Friday, April 1, 2016

Facing Forward: Donna

Facing Forward is a series that shares the lives of people living with arthritis and other invisible chronic illnesses. The goal of the series is to see how we are similar and how we are different - and to remind us to keep moving forward because we aren't alone!

Name: Donna
Location: Scotland
Diagnosis: Fibromyalgia
Age at Diagnosis: 26

How are you currently treating your condition?
I have been through quite a few treatment options before finally finding what works for me. I now take a multi-faceted approach to treating fibromyalgia. A big part of that for me has been following the Vital Plan Restore Program, which is an herbal therapy based protocol designed to help create a healing environment in the body. Part of the program also includes diet changes and I have found all of this to be very helpful to me.

I try to keep stress to a minimum and practice calmness everyday, whether that is deep breathing exercise or meditation. I listen to my body, say no if I feel doing something is too much for me, and ask for help when I need to.

I have also worked hard to restore my sleep, which I think is a must if you want to improve your fibromyalgia. It took a long time but I definitely feel the benefits from getting better sleep.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
I used to be very active but - with hindsight - I now see that I was pushing beyond my limitations most days. This unfortunately resulted in me physically crashing in 2014. I literally went from working one day to being unable to get out of bed the next. It's been a slow and difficult process to build myself back up again, and I've had to give up a lot along the way, but I'm getting there.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
Using heat, regardless of whether I feel I need to or not. I love my heat pad and I use it every day. It helps to keep my muscles relaxed and it is great for reducing pain. I also take a bath every night too for the same reason.

I also use pre-emptive rest and schedule rest into every day, which definitely helps. And I pace all of my activities. I actually thrive on routine and it's been one way I've managed to get my symptoms under control. It makes it easier to know what my baseline is and this stops me from overdoing it.

How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
I try to focus on the present day and take things one day at a time. Each day I simply do what I think will help me feel as well as possible. I also hold on to hope. Although I can have my difficult days, I trust that things will get better for me. I tell myself I am better than I was last year and that I can continue to improve. I also have amazing support from loved ones, and they pick me up when I need it.

If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
Don't push through. Live within your limitations, don't fight them. I definitely buried my head in the sand; I didn't want to admit I was sick and that things needed to change when I was diagnosed.

Do you have a blog you would like to share?
Yes I do. I blog at February Stars, a lifestyle and wellness blog where I share tips and information relating to living as well as possible with chronic illness. This is intertwined with stories from my life and posts related to healthy living.

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