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I'm Kate.

I have Fibromyalgia, POTS, Osteoarthritis, IBS, CFS, and SVT.

I am humbled by, and grateful for the lessons I learn through, my invisible illnesses.

My Hellish Headaches

HeadacheI lose my stomach after almost every meal, and manage to hide it from nearly everyone.  I can make it through a full day’s work, even though the first few hours are equivalent to a push start by sheer will power (with assistance from family and friends).  I can handle aches, pain, stiffness, dizziness, and fatigue.  Heck, I can even stay happy and upbeat when I feel dreadful.  I cannot, however, stand these cyst-induced headaches.At least with migraines, I can get sick a few times, go to bed in a pitch black room, eventually fall asleep, and wake up the next morning to what I refer to as a headache hangover.  You know, the feeling that you survived having your head beat about with a baseball bat?  The feeling that your brain is bruised and you are thinking through cheesecloth soaked in glycerine?

Migraines feel like a slow death, but my cyst-aches feel like a murder… where I am a witness and the victim.

My cyst-ache comes and goes in an instant.  Often it begins as a stabbing pain from the middle of my brain toward just above my left ear.  Other times it begins as a dull and dizzying pain that fills my skull.  However it begins, I shake.  I get sick to my stomach.  I grow agitated.  I cease to make sense.  My thoughts turn to the absurd.  Time seems endless and flat.  My tongue turns to Silly Putty.  I literally lose my mind.

And then, as quickly as it began, the pain is gone.  I return to whatever I was doing and try to forget the nightmare… until, a minute, day, or week later, when it begins again.

As of now, I have yet to determine if the pain is more frustrating than the uncertainty.

When a cyst-ache begins, nothing feels possible.  Life feels as if it is on pause, and I cannot put things in their proper perspective.  It is impossible to remember what “normal” feels like.  I feel misunderstood… torn between admitting my struggle and faking it.

But I can’t fake it.

Kate with a Headache

I feel like curling up in a ball and crying, or giving up on everything and becoming a recluse.  Expectations feel like the weight of the world and serve as ceaseless reminders of my reduced capacity and postponed dreams.

But, that is not today.  After weeks of almost constant headaches, the last week has been a tremendous blessing… two headaches in ten days?  I’ll take that.  And love it, in fact.

(All pictures by Kate Blaylock for My Life with Fibro.)

Kate Update: Ten Months since Mayo Clinic

In the ten months since my trip to Mayo Clinic I have done many things, too few of which I have mentioned to y’all.  I will now attempt to right that wrong… Twitter-style… in 140 characters or less.  Stick with me.  I know these do not directly relate to my (or your) health, but I will get to that later… I promise. Here goes:

  1. Visit from Daniel’s sister and our only first nephew.  SIL interview.  SIL offer.  No cross-country move. 🙁
  2. Unexpected move to our “other” house. Sad to leave the Douglas. Glad for big yard and a visit from from my youngest BIL.  Sick Daniel.  New carpet.
  3. After much planning (and hard work on my MIL’s part), our lovely lady-pup Notch (with her notched ear) made her way across the country to our rainy town.
  4. Ten wonderful days @ our special place with Sweats’ side of the family.  Animals. Children. Rainstorms. Restaurants. Rides. Water.
  5. We got lucky when a sweet Zoey Lil pup found her way to our home, where she always belonged, in a very round about way.
  6. Four unexpected days, including Halloween, with Daniel and my folks at the Discovery’s STS-133 launch at KSC  WDW.  *cue typical withdrawals*

There you have it… ten months in a half-dozen tweets.

I apologize for the lack of pictures, but I am working on corralling, organizing, and editing what amounts to every digital image in our home (more than there are people in my town).  I’m all over it.  I swear.

Speaking of tweets, do you tweet?  I do. sometimes more often than others.  Be my friend.  Please… Thanks… Bye.

Or, not bye.  Not yet.  Or ever.  I still owe you health talk and such.

As I said before, my health is, by no means, perfect… but I am nonetheless astounded by the scope of my improvement.  I still have days when I am dizzy and my heart makes itself known, but even on those days I have more energy than I did this time last year.

How have I achieved such a significant improvement in my heart condition?

As part of my Mayo-prescribed treatment plan I continue to:

  1. maintain a daily water intake of 4-7 liters
  2. add salt to nearly everything I consume
  3. incorporate cardio-centric exercise into my nearly-daily routine  (Except during the stomach-bug laden last two weeks.  I am tempted to feel ill and lazy, but that’s simply no fun.  So, I am trying to feel well and productive.)
  4. take my medicine, as directed, three times daily

Although the positive results of this new treatment plan exceed my highest expectations, an unexpected side-effect has me learning patience in a most unexpected way.

When a work meeting gets stressful, a family member uses a tone of voice that strikes me as unkind, or I feel someone isn’t giving me the benefit of the doubt I strive to give them, I feel my blood pressure increase.  My vision blurs, I can barely hear over the sound of my heart in my ears, it is all I can do to keep myself from sighing, just to calm my heart.  Far too often I say curt things, but sometimes I manage to, as I say, bite my tongue to save my face.

Lucky for me I am surrounded by folks who love me and understand I am trying to be the best me I can be, within these new parameters.  I’m still finding my limits… some less permissive than they once were, and some quite the opposite.  Mostly, I’m just grateful I have the energy to learn this lesson on patience, and spend more time with my family and friends (and coworkers).

At my next appointment I plan to ask Dr. GH about this whole lack of patience thing, just to make sure I haven’t completely lost my mind.

And, speaking of my next appointment… it is either on December 20th in AZ, January 10th in MN, or both dates in both places.

Confused?  So am I.

Thank you for your continued support and advice.  I am grateful for your selflessness.

Pill Popping and Shopping… Round 2 (because failure is not an option)

I (and some of you) stand corrected.  The pill fob I listed as #2 in my initial pill popping post was a dud.  A cheap, sleek, fairly-feminine keychain, but an awful pill fob.  The lid slides off at the most inopportune times, spilling tiny white pills (in a variety of sizes) all over wherever I may be.  All-in-all the Stainless Steel Key Ring Pill Box was a $3.29 reminder that cheaper is often just that.  Cheaper.

So, to save Daniel and I further embarrassment (and money on wasted medicine),  I spent this evening revisiting my options, and ordered the momma-bear version of #4.

It’s a red  zippered pill case which includes seven vials that will fit in my pocket when I am at work or out to eat.  They come in a larger case that will keep track of my medication on lengthier trips.  I anticipate this will be the ideal, discreet solution and will prove worth the 1,000% increase in my initial investment.

In other news, I have a lot on my mind of late and I want to know your opinion on the subject.  Check back later this week to opine.

Pill Popping and Shopping… A Somewhat Related Find

I found this today, while doing some Christmas shopping at my beloved Blue Ribbon General Store.  Even though I hate giving up my gift-giving secrets, I thought I would share, as it is somehwhat related to my most-recent post.

Medicine Kit

It’s a mini medicine cabinet, stocked to cover all situations.  From headaches, to sleeplessness and paper cuts… with this little gem you’ll be good to go.

My love to all.  And please, be smart.

Image via Blue Ribbon General Store

Pill Popping and Shopping

I admit, I’ve become one of those people.  Someone who must take her medicine, on a regular schedule, for an indefinite number of years, and yet so frequently forgets to take the medication that makes such a difference on her quality of life.

And for this I must pay… in two ways.

1.  By eating my words. I regularly nag my mother for neglecting to take what we call her “breathing meds.”  She is severely asthmatic and tends to only take her medicine on an as-needed basis, even though her doctors stress the importance of a consistent prevention routine.  I am, officially, a hypocrite in one more way.

2.  By spending money. I need to buy a portable pill case.  Something simple I can carry with me all the time.  Far too often I leave my purse in the car and don’t remember to take my medicine until we’re home from dinner.  By then it’s nearly 8:00 and the mandatory four hour wait between medicine and sleep has me up until the wee hours of the morning trying desperately to sit up and stay awake.

Most pill cases are fairly large and hideous, but I’m looking for  a portable option that reflects my taste and fits my lifestyle.  Although I have yet to place an order, I have narrowed down my options and learned something valuable in the process:

There is a fine line between an ammunition-shaped drug culture reference and a Tupperware party.  And that line is, apparently, a prescription pill fob.

Seriously?!  A stash pendant?

And, with that, I will drag my online shopping away from the shady fringe to a whole lot of stainless steel:

1.  Deluxe Pill Fob Necklace ($5-$10)

2.  Stainless Steel Key Ring Pill Box (about $4)

3.  Harry Koenig Round Pull Box (about $10)

4.  Vial Pill Case – 14 Day (about $40)

5.  Ezy Dose Deluxe Metal Pill Fob Key Chain ($5-$10) similar

6.  e-pill MedMemory Pill Carrier (about $40) not pictured

Which would you select?  Do you have a similar product?  Is there something else you recommend I look into?