  7. Huffington’s Post: 11 Surprising Effects of Smiling
  8. What’s the Science Behind a Smile?

In my article The Danger of Distraction: Turning Toward Pain to Eliminate Suffering speaks to my feelings of trying to ignore difficult emotions and physical sensations.  I’ve seen way too much of that growing up and how it has and is damaging those I love.

Do you smile often?  Have you ever faked a smile?  I challenge you to do the Half-smile Exercises for the next three months.  Let’s see if we can bring a bit of goodness to the world.

Thank you for visiting my blog today.  I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.  However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through as planned.  Thank you for your understanding.

Sharing is caring-as my granddaughter tells me:)

Come So Far! Last Summer to This

Last July found me STRUGGLING. I know what you’re thinking, But we were all so happy and carefree last summer. COVID-19 problems aside, I am out of the hole that I had been in since before my 2018 diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.

July 13, 2019

I was having withdrawal symptoms form going off of Cymbalta.

“I have not felt this bad since I had viral meningitis (I’m not as bad as that time in the emergency room, but man, it’s reminding me of it). Since the purpose of this blog is for me to record my true journey (for healing through the writing and remembering where I’ve been) and to possibly help others who are dealing with Fibromyalgia, I’ve decided to write this (as I can today because doing anything and nothing are both really difficult right now).”

Painfullyliving.com I FEEL LIKE @#$#%

My Other Posts From July 2019

This was a very low time for me. The year prior had brought me to my bed which then lead to a diagnosis. The only option I was given to have relief from the pain and other devastating symptoms of Fibromyalgia was to start on Cymbalta. While it did help me, it had side effects and long-term addiction that I was not willing to deal with. And so, I stopped taking it, mostly how the doctor told me. I’ve since learned that I’m very affected by any medication (OTC, Herbal, or Prescription), and so, now I know that what everyone else considers easy will not be for me.

A New Me

First time backpacking since I became sick. It was a wonderful two days.

This July has brought me back to myself and to the joys of summer that I had missed so much. Certainly, I’m having to pace more than I used to and be cognizant of what my body is telling me. I now must take care of myself. If I don’t, then I will have a day or more where my body will hold me down to attend to rest, hydration, nutrition, meditation, stretching, myofacial release, sleep, etc. My family, friends, and myself have come to understand that I will do things in smaller chunks over a longer period of time. And while that was not at all how I functioned (non-stop go without eat, sleep, etc. to get something done), we all have come to know I can now plan and participate within my wellness protocol.

Two weeks ago, I was able to camp for a few days, adding in a hike and swim each day, with my friend group we lovingly call Wander Women. My husband, who had just gotten back from a week of hiking in northern Michigan was quick to set up an overnight hike/camp trip on the North Country Trail about an hours drive north of us. While I was useless in helping with the preparation (too worn out after having a wonderful sleepover with our granddaughter), I was excited to see if I would be able to carry a pack, hike, and sleep in a tent with a pretty thin mat between me and Mother Earth.

We hiked in 5 miles to find a wonderful spot to set up camp for the night. We saw no one but three women passing by on the trail for the two days on the river trail.

It was a wonderful trip. I will admit I didn’t sleep well. We will be replacing the thin mats for the next time. We’ve decided that hiking to a spot, setting up camp, and then hiking from that base will be our way of going from now on. That provides enough chance to rest and recuperate, and it isn’t as difficult to hike since we don’t have the pack on all the time. By the time we headed back on the second day, I was definitely hitting my limit. However, after getting back to the car and eating dinner at a restaurant with an outside patio, I felt much better.

Looking Back at the Road I’ve been Down

The past few years have been one of growth and healing, albeit never a straight one. I’m so grateful for all the help and healing that I’ve received from so many: my family and friends, yoga classes, massage therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, doctors of a few different sorts, meditation courses, fellow chronic pain bloggers, my counselors, those friends I’ve met in Fibro, LDN, and chronic illness Facebook groups, my Wander Women groups (one from work and one from the town I live in), You Tube videos, text and audio books, music, and so much more.

NEW BLOG WEBSITE! My First Post on WordPress.com

This is my first blog post on my new website format. I’m learning a lot about web design over this last year and have much more to go. I’m feeling proud and excited for what I might do with this new love and skill.

With all of this week filled with hiking, family, and building a new blog, this post will be less pulled together than normal. I just wanted to share the progress that I’ve made. I’m including (from My Recommended Resources page of this site) much of what has helped me this year along with links or further information. I do believe that it’s all of these things/people/resources that have brought me to where I am today. I’m not naive enough to think that I won’t have many twists and turns and ups and downs (just got diagnosed with a rare deformity of my carotid artery called Fibromuscuar Dysplasia-not at all related to Fibromyalgia), but I want to relish where I am right now anyhow. If I’ve learned one thing this past few years (and since COVID-19’s arrival), what will be will be; it’s my choice how I react.

  • Low Dose Naltrexone (Newest addition-55 days in. Started at 0.25mg and am now up to 2.5mg and still titrating up to find my best dosage amount). Sleeping pretty well without any other help; clear headed most days all day; less pain overall, more energy. My first post: Tentatively Ecstatic: My Experience with LDN Part 1 I plan to write Part two soon.
  • CBD/THC 1:1 Oil- This didn’t seem to help with pain, but sure did help me sleep soundly. I was taking .25mg sublingually before bed. I stopped because the LDN seems to be helping with it and my GP expressed issues with it (even though I have a medical marijuana card and it’s now legalized even for recreation in MI). My post: Out of the Rabbit Hole: CBD/THC Oil for Fibromyalgia
  • Meditation: I have continued with meditation after finishing the Palouse Mindfulness 8 week free course online. This is making a big difference for me. My post:The Danger of Distraction: Turning Toward Pain to Eliminate Suffering
  • Yoga and Breathwork: This is an ongoing, continuation practice of 20 years. However, I’m having to learn that my practice looks different now. I had always strived too much to get to that perfect form of a pose often injuring myself in the process. I’m doing much more Restorative, Yin, and slow yoga practices these days. 
  • Supplements: Magnesium Malate/B-12/E/D3
  • OTC: Bayer Back and Body (for headaches and pain) & Low Dose Asprin for FMD
  • Prescription: Vyvanse (I was diagnosed with ADD one year before my FMS diagnosis; I do think that the ADD symptoms, though, are more connected to the FMS issues.) 
  • Hot pad, ice pad, Epsom salt baths, and hot tub.
  • Massage & Myofacial Release: Professional massage & myofascial release, myofacial release @home using foam roller and Yogu Massage Balls, and Rhenpho Massage Gun
  • Gentle cardio: walks, hikes, bike rides, and swimming 
  • 10-week Interdisciplinary Pain Management Program through Mary Free Bed – My Post about this: Just Breath and Other Ways to Rewire the Pain-filled Brain
  • Diet: I haven’t made a ton of changes. This is an area where I really hate being deprived. I have given up on dairy. I eat way less gluten (doing a lot of substitutions). I intake food with high acid much, mostly because I hurt immediately after. I rarely drink carbonation and don’t drink much caffeine. I tend to lean vegan due to the no-dairy. However, I do eat some poultry, eggs, and fish. However, I just can’t cut out tomatoes.

I know that I am so fortunate to be where I am right now in regards to my health. I have friends who live with chronic illnesses that are really struggling right now, especially because of COVID-19. Many who can’t get around due to being very at risk if they were to get the virus. Those who have lost their form of income or don’t have health care. Some are dealing with depression, and others are hurting in due to their relationships hitting some very difficult times. You are on my heart. How are you this summer?


Thank you for visiting my blog today.  I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.  However, as you know, my new normal means that sometimes I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through as planned.  Thank you for your understanding.

Sharing is caring-as my granddaughter tells me:)

RELATED POSTS: