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The Biopsy and My Quarterly Goal

Hello Friends,

Since my last post, I had the thyroid biopsy. The procedure itself felt weird. The biopsy doc took three samples each from three of the nodules. The fourth was too small to biopsy. My neck was sore for a few days and was a little bruised, but the procedure was okay, and so am I. The nodules are benign. My dear husband, George, went with me to hold my hand during the procedure. He is normally quite interested in all kinds of “procedures,” but said he could have skipped this one. After he explained how the doctor did the procedure, I understand. Having him there to support me made all the difference. He is very supportive of me no matter what, something for which I will be eternally grateful. I am a lucky woman!

My doggie’s eye isn’t doing so well. The eye vet upped his meds and gave him a prescription for an additional drug. I took him to our holistic vet who gave him some herbs and ordered supplements. We will see what happens in the next month. It is a crucial time and I am scared for him. This is stressing me out, but I’m keeping my normal, optimistic attitude. Mitra acts like everything is just fine. He plays, cuddles, and acts normally. I am grateful for that! I’m going to follow his lead.

I went out of town for a baby shower, which was March 25. My brother’s lovely (inside and out) wife is having a baby!  Woohoooo! I can’t wait to meet the little guy! He’s coming in the middle of May.

Being out of town for a long weekend doesn’t always bode well for staying on plan. I’m surprised how well I stayed on point. (Of course, we won’t be talking about the three, oh, so yummy, cupcakes that I fell into at the baby shower. LOL) I went to the grocery store early in my visit to get the food needed to stay on track. I even ate a proper breakfast before going out for breakfast with my family. While at the restaurant, I stuck to a bowl of fruit and some coffee. That was a healthy, determined moment, so kudos for me. I also did my physical therapy exercises and yoga. It was a great weekend, made even better because my cousins, aunt, and uncle joined us. My family, like many, is scattered and doesn’t get enough time together. You know the saying about weddings and funerals? Yep, that’s my family, too. Some of us are determined to change that.

Though it was a great weekend, I suffered for it with a pain and fatigue flare. Of course, that was no surprise. The pain lasted for only a day. The fatigue took a few days longer, though the worst of it was the same day as the pain flare. I knew the flare was coming, but the experience was definitely worth it.

What did I do for the flare? I got extra sleep, even while I was away. I took a little extra alone time, especially in the mornings, moved regularly and gently, listened to my body, ate nutritious food, and drank plenty of water.

My goal is to lose twenty pounds each quarter in 2017. The first quarter just ended. Did I meet my goal? No. I didn’t weigh myself, but I don’t need to weigh myself to know I didn’t lose twenty pounds. Am I happy about that? No. But it doesn’t matter. I have the opportunity to do better and be proud of myself for what I have accomplished and will accomplish. My clothes fit better and moving around in my clothes is easier. There are places on my body that look different. My husband and friends have made comments. That encourages me to move forward.

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This is my goal, the top of Mt. Whitney. (This photo was taken by Jeremy Bishop, courtesy of unsplash.com.)

I have other goals in my life, writing, business, financial, etc. Discussing them in detail, step by step, with friends helps me achieve my goals. It makes me accountable for my progress. That’s why I am telling you about my journey. YOU keep me accountable! I am grateful for each and every one of you. It’s because of your help that on my 55th birthday, August 2018, I will be fit, healthy, and will hike to the top of Mt. Whitney. Thank you!

Do you have any goals you would like to share? What encourages you to work toward your goals? Please comment below. I would love to see more discussion here.

Many blessings to you and yours,

Julie

Checking In

Hello Friends,

Last week I let all kinds of things interfere with my plans, mostly with exercise, the thing that always goes first, and my writing work. I have had a sinus infection and some wheezing. My dog has spots on his retina (small hemorrhages noticed by his eye vet) and has a cough. It turns out he has Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. He got it from a tick bite in my currently mice-infested home. Mice have been common this year in Tahoe homes. I’ve been cleaning and trying to get rid of the mice, though I am finally making progress. All in all, I feel overwhelmed.

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My little boy, Mitra.

I noticed I had a lump on the right side of my neck, a big lump which didn’t feel like swollen lymph nodes. I went to my primary care doctor. My blood test results were normal, but the ultrasound found four nodules in my thyroid. I am having a biopsy on March 23. Truth be told, I am more nervous about the biopsy than I am the results. I think I would know if something was seriously wrong.

I got back on track with exercising this morning and will exercise tomorrow morning. I still haven’t weighed myself. My clothes fit better and I can see the fat has started to move away from my collarbones. Those are good signs that I have lost some fat!

It was physically difficult to exercise this morning. I felt like I had never exercised in my life. Have any of you noticed that you have no muscle memory anymore, and feel like you have to start from square one if you don’t exercise for a week? It’s one of the things about fibromyalgia that frustrate me the most. I will feel more fit next week.

With the pain in my body from exercising after a few days break, I did a longer meditation. It helps me more than I can say. There is much to the idea that meditation helps chronic pain. I am putting together something that will focus on that very idea. I think many of you will be helped by the program I am creating. I can’t tell you how good it feels to know I can help others.

Do any of you meditate? How does it affect your chronic pain? Is there a certain technique that helps you more than another technique helps? If you have a comment about meditation or anything else, please comment below.

Cheers,
Julie

Update On My Journey

Hello Friends,

Since I last wrote, things have gone well. I have strayed only a few times from my food plan, which isn’t bad, and have kept up with my exercise plan quite well. It is obvious to me that I am committed, which feels good. Normally, by the time six weeks has passed, everything has fallen apart. It is nice to think that I have found something that I have stuck with for this long.

I planned on posting my weight in every post, but the thought of getting on the scale made me anxious. I don’t need that kind of pressure! That kind of pressure can send me into a binge frenzy where I sabotage all my good efforts. I don’t want to do that to myself. I know all I need to know, how well I’ve stuck to my plan and that my clothes now fit my body with ease and space. One of these days I will measure myself, but I don’t seem to want to do that, either, or I would have done so. I have decided I will weight myself once each quarter. You will see that post around the first of April.

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This summer, I will be out riding my own bike through the country. (I got this image for free at pixabay.com.)

I feel myself getting stronger as exercise has become easier. Every day I am either on the recumbent bike or Gazelle glider for 45 minutes to an hour. I also do yoga or strength training six or seven days a week. I’ve had a few sore days here and there, but I know that’s part of the process. I used to fear that pain, but that makes it worse. I’ve learned how to have a different relationship with pain when I exercise. Now it doesn’t bother me much.

The journey to a new, healthy body is fraught with evil and temptation. I will keep my eye on the prize and be honest with myself. That will keep me on track.

Comment below with what keeps you on track with your exercise/lifestyle/eating plans. I need some more tools in my toolbox, just in case.

Sending love to you and yours,

Julie

Come With Me On A Journey

Hello friends,

I am writing today about my 2017 journey, part of which is to lose 80 pounds. With you on this journey along with me, it will help me be accountable to myself. If you would like to share your own journey, please do so in the comments! I hope you find something helpful along the way. Of course, this blog won’t be only about my weight loss journey. I will post other kinds of information, as well.

Another reason I am sharing my journey with you is because many people with Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions are overweight or obese, and many, often because of their weight, are diabetic or have heart disease. In many cases, diabetes and heart disease can be reversed by losing weight and adopting healthy lifestyle habits. If you are struggling with your weight, are diabetic or have heart disease, I want you to be healthier. I want you to be happy. If going on this journey with me may inspire you, I will take a chance on doing so.

On January 17, I weighed 220 pounds and have a final goal of 140 pounds. I have mini-goals of 20 pounds at a time, with a goal to lose 20 pounds every three months (roughly 7 pounds a month). My first goal is to lose 20 pounds by April 1, 2017. Periodically, every week or two, I will let you know how I am doing. (Sometimes scales give me anxiety.) As I am going for full disclosure, I will let you know my measurements after I take them. I find that measurements often paint a better picture of where I am than numbers on the scale. Here are a few photos of me for my “Before Photos.”

I have chosen to use the Eat Fat, Get Thin plan from the book of the same name by Mark Hyman, M.D. I used it before I had back surgery and lost 15 pounds in two months. For me to lose like that is huge! In fact, this month I had already lost weight on the program because I have been able to get some exercise every day. I couldn’t do that before because of my back. (I don’t know specifically how much weight because I didn’t have a scale I could trust. It is somewhere around eight pounds.) Now that I have had surgery and been released from physical therapy, I can exercise freely, with few limitations. In case you are interested,  you can get the book at Amazon, hard copy and Kindle e-book. You can find it here. The book has many recipes, some of which I have already tried and enjoyed! I bought the cookbook but haven’t tried anything in there, yet. The recipes look good and if they are anything like the ones in the book about the plan, I will have some fun this coming week. In case you are afraid it is all vegetarian or vegan, since you know I am, you will be pleasantly surprised to see lots of animal products in these books.

Do you plan on losing weight this year? What will you do to meet your health goals? Do you have any tips for me? Put your plans and wisdom in the comments. Let’s make 2017 a healthy year!

Thanks for coming on this ride with me!

Julie

(Just so you know, I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The reason I am doing this is to pay for this website, and provide me with some walking around money. But don’t you worry, I will never suggest a book or any other product I myself haven’t purchased and enjoyed.)

A Meditation Practice For Chronic Pain

Hello Friends,

I am still recovering from surgery and things are going well. As physical therapy puts my muscles and tissues back in place and creates a physical base for going forward, I am getting glimpses of my new normal. I still have Fibromyalgia pain, but I expected that. What is amazing is how much taller and how stable I feel. And I’m getting stronger every day. It’s a great feeling!

As I still have chronic pain, meditation is still one of my go-to remedies. No, it doesn’t remove pain, but it keeps my relationship with pain in check and provides some relief. One way meditation provides relief is by reducing the stress and unnecessary emotional feelings that make pain worse. Meditation does this in two ways, first by helping us be aware we are stressed, and second, by relieving the stress itself. So let’s do a short and simple meditation practice.

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Don’t try to sit like this! It’s not necessary!

Before we start, let’s have a little talk about sitting, also known as your meditation posture. It doesn’t matter at all whether you sit in lotus pose or even on the floor. The only thing that really matters is that you are comfortable and that your spine is straight. Sitting up with a straight spine makes it easier to be alert, and allows your body’s energy to move through  your spine with ease. You can sit in a chair, if possible sitting on the front edge so you hold your spine straight. If that isn’t possible for you, that’s perfectly fine. You may try holding your spine off and on the chair as it feels good. One day, you may not need to lean on the chair because your spine will be strong enough to hold your spine, and the rest of your body, erect.  Put your feet flat on the floor, if you are in a chair, and your hands in your lap or on your knees. If you are sitting on the floor, make yourself comfortable. Relax the shoulders, and keep the back of your neck long, tipping your chin down slightly. Your chest is relaxed and open.

You will get distracted. It’s your brain’s job to think. It’s your job to tell your brain what to think, to master your brain so it doesn’t master  you. So don’t worry when this happens, just start over. I have been meditating since 1976 and it still happens to me, just less often. It isn’t a big deal, begin again.

Let’s start by closing your eyes. You will breathe through the nose. Take several deep breaths, feeling the belly expand on inhale; gently pull your belly toward the spine on exhale. Fill your lungs completely on inhale. Try to make your inhale and exhale equal length. For example, if you inhale to a count of four, exhale to a count of four. This is one way to control  your breath. You are directing the intensity and timing of your inhales and exhales.

After taking the deep breaths, let go of the control of your breath. Let your body breathe the way it wants to. Follow your breath as it moves in and out your nose. Investigate it. Is your breath a different temperature on inhale than it is on exhale? Does it feel different moving in your body? Where do you feel your breath the most? The nose, chest, back, belly? Be curious about your breath. Do this for about five minutes.

When you are ready, release your breath concentration and open your eyes. How did that feel?

Do this once or twice a day. When you feel you can increase the time, try ten minutes for a few weeks. If you would like to get to twenty or thirty minutes a day, increase the time little by little over a few weeks. Remember, it is better to meditate for a few minutes a day, every day, than it is to meditate a half hour once a week. The regularity of practice is what matters, do it every day. Give meditation a chance to help you.

If you have any questions or comments, please comment below. I love to hear from you and am happy to help wherever I can!

Blessings to all of you!

Julie

A Big Old Update on Facing Your Fears 

Hello Readers,

It has been a long time since I have written and much has happened to me.

I had been dealing with a back problem, anterolisthesis, as a result of Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD). DDD is not associated with Fibromyalgia, but is in addition to it. It created significant pain and numbness and inability to do many things I would normally do, affecting even my ability to walk my dogs a short way. By the time I had surgery, I could not stand for more than a minute, two at most, without going numb from the waist down. It affected everything in my life.

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Feeling peaceful and ready to face my fear.

I had to face a major fear, surgery. I hadn’t had surgery since my tonsils were removed in 1980, when I was seventeen years old. But in May I had back surgery, a fusion, a laminectomy at two vertebrae, and had bone spurs cleaned from another vertebra. It was a big deal, especially with having Fibromyalgia. A month before surgery, because of numbness, I fell down the three stairs leading to my deck, spraining my right ankle and tearing the meniscus on my left knee. I was a mess.

I was terrified of having surgery! I put it off for five or six  years, having epidurals and physical therapy. I am sure there were advances in technique while I waited. But, there came a time when that didn’t work anymore and I was in danger of losing my ability to walk.

How did I release the fears so I could have surgery and be relaxed about it? I chose a healthcare team I trusted, wrote lists of questions that my doctors patiently answered, I didn’t do too much internet research on my surgery (enough to know what was going on and what other people did to get through it), and I prepared myself spiritually. I meditated, visualizing the surgery and my successful recovery, and my friends sent me their prayers and positive thoughts, depending on their own religion. Oh, and I wrote my will, which some neighbors witnessed for me, just in case. I requested that the anesthesiologist who gave me the epidurals was with me in surgery. I liked him and we already had a doctor/patient relationship. He knew my body. When I went to the hospital the morning of the surgery, I was calm and at peace. Sure, I wasn’t happy about it, but I wasn’t terrified anymore. 

I gave my doctor and anesthesiologist some information about Fibromyalgia and how surgery can affect Fibromyalgia patients. Both doctors were very happy to read the article I gave them. That was encouraging and relieved some of my fears. I knew that the people caring for me were truly interested in the best outcome. I knew in my heart I had chosen the right team, but to see the evidence lifted burdens from me that even I didn’t know I carried. Thank you Dr. Morgan and Dr. Lasko and the whole Sierra Neurosurgery team!!!

Since the surgery I feel like a new person! Yes, I still have Fibromyalgia, so it isn’t as if I have no pain or numbness at all. But I don’t have the pain and numbness from a physical abnormality that could be repaired. It is a big relief to not have the fear of it getting worse (which it did) and I don’t fear the surgery I will likely have in the future. More discs will degenerate to the point of needing surgical intervention. This time I won’t live with the pain and numbness for so long!

I also want to thank my priests at Reno Buddhist Center, Revs. Matt and Shelley Fisher. They came to the pre-surgery room to chant for me and visited me while I was in the hospital.

I am not afraid of much in this world, but I do have fears come up every now and then. I cope by doing everything I can to control that which I can control, and, when I can, choose who is in control of everything else.

Let me know about your fears and what you have done to cope and face your fears. Please comment. Please also comment on what you would like to read about in this blog.

Thanks for coming to this page and reading this post. Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Many blessings,

Julie

Do Vibration Machines Help Fibromyalgia?

Hello friends in Blogland,

I just read an interesting article I wanted to share with you. It is about vibration exercise curing Fibromyalgia. Click here to see the article. (The actual content of the article does not state that the vibration exercise “cures” Fibromyalgia.) What the article says is that researchers at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis found that Fibromyalgia patients reported lower pain levels, and increased strength and muscle spasticity after participating in vibration therapy treatment.

Although there are different kinds, the vibration exercise machine I have access to once a week is one on which you stand on a platform. The platform vibrates. You can just stand on it or you can do any number of standing exercises. It is my understanding that doing exercise on the vibration machine, whether you have Fibromyalgia or not, is more effective because more muscles are involved in the exercise to keep you stable and keep the alignment through the exercise. Essentially, you are getting more of a workout without more effort.

It is believed the vibration therapy helped the subjects of the study because the vibration causes muscle contraction and relaxation, simulating a subtle workout. It is well known, through other research, that regular exercise means less pain. More research needs to be done on vibration therapy to see if it really works. One thing the article didn’t say was how much and how often the subjects got the vibration therapy, nor was it noted at what speed the vibration machine was set.

I will try using the vibration machine for ten to fifteen minutes every Monday evening and let you know what I find. If you have access to a vibration machine (health club, medical center, private access…), try it out, if you wish and it’s okay with your doctor, and let us all know what you think by making a comment below.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Cheers!

Julie

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