Spring Break

Dana Point Sunset 2
Sunset View from our Dana Point, CA Beach Cottage Rental

No, I didn’t quit my blog. It was Spring Break last week and I am not at a point yet where I have had enough time to backlog and schedule posts for when I’m not at home. ūüôā

Everyone who has ever attended school in America knows that Spring Break is the time of year that you look forward to. The new has worn off the school year, your friends are starting to get on your nerves, and the promise of summer vacation is just around the corner. You want to get away. You¬†need to let go of some stress. As parents, we remember this feeling, and many of us feel the same types of yearning to get away from work at this time of the year. I’m no different. Even though I am currently off work with my disabilities, I had planned a vacation from work for Spring Break. So, we went ahead with it. I’m going to share with you what I learned about traveling with chronic pain.

As I have been sharing on my blog, this time away from work has been about improving my health. My primary focus has been on myself, and finding out exactly what helps me feel better and improves my overall wellness. So, I had BIG plans for this vacation. I have found that sun and warm weather help my symptoms, and I have always had a yearning to be near water, so going to Southern California seemed like a brilliant plan. It’s not too far from home, so the travel time shouldn’t be too hard on my body (I thought). I have spent several vacations there, so I know the area and figured it would be less stressful to try to get around and find what I need. There are gorgeous beaches, sunny weather, and lots of restorative qualities to be found from the ocean and the amazing views. I brought my¬†essential oils, I had my meditation and yoga spot picked out on the deck of the cottage ¬†we were staying at, I even packed apple cider vinegar and local honey to use in the daily morning “tea” I make for myself. All sounds like it should have been a relaxing time, right? Not so much.

What I found was that traveling is just as stressful on my body as work. Being confined to sitting in one space and position for more than about 30 minutes at a time (without being able to get up and stretch or shift to elevating my legs) hurts. So, traveling at all begins the pain cycle. Also, since sleep is an issue for me (in regard to being comfortable enough to not hurt), sleeping in a bed that isn’t the right firmness is also an issue. Although the beach cottage we stayed in was great, the bed in it was not great – for me at least. Now add exhaustion from lack of sleep to the pain. Next, my very fair skinned daughter spent a bit too much time in the sun (the first full day we got there – and the only sunny day) and got a terrible sunburn, which caused her to be dehydrated. Okay, now emotional/mental stress is added to exhaustion and pain, from worrying about her. Should I continue? I also wasn’t able to find great choices of gluten free food that were also free of my other food sensitivities, so I was eating things that caused inflammation to worsen in my body. Finally, with the rain we had there was no way to use the fabulous deck for yoga or meditation, and we were 3 adult sized people and a dog in a 4o0 square foot cottage, so you can imagine there was no space to be found inside to practice either.

What’s the good news in all of this? First, my daughter is fine. We were able to get fluids into her, I used coconut oil and lavender oil to cool and soothe the burn, and she is recovering nicely. Also, I did get to spend time with people I love and see some great Southern California scenery. Lastly, I learned a valuable lesson. I can’t plan for chronic pain. It is what it is. I can do my best to ¬†prepare for it and manage it, but it’s still always there. Does this mean I can never travel again? Of course not. But it does mean that I have to be more aware of what the pitfalls are and how it might affect me. Also, that I may need recovery time after doing so. This is day three after returning home and I am still so exhausted I can barely make it up and down the stairs. I am back on track with my self care, and am hoping to experience some improvement from the pain soon. The main thing is, my attitude is still positive. I know I have the ability to choose my perception of life, and I am choosing to embrace and enjoy every moment as it comes.

Do you have any insights on traveling with chronic pain or Fibromyalgia? Please share!

In love and light, Bobbie

Please note: Products mentioned in this article have not be evaluated by the FDA. The products and information on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult your medical doctor regarding your medical care and never use information obtained from this site as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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I’ve tried everything – now what?!

If you were with me on Tuesday, you read about my ever so enjoyable, recent doctor visit. I promised today that I would expound upon the bit of wisdom that I gleaned from that visit – dopamine levels are important – especially in people with autoimmune issues. When I get potentially valuable info, I tend to be the type that immediately throws myself into research about whether there is more than one source to support the theory; and if so, how best to implement the change. This makes me feel like I have read SO much about the conditions I have been diagnosed with that I have “tried everything.” Keep reading and I’ll share what I have learned about dopamine, what I’ve been doing to increase it, and the results I have seen for myself.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects multiple systems in the body, including the nervous and immune systems (2 systems that contribute to most of my Fibromyalgia symptoms). As well, there have been recent studies that support healthy dopamine levels have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Inflammation is an indicator looked at when diagnosing autoimmune disorders, and one that my doctors have attempted to regulate with medications, with my personal conditions. So, it stands to reason that the good doctor was on to something, and I want to make sure I am producing dopamine optimally. How can I do that naturally? Read on.

MEDITATION.¬†I know a lot of people get put off when they hear this word because it has a connotation of being intangible, unreachable, and maybe even pointless to some. Hold on a minute though. There is not only research to support the overall positive effects of meditation, but¬†even that it has a positive effect on dopamine. I had trouble getting started with meditation, as many of us do, because my brain was so active with constant thought. There was an endless list of “to do’s” that would play over and over in my head. Meditation helps to quiet those thoughts, allows you to center yourself and be mindful, focusing on the now and releasing all the self defeating feelings of failure, inability, lack, and negativity. I have become able to connect to the energy of nature and my surroundings and feel a sense of calm, peace, and joy. There are multiple free guided meditations to be found on the web to help you get started. I also find that it is helpful to play soft music (my personal favorite is Tibetan singing bowls) and to diffuse essential oils to enhance the feeling of calm and tranquility. I typically use a blend of Frankincense and Lavender.

EXERCISE.¬†Duh, right? Everyone knows that exercise is good for everything. However, I have been walking the line between trying to find how much exercise I can do without hurting my self more (even small amounts of activity can cause fibro flare ups for me), and giving me positive results. My answer has been yoga. Not only does it go right along with providing me time to be quiet and reflective, when done in conjunction with a moderate amount of activity, I don’t have as much pain and I am finally noticing some increased flexibility. For instance, I have been using the treadmill, walking at a moderate pace for 3 minutes and then jogging at a bit faster pace for 1 minute bursts, for a total of 20 minutes (including a warm up and cool down) three times per week. I also do about 15 minutes of yoga everyday. I still have the challenge of being much less flexible than most, and don’t have the stamina for a full yoga class, so I choose online instruction. Dailyom.com¬†has a very affordable 21 day yoga body course,¬†and Yoga with Adriene¬†has tons of free instruction on her YouTube channel, just to name a couple I use. Also, if I find I am having extra muscle stiffness, there is an essential oil blend containing blue tansy that when applied topically, gives great relief.

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FOOD. ¬†While I have very specific thoughts about food and the way it affects chronic illness, I am will save that for a future post. Here I will stay on task and talk about it only as it relates to dopamine.¬†Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps the brain synthesize dopamine. Protein rich foods like meats, dairy, nuts and seeds contain¬†tyrosine. Almonds and avocados are also good sources. Oregano oil not only helps to produce dopamine, but it is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties also. Good quality oregano oil can be added directly to your foods to reap the benefits, and potentially curb cravings. Abstaining from foods that contain additives and other toxins will also support your body in producing more dopamine. Cutting out refined sugars is a major player in this as well. I have reinvigorated my commitment to eating a modified Paleo type diet. I prefer to limit my meat intake a bit more than most Paleo eaters, and increase my nuts, seeds, and protein rich veggies. Having been back to this for only a couple of weeks, I’ve noticed less visible swelling in my face, hands and feet, and less intestinal distress.

Again, I don’t feel like I have all the answers, but I do know that I have spent¬†hours researching things that will help me on my road to wellness. The things I have laid out here, have had an astounding overall effect on my day to day life. I feel lighter, happier, and like I am moving toward a place of better health.

Email me if you have any questions (oilinmyhands@gmail.com) or as always, feel free to leave a comment.

Blessings, Bobbie

Please note: Products mentioned in this article have not be evaluated by the FDA. The products and information on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult your medical doctor regarding your medical care and never use information obtained from this site as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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