Thursday, September 19, 2019

Road Mapping The Hazards Of Pain And Averting Crisis This Fall

As we descended the Rockies, marking the end of our annual respite, my husband and I were blasted by the summer heat. Yet, I am grateful for the opportunity to renew my spirit, comfort my body, and bring calm to my mind because of my shared experience with the ever changing temperament of nature.

As we travel across the flatlands, which are alive with corn fields and roads lined with bright yellow sunflowers, I am reminded of the purpose of a Midwest summer, its sun, color, and growth. Yet, I am also aware summer will soon surrender to the crisp chilly air of fall and the harvest moon.

Some of us living with chronic pain will see an uptick in our symptoms as a result of the changing season. So, as summer transitions into fall so does our need to adapt. 

Reflections on the Road from Celeste’s Photography©

To map out a course of action 
and follow it to an end requires courage.” 

~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Not every day presents a crisis of earth shattering magnitude. (See “Day Twenty-eight.”) However, those of us who experience chronic pain do have challenges to overcome on a regular basis making it important to be aware of system breakdown predictors. Factors apparent in a total system breakdown include a loss of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual safety net (the four-seated teeter-totter we discuss in this series of books). If we are aware that mounting daily stressors are precursors to a crisis, can we be better prepared should a crisis occur?

Symptoms that risks are mounting:

·        We become short tempered.
·        We don't feel rested for several days in a row.
·        We have more difficulty than usual concentrating.
·        We feel overwhelmed and without resources.
·        Our pain is not being managed adequately.
·        We struggle with tasks that we normally manage well.

What can we do when we find a consistent pattern that could be leading up to a coping failure? We can:

·        Delay chores or break them down into segments.
·        Approach each day individually and break it down by each hour if necessary.
·        Summon help from support system members or healthcare providers.
·        Give ourselves permission to rest.
·        Change what we can, and let the rest go.
·        Accept that some days doing the minimum allows us to charge our battery and prevent a total breakdown later.
·        Focus on our successes.

What can I add to the list of warning signs?

Excerpt, Broken Body, Wounded Spirit: Balancing the See-Saw of Chronic Pain, e Fall f Day Three
Available on Amazon and all major outlets in paperback and Kindle.


Other articles you might find helpful:

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

How Aware Are We? Fibromyalgia And Aggravating Conditions

Courtesy Celeste’s Photography©

Many things can make our fibro symptoms worse.  So, we should ask ourselves, “What am I doing, or not doing, that adds to my misery?” “How can I identify and manage perpetuating or aggravating factors?”


This blog post, Fibromyalgia Awareness And Aggravating Conditions, originally appeared May 5, 2016 on ProHealth. With ProHealth’s permission, I am sharing it in its entirety here on The Pained Ink Slayer.


May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month. And what a month it is! In many parts of the US, spring rains of April have brought an environment exploding with color and texture as saplings emerge, promising hope and feelings of rebirth.

All these things make May a wonderful month to raise awareness for fibromyalgia. We will see many campaigns across social media platforms, and we should all contribute in some way, if only to share it with someone else.  However, we should also remember, as the month begins to warm, other things need our attention.

As the season beacons us outdoors, our activity increases, as it should.  We will experience the reality of spring storms and, if we aren’t paying close attention, weather changes that can affect us. We may, and probably do, have overlapping or co-existing conditions that put us on red alert, but we must pay attention because while our emotional well-being often improves by getting outside, not all conditions bode well with sudden surges in physical activity.

Three reasons for us to remain aware:

1.     When our spirits are high, we tend to ignore warning signs of an impending problem.
2.     Managing all conditions, not just fibromyalgia, is necessary.
3.     Awareness of symptoms improves the likelihood that we get the right treatment for the right problem.

According to the American College of Rheumatology, having other rheumatic conditions increases the risk of developing fibromyalgia. Dr. Robert Bennett has suggested to me that fibromyalgia is usually accompanied by another painful disorder as outlined in the Alternative Criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia of which he is lead investigator.

While some of the following may not be directly related to FM, they should be considered as aggravating conditions if you have been diagnosed.

Aggravating and Possible Overlapping Conditions

·        AIDS/HIV infection
·        Allergy
·        Autonomic nervous system problems (neurally mediated hypotension, loss of heart rate variability)
·        Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or RSD
·        ME/CFS or Gulf War syndrome
·        Headaches, severe
·        Hypometabolism – adrenal insufficiency, insulin resistance, reactive hypoglycemia, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, thyroid resistance
·        Infection – candidiasis (yeast), viral, or bacterial
·        Inner ear dysfunction
·        Irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut syndrome
·        Mouth problems associated with fibromyalgia (dry mouth, teeth grinding, TMJ)
·        Multiple chemical sensitivity
·        Musculoskeletal problems – myofascial pain syndrome, piriformis syndrome or sciatica, plantar fasciitis, carpal or tarsal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis
·        Neurological disorders – costochondritis, degenerative spine and/or disc disease,
·        Multiple sclerosis, neuralgia (nerve pain), peripheral neuropathy, thoracic outlet syndrome, restless leg syndrome
·        Psychological distress – anxiety and/or depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
·        Urological problems – vulvodynia, impotence in men, chronic pelvic pain, irritable bladder, endometriosis
·        Raynaud’s phenomenon or disease
·        Rheumatic disorders – ankylosing spondylitis, bursitis,  hypermobility syndrome or EDS, polymyalgia rheumatic, post-polio syndrome, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjogren’s syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus
·        Sleep disorder

Other Aggravating Factors

·        Poor posture
·        Repetitive movement
·        Structural deformity, scoliosis, lordosis, kyphosis (one foot shorter than the other)
·        Overdoing and paradoxically under-doing – a really big one to consider as we emerge from hibernation
·        Disorganization and poor time management skills
·        Brainfog
·        Cold intolerance
·        Poorly identifying problems with medication and therapy
·        Ignoring diet
·        Thinking your symptoms will wait

While we may not be able to change overlapping or co-existing conditions, we can manage them better. After all, it is human to have room for improvement –  everyone does. And, be sure to report any new or escalating symptoms to your physician, as the treatment for other conditions are not the same as those for fibromyalgia.

We can do things to minimize the effects of a flare, such as taking it easy, avoiding known stressors, eating healthy, practicing mindfulness, moving, and identifying any important factors to avoid in the future.

I’m not going to vacuum ’til Sears makes one you can ride on.
~ Roseanne Barr ~

If you benefited from this information or have questions, please leave them in the comments below. I love learning from you.

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Texture Of Pain Through Poetry

"Poetry comes from the highest happiness or the deepest sorrow."
~A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

When Yellow Tundra Meets the Sky© Courtesy Celeste’s Photography

Those of us who live with chronic pain and illness understand respecting our limitations. But, there are many ways to be energetic, despite having a low physical battery. We can:

·        Be mindful.
·        Be compassionate.
·        Be grateful.
·        And, we can ALL write poetry!

Poetry has become a conduit to my most intimate inner feelings. I think that’s because I have learned to face the relevance of both anguish and joy, the reality that those of us living with chronic pain and illness know. Whether writing or reading poetry, I find there is a positive role for intervention, resolution, and learning to let go, which allows me to explore the diversion of creativity. So much is waiting to be explored.

When I prepare to write, I am energized by favorite words that tempt me with their sweet nectar. I have a favorite word list in my journal, which includes famous quotes that inspire me. I find the rich texture of expression that is born from the words I choose.

I try to share at least one of my poems in April to raise awareness for poetry. The following started as an “I Am” poem.

Dear Pain, Much to Your Chagrin© by Celeste Cooper

Don’t cloud my wits—attack, bother, or nag.
You know you have nothing positive to add.
You fractured the ability to create a red flag.

Dare not threaten my spirit or make me weak,
A tender, tired body deserves not your grief,
This survivor will not stop searching relief.

Mindful of judgments you pose in my ear,
My spirit remains positive in the absence of fear.
Affirmations are the armor that protects what is dear.

So, as constant and unyielding as you try to be,
I continue to bear arms to make you retreat.
Pain, you may have my body, but you don’t have me!


...Poetry has been described as the conduit to our soul. It provides us the emotional and spiritual energy to hurtle over life’s obstacles. It heightens our senses of sight, sound, touch, and smell, and it can be delicious. It offers a feel, a texture, to all we experience and work through in our mind, because it knows no time, no era, nor limits. We can express self and circumstances through the written word…

Pick up your favorite book, a thesaurus from the dollar store, a magazine, whatever, and make a list of some of your favorite words. ...Begin your journey of inner expression—start writing ...

[Excerpt, Broken Body, Wounded Spirit: Balancing the See-Saw of Chronic Pain, SPRING DEVOTIONS ]


All our books have tips for writing for self-exploration. Poetry is one of those.

Additional Reading:

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

4 Ways To Minimize Stress Vulnerability In Fibromyalgia

April is stress awareness month and I can’t think of a better time to review how stress interferes with wellness. There is a promise of new growth that encourages us to seek ways to minimize stress by managing our reactions and making better choices.

#1 Know the effects

We have all experienced the effects of stress. In fibromyalgia it can:

·        Interfere with sleep.
·        Make our pain worse.
·        Hijack our ability to cope with pain.
·        Cause autonomic nervous system problems.
·        Make comorbid or co-existing disorders harder to manage.

… and more

So, if we ask, - Does fibromyalgia make me vulnerable to stress? - The answer is yes.

#2 Identify manifestations of stress

How stress manifests itself may vary between each of us, and each of us may experience certain symptoms according to the event surround it. But, generally stress can cause or be part of:

·        Anxiety and/or depression.
·        Irritability.
·        Changes in vital signs and body temperature. This is particularly important to when dealing with the autonomic effects of fibromyalgia.
·        Increased pain.
·        Muscle tension, spasm, or dysfunction.
·        Headache.
·        Fatigue.
·        Gastrointestinal problems, like GERD or IBS.
·        Teeth grinding.
·        Disordered sleep.
·        Forgetfulness.
·        Immune system problems, like poor healing.
·        Tremors.
·        Changes in speech.

… and others that may be specific to you.

#3 Be aware of stress behaviors

While a certain amount of stress can be beneficial by temporarily improving our focus, chronic stress is a game changer. The behaviors we develop in response to chronic stress might include:

·        Fear and loss of control.
·        Impulsive behavior, such as stress eating, unnecessary spending, or taking risks.
·        Mood swings.
·        Avoidance of physical activity.
·        Inability to focus.
·        Difficulty setting and achieving goals.
·        Making poor decisions.
·        Interference in relationships.

Knowing our behavioral response to stress is important for us to set achievable goals and develop an effective plan for dealing with chronic stress.

#4 Focus on a personal strategy

Those of us living with fibromyalgia understand the consequences of stress. But, what are some things we can do to promote focus, minimize pain, improve sleep, and reduce the effects of stress gone awry.

·        Make a stress response plan with measurable action-oriented goals.
·        Make a real effort to get back to a hobby.
·        Find ways to explore nature. This is particularly helpful for me, because I can use my hobby of photography and writing poetry.
·        Celebrate accomplishments with family and friends.
·        Maintain a healthy diet.
·        Surround yourself with people who encourage one another.
·        Use mindfulness techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, creative visualization, etc.
·        Practice deep breathing.
·        Incorporate bedtime rituals to promote sleep.
·        Listen to music that has a calming effect on us.
·        Move around. When I realize I am drowning in stress, I get physical. I organize closets, clean out the refrigerator, take a walk, go through old computer files, practice Tai Chi, etc. I highly suggest this.
·        Write in our journal.
·        Get a massage or other bodywork.
·        Manage environmental triggers.
·        Find a therapist who understands chronic pain and can provide useful tools for reducing stress, like guided meditation, hypnosis, and biofeedback.

* If stress is interfering with your normal activities of daily living, it’s time to seek professional help.


"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose
one thought over another."
~ William James, American philosopher and psychologist

We can’t always control our stress triggers, particularly when living with the unpredictability of fibromyalgia, but we can control our response. The more practiced we become, the quicker balance is restored.

Additional Reading:

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Celeste's Website

Celeste's Website
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