It’s #Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

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Fibromyalgia affects around 1 in 20 people. Although most people have no idea what fibromyalgia is; let alone what it’s like to live with.

So, here’s a brief guide for anyone who doesn’t know anything about fibromyalgia.

What is fibromyalgia?

Its a long term chronic health condition characterised by pain. The pain ranges in severity on a daily basis from mild symptoms to severe pain in changing areas of the body.

The main symptoms are:

Pain throughout the whole body 

Joints and muscles feel stiff

Quality of sleep can be poor

Feeling tired and fatigued 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Extreme Sensitivity 

Cognitive problems, feeling confused, or dazed, sometimes called Fibro fog

Headaches

Depression 

Anxiety 

Painful periods in women 

The symptoms can vary from person to person.

Symptoms can get better or worse from time to time.

Factors that influence this are:

  • the amount of stress you are experiencing 
  • how much daily exercise you have
  • and changes in climate and temperature 

Further information is available on the NHS website.              

If you think you may be suffering from fibromyalgia, consult your doctor or health professional. They will run a variety of tests to get an accurate diagnosis of your condition.

There’s no cure….Yes you did read that correctly; there’s no cure, but…

I’ve lived with fibromyalgia for 15 years and found some times are really tough.

The single most upsetting factor for me has been other people’s perception of ‘living with fibromyalgia’. They almost always get it wrong. So, if you meet someone who has fibromyalgia, tread carefully. Don’t jump to conclusions about how they feel. Listen to them. After all they are living with it on a daily basis.

The positives are my symptoms are still there, but have improved greatly since I was first diagnosed.

I have been able to boost my general health through diet, exercise  and meditation .

This is a short post about symptoms, living with fibromyalgia is another story…

If you would like to read more about what helped me, follow my blog and have a look at my Fibromyalgia Self Help Pages.

Is it possible to stay positive and motivated?

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It’s difficult enough at the moment with Covid19, but when you have a long term condition like fibromyalgia it’s added stress. Especially if you suffer from constant pain on a daily basis.

My most FAQ as a fibromyalgia sufferer is….

‘Why am I in pain again and what will make me feel better?’

In truth there’s no quick fix. It’s going to vary quite a bit from person to person, what can help. How much pain I’m in has a huge impact on this.

“Personally I have found any form of distraction helps.” 

When my pain is very bad watching a film or tv program helps. Even though it is only for an hour or so; if I can be pain free just for an hour it’s really helpful. 

Listening to your favourite music, talking to friends or family via the phone, looking at photos and reading a gripping novel are all ways to distract the mind.

“Another way I motivate myself, particularly at the moment is to set myself small achievable challenges or goals.”

I recently set myself the challenge of growing my own plants from seed this year. I was lucky to be able to buy some seeds and compost, and get them delivered. After sorting out some old plant pots; I filled them with compost and sowed the seed. When my seeds germinated, I was able to watch them grow into mini plants. In a few weeks time, my carer will plant them in the garden.

It’s a great feeling to watch something you have sown yourself growing into a beautiful plant”

My carer set himself the challenge of cooking an authentic Italian meal with ingredients from a restaurant that had closed in the lockdown.  The result is a delicious meal.

“It could be time to try out a new hobby or something you have always wanted to but have never taken the time.”

I enjoy being creative, spending an hour working on making a simple greetings card or learning to paint using a new technique. Being absorbed by a hobby for me really lifts my spirits. Working on a project and seeing it through to completion is really exciting for me.

Even writing my blog is a great way to help put things into perspective sometimes. I’ve written a few emails and letters to friends recently and found it gets me thinking, and distracting the thought process.

Do you have any ideas on how to feel better you could share?

Intro to family history

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Researching my own family tree has uncovered some amazing stories.

If you’re interested in getting started, this week I have a guest post from a friend BM; he’s a real family history guru who has a wealth of experience and knowledge.
So, read on and uncover your own family’s secrets….

A simple guide to family history

Have you watched a programme on TV about someone’s family history and thought I wish I could do that but it looks too complicated?

Well you can start it in a few easy steps. When you have got into family history; you’ll find it so interesting that the impetus will spur you on.

Step 1:

Write down everything you know and arrange it in an easy to refer to format.

Step 2:

Speak to your relatives to see what they know or can find out for you.

At this stage just make notes of any interesting stories that come up – you can pursue these later.

Make a note of any discrepancies without questioning them too -these can also be followed up later.

Your ultimate aim is to reach back in your family tree to about 1911 as useful records are available up to this date.

Step 3:

You can access census records online via a subscription website such as Ancestry, Find My Past or The Genealogist.

Some of these are also available from many library authorities.

They have a wide range of resources including the censuses which for England and Wales for example date back every ten years from 1911 to 1841. Other nations feature as well e.g. the United States and Scotland.

With luck these will allow to compile family groups back to the beginning of the Victorian period.

Step 4:

Repeat step 3 each time clarifying and checking what you know and using whatever relevant resources you can- not only from the internet but physical ones as well.

Finding out about the areas your ancestors lived in and the types of lives they led which will help to explain much of what you find. There are many websites and magazines which can aid you.

You can also go down the route of DNA testing to find modern day relatives.

I hope this will introduce you to a hobby which millions of people are becoming fascinated by.

I’ve found researching my own family story helps you to understand your place in the world and the things that have come to be; as we are at a time when identity has become so important.

Great post BM. Thanks Nick.