31 Jan 2013

Fibromyalgia series : Getting a Diagnosis

The elimination Process:

There is no test to detect that the pain and symptoms you are having are fibromyalgia, if only it was that simple! The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is done through the process of elimination, as there are a lot of illnesses and conditions that also mimic the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. A few of these that you could be tested for are 
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / ME 
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Lupus
  • diabetic
  • Glandular fever and anemia (especially if you are a young woman)
  • thyroid disorders 
  • and many more
To help you and your doctor you should make a list of all your symptoms, from the most serious/common to the least, this is help during the diagnosis process. Many doctors go straight to trying to treat individual symptoms not realising that they are all part of one condition.

  • Blood Tests are usually the most common tests you will have to go through when in the diagnosis stage. Be prepared to have your blood tested for pretty much everything under the sun from Vitamin D and iron deficiencies to diabetes blood tests. 
  • You may have tests on your liver to rule out hepatitis.
  • Also there are arthritis panel tests and thyroid panel tests that you could have
  • Another common test is a simple chest xray usually just to check that everything is in order especially if you have been experiencing breathing problems or pains in the chest.
  • There are also other tests that could be carried out if these do not eliminate everything your doctor is unsure of ,but what tests you undergo depends highly on your personal symptoms, I have tried to cover the most common ones.
Physical / hands on examination:

When your doctor is sure that they have eliminated all other possible explanations to your symptoms and they believe it leads to Fibromyalgia  One of the main fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria is the presence of tender points (as shown on the diagram). For a diagnosis of fibromyalgia you have to have at least 11 out of the 18 tender points. Although we know (and doctors should too) that the tender points are not our only area's of pain, it has proven to be the most successful way to diagnoses a person with Fibromyalgia.

Being referred to other doctors: 

Your GP may believe that you would benefit from seeing a specialist to help you with your diagnosis of  Fibromyalgia and managing the pain/symptoms. They may refer you to any of the following
  • Rheumatologists diagnose and treat arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones. This includes fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, back pain, osteoporosis, bursitis, and tendinitis.
  • Pain specialists/pain clinic:  are usually board certified anaesthesiologists neurologists, psychiatrists, psychiatrists, or oncologists with additional training in pain management.
  • Neurologists diagnose and treat disorders of the nervous system. This includes treating common pain problems such as headaches, back pain, muscle disorders, Fibromyalgia, neuropathology.
  • Orthopaedists specialize in the diagnosis, clinical treatment, and surgical repair of bone injuries. They also treat muscle problems and joint tissues -- tendons, ligaments, cartilage.
  • Psychologists diagnose and provide therapy for problems associated with pain, perception, depression, and anxiety.
I hope this has been useful to you to read and that if you are currently looking for a diagnosis that you get one soon.
Also don't forget to leave your own personal tips or even your diagnosis stories below.

Thank you for reading
Take care

28 Jan 2013

A tough week and an announcement

Today's post is not going to be long and there is no real subject as I have been in a flare for the past week and I just couldn't summon the energy to bring myself to write up a post. I have had an okay week despite the crippling pain and I have a possible job opportunity in the pipelines (just waiting to hear back) which is exciting and scary!

From this flare up though I have decided that in the near future I will be doing some posts on putting yourself first , how to deal with a flare up/high pain day, and things that can trigger a flare up. So goes to show even with a bad week positive things can come out of it all.

My last announcement is that Chronically Crafty is now on Twitter! I was using my personal twitter account to post up fibro/chronic pain related things, but I decided to make two seperate accounts to make it easier for me and my followers. I will link the account below and I would love if you could check it out and give me a follow :-)

Sorry for the short post, but I am also going to use this post to ask you all what sort's of posts you'd like to see me writing? Any subject you would like me to cover? let me know in the comment's below :-)

Thank you for reading
Take care

24 Jan 2013

Fibromyalgia series : Finding a good doctor

This week's post is about, how to find a good doctor and what to expect from appointments.

As horrible as it is to face is the fact that not every doctor believes that Fibromyalgia is a real illness, some believe that it is a 'wastebasket diagnosis' - a sort of rubbish bin where people who they consider hypochondriacs who complain a lot are thrown and given the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia just to shut them up.

Luckily for us Fibromyalgia is becoming a more recognised medical condition, there is there are a lot more supportive believing doctors than there was a few years ago, but there are still some out there who can be horrible, so be prepared.

Finding the right doctor:

The average patient see's three to four different doctors before even getting on the right track for the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.
  If your Doctor does not believe in Fibromyalgia make an appointment with a different doctor and if need be move on to another surgery, you need to find a good doctor with a track record of caring and supporting their patients. This may seem a bit harsh but the truth is the road to recovery is not an easy one, you need to be able to partner up with your doctor during the journey to good health and management. 
  • Ask your friends what doctors they see, if they sound like they take time with their patients, they listen, understand and are open-minded you've probably find a good doctor and see about registering with their surgery.
  • If you are in the UK, FMUK have lists of support groups around the country where you could talk to people in your area and see which doctors they recommend.
  • You could also find Fibromyalgia support websites and forums in your country/area and reach out to people that way to see which doctor's they have found are good and that believe in Fibromyalgia.
You don't need to waste the little energy you have on people who do not believe your sickness and pain, even if they do have 'Dr' before their name or not. save your energy and strength for getting better.

Your Doctor's appointment:
  • The first thing is to prepare yourself, make a list of all your symptoms from the  most concerning to even the smallest thing, remember that everything is important to tell the doctor. 
  • Try not be nervous or discouraged just because another doctor didn't believe you. Not every doctor is the same, some are very open-minded and will think outside the box. 
  • Doctors are there to help you, they should listen to you, and be interested in how long you have had them, it is important to take your time and list all your symptoms, and anything you are concerned about.
  • Doctors should permit and encourage family/friends/partners to come with you to appointments as there may be something they have noticed about you that you hadn't noticed and they can be there to back you up and support you.
  • If you are sure you have Fibromyalgia, take some information with you , although they are doctors they may not be aware of Fibromyalgia and they should be eager to read and to look into treating you with things that they may have not considered.
  • If you have not had recent blood work done your doctor should order them, since there are a lot of things that the doctor needs to rule out since Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of elimination and there is not a test for it. I will touch on what blood work you can have done, more in next week's post.
I hope that this post has been useful for you, and that your journey to find a good, understanding doctor is an easy one, just remember to not give up hope. 

Make sure to look out for the next post on getting a diagnosis next Thursday!

Thank you for reading
Take Care 

21 Jan 2013

How to survive the winter months.

I've decided that Monday's posts will be any topic about chronic illnesses and Thursday's posts will be dedicated to the 'Fibromyalgia mini series' that I am working on. I'm doing it like this to break it up a bit as I am aware that I have a wide community of people with lot's of different health/chronic conditions and not just Fibromyalgia.

Since the weather in the UK has been very cold, damp and there's been lot's of snow around, I am going to give you all some little tips of mine to survive the cold weather.

  • Drink lot's of tea and hot drinks : Nothing warms me up quicker than a cup of tea. There are so many various flavours to try if regular tea isn't for you, my favourite has to be green tea with Cranberry. Plus tea is very good for you and carries many health benefits too

  • Time to get cozy : Lot's of blankets, comfy Pyjama's, a big fluffy dressing gown and slippers are essentials in the winter I have found. I am nearly always wrapped in a blanket whether it is whilst on the sofa watching tv or even eating my dinner, it just helps to keep you warm, especially if you're like me and your extremities get cold easily and are impossible to warm up.

  • Thermal tights and leggings! : These things have been a god send to me this winter. They have a fleece like lining to help keep the heat in. I have worn them out in the snow with a skirt and boots and I didn't get cold legs. I know there are lots of brands out there, so if you can't find them in stores (I got mine from Matalan) they can be found on ebay, or Amazon.

  • Heat it up : heated Wheat bags, Hot water bottles and heat pads. Heat tends to work best on my aches and pains (but cold works on my shoulder pains) so investing in heat pads was a good idea for me. And now during winter I am so glad I did, there is nothing worse than getting into a cold bed whilst your whole body aches. I heat up hot water bottles an hour before I go to bed and leave them in my bed. So I have a nice warm bed to go to, and I tend to take my wheat bags to bed with me too, to put on the certain area's that are worst.

  • Take a warm bath : At the end of the day the best way to warm up and relax is to take a long soak in a warm bath. You can get some great muscle relaxing bath salts and bubble baths to make your bath even more comforting to your body. It also gives you time to switch your mind off , lay back and relax to some music or read that book you keep meaning to start.

Winter months are all ways a hundred times worse for us with Chronic pain and illnesses  our joint's stiffen and hurt more with the cold and damp weather. Try to stay warm and only leave the house when necessary. Not to mention trying to avoid the cold's and flu's that are going around with our poor immune systems (check out my post on it here).

Took my Dog out in the snow with her winter coat! 

What's your best tip for surviving these winter months?let me know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading
Take care

17 Jan 2013

Fibromyalgia series : What is Fibromyalgia?

I originally planned to write this one post covering, what Fibromyalgia is, how to get a diagnosis/how to deal with doctors and for the newly diagnosed but when writing up I realised it would be too long so I have decided to split it down and cover each thing in separate posts.

What is Fibromyalgia ?

Fibromyalgia Syndrome. At first it can seem a little intimidating and a mouthful and a half but broken down it makes sense. 'Fibro' mean's  fibrous connective tissue (Tendons and Ligaments), 'My' means muscle, and 'algia' means pain. The word syndrome means a collection of symptoms that when  they occur together identify as an illness.

What causes Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is believed to arise from a variety of factors, it is most commonly from some kind of trauma, accident, infection or injury, though the exact cause and reasoning for the illness arising is unknown and there is still being research into it. Though researchers believe that various factors may contribute to Fibromyalgia, such as Psychology,Physical,Nutritional, biological and environmental factors.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms:

The symptoms with fibromyalgia seem to be endless, and there works out to be roughly over 60 different symptoms that people with Fibromyalgia have been known to suffer from. I am just going to list some of the most common main ones or I will be here all day.

Physical Symptoms that can occur :

  • widespread pain
  • numbness and tingling 
  • extreme Fatigue
  • headaches/migraines 
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome/Irritable bladder
  • Painful PMS
  • Morning bodily stiffness
  • Intolerance to cold/heat
  • Poor Stamina
Psychological symptoms that can occur :
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • sleep disturbance
  • Cognitive defects such as 'Brain/fibro fog'
Some good new's Fibromyalgia is not a degenerative disease, it does not cause deformaty, and you can not die from it. 

Tender Points:

Tender points are area's of extreme tenderness in specific locations, usually at the junctions of muscles and the bone.They may be exquisitely painful when they are pressed, but otherwise they may not cause pain. Tender points are a key part of getting the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. ( which I will talk about in my post on getting a Diagnosis).
Look out for my next post in this series next Thursday:-)
Thank you for reading
Take care

14 Jan 2013

How to be Happier

I don't know what's gotten into me recently but I have had a  bad week or two with just not feeling happy. I don't know if it's just cause of the poor weather we've been having in England recently, or if it's the whole anti-climax from Christmas and the New year celebrations and now it's back to reality. But after speaking to a few people I found out I was not alone, a lot of people had been struggling to pick up there mood recently.

So whatever has been getting you down whether it be due to pain, the appalling weather, the 'January blues' or just a bad day, I have listed a few things you could do to help lift your mood :-)

  • Listen to some music : Music can do a lot to our emotions, it has been found that a slower tempo will relax you, whereas a heavy tempo will let you work through anger and enables you to get negative emotions out of your system.
  • Remind yourself of  what you have : During busy day to day life it is easy to find yourself wishing for things, take a moment or two, to remind yourself how lucky you are with the things you do have in life.

  • Keep in contact: January is always a busy month, and we often find ourselves forgetting to pick up the phone or to go out to coffee with people you haven't seen in a while. don't isolate yourself behind a computer screen or television all the time, it is nice to get some face to face contact when you're able too.

  • Breathe away bad vibes: Try to take up doing some meditation or maybe some yoga to cleanse your body and mind. Also even just 10 minutes of yoga a day can help to tone up your body over time. 
         If meditation or yoga isn't for you, take a moment and Inhale slowly and deeply for five seconds, then exhale for five. You’ll breathe yourself into a more affirmative mind-set

  • Eat Fresh : Eating fresh non-processed foods can make you feel better, whereas fatty and sugary foods can make you feel groggy and weighed down. Citrus fruits have been proven to improve your mood.
  • Don't be too hard on yourself : nobody is Superman, no matter how much they think they are. We are not able to do every task given to man in a day. It is okay to not complete your to do list in a day. You can only ever do as much as you can do. Don't beat yourself up about things, you did the best you could , and tomorrow is a new day. 
I hope some of these tips can help you to get into a more positive mindset and help you fight through the January Blues (or whatever is getting you down).

Leave a comment below of the things that make you happy , I'd love to hear them :-)

Thank you for reading.
Take Care 

10 Jan 2013

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an essential especially at this time of year. Winter 2011 is when I was first diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency and I was constantly told by people that 'I need more sun', which is true but during the dull English winter months it isn't easy to keep Vitamin D levels High, so here is the low down on 'The Sunshine Vitamin'.

Where do we get Vitamin D from?
  • Sunshine - We get 80% of our vitamin D from the sun on our skin, which is fine in the summer months but now we are faced with cloudy days and lack of sunshine. Exposing the skin on face and arms to 30 minutes of sunshine daily (without sun cream) produces enough vitamin D, (less time for fairer skin).  Take advantage of any sunshine you see during the day and take a short walk.
  • SAD Lamps/happy lamps - There are other ways to boost up your Vitamin D levels such as using a SAD lamp in your office or bedroom for at least half an hour a day. Check with your GP before to see if this would be necessary before you go out and buy one.
  • Food - You could also munch away on Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Mushrooms and eggs as they have of Vitamin D in to help raise your intake
  • Supplements - You can buy vitamin D3 supplements in your local drug store and most multi vitamin tablets contain Vitamin D3 , just make sure to check. 
What does Vitamin D do for our bodies?
  • Helps to absorb calcium into our system
  • Healthy bones
  • Helps to repair and build body tissue
  • Gives you energy and boost your mood
  • Helps to fight against colds/flu
Signs of a vitamin D deficiency:

Recommended daily intake is between 10-15mcg (400-600 international units)
  • Muscular weakness
  • Fatigue/ easy tiring
  • frequent infections
  • depression 
If you think you are suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency contact your GP and ask to have a blood test to check your Vitamin D levels. A deficiency is a serious condition and if you notice any of the symptoms listed above please seek professional help, but also it is possible to have too much Vitamin D and it can also make you ill, so make sure to check with your doctor if you are concerned. 

Thank you for reading
Take care

7 Jan 2013

How to not get sick!

We all know when you have a chronic illness or just a generally poor immune system that it is super easy to catch an illness even when you're miles away from one, and a simple cold can knock you sideways more than it would for any other person and last double the time too!

I thought since everyone I know are getting some kind of flu, cold, virus and sickness bug going, I would write up a few tips to help you avoid catching something. These are things I will be definitely be doing as nearly all my family are ill with the flu, and that is something I don't need on top of my fibro pains and the bad weather.

  • Don't reach for Vitamin C - Studies have shown that we all tend to have enough vitamin C in our diets (unless you have a really poor diet) and if you're going to take any extra vitamins this flu season, it should be Vitamin D to support our immune system as our levels are much lower due to there being less sun light in the winter.
  • Wash those hands - Cold/flu bacteria and germs are spread by touching contaminated surfaces such as doors and handles - where the bugs can last for over 24 hours! The best way to avoid picking up these nasties is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water throughout the day, but as this is not always possible I find using antibacterial hand gels are perfect for on the go. 
Perfect for on the go, and at the moment only £1 from
  • Spice things up - Adding spice like Cayenne pepper to your meals can help fight away a cold by thinning mucus and helping you breathe easier. Also adding garlic to foods can zap the cold viruses that lead to infection. Though this may help fight viruses remember that spices can be harmful to those of us who suffer from IBS and sensitises that cause flare ups, try to avoid these spices if they are going to harm you.

  • Some Bacteria is good - Studies show that taking a daily dose of friendly bacteria (Probiotics) can help to reduce the duration of a cold by days. Probiotics can also reduce the chance of getting an infection especially for children, elderly and those with chronic conditions/ weaker immune systems. You can now get probiotic daily drinks, and yoghurt's that makes it so much easier to take.

  • Sleep it off-  With a Chronic condition, having insomnia is a common side effect, so when you have a cold/flu it will be a hundred times harder to get some sleep, but studies have shown that our bodies tend to fight off germs better when we are asleep so it is recommended to try and get eight to ten hours sleep a night.

  • Keep your distance - Although it may not be possible to avoid all human contact when people are sick, if possible try to keep away from people who are already sick, don't make contact unless it is unavoidable. 

  • Get the Jab-  I know with my local doctors people with chronic illnesses/ weaker immune systems are eligible to get the flu jab free on the NHS , but please check with your doctor if it is safe and a good idea to get the jab. It works for some, but affects each person differently.
So they are my tips to try and avoid getting sick on top of our chronic illnesses, I hope you all have a wonderful start to the new year.

Thank you for reading
Take care

3 Jan 2013


Happy new Year to all you lovely people!

I don't see myself as one of those people who decides on resolutions and way's to 'improve' myself, though I do like the idea of a new start/ a new attitude of life starting at the beginning of the year.

I have thought lot's about how I want 2013 to be, what I want to achieve and how I want the year to pan out.  With the past year not being my greatest though I think it started to pick up a little towards the end, I am determined to make this year (and many years to come) a good one with experiences worth remembering.

I want to treat my body well, I know it will never really be as healthy as it should be, and it will be nearly always at war with itself but that doesn't mean I can't treat it well.

  • I can still start to put good foods into, cut out processed foods and try going dairy free, cutting out gluten and make sure I drink lots of water and green tea. 
  • I can learn to let myself rest when I need to and know that, that is okay. It's better to rest and recover that hurt and destroy my body more.
  • I can still take myself out for a walk everyday, make sure I exercise a little every day, even if that is a 10 minute walk round the block or just pottering around the house.
  • I can challenge myself to keep myself and my brain active.
So being kind to my body is going to be an important thing this coming year and also I hope to,
  • become more socially active, see friends more and keep in contact.
  • Find myself a job, and if that's not yet reachable I want to be able to start doing some voluntary work, get myself back out into that big wide world that I am scared of.
  • Last but not least is to keep blogging, keep my facebook page going, and get more things for sale on my etsy shop , and develop more as a health activist for Fibromyalgia and chronic illnesses. 
So here's to a good new year, I know we will all do well this year and I am proud of each and everyone of you for being strong and hope you face this new year with great plans and a huge smile!

Let me know what your new year's resolutions/goals are for 2013 ?

Take care and stay strong