Finding Your Passion: Nourishing the Soul

Woman resting on a dry bag while writing after backpacking near a lake.
This is going to be a short post.  I just got back from a few days camping with wonderful friends on the shore of Lake Michigan.  This has been planned for a year.  Our group, we fondly call the Wander Woman, started the hiking/camping trips July 2018 when we did a week-long trip to South and North Manitou Islands in Lake Michigan.  My friend, Lisa, reminded me that she noticed my constant massaging during that trip.  It wouldn’t be until November of that year that I fully understood that there was something very wrong with me. 
Related Post: 
I’ve been planning and working towards my goal of spending the week with them.  We were to camp in Canada at Lake Superior Provincial Park. However, the border between Canada and the United States is still closed due to COVID-19. So, instead, we chose a closer state park in that we could drive to.  Not everyone who had originally planned to join us could come: some due to family commitments, one due to the death of her mom (non-virus related), some due to not feeling comfortable in doing so. 
We agreed to be logically safe and trusted that our Wander Woman cohort had been safe prior to camping.  The park was not crowded at all and so we had no issues out on the trails, at the camp, using the restrooms, or on the beach.  We chose to wear masks only inside public places (the restrooms). 
Renewed Passion:
I am so energized after these past few days.  Wonderful conversation with my friends that ignited my imagination and funny bone, as well as a few shared tears, met with empathy and love. The photos will be the rest of my description of the joy that is currently bursting in my heart.
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
I can’t thank my friends enough for helping me get back my courage to stay in a tent after a day of hiking and swimming.  I have gotten my courage back to do this more often with my husband. I even talked my daughter into doing a short trip with me soon.  My soul is nourished and my passion blazing again.
 
Related Posts:
 
Another Passion Ignited:
 
My blog is ONE-year old now.  I have learned a lot from doing it.  I’ve made friends from across the country and the world.  I’ve learned from other bloggers how to live well with a chronic condition as well as how to blog better.  It, too, ignites my imagination and gives me a purpose that makes me happy.
 
So, when I found out that I was nominated for two WEGO HEALTH Awards, I felt that this passion was also recognized by those who have watched my blog grow and those who I have hopefully helped in some way.  It’s such a wonderful, supportive group that I have found through blogging.  
 
If you are interested in endorsing me via the link below (just being nominated is really amazing), I humbly thank you.  In my post for the end of this next week, I will be sharing out those who have most impacted my wellness journey, so that you, too, can learn from them (and endorse their nominations for WEGO AWARDS) if you should feel led.
 

 

 

I appreciate this time in my life that I am able to live my life fully (filling it with purpose and passion) alongside good friends and my family despite living with Fibromyalgia. I hope that I can help you find that for yourself as well as you journey through this life. 

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:)

Keep Reading:)

Writing With FIbromyalgia: Choose to Make Every Day a New Start

Pettit Lake Sunrise
Photo credit Pat Zammit


After a three-year slide into brain-fog and loss of focus, the inability to function in my daily life, ever-increasing areas of pain for no apparent reason, fatigue so deep that it felt like all the iron had been taken out of my blood, and spiraling anxiety, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Being I was in peri-menopause, I chalked it up to the change in hormones.

I asked my friends (teachers and those around my same age) and they had similar issues of being tired, stressed, anxious, and waking up as if by the alarm at two in the morning nearly every night. But when I asked if they had pain on the inside of their knees, none of them had, so thought I may have injured myself.

Or as I would stretch my shoulders and legs during staff meetings (constantly getting up when others could sit), I got a few stares.


Doctors Told Me My Anxiety Levels Were Normal


I reported to my OBGYN that I had a sharp pain under my armpits (a very specific point in each). I was sent to a specialist who told me I was fine, I just needed to stretch that area more. After doing a fair amount of research about the effects of hormones and dealing with stress, I went back to my OBGYN.

She said that it was pretty normal to have the anxiety levels I was experiencing. She put me on Lexipro 5mg, which seemed to help at first. Then the following start to the school year, things worsened, so I went on a higher dose. Even after this, I found I wasn’t able to teach (which came as naturally to me as breathing); I stumbled on my words, my sense of humor was gone, every lesson and interaction was stilted.



My family circa 2010.


My Doctor Thought I was Just a Stressed-Out Mess


I never had an issue with being observed in my classroom; in fact, I always enjoyed hosting classroom learning labs for my district, being observed by 10 or so peers at a time while I taught. So when I couldn’t fill out my evaluation pre-observation form with any sort of coherence, I really knew something was wrong.

My children, diagnosed with ADD during college, said, “Mom, you have ADD. You’re the same as us.”

So, I went to my general practitioner, bringing my husband along as a character witness because after we moved to the area, I had changed to this doctor who didn’t really know me. He saw that I was already on Lexipro, now 10mg, and offered to up the dose.

When I said I wanted to be tested for ADD (I had researched and thought it feasible that with the hormone changes I was no longer able to use the coping skills I had developed over my past 53 years), he conceded, saying that “…since you have this in your head, we’ll have you do the test.” I could tell he felt I was just a stressed-out mess.

However, when I did the computer test and 1:1 interview, I was surprised to find that I scored in the medium/high-level for ADD. After taking Vyvanse for a couple of weeks (I could tell I was handling life better), I re-did the test while on the medication and came out as functioning normally.

One thing about the diagnosis didn’t ring true to me, however; I was never scattered, unmotivated, or irresponsible during all my own schooling years. In fact, I was just the opposite. However, I was relieved with that diagnosis and was happy to let the Vyvanse/Lexipro combination help me through the day, functioning fairly well.


My daughter and I teaching my 
granddaughter how to swim.

The Deep, Gnawing Pain Returned and Got Even Worse

This brought me to the end of a very stressful school year (many challenges and changes), and I thought I had figured out the issue, just a touch of the ADD and menopause. However, as soon as school let out and my husband and I were in our packed car driving from Michigan to California for an extended vacation, the pain returned—a deep, gnawing ache that began in my legs.

No matter how I stretched or massaged, it stayed, moving around from upper to lower from left to right. That pain remained the rest of the summer and into the start of the next school year which due to many changes looked to rival the last year as far as stress was concerned.

Now, the pain moved into my shoulders, neck, and arms (again switching from left to right). By November, I was barely functioning. The Vyvanse and Lexipro weren’t doing anything to quell my brain fog and utter exhaustion. I’d flop into bed every night upon getting home and spent much of my weekend in bed.


Finally, I Was Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia: A Relief


Thanksgiving break was when my GP decided to do all sorts of blood work (when I beseechingly said, “Truly, this isn’t who I am. This isn’t my norm at all.”) When the blood work came back, he said, that this could possibly fibromyalgia.

I had never heard of it. Being the teacher and learner I am, I began to educate myself. It was truly depressing all the things I read about how debilitating and life-changing this fibro thing was. Also, the reviews on the meds like Cymbalta scared me to death.

By December 7th, I was on long-term leave and gave in after really wanting to avoid taking Cymbalta. I retired from a 32-year teaching career just after I turned 55 in May of 2019. In April of 2019, I went for a two-hour evaluation interview for a fibromyalgia 10-week, multi-disciplinary program at a local Rehabilitation Hospital (Mary Free Bed).

Officially Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia


At that point, I knew a lot more. (Thank goodness for those who share their journey like Donna in her blog fedupwithfatigue.com). I was relieved for the diagnosis because it meant that I would be eligible to get into the program and in my mind, get back to living.


My 6th-grade students writing in our classroom. 
We have 1:1 Chromebooks 2017.

I Prefer to Handle My Fibromyalgia Symptoms in My Own Way


There was a time that I listed a LONG list of every issue I was having (much longer than the one below) in a note on Google Keep. I had it so I could remember to tell everything at each of my doctor’s visits. I felt like I had to prove that things were not okay and wanted to be taken seriously.

I have now deleted that note. Not that I don’t have most if not all of those things going on, but I’m now in a place that I accept what it is and am not looking for a cure from my doctor (because I don’t feel they have one).

I don’t want a medication if I can survive without one, so this is my plan of action at this point. Not that I won’t go back on Cymbalta or whatever if I must, but right now I prefer to handle the symptoms in my own way.

Issues I have that can go from light to severe and anywhere in between at any given moment:

  • Brain fog / Lack of focus: I was pulled over by a police officer the other day to my shock. He said I was swerving in my lane a bit and wanted to make sure I wasn’t under-the-influence. It could have been due to my losing focus or even to my self-massaging of my neck and jaw that I was doing on my drive.
  • All-over muscle ache. When I went to a chiropractor recently and she wanted me to mark on the body where the hurt was and what type, there wasn’t a spot on the body that wasn’t marked. Even my dang hands hurt.
  • Body drain/fatigue: I will be going fine all day and then, bam! I can’t go forth any longer. Sometimes I wake up that way and have to just rest.
  • Insomnia: About two nights in a row of little sleep; then a couple 2-3 nights of decent sleep and repeat.
  • Deep sadness: I don’t feel it’s depression because it comes and goes.
  • Aversion to strong smells, bright lights.
  • Big fluctuation in body temperature, especially in hands and feet, which causes me to wear layers that I can take on and off-including socks, slip-on shoes or slippers, and even gloves.
  • Hands and feet edema.
  • Gripping of jaw/mouth: I’m constantly opening and stretching my mouth. I’ve even started to massage the inside of my cheeks/gums with a finger.)
  • Dizziness/nausea/headache that just makes me feel unwell. This seems to hit in bouts and spurts. There was a time last fall and through spring that I couldn’t make plans or would cancel last minute on those I had made. This has become a lot less regular and I’m starting again to plan. However, mornings and nights are not my best times.
  • Bladder pain: I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis in 2000. This is known as one of the co-morbid issues with fibro which I didn’t learn about until my fibro diagnosis. Urgency.
  • Acid reflux: I went through a Nissen Procedure 2016, but it really didn’t do much besides make my stomach hurt all the time.
  • Bowel issues: Diarrhea to constipation and back again, never really “normal.” However, I think this is more due to supplements and what I eat.

Why I Now Have a Blog About Fibromyalgia


Why I decided to start a blog about my experiences: I did not know what fibromyalgia was until I was diagnosed this past November 2018. Being the teacher/learner I am, I began to research and found great resources (some really bad).

I have become pretty educated about what it is, how it affects me, the whys (as much as there can be), and how to “manage” it so that I can live my life FULLY, on my terms, even while having pain.

I feel that sharing my journey can give insight to others on their own, much like others have helped me. Also, blogging helps me to understand better how I’m feeling about things; writing helps me process. My posts serve as a bit of a timeline for me to remember where I’ve been in this process of healing and self-discovery.

In addition, I’ve always wanted to write. For me, this is good practice and if others take time to read and are helped in any way from what I’ve written, then that’s my purpose. If no one reads it, it serves as me doing developing what I love (writing) and helps me to process my journey.


Me writing after a day of paddling 
at Algonquin Provincial Park 2016.

How I Manage Writing with My Fibromyalgia Symptoms


How fibromyalgia affects my writing: As I’m new to taking time for myself to focus on my writing and still seem to be going through some ups and downs with fibromyalgia, I can give you what I’ve done so far.

I write when I’m inspired. When I have something that is just needed for me to get down. So, my blog has not been regular. I really struggled the last couple of weeks, so I gave myself a break from feeling like I had to. Had-to doesn’t work well for me or the fibromyalgia it seems. I did the had-to for so long.

So, I also work on giving myself care and grace when I don’t follow through with things that I feel I should be getting done. My writing time is a self-care, pleasurable activity. My thinking is the more I do it in this frame of mind, the more my brain will come to love taking the time to write-like Pavlovian’s dog.

I don’t focus on earning money. While I’d love to earn something through my writing, that isn’t a focus currently. So, the pressure is off that way, too. I’m starting a fiction novel that I’ve always said I would write (mostly just to myself; however, a few times I let my students know that’s what I intended to do once “I had the time.”)

I have my writing area set up. I love to sit looking out at the lake (I’m lucky to live on the shore of a small lake). I have a cup of hot tea or a cold drink nearby. My loved ones know to leave me alone (mostly). I play Pandora (if the words are flowing) on my favorite wordless, acoustic guitar station (Acoustic New Age or William Ackerman). I often would play this in my classroom as my students were writing, too. I do love sitting outside if the weather is cooperating.

Depending on my mood, I write in a journal (this is usually when I’m more brainstorming or writing poetry) or directly on my computer (usually, my blog is written directly on my computer). I tend not to do a lot of editing/revision as I’m anxious to get what I’ve written “off-my-plate”, so I often post right after completion. (I’m not too freaked out by others seeing my errors; however, I do reread after being published and tend to do editing and a bit of revision then.)

I’m sure as I get into writing my novel more that this will be one of the biggest changes in my writing process; deeper and deeper revision and editing. I chalk up my one and done method to my 6th-grade students’ influence on my writing (and the ADD-like symptoms I have).

I’ve always found inspiration from writers. I love to watch author interviews on YouTube. Currently, I’m taking a fiction class with Neil Gaiman online through MasterClass.com. His insight and talking about the thinking behind his writing ignites me.

To help with my fibro-brain, I do use technology a lot. I use digital notes (synced on my phone and computer) to jot down an idea I get for a blog or for my novel. So, when the ideas come, I quickly put it down otherwise it would disappear like a wisp of smoke. (I’m using Google Keep now but have used Evernote in the past.)


I want to be the “fun” grandma, 
present and active. 

The Goal of Writing: Not to Impress, but to Connect at a Heart Level


Much of my teaching of writing was getting my students to see the purpose and how it could be important for each of them.

My first lesson was always for them to reflect on what they “know about, care about, and are interested in”. Through this, I would write alongside them. We would come to know each other on a much deeper level; learning from one another, connecting through our writing in ways we couldn’t through our everyday interactions.

Instead of wanting to impress as the goal, connecting with each other at a heart-level was our focus. This freed us up from that critic who lives in each of our heads that constantly says what we have to say isn’t important or good enough. Then, when we conferred with one another (they conferred my writing as well), it was more about trying to get the meaning across as clearly as possible so that others would “get us.”

So, my advice is to write like a 6th grader. Write what is important to you. Write from what you know about and care about. If we do that, then we have something to share, no matter what it is; this will intern allows us to feel connected to others-one of the hardest things to do in this life.


Writers with Fibromyalgia: Choose to Make Every Day a New Start


If you’re diagnosed with fibromyalgia: Get educated on what it is. There are good sources out there. However, make sure that you check any source you use for its reliability. There are so many sources that want to tell you what to do, what to take, how to live. Also, there are many negative voices out there.

I chose not to complain constantly about the issues that come with fibromyalgia because I find that it just sinks me deeper into symptoms. I don’t propose just ignoring and letting positivity fix your fibro; however, dwelling on the yuck doesn’t breed good outcomes.

Use what you learn with your doctors. Most don’t know much at all about fibromyalgia. I’ve brought a lot of information to my doctors that they’ve found enlightening.

I choose to make every day a new start. There are days I throw in the towel. I try to allow it (and even if it means wallowing a bit) to let it be okay for that time. However, I do work on getting up the next day with a “I’m starting afresh.”

I’ve written and will be writing more blog posts about what is helping me live my life FULLY despite having pain. For me a big one is a wonderful yoga studio that focuses on healing and being well as well as community, breathwork/meditation/EFT to help calm my brain, learning more about brain plasticity and ways doctors/scientists/everyday people are using it to help bring about positive changes in nervous system disorders/diseases.

* * *

Katie Clark recently retired from 32-years of teaching reading and writing at the middle school level, and has decided to write. After her diagnosis with fibromyalgia caused her to take an abrupt and permanent leave from a job she thought she’d have into her 80s, she decided to record her journey in her blog painFULLYliving.com.

This term painFULLYliving came from her pain-psychologist who helped Katie to understand that she can allow fibromyalgia to define her or accept that it’s only one part of her. She chooses each day with the help of her family and friends to live life fully. Through her writing, she reflects and grows and hopes to help others along their own journey. She is well-loved by her family and has always felt that her main purpose in this life is to be fully present for them.



How do you handle the hard stuff in your life?  Can you find the hope and push in every new start of the day?  How do you push past the pain and difficulties?

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.

Click link Subscribe to Pain FULLY Living Weekly Posts by Email

Tentatively Ecstatic! My Experience With Low Dose Naltrexone Part 1


I was in a painful flare and starting to get desperate. Although mindfulness and meditation help, I felt like I couldn’t continue to push through.  I cried. Hard.  Sobbing and shaking. Which isn’t great when you’re already in pain.  “This is too hard!”

My husband calmly said as he caressed my hair and massaged my temples, “You can do this.  You are strong.”

The next day, I messaged my general practitioner. He’s been very supportive, albeit not very familiar with Fibromyalgia (as are most doctors). I decided to finally ask if he would prescribe me Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN). After reviewing my request and the link to research on the topic, he tentatively agreed to give me a month’s dose, stating that the research, while promising, was small.  When I responded (via messages through MyHealth.Spectrum.org) thank you, I would like to try 2.0mg dose.  He was a bit flabbergasted. “It’s only sold commercially in 50mg tablets. Do you know how to get that low of a dosage?”

This is when my online Fibromyalgia support team has been essential.  Through my research and their input, I knew more about LDN than my doctor. I first learned of LDN from Donna, on her website Fedup With Fatigue.  She gave me a bit of guidance on the dosing and titration that she followed because I knew the 4.5mg was a general ending goal, not a starting point. She also gave me a wonderful resource of knowledgeable people all finding their own way with taking LDN via the Facebook group: Low Dose Naltrexone for Chronic Illness and Infections. Brian Haviland, the administrator of the group, and several members have given me good information on how to proceed. 

Starting Dosage

My general practitioner has no experience with LDN dosing (because this is off-label for Fibromyalgia and most other issues it’s being used for-more on why below).  I sent him research reports on the topic and he then wrote a 30 pill prescription for 4.5mg. Being it has to be filled at a compounding pharmacy, I had them send it via fax to a compounding pharmacy in the city about an hour away from us.  As kismet would have it, the pharmacy technician that I spoke to, had been taking LDN herself for a while to help her manage Lyme disease.  She was very positive about her results. She was the one that suggested that I go with 1/4 the dose. So, I began at 1.125mg.

How to Adjust LDN Dosage Level

Due to LDN being commercially sold at 50mg tablets and even the low dose level many get compounded not being the level the individual can handle (like mine of 4.5mg), those who are in the know have developed an ingenious way to adjust dosage level.

Here’s what I’ve done (on guidance).  I put 4 ounces of distilled water (ml is fine, too, but I live in the USA, so…😉) into a jar like the one shown above.  I opened the 4.5mg capsule and poured the contents into the water.  I, then, stirred to dissolve it, letting it sit a bit, covered in the refrigerator before taking it the next morning.  

In the jar, at the bottom of the solution are white particles that don’t dissolve.  These, I’ve found out, are the filler in the capsule.  I asked the compounding pharmacists what type of filler was used in my capsules.  He responded, “Avicel.  It’s a filler with low allergy issues.” I’ll talk more about fillers in future posts in this series on LDN because this can be important.

To get the dosing amount you want, you have to do a bit of math.  With 4 oz of water added to 4.5mg of LDN, if I take 1oz of the solution, I am getting 1.125mg (4.5/4).  However, you could have 4 cups of water and drink 1 cup for the same 1.125mg.  Make sense? (Thanks, hubby/math-guy for the lesson.)

My Initial Reaction

Three days in and it became apparent that I had too high of a dose at 1.125mg.  This is definitely an individual thing, and one has to find their own path with the information given by others.  Some can start with 4.5mg and have no side-effects from the get-go.  Some, can start at 2mg and bump up every few days until they get to 4.5mg.  (I will be explaining that while 4.5mg has been the treatment level most researched; it’s not the optimum level for all people.)

Feeling terrible, I stayed in bed
for 3 1/2 days straight.
Cold packs on my head and the back
of the neck helped some.



And so, I was not going to fit into the “normal reactions” group (surprise, surprise). I was so dizzy, weak, nauseated, and a contraction type of headache at my temples and forehead.  For 3 1/2 days, I was in bed.  I threw up several times (which is difficult for me to do because I had the Nissen procedure of GERD that created a knot at the top of my stomach) and didn’t even want to drink water.  I was ready to give up.

Luckily, I had the FB LDN group.  They gave me encouragement and advice. I decided to press on. 


I really am appreciating
all the support and advice
I’ve gotten prior and during
this first couple of weeks.
One suggestion that I latched onto was to take a day off to “clear the receptors” and then, start back up on a MUCH lower dose of 0.25mg.  And this is what I did.

I still felt horrible all the next day (day 4) without taking any LDN.  The following morning (day 5), I wasn’t nauseous anymore but was very weak and tired.  With the words of supports in my head and the knowledge that if I don’t push through I will never know if it works for me, I took 0.25mg.  

To do this, I dissolved one 4.5mg capsule as described above, but this time, I added it to 9oz of distilled water.  I then took only 0.5oz of that solution, carefully drawing off from the top as to avoid getting any of the Avicil filler that was resting at the bottom of the glass jar.  The math for this is 4.5/9=0.5mg per ounce/2=0.25mg.  

It was a grey day outside, so I gave myself the grace to lie around one more day.  I meditated lying prone in bed and fell asleep on and off until 4pm in the afternoon. And then, it all passed.  I felt as if a switch had been turned on, I had recently watch Back to the Future and envisioned my reaction to being much like Marty Mcfly’s coming back from nearly fading away into nothingness.


Much like Marty, I was not able to function,
and then, wham! I was back!

Who is This?

That night around 8pm, I got a burst of energy.  I cleaned up the kitchen which had a pile-up of dishes, folded the laundry that had been sitting in the dryer for a couple of days, and finished writing my first post in a series I’m planning to write on teachers and stress. My husband, who had been working hard all day putting up drywall, was winding down on the couch, reading.  He looked up as I was scampering around the house. Smiling, he said, “Who is this? You’re feeling better, I see.”  That night, I struggled to fall asleep but wasn’t feeling bad about it.  I finally drifted off around 2am.  

I’ve come to appreciate the
utter love this guy gives even
when it means I get woken by
a wet nose every morning.


Around 6am, Scout, my tiger cat began his ritual of nuzzling my ear, then cheek, then hovering close enough to my lips that I can feel his breath on them.  My husband had already gotten up, so I was there alone for Scout to pester until I was fully awake.  This is early for me.  7:30am is my goal time for getting up and around, but Scout wasn’t having any of that this morning.  And to my surprise, I woke up alert.  I was able to bound out of bed pretty quickly, feeling very little pain and stiffness that I normally have every day.

I was able to complete some blogging work, straighten up the house a bit, and when my husband asked if I wanted to go for a hike in the woods, I had the energy to say, “Yes!”  We went on a four-mile hike.  The sky was blue with white clouds and the forest world seemed as if it was awakening from the cold of winter, finally. It felt so wonderful to be outside, hiking, talking with my hubby, and having next to no pain.


Getting out into nature
is my healing place,
especially now that we’re
warming up and getting
some sunshine.

I had two more AMAZING days like this.  My mood was up, my energy abundant, very little pain (until evening, but not bad-level 4). I was able to get myself ready (shower and even a bit of make-up), practice yoga and meditation, straighten up the house, practice my guitar, socialize with Zooming and a bit with the neighbor (at safe distancing), rake up our shoreline of layered wet, oak leaves, and then still have the energy to sit in the hot tub with my husband. To top things off, we had a warm-up to 55o and sun which is a commodity that’s fairly rare right now in Michigan. These were three AMAZING days for sure.  




Each of these three nights, though, I struggled to get to sleep.  I didn’t feel agitation or racing heart or anything, but I felt clear-headed and alert.  I ended up taking THC oil (2 drops sublingual) and with meditation, I fell asleep decently at midnight (headed to bed at 10pm) and slept until 7:00 (when Scout begins to wake me up). Each of these awesome mornings, I woke up feeling clear and energetic.  My pain was noticeably more intense and in more areas than normal (Level 5+). However, not long after taking my 1/2 oz LDN solution, it diminished to a level 2+.  I was ecstatic at how I was doing and couldn’t stop telling everyone. This, I feel, might bring me back to a level I didn’t think would be achievable.

The end of my raking the
shoreline day,
it was sunny
 which made me
even more joy-filled.


When researching more about why and how this works, I found an explanation that made sense for all these improvements. “The major mechanism of action of LDN involves blocking the body’s opioid/narcotic receptors for just a very few hours (rather than the all-day blockade caused by the 50mg dosage). Those are the same receptors used by the body’s endorphins. The body responds to this by greatly increasing its endorphin production, and those higher levels last all day — far after the blockade by LDN has ended. Endorphins turn out to be the major normalizer/upregulator of one’s immune system,” states David M. Gluck, MD in My Experience with Low Dose Naltrexone.


Tentatively Ecstatic

After a three-day wonderful weekend, Monday morning came with more pain and a feeling of fatigue. Taking in that I had done a decent amount physically over the weekend, I chose not to be discouraged.  Besides, I know that at 0.25mg, I’m not yet at my personal “sweet spot” dosage level. So, I took it easy: blogging work, Yin Yoga with Bernie Clark via Gaia.com. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were pretty much the same but less fatigue and more clear-headed. 

Today, I skipped my 0.25mg does as they suggest to clear the receptors. “It makes sense to skip a day of LDN every week to keep it working effectively. Otherwise, naltrexone and its active metabolite 6-β-naltrexol will slowly build up in the system to an ineffective level,” states Richard Farr, a member of the LDN Facebook group. Then, tomorrow, I’m going to up my dose to 0.5mg. I’m planning on staying at this level for one to two weeks (deciding based on how I’m doing day 8 at this level). 

Why Isn’t this prescribed more readily?


If this Low Dose Naltrexone drug is so effective for Fibromyalgia (among many other issues), then why isn’t it approved by the FDA and paid for by health insurance?  Why aren’t doctors more learned on the subject, and why aren’t they prescribing it more readily?

The answer, unfortunately, is money.  Naltrexone has been around so long that it is considered generic.  Because of this, Drug companies can’t make any money off of it. Dr. Gluck goes on to explain, “Because naltrexone has been a generic drug for many years now, no large pharmaceutical company will invest any money in the large research costs needed to gain FDA approval of these special new off-label uses of the medication. No one makes any significant money from sales of LDN! Nonetheless, there have been many small clinical studies of LDN performed at outstanding medical centers, all showing it to be safe and effective. Check my website for detailed information on the research [www.ldninfo.org/ldn_trials.htm].”


And so, I’m tentatively ecstatic to think that I may be able to get back my energy, clear-thinking, and have less pain.  That I might be able to actually count on mind and body on a regular basis instead of it feeling like every moment is a  roll of the dice. 





I will be keeping you updated on my progress.  I will not gloss it over.  If it doesn’t work, I’ll let you know.  Have you ever heard of LDN?  If you take or have taken it, what was your experience?  I’m especially wanting to hear from those who have taken it long-term, say 5 years+. I’d love to hear from you. I’m learning as I go.


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.



What is Your Essential? Staying Grounded during COVID-19 Pandemic


In Michigan, Governor Whitmer declared a shelter-in-place order that went into effect 3/23/20 at midnight. “The order directs Michigan residents to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of what the governor is calling ‘essential infrastructure workforce,” which includes health care workers, law enforcement, water and wastewater personnel, and transportation workers. In addition, residents can leave their home if they are engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store, under the order.”

My son, who works at a large Michigan grocery chain, Meijer, has been declared essential and received a letter to carry to show it.

Please, keep in mind that these
essential workers are doing what
they can so that the rest of us are
able to #staysafe #stayhome.
Be Kind, patient, and flexible.
The Thursday before the shelter-in-place order, he had come down with a fever of 100o.  First, he called into work (Meijer is paying wages for anyone who has to quarantine) and then he called his doctor.  He had a sore throat for a few days prior and a gunky nose. The medical screener said that he most likely didn’t have the virus due to the fever being under 103o and that should it break, he could go back to work the next day. 

Our daughter-in-law contacted us to let us know what was happening and to cancel the playdate we had planned for the day with our granddaughter.  Up until that moment, I thought I wasn’t being affected by all that was going on. I started to bawl, feeling like I was outside of my body. Logically, I know that Andrew is healthy and young and doesn’t fall into the at-risk group for a severe reaction to COVID-19.  But, logic wasn’t a part of that gut reaction.


Fear Creates Instability

I began to feel disorientated, my chest got tight, and I could tell that I was getting panicky.  A sense of instability, like I’ve felt when hiking on a narrow rim of a trail traversing side of a mountain; one wrong step could cause a headlong tumble.

Thankfully, my husband came upstairs just at that moment and seeing me cry, he comforted me that Andrew would be all right by telling me what I already know. Then, he suggested we go for a walk in the woods.

Looking up into the sky through
the pine trees, makes me feel
 small yet safe.

I walked mindfully, looking up through the evergreens into the serene blue skies-focusing and taking time to really notice.  Breathing deeply, I savored in the earthy smell of damp pine needles and black soil underfoot. As the birds twittered (still want to look up what that bird was), the bright sun broke through splotchy clouds, warming our faces. I stooped down to feel the soft, cool moss on an egg-shaped rock. The emerald colors were brilliant compared to the dead brown of the oak leaves it sat in. 
Nature’s early Easter Egg:)
Breathing in the cool, fresh air, slowly in and out through my nose while practicing belly breathing (diaphragmatic breathing), the unease in my chest and shoulders abated.  I began to get my footing, feeling the fear being replaced with grounding.  

The next day, his fever was gone and he went back to work that evening. That day, we had a wonderful overnight stay with my granddaughter, who lights up our lives and brings us all a sense of purpose.
Having this sweetheart
love me so unconditionally
makes me be braver and stronger.

What’s Your Essential?

And so, to stay grounded, I review what is my essential. Truly essential.  For me: genuinely connecting with those I love, fortifying my health, soaking in nature, and living with purpose through my thoughts, words, and deeds are the essentials I need to live a FULL life which emanates love.

Here’s what I’m practicing daily to ground (helping to heal not only myself but the world around me):
  • Mediation: There are several free, on-line resources but this is one that I’m using by Jeff Warren (besides the 8-week course I’m still taking).  
  • Zoom gatherings with family: We’re trying to do some normal things we’d do together albeit virtually. Yesterday, we had a coloring party.  Tonight, we’re all going to have a bowl of ice cream as we chat.
    Each of us sat at our tables and colored a picture
    while chatting away.  It seemed almost
    like they were physically in the room.


  • Creating and learning: photo album pages, learning to play the baritone ukulele via YouTube, studying for MSBR course, and Master Class fiction writing course.
  • Reading: Currently, I’m reading The Fibro Food Formula by Dr. Ginevra Lipton and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F@#$% (which I will be writing about next week most likely). 
  • Connecting: I’ve started phone dates with my mom-in-law and friends once a week. Also, created a way for my neighbors to help one another (by sharing shopping trips, info, and things like books, puzzles, and games).
  • Getting outside: so far, mostly for walks in the woods, but soon for yard clean-up, and today for a chilly kayak trip around the lake.
  • Getting projects and cleaning the house that have been neglected (even though I’ve been retired now for one year). Today-organize the game drawer:) 
This may lead to a raucous game
of Skip-Bo for Kelley and me😁

And so, while these are scary times, I’m choosing to focus on what’s essential to help me stay grounded.  This is what’s important. This is what makes meaning.  This is what heals.  I feel that if we each do this, we can bring equilibrium to the worlds inside and outside of us.

Thank you to all the essential workers who are risking their own health to protect, feed, heal, supply, transport, and care.  You are so appreciated for all that you are doing. Thank you to the employers, too, that have made plans to protect and care for their employees during this time. 

What are your essentials?  How are you staying grounded?

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.




A Love Story: Stronger Together


Waking up this morning with pain, I cried. Pure frustration. My poor husband asks, “What do you want for me to do?” At first, I asked for a massage.  When he asked where,  I just whimpered, “Nevermind.”  Reality is, he can’t possibly help.  The pain seems to have no spot to massage. It’s just everywhere.

So, I ask for my Yoga Tune Up Therapy ball, hot pad, and water, and meds.  That helped me to calm down.  Then, he drew me a hot bath with Epsom salts. And, as I soaked, he brought me some tea. 

This is love. 

 Our Love Story

Our first summer together 1983
in Chelsea, MI at Camp MUCC.

I met Kelley when I was 19. He was 22. I was the waterfront director at a fairly unusual summer camp for kids. Camp MUCC, Michigan United Conservation Club, which for those of you who might not know, is a hunting club. Being I had never even thought about hunting before, this was an odd place for me to land a job. But I was there for the water.  Kelley, on-the-other-hand, having studied Wildlife Management at MSU, was hired as a riflery and hunting instructor.


This was to be my home for the summer before going off to college. I had just left my foster family’s home never to be a dependent again. I knew I was now on my own. Kelley was on his own, too.  Everything he owned was in two luggage boxes.  This was to be his home before he ventured out to find his “real” job.

The week of training, before campers arrived, we hit it off right away. And from there, on the weekends, once the campers had left after breakfast on Saturday, we often were the only ones left at camp.  Being we were poor as college-students, but we had food and shelter on a small lake in the quaint town of Chelsea, MI. Life was good. 

Kelley was from Manton, MI,
  so he brought me to meet his family before our week’s journey.
 His older sister was shocked
when he showed up at her door with a girl!



At the end of the summer, before I headed to college and Kelley off to Arizona to try to get a ranger job at any national park, we went on a week-long canoe trip, just us two, down the beautiful Manistee River.  It was probably the most wonderful week of my life.  At the beginning of the trip, Kelley asked, “What if I asked you to marry me?”  I snorted, “I’m too young for marriage. I’d say no.” Nothing more was said about that all week.  However, at the end of the week, as Kelley was taking me back home to Grand Rapids, his car broke down near the Cedar Springs exit.  



We stayed the night at the campground just off from 131, Kelley covered in grease as he worked on the car to get it going. I remember him looking up from the engine as I stood there talking to him and handing him tools as he requested.  And that was when he decided it was the perfect time to ask, “Will you marry me?”  I didn’t hesitate, didn’t even recall what I had said one week earlier, “Yes, I will.”  


We were engaged, no ring or anything at that point.  We didn’t tell anyone we were for at least half a year.  Kelley was leaving for AZ in the coming week, and I would be at UofM forging a new life.  Not sure we knew how things would work out, but I know for sure we both knew we were going to be together through it.

This was before the Internet and email was a thing in your average person’s life. Kelley and I were poor.  I was living off my savings from the $1000 I had made over the summer, Pell Grants, and student loans.  Kel was living with his mom and step-dad (both very supportive of him finding a National Park job) and odd jobs he found in Phoenix. We could not afford long-distance calls and so we wrote. 

I’ve kept these in a binder from that time.
There are over 100 letters, notes, and cards.



Kelley was and is a guy who shows his love through what he does and generally doesn’t say lovey-dovey stuff.  Surprisingly, when given a pen and paper and no way else for us to connect, and he poured everything out.  I, too, found that writing allowed me to fully express my thoughts and emotions, much more so than when we were goose-bumped, love-struck-dumb in the presence of each other. (Ah, new love!) And so the letters (long, long letters) flowed.  

After six-months apart, Kel not finding a park job and me really struggling at school, he decided to drive back to Michigan.  The red Pacer he was driving was glued and tied together for the most part.  But he was determined to get back to me.  He drove straight through on what would be the equivalent of several Monster caffeinated drinks (but his was black caffeinated capsules).  By the time he got to Ann Arbor, his eyes were buggy and bloodshot and his hair a greasy mess.  He called me at the dorm room letting me know that his car had conked-out on the highway.  

Being I didn’t have a car, my good friend, Mindy drove me to get him.  She was ever so kind to let this wild-eyed, unsavory looking man into her car.  She had really only heard my stories, saw me writing him letters, and making him mixed-tapes of love songs, but she really had no idea who he was at this time. 

We laugh now (she and her husband have been good friends all these years later) at how she out of pure love and concern said, “Katie, are you sure you want to marry this guy?”  I was sure.  I loved that scruffy, red-bearded man, and I knew he loved me. 

Now, that’s some car!


It was that February (Groundhog’s day) that we bought my engagement ring and our wedding rings. That next summer, we did one more stint as camp counselors at Camp MUCC and then the next spring, 5/25/1985, we were married, surrounded by our family and friends. 

We’ve been married 34 years. Down days like the past few, make me appreciate the love we share.  We’ve had so many twists, turns, ups, and downs on this journey together.  We’ve grown so much from those homeless babies back when we first met.  The life that we’ve built together gives me strength, courage, and purpose.  

Being parents to two amazing children,
and then being blessed to bring in
our daughter-in-law and now our grand-daughter,
makes everything make sense, you know?

Kel this morning at his desk of our shared office.

We continue to journey together. This year finds us with more twists and turns.  Ever stronger together, we will find our way.

I almost didn’t write a post this week.
The first two paragraphs were written on Monday.
I was too out-of-it and down to write after that.
Until today.  The direction of the post took
a totally different turn as I thought about
how much my guy means to me
and just how much he supports me and has
from the very beginning.
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 some times,
I have to listen to my body and am not able to follow through as planned.
Thank you for your understanding.


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