Today is the fourth anniversary of my daith piercing. That also makes today the fourth anniversary of the last of the debilitating migraines and chronic severe headaches that had plagued me consistently throughout my teens and adult life.
I don’t think I could ever forget the surprise and shock when that migraine— which I had had for five days— was gone within an hour of the piercing being done. I had definitely not expected that to happen!
I also still remember the profound sense of clarity and awareness the following day when I was in the classroom and completely headache-free — an entirely new experience for me.
The niggling fear and suspicion that it couldn’t last and that the next migraine was lurking around some corner, waiting to accost me and steal my new lease on life, was a feeling that took some time to overcome.
That hasn’t happened yet, and while I realise that day might yet come, I no longer actively think about it.
I am so incredibly thankful for the difference in my life that one piercing made. I am also thankful to my professional body piercer for her expertise, and for having taken the time to learn how to use her art for therapy and healing.
One of my most consistent problems with sleeplessness is that I can be totally exhausted, but still unable to actually drop off to sleep.
That’s mostly because of my fibromyalgia, but it is complicated by back pain on those nights when my pain relief medication fails to cut the mustard, as it sometimes does.
Because I know from past experience that prescription sleeping medication causes my whole system to lag, and because of the strong pain killers I need to take for my back as well as my fibro, I feel very strongly about not having those other drugs in my regime.
So, I recently visited my friendly local alternative health practitioner and asked, “What can you suggest to help me sleep?”
She suggested Vetiver Oil, diluted in fractionated coconut oil. The instructions say to apply it under both big toes and to the wrists, to inhale deeply on going to bed, and to reapply on waking through the night.
The first night, I did doze off more easily. I also smelt like I was sleeping in the very damp leaf litter on the floor of a forest that didn’t get enough sunlight. Inhaling it deeply wasn’t anything I needed to do consciously — that was unavoidable! It is not an offensive smell, but it is distinctive and perhaps a little strong.
On the second night I decidedto just go with it under the big toes, and I added a dab or two on the inside of my ankles instead of my wrists – I figured the circulation is near the skin there, too, and I wouldn’t find the smell so strong there. I found that it still helped me to drift off and the smell of the oil was not so pervasive.
On the third night, I followed the same routine as the previous night. I also used some lemongrass oil on my fingers and hands for pain management, as I often do through the day. It wasn’t my intention, but I found the lemongrass balanced and lightened the vetiver quite effectively. That was a happy accident!
I have been following that routine for a couple of weeks now, and while I still don’t fall asleep quickly, I have observed that drifting off is gentler and generally doesn’t take as long as it has done in the past.
Having experienced difficulty falling asleep for as long as I can remember – even before the onset of fibromyalgia, it’s fir to say that any improvement is welcome.
My plans for today are not optional. That is a luxury rarely available to me.
When I woke up, though, I realised my body has other ideas:
Me: “Come on, legs. You can do it!” My legs: “No. We can’t.” Me: “You have to.” My legs: “Fine. But we’re going to make you suffer.” My back: “I’m with them.” My fingers: “Us too!”
I got up and showered. I needed the hot water for my back, but the water hitting my skin was painful.
I dressed, but then had to change into something made from softer fabric that didn’t hurt my skin so much just by being against it.
I downed my medications, hoping they would work quickly. They didn’t.
I drank my coffee, hoping the caffeine would make a difference. It didn’t.
I can’t take any more pain killers for hours. I can have more caffeine, though, so that is definitely happening.
This is one snapshot of one morning. One morning that is complete typical of many others in my life, and in the lives of other fibromyalgia sufferers.
And now, I am off to a full day of rehearsals that I have to attend because I am the director.
Today is going to be an exercise in perseverance and in drawing upon my actor’s craft. The role I play today needs to be motivated and excited, and able to project that motivation and commitment into my cast and crew.
I cannot fall over. I will not fall over. That is, at least, until I get home.
Tell you what, though. I’m glad my other half is cooking dinner, because I’m already exhausted.
I’ve been making my own salad dressings for a while, but have recently changed up one of my recipes with a new ingredient: hemp oil, also known as hempseed oil.
Hemp oil is not the same as cannabis oil. The variety of hemp from which the oil is obtained doesn’t contain any of the interesting qualities that some people seek in the leaves of some of its cousins, but it does possess enormous anti-inflammatory properties due to its high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6 fats. It’s also really good for your skin
I have been using hemp oil instead of olive oil in my balsamic salad dressing, which I use for my lunch most days. The balsamic vinegar and mustard help to balance the flavour of the oil, and combine with the oil to produce a delicious dressing that gives my salad and my body a boost.
Some people make larger quantities, but I prefer to work with small amounts and make it more often. I don’t think that there is any particular health advantage to that – it’s simply personal preference.
It’s a very easy and straightforward recipe:
3 tablespoon hemp oil
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoon whole grain mustard
Simply put it all in a jar or jug, and stir with a fork. Some people might like to shake it to mix it, but shaking a jar causes me pain in my arm for some time afterwards.
If you’re storing leftover dressing in the fridge, make sure you stir or shake it well before using it on your next salad, just to keep the ingredients mixed and distributed evenly.
I use this dressing on a salad full of fibre-friendly foods: dry slaw, mixed leafy greens, capsicum, beetroot, cucumber, roasted pine nuts, and a few cherry tomatoes. I generally add some cold chicken, or occasionally switch that up with some tuna or other fish. And because I love dill pickles and pickled onions, there’s usually one of each of those chopped into the mix for a pop of delicious tang.
Since I began posting about my experiences of Fibromyalgia, a number of friends have asked me to explain what it is. I always start with “I can really only tell you what it’s like for me…”
I was recently introduced to a video by Dr Andrea Furlan, a pain specialist from Toronto, in which she explains the symptoms, possible causes and treatments for Fibromyalgia far better than I ever could. While some GPS are still fairly dismissive of this disease, Dr Furlan explains with empathy and understanding of both the physical and mental effects of Fibromyalgia on those who endure it.
Even though everyone experiences it a bit differently, it felt as though she spent most of the time actually talking about me. This tells me two things: she really knows what she is talking about, and she is a very good communicator.
So, if you want to know more about Fibromyalgia, take the time to watch this video and find out why the people you know with this condition I find it so debilitating.
After two ridiculously hot days –40C or 104F–and a busy first week of the school year, my fibromyalgia pain is going nuts.
It’s currently 11.35pm and still warm out, even though a cool change came through a few hours ago and dropped the temperature by ten degrees in as many minutes. It’s also pouring rain – and I’m not going to complain about that!
I am lying in bed listening to the rain, hoping my pain meds will work quickly, and trying to focus on positive things instead of feeling miserable.
So, in no particular order, here is my list of things I am thankful for tonight: