A different view of the world, having empathy

above abstract background desert
Photo by Mariusz Prusaczyk on Pexels.com

For most of us, our lives are basically pretty boring and mundane.

But what if one day you woke up and everything had totally changed?

Sometimes for a brief split second we have a thought and visualise it becoming reality.

How strange and unusual it feels.

Just for a moment now,

stop 

and take yourself to that thought.

                                 💭  💭  💭  💭  💭  💭

What did I think of?

I imagined I was free of fibromyalgia

and visiting the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

I’m looking out onto a perfectly blue sea; staying in a floating hotel 🏨overlooking the reef. I’m going snorkelling around the reef; an I was getting an underwater camera 📸ready to take pictures of the coral reef and the fish.🐠🐟

How did I feel ?

Totally free and like I was visiting a giant tropical fish tank. Swimming around the coral reef, the water was warm. The coral looked like a fantasy underwater garden; the different colours changing as I swam past. 🏊‍♀️

person takes photo of tortoise
Photo by Richard Segal on Pexels.com

I hope I have been able to illustrate how it feels to be totally free and able to do anything you want.

The opposite is true living with an invisible illness like fibromyalgia. Plans are broken all the time;

constantly letting others down because your illness is so unpredictable.

Just meeting a friend for a meal is fraught with problems.

Planning what type of food you can eat;

Could it trigger my IBS?

Does the restaurant have chairs with padded seats that are comfortable to sit on for about an hour or more?

Could it start my lower back pains if I am forced to sit on a wooden chair?

On the day I planned to go out, I woke up with pain in my head and feeling disoriented, I’m unable to drive. The meal is cancelled.

Now you are thinking;

and perhaps you’re feeling sorry for anyone with an invisible illness.

Having empathy for someone is a better response; rather than sympathy.

Or to explain this in a better way a quote from the novel,

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.”

Just putting yourself in that persons shoes can give some insight into our version of living; our different view of the world we face on a daily basis.

Perhaps now you could repeat the above exercise, but this time, imagining you have fibromyalgia.

I’ll start you off with how my day can start….

You wake up and you’re legs are aching, as you move to get out of bed a muscle in your back twinges in a spasm. Your in intense pain for a moment, luckily the pain softens. You manage to get out without any other area going into spasms. As you start to get dressed your head feels achey. Your chest feels painful as well…

A great way to start the day and I’ve not got to work yet!

On the beach 🏖

bird s eye view of ocean during daytime
Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels.com

It’s a wonderful feeling walking along a beach; watching the sea touch your toes as you walk.

I enjoy walking all year round winter and summer.  It’s a good way to exercise and keep the weight off.

There’s no better time to start exploring new surroundings on foot during summer.

Being a fibromyalgia sufferer, my joints feel less painful and movement gets easier during the warmer months.

If I can try to increase my exercise by walking a bit further each day in summer. It can help to prepare for when autumn and winter limit my movement. 

I first started walking regularly before I had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  I had been suffering with lower back pain, which had got progressively worse.  I had been unable to work and my doctor said I need to go to physio first and suggested walking.

At the time I thought it was really unhelpful advice as I could barely move, let alone walk anywhere!  But after the physio got me mobile, I started with short bursts at first of 5 to 10 minutes, progressing to longer walks.  Now I do a regular walk every day and have not suffered from back pain so much; I also have more energy to do things.

beach water steps sand
Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

I look forward to my walk everyday, sometimes twice a day if I’m not too tired later on. I am fortunate that I live near a park and I can vary my daily walks through wooded areas and quiet residential streets.

I usually spend about 25-45 minutes on each walk and vary the terrain. On really cold or wet days when my symptoms are worse, I go for a walk at a local covered shopping centre, which means I still get exercise but I’m not exposed to the elements as much as outside.

If you have started walking recently or plan to begin and have not exercised recently you may want to consult your doctor or health professional beforehand.

If your joints are very stiff it might help to try gentle exercise at your local heated swimming pool first. Exercising in water supports the body and would free up joints. If you are a wheelchair user some pools have special equipment to access the water easily.

Throughout the UK free regular guided walks are provided by  Walking for health  which is funded by the UK People’s Postcode Lottery and Macmillan.  They offer different short walks for beginners which are for 20-30 minutes long. The route you walk over is easy terrain as they are specifically designed for people who are not very active. Some walks are suitable for wheelchair users and people with buggies.

If you are a wheelchair user the UK website Walks with wheelchairsis dedicated to routes for wheelchair users.  All walks have been tested by wheelchair users.

The NHS Walking for health site gives helpful advice for anyone wanting to start walking.

Motivate yourself ? and lose weight….

appetite apple close up delicious
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you’re trying to lose weight your probably also trying to find the answer to this question.

It’s even more difficult to do when you’ve got a chronic illness, like fibromyalgia, sapping all your energy and enthusiasm.

I know I lack motivation.

It’s something I’ve been trying to unlock the secret to.

It’s especially true for my diet.

Since my carer went on a low fat diet recently and lost a lot of weight. I’ve also cut back on saturated fat, cheese and cake.

sliced cheese on brown table top
Photo by NastyaSensei Sens on Pexels.com

Now I try to eat low fat alternatives, which is not always easy.

My body wants to eat snacks and other unhealthy food.

I asked my carer how he managed to stay motivated enough to only eat certain foods.

He said he eats enough at meal times to feel full up and only snacks on fruit and healthy alternatives, when he is hungry.

He added.

Once your mind is set on achieving a target weight it’s easier to get motivated to keep working towards it.

Regularly checking your weight and keeping up exercise  which helps to keep the weight down.It’s obviously a formula that’s working for him.

But everyone is different and what works for one person is not necessarily going to help someone else.

You may remember my post about Keeping Positive and Motivated with Fibromyalgia from earlier in the year. I suggested a number of ways to reprogram the mindset, using positive thinking.

I read recently that the opposite is true for some people. Looking at things in a negative way motivates them more. Although I find it difficult to recommend using this technique to motivate, due to the downward spiral of thoughts it can trigger.

I have noticed that it has worked for me in the past. For instance the negative comments of others inspire me to prove them wrong. When someone says,

”You can’t achieve —————”.

”You’re be unable to complete ———“.

I will always prove them wrong and work really hard to achieve that target and surpass it.

Its a bit like us fibro warriors when we pretend to be well and not ill. We’re constantly striving to show we can do things, we want to engage in life and contribute.

To sum up, choosing the best way forward to motivate yourself is something that can be down to trial and error.

A period of experimentation could be helpful to find the way forward. Loosing weight is down to choosing the best motivational techniques for you.

assorted sliced fruits
Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com

On reflection from…

black withered tree surounded by body of water
Photo by Kyle Roxas on Pexels.com

So, you think you know all about fibromyalgia.

OK, tell me what your understanding of fibromyalgia is…

It’s a chronic illness,

With no cure,

It’s an invisible illness; because the pain or symptoms a sufferer has are not visible.

It predominantly effects women but also some men,

What are the main symptoms?

it’s not a definitive list because fibromyalgia symptoms can be combined with other illnesses which can in some cases magnify the symptoms.

Pain throughout the whole body; the pain can vary in intensity and type.

Joints and muscles feel stiff

Poor quality of sleep

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

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

How does fibromyalgia effect your daily living?

Everything I do from buying groceries, doing household cleaning, ironing clothes and cooking meals.

Using the example of household cleaning; my carer does the hoovering when it involves moving furniture. I can do some, but it varies how much I can do from day to day with fluctuating pain levels.

I wanted to reflect on my previous post partly to think about what has changed and how it can be improved.

I’m pleased that others with chronic illnesses and fibromyalgia liked my other fibromyalgia related posts. Thanks for your likes and comments, which are really encouraging.

I’ve been in situations with others not understanding what fibromyalgia/invisible illness/a chronic illness is and how it effects me.

I started my blog originally to give others some insight into what it’s like living and managing with fibromyalgia.

But, apart from surviving the constantly fluctuating illnesses and pain associated with fibromyalgia.

The main problem for me is,

getting others to understand that having 

fibromyalgia

means I have limitations on what I can do.

It’s not just one thing that’s affected

it’s everything, every day, all the time.

There’s a lot of ground to cover helping others understand what fibromyalgia is, but hopefully after reading my post you will be some way towards it.

Further information is available on the NHS website.  

If you think you may be suffering from fibromyalgia, consult your doctor or health professional.

Going back to the fact there’s no cure.  I’ve lived with fibromyalgia for 14 years and found although some times are really tough. I have been able to boost my general health through diet, exercise and meditation.

The positives are my symptoms are still there but have improved since I was first diagnosed. I can now do some hoovering!

First man on the moon 🌓 looking back….

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For all you space enthusiasts out there. This week I want to reflect on the amazing achievement by man. 

Saturday July 20th marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

It was on 16th July 1969, the astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were launched into space.

The Apollo 11 mission took off in the rocket Saturn V from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The spacecraft had three sections which performed different roles throughout the mission.

The main part, the command module, was used throughout the mission by the crew and was required for their return to earth.

The service module provided power, oxygen, water and electrics; for the command module.

The luna module, Eagle was used for landing the men on the moon and the take off from the moon to join the command module in lunar orbit.

Only two men Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, at the Sea of Tranquility. It was Neil who said

“Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Michael Collins stayed in the command module Columbia to keep it flying until he was joined by Neil and Buzz to return to earth. He kept vital communication links going and took photos of the moon, during this time.

The first man to take the first steps on the moon was Neil Armstrong.

As he stepped onto the moon he said the famous words

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Neil was accompanied by Buzz Aldrin and together they put up the American flag, collected moon rock, carried out experiments and left a plaque on one of Eagle’s legs with the words,

“Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

After their moon walk they rejoined the lunar module and ascended into space to join Michael in the command module for their return to earth. All three of them joined the lunar orbit to enable them to return to earth. They arrived back in the Pacific Ocean on July 24th.

The space mission had taken 8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds.

sky space moon astronomy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It got me thinking back to my visit to the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, some time ago.

It was an exciting place to visit for a space enthusiast.

I remember as we drove out there, it was very remote; the road seemed to get less and less busy as we approached.

During our bus tour of the centre we saw the launch pad. We were able to view the huge Vehicle Assembly Building where the Saturn V rocket 🚀was constructed.

Our guide explained the incredible size of the building, being one of the largest in the world by area.

My most vivid memory was standing next to the Saturn V rocket 🚀and having a photo taken in the Florida sunshine.  

I also remember being encouraged to stand by a large lake with alligators 🐊 in it for a picture! Happy memories!

It seems hard to believe now; I visited the place that Apollo 11/Saturn V rocket launched from, that took men to the moon. An amazing day looking back.  

Do you have any memories of that day? Or thoughts about if you were not around then, like me?