Pain FULLY Living

Striving each day to live FULLY despite the pain of Fibromyalgia.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Up in the Air: Struggles with Flying, Fibro Flare, and Acceptance

Photo by Skitterphoto
While I have appreciated flying with Delta
Airlines, the long walk to the back of the plane,
being stuffed between to bigger men,
 three tight transfers, and my sensitivity
 to all things in motion,
made for a very challenging trip.

This week, my husband and I splurged on a ticket for me to join him in Pasco, Washington.  Kelley does contract work that causes him to travel about one week each month.  Being I had never been to the state of Washington and he was going to be gone from Monday to Saturday, we decided that I would come along.

Not Prepared

I blame myself (and my brain fog) for how the trip has gone.  After a pretty active and clear-headed week, I found myself very tired and foggy last Saturday.  Being we've always packed a day or night ahead of any trip, I didn't even consider planning ahead.  BIG MISTAKE!  I really haven't been on any long travel trips since before my diagnosis.  The last big trip (driving from Michigan to California and back) was two years ago and the beginning of the unusual, constant, deep pain roving all over my body.  

And so, Sunday, while not horrible, found me not at all motivated or clear-headed when I packed just before bedtime.  My belligerent body, seemingly because it knew we'd have to get up at 4 am, decided then that I didn't need to sleep at all.  And so, I was awake and ready to go by 4:30; however, my zombified brain didn't consider that I didn't have my purse with me until we were nearly at the airport, one hour away from home.  Of course, no identification meant no boarding.

Our text convo๐Ÿ˜–

Good News, Bad News

Being we didn't have flight insurance (something we may have to bite the bullet and pay the extra fee next time), we didn't expect that I would be able to go.  However, Delta, being overbooked for that morning's flight was asking for volunteers to take the later flight.  My husband was able to get them to add me to that ticket at no extra charge to us.  So, off he went, with me driving home to better prepare for my travel. 

It was a bit of a knuckled drive home due to icy conditions on the roads, and I was struggling to keep awake.  I felt like I was in some out-of-body state. However, I made it home safely and was really looking forward to cuddling back into bed for a few hours of sleep.  Determined to get my purse into my backpack so that I had everything ready for later, I looked for it hanging on the hooks in the mudroom.  Not there... So, did I leave it in my car (a bad habit I've gotten into lately)?  Nope.  Where could it be? Then, it dawned on me.  I rode in the backseat of my husband's car (the one we took to the airport that morning) with my granddaughter three days ago when we took her to a waterpark for the day. I walked meekly to the garage where I had just parked it and looked into the backseat; sure enough, there it was.๐Ÿ˜–

Even so, I really didn't let it get to me.  I was actually thankful for the extra time to myself to get some sleep, do some yoga, and just rest, knowing that I'd be stronger for the flight the next morning.

Feeling confident and prepared,
I started my Tuesday morning
pretty alert and energetic.

Let the Games Begin

I felt ready.  Starbucks' non-dairy splurge coffee made me feel like a pro. It wasn't until my short flight to Detroit that I really looked at my tickets.  I was arriving at A5 four-minutes before boarding started for my flight to Salt Lake which was leaving from gate A65.  Hmm... I realized that I was going to have to sprint.  I made it and had time to pee before getting on because I was in one of the last seats on the plane (beggars can't choose better seats).  As I carefully walked down the narrow aisle, guarding my backpack so as not to hit anyone, I saw my seat, middle-stuffing between two bigger guys.  Luckily, I don't mind smaller spaces, or so I thought.  

Boy, I now realize that being confined without ways to stretch really isn't good for my tightly-wound body. It was a long four and a half hours.  I had chosen not to travel by myself while on Bonine for my motion-sickness and forgot my ginger chews, so as the flight progressed, I began to get a strange dizzy-headache that then lead to a hardball forming in the pit of my stomach. During the last 45-minutes of travel,  I did nothing but work on closing my eyes and slow breathing.  I was glad to get off without having to use the little paper bag provided in the seat pocket in front of me. 

The last connection, again a very tight-transition time, caused me to have to get directly on the flight to WA.  I was in the very last row of this puddle-jumper airplane and knew from the get-go that it was going to be a rough trip for me.  I didn't open my eyes until the wheels touched down an hour and a half later.  Meditating got me through the time without throwing up, but my body was one big knot, and it took everything I had to get my suitcase and find Kelley waiting for me just outside the airport's doors. 

A wonderful room to hang out, write, read, and do yoga.
Unfortunately, I'm still feeling like I have
motion sickness.

Not Feeling the Acceptance

I'm struggling with acceptance.  Today is the third day of feeling like I'm still motion-sick with added muscle pain literally everywhere.  I'm feeling so weak, dizzy, light-headed, and nauseous in addition to aggravating, whimper inducing pain at every point of my body. I really had wanted to use this get-a-way to write, read, and practice meditation and yoga while Kelley went off to his job. While I am doing some of that, it's coming hard.  I've been feeling a bit defeated in the whole practicing of acceptance. I have this gnawing doubt that my life with fibro will never get better and that going on Cymbalta just maybe my only option.

But still, I plugged on the past couple of days searching for anything that proves I'm on the right path of rewiring my brain through meditation and mindfulness.  I went down a neuroplasticity and meditation Google research path that took me to an open door of hope.

Photo by milivanily
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction by
Jon Kabat-Zinn is a scientifically
researched 8-week meditation class
that has shown great results for
people with issues like chronic pain.

Have You Heard of MBSR?

I hadn't heard of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Therapy until I stumbled on the research paper titled "Mindfulness- and acceptance-based interventions for patients with fibromyalgia – A systematic review and meta-analyses". The report talks about how participants in 8-weeks of meditation classes of 30-40 minutes a day caused noticeable, positive changes in their brains. This led me to find the developer of MSBR, Jon Kabat-Zinn (who I actually have read his book Wherever You Go, There You Are).  I ended up watching a talk he gave to Google employees on their lunch hour: Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-ZinnFrom there, I found various ways to participate in the 8-week course, but all of them would cost a decent amount.  Then, I stumbled on something amazing!  The course is offered online for free from Dave Potter, a fully-certified MBSF instructor.

I started my preparation for the 8-week class today.  Instead of a printed notebook of the materials as is suggested, I'm creating a digital version.  So far, I have it ready through week 1.  Feel free to make a copy of what I have or follow along with me as I add the upcoming weeks in as I go.  

Click arrows to go through the pages.  
Some pages have links to videos and PDFs.  

I've enjoyed the meditation that I've done through Calm and Jeff Warren, but they tend to be short sessions.  They've given me the thirst for more, and I think this is a good next step.  

Trip Home

In my research, I have also learned that my impromptu travel planning and packing is not the best when you have fibromyalgia.  I've found a few helpful articles by fellow spoonies that I will use for this home trip and those to come.  Also, I'm going to take Bonine which will make me really sleepy, but with Kelley leading me around, I should be okay.

Do you have any travel tricks that make long journeys more bearable and less flare causing?  Have you tried MBSR or meditation to help with your symptoms?  I'd love to learn from you.

Thank you for visiting my blog today. 

I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.  However, as you know,
my new normal means that some times I have to listen to my body and am
not able to follow through as planned. Thank you for your understanding.

Click link Subscribe to Pain FULLY Living Weekly Posts by Email

Friday, January 10, 2020

But....HOW do I Practice Acceptance (My Super Power in Development)

Image by John Hain from Pixbay

Today in yoga class, we had a good giggle.  Just as we were to stretch into our final rest pose, Shavasana, the drill of a maintenance worker started up loudly in the building next door that shared the long side wall of our classroom.  It juxtaposed against the calming, meditative music now taking a backseat to the jackhammer being amplified in the space.  Our teacher, after a few jokes, reminded us that as we began to breathe and set our minds to meditate, we had a great opportunity to accept what we cannot change and continue on. 

Image by windyschneider from Pixbay
I've spent this first week of January with the intention to purposefully practice acceptance of the things I cannot change. What I know is that this is not an innate part of my nature. Neither is it something that I can just decide and then I am.  However, as this little, somewhat silly opportunity to accept what came up, I found that I could do it without much effort due to the groundwork I've laid these past few months with brain plasticity and rewiring.

One surprising tool that has really helped me is the Calm App that I have on my phone.  I had gotten it to help me fall to sleep.  Several people I knew had recommended it for the music and stories which is what I tried first. These past two weeks, though, I began to do the beginner 30 days of meditation training with Jeff Warren.  At 4 days in (Inner Smoothness episode), I learned a new word-equanimity. Its definition is mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.  Learning to not balk or run away from uncomfortableness, but be able to literally (and figuratively) sit with it.

Meditation with Jeff Warren

The thing that has helped me the most was how he guides to "Notice your thinking.  Every time you catch yourself thinking or visualizing and can notice as if from a perch outside, you are strengthening your focus and equanimity muscle." And so, I've been doing this each day when I meditate in bed as my husband is sleeping next to me.  He snores.  So, it could be distracting, but I'm allowing it to be.  Or when Willow, our 15-pound long-hair cat decides to nestle in the area that really makes my leg feel uncomfortable, I allow it and maybe eventually move my leg so that he leaves.     

I am practicing to notice my thoughts (self-talk and/or images) that come up.  I notice if it's a judgment, a plan, a worry, a bracing, a sinking into the past.  I label it and let it go.  Jeff's explanation that the thoughts will happen and that the more we notice, label, and release these thoughts, the stronger we become in doing it.  And then, as we practice doing this during these times of meditation, we then find that we can do this when we go back into our day.

And so, I am beginning to find some positive changes.  First, I look forward to meditation time.  As I've stated before, I have ADD and have always been a doer, so being able to enjoy this is miraculous.  It used to be torture for me.  Second, and the most amazing, is that I'm beginning to do this when something uncomfortable or even painful hits.  

Last week, I had a bought of nausea, dizziness, and fatigue that started with a headache upon waking.  It stayed the whole day and into the evening.  That evening, though, was a special night.  We had tickets (from Christmas) to go see a Michigan State basketball game.  I got dressed to go, but I could just feel that the two-hour drive there, dinner, the game, and drive home, was going to be beyond what I could handle.  I was bummed.  

But, I did not sink into a deep sadness, which has been my norm when the fibro symptoms have caused me to cancel.  I was able to be okay with it.  And my quiet night alone ended up being fine. 

I know I have a long way to go with this, but I'm really seeing positive changes already.  I feel that I  am already becoming flexible and resilient.  I'm learning how to handle this life (even with the symptoms of fibromyalgia) with grace and ease.

Have you tried meditation?  If you're anything like me, this seemed a bit silly, maybe even a bit voodoo-ey. I'm finding now, that it's a concrete practice that's rewiring how I react.  I will continue to explore this topic of acceptance in upcoming posts.  I'd love your thoughts, questions, concerns, experiences to help me in my exploration. 

Thank you for visiting my blog today. 

I am committing to posting once a week on Fridays.  However, as you know,
my new normal means that some times I have to listen to my body and am
not able to follow through as planned. Thank you for your understanding.

Click link Subscribe to Pain FULLY Living Weekly Posts by Email
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