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Category: To Do

My Mayo Clinic Traditions

To deal with all the awkward, and make my annual(ish) Mayo Clinic trip something special I make a point to develop a new tradition, buy an item of clothing, or discover a new treat every time I come to Mayo.  This trip has been no different.

For starters, I am freezing.

“Freezing in Arizona?” you say?

Yes.  It is December, after all.

Although, to be fair, I got married on this exact day six years ago (Happy Anniversary, Danny!) and it was 70+ degrees.

walking on our wedding day

But, stick with me. Please.

So it’s December.  And since I arrived, AZ has been cooler than home almost every bit of every day.  Plus, it doesn’t help that I am almost always cold.  (I’d say I’m just weird like that, but since I like to imagine you are like me in that regard, I won’t.)

Are you like me?

Anyway, yesterday I broke down and bought two more long sleeve pieces I can layer with the wardrobe I packed.  These two new items will make a significant improvement in how warm I feel… especially when paired with one of the four scarves I brought.  (I NEVER leave home without a scarf.  Even in the summer.)

I also bought these.  They are delicious.

Nabisco Munchables Pretzel Rounds, buttery flavor

Too delicious.

But that’s not the point.

Since I make a point to begin new traditions, it only makes sense that I make a point to continue those new traditions during future visits.

So, for this round of Mayo Clinic trips, here’s the status of my must-do tradition list:

  • dine at Kona Grill Done, with my SIL and her littles.  I even left my debit card there.
  • make at least one trip to MoJo Yogurt
  • people watch and eavesdrop so I can remember this trip vividly and take it all in
  • FaceTime with my sweetie
  • make and eat lots of homemade sandwiches Although, this is a sort of ongoing goal.
  • sleep
  • visit Pro’s Ranch Market as often as possible for chicken taquitos and  aguas frescas (What’s your favorite flavor?)
  • spend some quality time at TJ Maxx
  • stretch every morning AND every evening
  • consume bagged lettuce to my heart’s content I’ve already restocked once.
  • Christmas shop… for 2012
  • take pictures Who am I joking?  I do this all the time.
  • read
  • appreciate a few weeks of Arizona weather (don’t worry, it usually improves in January)
  • watch sports
  • buy plane tickets for summer vacation
  • spend quality time with my in-laws, nieces, and nephews Again, with the ongoing bit.

And, these aren’t traditions, but I’d like that to change:

  • take Daniel to Oregano’s for a late anniversary date
  • actually respond to people who call and/or text

Here goes… I will keep you posted.

Fibromyalgia and Follow-Ups

I haven’t kept track… but I’m pretty sure I’ve been to the doctor a half-dozen times this year.  As in 2009.  Not the last 12 months. And I swear nearly all of those have been follow-ups.  Is that possible? Over the course of my life I’ve been to the doctor more than your average Joe.  At least I think so.  Unless your average Joe is a smoker or an individual who participates in other high-risk activities.  In that case, I’m below average (and okay with that).  I don’t take many risks when it comes to my body.

Back on point.

I’m not sure any of these visits have been directly related to my fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis.  I, frankly, can’t recall.  I can, however, recall what the last two have been for.  A nasty cold, bug, infection, bout with illness, kiss of cough, or whatever you like to call it.  So, I guess, technically, I don’t know what it’s been for, I just know what the symptoms are.  Sounds kinda like fibromyalgia, doesn’t it?

Last Wednesday I wrote a quick post as I was waiting at the doctor’s office.  By the time I left the office I had a perscription to fill if my condition did not improve by Thursday.  My sweet husband picked the meds up for me last Friday and I’ve been taking them since… with no noticeable improvement.  Actually, I’ve continued to get more congested and have greater difficulty breathing for eight days now.  The days are bearable.  I sound like Michelle Rodriquez with a little helium.  But, the nights are rough.

image from

My work provides a wonderful service for employees to can call a Mayo Clinic nurse to discuss medical issues for free.  Have you heard of this?  I’ve used it a few times and am consistently impressed with their customer service and genuine concern for my issues.  When I can’t decide to go the doctor or not I give them a call.  I am sure they are more thorough than some doctors… they stick to checklists.  And if you’ve read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, you’ve heard just how effective such lists can be when it comes to medical matters.

After nearly 45 minutes of questions, answers, and advice, my kind nurse suggested I visit the doctor within four hours.  I called my doctor’s office and, long story short, they were too busy.  I sure wish they hadn’t been.  Maybe if I’d had meds last night would not have included more breathing and, therefore, more sleeping.  But, oh well.  It totally could have been worse.  Yesterday my husband’s grandfather had his kidney removed due to cancer and I’m here complaining about my annoying… non-virus, silly voice creating, sleep stealing mystery ailment.  I don’t want to sound as though I’m complaining.  I’m telling a story.  And details do not equate to complaints (which is somewhat like the fact that reason is not synonymous with excuse).

I’ve been working from home since Monday to avoid getting my coworkers sick (and spare them my nasty sound effects), but I decided to head into work this afternoon on my way to another follow-up.  I was mildly embarrassed by my silly voice,  but I enjoyed the chance to get out and about.  And the follow-up was productive (moreso than this cough of mine).  I walked out with two prescriptions and the sarcastic promise of an exam room with my name on it by the next time I visit my doctor.  So far, the jury is out on the expensive medications.  I can, however, say that the cough suppressent/decongestent he gave me is stellar.  And that is exciting.

Any advice for kicking a strong bug like this?  I’ve tried gargling salt water.  Sleep.  Hot showers.  A humidifier.  And some other stuff I can’t remember because it’s late.  I’ll take all the advice you’ve got to give.

Thank you for sticking with me through this lengthy and self-indulgent post.  I am under-slept and over-coughed and I am grateful for your support.  I appreciate your involvement and feedback and advice and concern.  I pray this post finds you healthy and at peace, despite all that rages on in this restless and peace-starved world.  When in doubt, get involved and share a smile.


Fibromyalgia Works for Me: Recognizing My Limit

Fibromyalgia does not rob me of my life, it does not ruin my life, it does not run my life.  Fibromyalgia does, however, affect my life, focus my life, even enrich my life. Fibromyalgia has challenged me to make do with what I’ve got (as far as endurance goes).  And at least once a week (and often once a day) I am tested.  Will I recognize when I’ve reached my limit?  Or will I overdo it?  When it comes to answering such questions… Saturdays are especially tough.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love Saturdays.  I wake up early and anything is possible.  I pick up the kitchen and declutter the dining room.  I enjoy the early morning sun pouring into the living room.  I watch some HGTV.  I prepare for upcoming posts.  I catch up on tweets.  I plan my day.  I pick my Saturday project.  And when Daniel’s up and at ’em I tell him my grand plan for the day and we get started…

We’ll take a trip to Walmart, and (hopefully) Lowes.  We’ll clean the house, do some laundry, and organize a closet.  We’ll rearrange furniture, play the wii, and talk about our week.  We’ll prepare for guests, spend time with friends, and get ready for Sunday.  Individually none of these items sound exhausting, and when we pack ’em in one after the other there’s no time to feel exhausted.  But when dinner time comes and I finally take a seat that’s likely where I will stay until I head to bed.

I get excited just thinking about a project.  So I begin and stick with it until it’s complete, with little regard for how taxing said project may be on my energy level and/or health.  Daniel is the type who recognizes all the work projects entail and, as a result, is less likely to begin (knowing I’ll do that part for him).  We balance each other well.  I start and get excited and he’ll support me and work with me.

Anyway… the point is I am selectively devoid of the ability (or desire) to stop a task simply because I am exhausted. I’m not sure if this has always been the case, or if it’s a “skill” I’ve developed from living with fibromyalgia for over a decade ago.  Either way it’s a a huge opportunity (translated: shortcoming) for me.  Actually, it’s a blessing and a curse.

Since I made it back to work full-time last June, Daniel’s been good about reminding me to pay attention to my to do list and my sleep schedule.  Both have a significant impact on my health and, therefore, are of great importance to him.  Although I sometimes get annoyed when he reminds me of the time or encourages me to take a break, I appreciate his concern and willingness to pick up the slack I leave when I take a break or head to bed.  I am especially appreciative on days like today… a Saturday during which I have NOT overdone it. Perhaps I don’t feel as though I’ve overdone it because I, in fact, have not done much today (not true, I survived a grocery run).  Or, maybe I am not exhausted because of what I have and have not done throughout the week.

Sunday night Daniel and I were in bed and asleep by 9:30.  I can’t even do justice how unusual this is.  Daniel and I would rather read, write, game, organize, eat, yawn, and chat than sleep.  Working full time allows us so few hours together neither of us is in a hurry to get to sleep.  We both choose to live sleep deprived (Daniel more so than myself) in exchange for downtime with each other.  You know how it goes.  It may lead to a few minor disagreements on those days when we’re super sleepy, but the conversations and company are well worth it.  Point is, 9:30 gave me 2 hours more sleep than I typically get and Daniel 3-4 more.

Throughout the week I kept the house more tidy than is typical.  I played “Martha Stewart” each day after work and spent up to an hour tidying things before I collapsed on the couch.  We ran errands instead of bumming around in the evening.  Daniel got caught up on homework and his writing.  We didn’t let life wear us out.  We stayed on top of things.

All-in-all answering the aforementioned questions, “Will I recognize when I’ve reached my limit?  Or will I overdo it?” is rather simple this Saturday:

Yes.  Although I have not yet reached my limit I am prepared to acknowledge when I do.  No, I will not overdo it.  I am learning to pace myself and treat the week like a marathon, not a sprint to be completed on the one day I have with absolutely no reoccurring event.

Fibromyalgia and Frigid Weather

Basically… the two don’t mix.  Luckily, with a positive attitude just about anything goes.

Today was incredibly cold here in my hometown.  It was so cold it almost became humorous listening to myself sing myself a pep talk.  “It’s a beautiful morning.  I think I’ll go outside for a while and smile.  Take in some of that [cold,] fresh air and…”  You may laugh… but you know what?  It worked.  By the time I got to work I was in awe of the beautiful snow.  I was refreshed by my walk through the parking lot.  And I was SUPER grateful for the heat in my office (which I normally find to be rather insufficient).  It was a great way to start the day.

The end of the day was a bit less energizing.  Check out how bundled I am… even now, after I’ve been home for 5 hours:

I've got a turtleneck, a turtleneck sweater, and a scarf. Indoors.

I've got a turtleneck, a turtleneck sweater, and a scarf. Indoors.

G’night fibrofolks.  Take care of yourself and your fibromyalgia during your winter weather.  And remember, there’s no reason it can’t be fun and refreshing.

P.S. I suggest you not choose a day like today to prove to yourself you can walk a long distance.

Fibromyalgia and Walking, Part 2

As is always the case, getting over my pride worked well for me.

In addition to the improvements in my morale and grades (as discussed here), I was reminded how pleasant winter weather could be.  I enjoyed running errands.  I conquered the dread of going to work and/or school and hiking a mile to do the door only to be so exhausted upon arrival all I could do was return to my car and head home.  I could go on, but you’ve had enough.

Before I go on I’d like to reach out to those of y’all who may have been like me… too afraid to admit that a disabled parking permit could have a powerful and positive impact on your daily routine and on what you perceive to be possible… quit being proud, and make use of the tools provided for us.

We (people with fibromyalgia) spend so much time being told there’s nothing that can be done to help us…  So why do we hesitate when we know something will for sure bring us relief?

I did hesitate… and looking back it makes no sense.  Just think about it, pray about it, talk about it (or whatever else you prefer to do to/on/at/about it) and then act.  Or, if you decide not to act get over the idea and move on.

Now, I recognize, this may not be for everyone.  Maybe you like to prove to yourself you can be tough (way to go!).  Maybe you enjoy the exercise more than you dislike the pain (I’ll get to that in a bit).  Or maybe (I pray this is the case) you experience little-to-no discomfort during long walks and have no use for a permit.  If so, hooray!  Be sure to give thanks for that blessing.  I think blessings we don’t give thanks for have a way of wandering off, deteriorating, or turning into something quite the opposite.

I am certainly not trying to peddle an idea or prescribe a treatment.  I, as always, am simply telling my story (mixed with a few things I think to link).  I am not a doctor.  Although… if you could earn a PhD in patientry, patientdom, patientology… or whatever… I’d be a likely candidate.  I was going to say I was an (unpaid) professional patient, but I think the student analogy is better… since they both involve spending money and paperwork.

As promised, back to the exercise bit.  Last October, my birthday gift to myself was to walk more.  And when I say more… I mean even 100 more steps a day.  So, I began wearing a pedometer… not a gugaphonic one.  A cheap green one I got with a McDonald’s salad years ago.  I got sick of the pedometer pretty quick, but now I have a habit of counting my steps (it borders on some sort of neurosis, I’m sure), especially as I walk around the office.  Anyway… point is I started parking out in the parking lot at work, instead of right by the door.  That alone was an additional 600 steps (or 1200 if I left for lunch) a day.  I was thrilled!

Fall mornings are crisp and beautiful.  The sunrise was a perfect backdrop to my morning walk into work.  I’d button my coat.  Ready for the day.  Mull over the morning’s NPR discussion.  Run through my to do list.  All while walking briskly through the parking lot.  (To be honest, some days it probably looked more like limping, but I was proud nonetheless.)

It was morning.  I was walking.  And anything was possible.

By the time I got to my desk my blood was circulating, my nose was chilly, and I was refreshed.  Most of all, I was proud of myself for working my way back into a the sort of thing one does in good health.  I was determined to fight off any flares by being active and challenging myself.

But, a wicked cold spell made its way into town in November and tempered my resolve.  I was back to parking near the door.  Now, this isn’t as awful as it sounds.  In fact, I believe, it was wise given the nature of fibromyalgia.  Walking 300+ steps in the freezing (and I mean well below freexing) cold would have been a pretty stupid way to kick off a work day.  It was in my best interest, and that of my to do list, to minimize walking outside.

Currently I am working my way out of said habit.  Despite the awful cold I am walking my way into the office from the outskirts of our parking lot.  I admit, I am doing so mostly out of necessity, but it’s growing on me.  I have to options… be early/on-time to work to get the close spots, or take the hike and not complain.  Although I try each day to achieve the former I will not complain about the latter.  I am proud of my progress.  And exceptionally grateful for warm clothing.  And trying not to overdo it.

So fibro folks… tell me about your experiences with fibromyalgia and walking.  Do you take daily walks? How do you pace yourself?  Are you able to *gasp* jog?!  Do you use a disabled parking permit?  I look forward to hearing from you.

If you have any questions about the permit process for US locations let me know.  I’d be happy to help.