A Field Guide To Spotting First Borns

2016 June 8
by Jenny

A Normal Couple:

1. Brings home one piece of cheesecake to share.

2. One person gets out a knife,  eyeballs the dessert, and cuts it into two roughly equal pieces.

3. Each person eats their half.

A First Born Couple:

1. Brings home one piece of cheesecake to share.

2. One partner pulls out the kitchen scale.

3. The other partner gets down a dessert plate, places it on the scale, and then zeroes it all out so that the weight of the plate will not factor into the total weight of the cheesecake to be sliced.

4. First partner carefully removes cheesecake from original container and places it on the zeroed-out scale.

5. Second partner surveys entire knife collection and then selects the best tool for the job based on handle, weight, and ratio of blade size to size of the item to be cut.

6. Brief pause while Google is consulted due to differing opinions on choice of knife.

7. With surgical precision the partner with the engineering degree makes the first cut, slowly drawing the two halves apart and placing them on separate plates.

8. Each partner weighs their piece to make sure they are as equal in weight as is humanly possible.

9. Then, and only then, can dessert be consumed.

********

Bonus Tip: If when addressing correspondence to you and your husband your mother is scrupulously careful to alternate the position of your names (e.g., your name first on the outside of the envelope, your husband’s name first in the letter’s salutation), you can be sure that both you, he, and she are all first borns.

 

 

Well Alrighty Then-Sign Me Up!

2016 May 25
by Jenny

2016-05-25_04-33-52

Product Review: PillSuite

2016 May 24
by Jenny

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

So I was recently given the opportunity to try out a product called PillSuite, which was exciting for two reasons: first, I LOVE gadgets, and second, I can always use something to help me better organize my medications.

This is how my managing my meds used to look:

pillsuite1

I carted this bag with me wherever I went, and pulled out each pill bottle twice a day to take my meds. I’d tried those big plastic blocks with the flip lids and little compartments for each day’s pills, but that felt just as cumbersome to me, and if I took it on a trip I’d have to put it into a big ziploc bag because some of the flaps would pop open and the pills would all spill out.

When I opened the PillSuite box, this is what I saw:

pillsuite2

The orange carousel opens up to reveal seven compartments, one for each day’s collection of medications. I have to fill this twice myself, since I take one set of meds in the morning, and another one in the afternoon.

pillsuite3

Once you fill up all the compartments and put the top back on,

pillsuite4

you use the spout to pour each compartment’s pills into individual plastic bags.

pillsuite5

pillsuite6

Finally, you insert the bag of pills into the sealer machine

pillsuite7

 

And you end up with 7 (or 14, in my case) small, sealed bags to deal with, instead of a Big Bag-O-Pills.

pillsuite8

 

I LOVE my PillSuite. The only issues I’ve had with it are that the bags are thin and a little flimsy, so it can be hard to get them to stay on the spout when you’re pouring the pills in, and that I have to make sure and double check the seal on each bag to make sure it’s entirely closed, because I have occasionally had some spills.

So if you too are looking for a better way to manage your medications, I can definitely recommend PillSuite as a product that you should check out.

In Honor Of National Fibromaylgia Awareness Day

2016 May 12
by Jenny

I wish I had it in me right now to write a moving, inspirational, and deeply insightful post to mark today. Unfortunately, I’ve spent a significant portion of the past week lying on the floor, because sitting upright in a chair is too exhausting. So instead, I’ll post some links to various posts I’ve written over the past few years that are my attempts to help explain what it’s like to have fibromyalgia.

Hitting Me Right Between The Eyes

It’s Definitely A Sign That You Had A Really Bad Night

“Why Pain-Free Days Aren’t Really All That Free”

Cranky Fibro Girl And The Puzzle

This Is What Having Fibromyalgia Feels Like

The Marathon

Dear Lyrica Commercial: As A Real-Life Fibromyalgia Patient And Not Just An Actor Playing One On TV, I Have To Say That Your Commercials Are EXTREMELEY Misleading

Aware

Good Words

2016 April 22
by Jenny

Allow

There is no controlling life.

Try corralling a lightning bolt,

containing a tornado.  Dam a

stream and it will create a new

channel.  Resist, and the tide

will sweep you off your feet.

Allow, and grace will carry

you to higher ground.  The only

safety lies in letting it all in –

the wild and the weak; fear,

fantasies, failures and success.

When loss rips off the doors of

the heart, or sadness veils your

vision with despair, practice

becomes simply bearing the truth.

In the choice to let go of your

known way of being, the whole

world is revealed to your new eyes.

-Danna Faulds

Dear Lyrica Commercial: As A Real-Life Fibromyalgia Patient And Not Just An Actor Playing One On TV, I Have To Say That Your Commercials Are EXTREMELEY Misleading

2016 April 21
by Jenny

When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia back in 2008 Lyrica had (I think) just become the first drug officially approved to treat it. At first I was so happy to see Lyrica commercials on TV, because I saw them as a sign that fibromyalgia was being validated as a real illness (people like my pain doctor notwithstanding). Plus, whenever anyone would ask me what fibro felt like I could say, “You know that commercial for Lyrica that shows the person’s entire body on fire? It feels exactly like that.”

But now that I’ve been taking Lyrica for over 7 years I find myself arguing with the TV every time I see those commercials. Here’s why.

If you take the commercials at face value, they would have you believe that the following is true:

Lyrica

But treating fibromyalgia is not like treating a sinus headache or strep throat, where the parameters of the illness are known and understood, there’s a standard treatment that clears up most cases, and there’s a predictable, linear improvement once the patient starts taking the necessary medication. Clear cause, clear treatment, clear effect.

Fibromyalgia on the other hand is a puzzle where the pieces are not only constantly moving, but also constantly changing size and shape. And speaking for myself and most of the fibro patients I know, there is no one thing that gets rid of all our pain. We’ve all had to develop an entire range of tools to deal with our illness. So that’s the first moving part.

Second, not all the tools work all of the time, or even work the same way from one day to the next. There’s a lot of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. And what sticks changes from day to day; on really bad days, it can change from hour to hour, or even minute to minute.

Here are some examples of what’s in my toolbox:

-cardio (usually aerobic walking and recumbent bike)

-physical therapy exercises

-stretching/yoga

-meditation/visualization

-heating pad

-ice packs

-warm baths

-my TENS unit

-massage

-chiropractor

-sessions with Lynne

-cognitive behavioral therapy

-EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, or “tapping”)

-writing

-anti-inflammatories (and constantly having to tweak the doses)

-non-narcotic painkillers (and constantly having to tweak the doses)

-narcotic painkillers (and constantly having to tweak the doses)

-epidurals and nerve ablations for my back

-mental health meds (and constantly having to tweak the doses)

-migraine and nausea meds (and constantly having to tweak the doses)

-my CPAP machine

-insomnia meds

Now, let me show you what it looks like to try and use these tools to manage my pain. Let’s take two hypothetical days, say Monday and Tuesday of the same week, and say that on both days my pain level is an 8.

Here’s the third moving part: even though my pain levels might be the same on subsequent days, I have no way of knowing what each 8 is made up of. It could be the same things. It could be a mixture of old and new reasons. The 8s might even be made up of completely different things. And I have no way of knowing which one is true. So I have no idea which tools are going to work. This is where the spaghetti-throwing begins.

Actually, a better metaphor might be that of building blocks. Because I am starting with tools that I know help me feel more comfortable. So every day I’m trying to build a tower of blocks made up of my pain management tools that equals the height of the tower made up of my pain level for that day.

This is the place where the puzzle pieces not only move, but change shape. So this is also the place where the Lyrica commercials are most misleading. And this is most DEFINITELY the place where opponents of narcotic painkillers get it wrong. BECAUSE NO ONE BLOCK GETS RID OF ALL OF OUR PAIN. So we do not spend our days just popping pain pills and zoning out. We spend our days trying to figure out what combination of blocks will bring us as much relief as possible for that particular day.

So let’s say that on Monday, through a bunch of trial and error, I’m able to find a combination of blocks that equals the amount of pain I’m feeling that day. It might look like this:

2016-04-21_10-59-42   

Pain-wise, this is great. But because I don’t know exactly what’s causing today’s pain, I don’t know exactly why these particular tools worked in this particular way  on this particular day. So  I don’t come away from the day with a recipe of pain relief that’s guaranteed to work every single time for every single pain day. I could try using the same blocks on Tuesday and have it look like this:

2016-04-21_01-59-19

So then I’m back to trial and error again with, as always, absolutely no guarantee that any of my other pain management blocks will work that day. I might find a few more blocks to add to my pain relief tower. I might find enough to equal the size of that day’s tower of pain. Or I might try every single one of my tools and not have any of them work, which means I just have to find a way to ride out the pain for the rest of the day and then hope I have better luck the next day.

So the next time you see Lyrica on TV, or meet someone who lives with chronic pain and illness, or hear people debating whether or not people like me, who suffer Every. Single. Day. from relentless, agonizing pain should have access to LEGAL narcotic painkillers that help us function and actually have a good quality of life </end rant>, I hope you think of this post.  Because managing chronic pain is really, REALLY hard. It is a full-time job that we did NOT sign up for and we work our freaking asses off to do it. With no vacation days or weekends off. No breaks, E-V-E-R. We are on call for this job 24/7/365. (And if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you to take just a few minutes and imagine if your job was like that. I suspect your brain won’t let you do it.) We are those ducks you see gliding across the pond: holding it together, managing this beast of a burden while also creating a good life on the surface, all the while paddling like a maniac under the water to make it all work.

So maybe the next time you see one of us you might also say something like this: “Wow, that sounds really hard. I’m sorry you have to go through all of this. You’re doing SUCH a good job.”

Because gifts of comments like that?  Are some of most powerful, soothing tools we have.

The Liberal Arts Major And The Engineer: But Wait-There’s More!

2016 April 8
by Jenny

So I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this here before or not, but I am a BookSmeller. The first thing I do when I pick up a book or a magazine is to lift it up, flip through it, and see how it smells. It’s such a conditioned response that I didn’t realize I did it until my husband pointed it out to me a few years ago.

My other major book-related habit is that I like to mark them up. There’s just something about underlining, drawing arrows to link different passages, and writing notes and “aha!” moments in the margins that makes the text come alive for me.

I tell my husband I do it because it was ingrained in me from all my years of studying literature, but it’s a habit that horrifies him. He reacts to it the same way I react when someone takes a brand new book and murders it by immediately opening to the middle and cracking the spine.

So the other night we were both in his office, he on the computer, and I happily writing away in my latest read. Without looking at me he said, “I can hear you scratching away over there. And don’t tell me it’s because you were trained to do it.”

Then, turning to face me, and in the voice of someone leveling a solemn curse he declared, “The next time you smell a book, I HOPE YOU SMELL TEARS.”

 

 

 

Product Review: FibroCane Serenitea

2016 April 7
by Jenny

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

For the past couple of months I have been testing out a new product to see if it’s something I can add to my box of tools for managing my fibromyalgia. It’s called Serenitea, and is made by Premier Bioceuticals.

There are a number of products in the FibroCane line, and they provide support for different aspects of fibromyalgia. Serenitea was created to help soothe anxiety and restlessness, especially for those times when you’re having a hard time falling asleep. But I have other treatments in place to help treat my sleep issues, so I was able to use this tea to support me in a different area.

In addition to  fibromyalgia I suffer from Bipolar Disorder with Rapid Cycling, which means I spend quite a bit of time in anxiety and restlessness. And Serenitea does a lovely job of helping to soothe the sharp edges so I can calm down a bit, start to relax and breath more easily, and figure out what I need to do next. (My Inner Hedonist would also like me to add that it tastes really good. I’m not a huge tea drinker, but I’ve had a lot of blends that are one-note wonders; Serenitea is a delicious mix of many different layers of flavors.)

So if you’re looking for a product to help you find a bit of soothing and relief for the times you’re stuck in anxiety and restlessness, I can definitely recommend FibroCane’s Serenitea to help.

Good Words

2016 March 11
by Jenny

“Mindful” – by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or I hear
Something
That more or less

Kills me
With delight,
That leaves me
Like a needle

In the haystack
of light.
It is what I was born for –
To look, to listen,

To lose myself
Inside this soft world –
To instruct myself
Over and over

In joy and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
About the exceptional,

The fearful, the dreadful,
The very extravagant –
But of the ordinary,
The common, the very drab,

The daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
How can you help

But grow wise
With such teachings
As these –
The untrimmable light

Of the world,
The ocean’s shine,
The prayers that are made
Out of grass?

The Continuing Adventures Of The Liberal Arts Major And The Engineer

2016 March 10
by Jenny

The other day my husband had lunch with a colleague of his that he hadn’t talked to in a while. This colleague and his wife had been trying for a very long time to start a family, and this summer they were blessed with the birth of a beautiful baby girl. At least I assume she’s beautiful. Here’s what happened when I tried to find out:

My husband: “So I had lunch with Colleague today.”

Me: “Oh, fun. How’s he doing?”

My husband: “He’s doing well.”

Me: “And how’s the baby?”

My husband: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Didn’t you guys talk about the baby?”

My husband: “Nope.”

Me: “Well, what did you talk about?”

My husband: “The possibility of downloading yourself into a machine analog, and if you did then would you still be human or would you be a cyborg, the heat death of the universe, and a little bit of politics.”

Of course, silly me. WHAT WAS I THINKING?