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Now for the Difficult Step!

If you have been reading my blogs lately, I have been writing about my pain pump and the journey to get off oral medications.  (NOTE: I know that I will have some form of oral medication when all is said and done for flares not controlled by the pump.) I am making great success with my oral pain meds….am only using the short acting form during the day.

This past Friday, I started what will be the most difficult step…the process of getting off ofimages Cymbalta! I say this because of my “cold turkey” experience with this powerful medication; and, I know that, even with my doctors involved with this, I will most likely deal with some of those nasty symptoms.

My doctor reduced my dose from 60 mg to 30 mg.  I will be taking one pill per day for two weeks, then I will take one pill every other day for another two weeks.  After that, I will be Cymbalta free.  (At least, that is the plan!!!)

Today my body is a mess (legs stabbing/throbbing, upper right side is on burning, IBS-D is flaring –cramping and knots, extreme Fibro Fog, etc.) as it starts adjusting to a lower dose. Also doing my best to time my short acting pain med to offset the increased pain.

Living “With” Fibromyalgia

Receiving the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia often takes a long time.  Every other illness/condition must be ruled out, or added to, our list of diagnoses.  After all, Fibro is rarely a lone diagnosis; it can be the primary or secondary, irregardless, the diagnosis of Fibro is a life changing event.

There are many ways that those with Fibro are treated…antidepressants, pain medications, alternative therapies (like acupuncture), chiropractic care, etc.  Some of us have extremely hypersensitive systems that greatly restrict what our medical team can prescribe or do for us.

Fibro does not manifest itself the same in each person; it can range from a slight inconvenience to overwhelming…meaning some can manage Fibro and continue with a normal life, whereas others are forced to quite jobs and become homebound.

There are 100 symptoms of Fibro.  Just as some people experience a handful of symptoms, others experience 25 – 50,  and still others will experience close to, if not reaching, all 100!  These symptoms do not hit all at once…the symptoms of Fibro can change on a daily, weekly, sometimes hourly basis.

When diagnosed with Fibro, we often fight our condition.  It is a challenge to learn how to deal with the symptoms, that can be overwhelming….fatigue, burning, numbness, tingling, brain fog, headache, stabbing, throbbing, cramping, muscle weakness, etc.

It also takes time to truly understand that Fibro is a condition that will not go away…there is no cure…the symptoms can improve and then flare at any given time.  Sometimes we can understand what we did to cause a flare, other times we can not make any sense of it.

We do eventually come to terms with our condition.  We learn to live with Fibro.  We accept the life changes it has forced us to make…we learn how to limit our activity and maximize rest in order to minimize our symptoms.  We see that we our definition of living has changed to adapt to our condition.

Week 11 with Pain Pump

Yesterday I went in for follow up with Pain Specialist.  He did another increase since I am struggling by 5:00 pm…it takes all my energy to not take an extended release Nucynta.  I really think we are getting close to having the usual, day-to-day pain dulled by the pain pump!  A huge change for sure!

By no means does this mean that my Fibromyalgia, Polyarthralgia, Chronic Pain Disorder, Neuralgia, etc. are cured.  The pain pump is doing its job…it is now helping with the pain!  Yeah!!

I am still dealing with the other “joys” that come along with my hidden conditions.  The best example being the fact that my legs have not been working for the past three days.  My legs are heavy, like I have sunk into that gooey mud up to my knees…all my effort is required to stand and shuffle (worse than Zombie walk) to the restroom and back.  For those of you with one or a combination of these hidden conditions/illnesses, you will understand!

I am so encouraged though!  We have made improvement to one of the toughest aspects of Fibromialgia/Chronic Pain Disorder/etc.; and, that is taking the edge off the horrific, 24/7, 365 day pain!

Beauty and Tranquillity 

5 Weeks Post Op!

I met with my pain specialist yesterday for another adjustment to the pain pump.  At the last appointment, he had increased the pain pump dosage by 30 percent.  (To put an amount on that…it would be a total of 2 micrograms of medication being released by the pump throughout the day. VERY minute compared to oral meds when you are taking a 100 milligram tablet!)  Today, he turned the pump up another 25 percent which places me on the lower end of what is considered “normal” dosage for the medication, Prialt, that I am using.

It will take 2 – 3 days for my body to completely adjust to the lower oral meds. So next week I will have a very good idea of how my body is responding to the new level from the pain pump.

It is exciting to see how well my body is healing.  The butterfly bandages came off my back last week, and today they came off my abdomen.  There is a slight puckering in the skin…however, both suture areas look so clean!  I do not feel the pump…and I cannot see it!  Too me that is amazing!!

I only need to use the brace when out and about. So I have started sleeping without it!  WOW!!!  It is amazing how “human” that makes me feel!!  It is also nice to be about the house without it on.  I have also started using my spandex T-shirt style bra/undershirts.  They provide a gentle hug to the upper body overall…giving me that extra assurance!

I am still under restrictions…no twisting, bending, stretching, lifting.  I anticipate these restrictions being lifted and/or modified at my next appointment.

This new path is amazing!  I know that I am now at the foot of an untraveled route…I will be embarking into the realm of the unknown…and with hope of truly being able to have my pain “under control”.  (Keeping in mind, that there will always be that potential flare…)

Mindfulness

My Clinical Psychologist introduced me to a powerful tool to add to my arsenal. It is called “mindfulness”:

“A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

She walked me through a breathing exercise…complete focus on the breath itself…feeling the cooled air entering my nose…feeling it hit the back of the throat…feeling the rise in my chest as the air enters the lungs…feeling a second, subtle rise of the chest before exhaling…feeling the warmth of the air as it leaves the body.

I was then read a short story about washing dishes, from “The Miracle of Mindfulness”….I will share just one paragraph that sums up the idea of mindfulness very well…

“…If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not ‘washing the dishes to wash the dishes.’ What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future — and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”

I applied this during my walk outside this morning. I took the time to not just see the sun…but to, really, “see” it! I felt its warmth…the rays touching my skin…the brightness shining…the reflection on the leaves. I felt the slight breeze…ever so gently twisting and turning the leaves in the trees…the slight movement of my shirt being pressed against my skin…the movement of the hairs on my arms…

It was truly amazing!! My focus was dramatically shifted…momentarily transported into the present time…fully embracing and experiencing what was happening around and to me.

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3 1/2 Weeks Post Op

It is now 3 1/2 weeks post pain pump surgery! I have been amazed at how fast my body is healing. I have also been amazed at how quickly the swelling in my lower tummy went away. The butterfly bandages that the pain specialist placed over my surgical areas are still in place.  I have noticed just a slight loosening of a couple of them on my tummy.  No worries…supposed to let them fall off when they get loose.

I let my body dictate my actions. Let myself sleep in as long as I need….some mornings I am awake at 5…sometimes 6…I try to get up before 7.  I am making an effort to walk about the house a couple times a day…goal of 2-3 minutes…resting for an hour afterwards. A nap in the afternoon is still a must!  I find that I am sleeping for 2-3 hours…very solid and hard sleep.

I still have to give in and go to bed between 7:30 and 8 PM…to just lie down with pillow under my legs.  I take advantage of this quiet time to read or work a puzzle.  This down time has worked well to allow me to fall off into a good hard sleep.

We have definitely set what I think is the perfect balance of the pain pump and my current oral medication levels.  When I go back in (in about 1 1/2 weeks), my doctor will again increase the pain pump level so we can continue to cut back the oral meds.

This is such an exciting time! It is SO awesome to be working toward a goal…an achievable goal!  It is SO rare for those of us with chronic pain from Fibromyalgia or the like to actually be able to be in this situation!!

Now don’t get me wrong…I fully realize the path that is forming in front of me will be a long and arduous one.  I know it will be years to regain some muscle…as all muscle is gone for having been homebound for so long. Even with this realization, my excitement is not diminished!

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