Old 06-13-2017, 08:49 AM #1 (permalink)
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Default What are your strategies?

Hi everyone,

I am new here. I have not been officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia, but my mother has. I have most of the same symptoms as she does and like it did for her, I think it will take a long time for me to figure out why I feel so terrible all the time. I think it is likely that I have fibromyalgia or something else that causes widespread pain, severe fatigue and brain fog. I'm 28 and have been experiencing these symptoms since I was a young teen.

At the moment I live in Japan and teach English to junior high kids (I'm American). Thankfully I have a relatively easy job (I am only an assistant and not required to discipline, sometimes I don't even plan the lessons!), but some of the social expectations at my job are a bit challenging. In Japan, being to places early (and not looking like a slob when you show up!) is important. Greeting your coworkers with lots of attention and concern/energy is also important. Of course, I want to be more social and involved at work, but I often find it very hard. Speaking Japanese and obeying a lot of the cultural norms, being at work early when I hardly get enough sleep and acting energetic in class can be a real challenge. I do try my best, but sometimes I just don't have it in me. I usually do my very best to act energetic in class, but then later I just do not have it in me to enthusiastically engage with coworkers (don't get me wrong, they're nice people! I just think that due to the cultural norms here they might think I don't care to interact with them when it's really just that I am ready to collapse on my desk every single day, even if all I've done is teach two classes and make a lesson at my desk!).

I'm quite "sensitive" and often feel like I am acting like a hypochondriac, but I really do experience negative effects from certain things. Bright lights give me a headache, too much noise does as well (I work at a junior high, come on. Also teachers do not have their own offices/classrooms here, it's just one gigantic office with all the desks shoved next to one another and constant noise. Kids stay in the same class all day and teachers move from place to place). I have lots of random reactions to food (mostly upset stomach, nausea etc).

Work starts at 8:15. I'm frequently late by about ten minutes, which looks really bad here. As I mentioned, I have lots of problems sleeping, so I wake up and feel very foggy/slow motion. I usually need plenty of coffee and a b vitamin drink just to be able to act energetic in class. By the end of my day all I want to do is lay in bed for the rest of the night. However, I didn't come to Japan to just lay around all day! I also want to get better at Japanese and so I go to a private tutor for lessons. I want to enjoy my life here as much as possible, not lounge around in my apartment.

Whether or not I actually have fibro, I do know that many of you guys on here probably have various coping strategies for dealing with stuff like early mornings, fatigue at work (those of you who can work), sleep issues, muscle/joint pain, being out of breath etc.

I would ask my mother, but she has actually stopped working (sadly the state refuses to give her disability, though she really can't work. She is currently living off retirement savings, though she isn't retirement age!). She is also on medication for her pain, has had some physical therapy etc. For those of you who don't do meds, or complement you medication with other treatments and coping strategies, what do you do? I really do not expect to get a diagnosis in this country. The health insurance is good here, but invisible illnesses are *very* invisible. Whatever is going on, isn't something that can be ruled out by blood tests, x-rays, EKGs and so on. I can't continue to expect that coffee will keep me alive all day, if I drink it after 2 pm it makes my insomnia much worse, and if I drink too much it gives me anxiety/weird increases in my pulse etc.

As a side note I do try to eat healthy, don't have much added sugar or salt in my diet, try to go to bed at a regular time, have installed f.lux on my laptop to reduce blue light exposure, go on regular walks and take hot showers for muscle pain (often ends up with me sitting on the shower floor, standing up for a long time after work just kills my knees). I drink chamomile or valarian tea to help me relax before bed. All other suggestions are welcome, I will try whatever I can to get a little pain relief and maybe some of my energy back.

Sorry for the long post and thank you in advance!
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Old 06-13-2017, 02:27 PM #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: What are your strategies?

Just my thoughts:

If you are consistently 10 minutes late then you can consistently be on time. Just adjust what you do in the morning so that you do it in ten minutes less or remove one thing from your morning routine, or else get up 10 minutes earlier.

If you don't think you can get a diagnosis of Fibro in Japan, then go to a doctor and tell her or him that you have specific pain: back pain, leg, whatever. Ask for pain relievers for that and see if you get something that might help.

Just concentrate on being nice and polite to people and as you say observing the cultural norms. I have spent time in Japan too, and I think that if you are always meticulously polite, smile but are not talkative, people will just think you are shy. No problem with that.

If there is anyone you work with that you especially like, or think you can talk to, then tell her or him that you have some health issues that make you tired, and that is why you are not more social and interactive, even though you would really like to be. Probably that person will gossip it to everyone else and that solves the problem.

Most of us can't do much of anything after work except lie around, so don't feel alone.

My coping strategy is mostly to carry on carrying on. If I cannot carry on I lie down or I cancel my plans. It is extremely important to get enough sleep. It is very important to have enough peace and quiet. If you can't get that at work, get it at home. Unplug your electronics. don't watch TV. Read a book, draw, paint, color in a coloring book, knit, whatever you can do that is meditative and quiet, and do it every evening. This is your anti-stress strategy and we all need that because stress of any kind really increases fibro pain.

I am starting an exercise program for myself that I truly believe will help me. Every morning I am working out for a half hour with light weights. Maybe you could try some yoga in the evening. Or, just stretches. Or meditation. Something that is good for mind/body.
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Old 06-13-2017, 02:27 PM #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: What are your strategies?

Just my thoughts:

If you are consistently 10 minutes late then you can consistently be on time. Just adjust what you do in the morning so that you do it in ten minutes less or remove one thing from your morning routine, or else get up 10 minutes earlier.

If you don't think you can get a diagnosis of Fibro in Japan, then go to a doctor and tell her or him that you have specific pain: back pain, leg, whatever. Ask for pain relievers for that and see if you get something that might help.

Just concentrate on being nice and polite to people and as you say observing the cultural norms. I have spent time in Japan too, and I think that if you are always meticulously polite, smile but are not talkative, people will just think you are shy. No problem with that.

If there is anyone you work with that you especially like, or think you can talk to, then tell her or him that you have some health issues that make you tired, and that is why you are not more social and interactive, even though you would really like to be. Probably that person will gossip it to everyone else and that solves the problem.

Most of us can't do much of anything after work except lie around, so don't feel alone.

My coping strategy is mostly to carry on carrying on. If I cannot carry on I lie down or I cancel my plans. It is extremely important to get enough sleep. It is very important to have enough peace and quiet. If you can't get that at work, get it at home. Unplug your electronics. don't watch TV. Read a book, draw, paint, color in a coloring book, knit, whatever you can do that is meditative and quiet, and do it every evening. This is your anti-stress strategy and we all need that because stress of any kind really increases fibro pain.

I am starting an exercise program for myself that I truly believe will help me. Every morning I am working out for a half hour with light weights. Maybe you could try some yoga in the evening. Or, just stretches. Or meditation. Something that is good for mind/body.
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Old 06-13-2017, 03:45 PM #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: What are your strategies?

Proud if you sunkacola. I know you have a tough struggle with serious symptoms. Good for you for being proactive and positive. I'm cheering you on
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Old 06-13-2017, 05:47 PM #5 (permalink)
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Thank you medicmurphy!
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Old 06-13-2017, 06:50 PM #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: What are your strategies?

Hey Miss Michi! What a great adventure you're on! It's extra tiring to try to cope in a second language and in a culture that is unfamiliar. I've been there, so I can imagine that is exhausting. One thing that I did when I was really dependent on coffee to get me through, is that I poured myself really small amounts (sorry - my sentence structure is really going out the window today lol). If I pour a full cup, I'll drink it and I really don't need that much, so I'll just pour myself a quarter cup or a half cup. I still get the caffeine boost, but I'm not drowning myself in caffeine. As for sleep, have you tried melatonin? There are two types, slow release and and quick release. The quick release helps if you can't fall asleep. The slow release helps if you can't stay asleep or your sleep quality is poor. It's quite safe and really does help a lot. Just try to buy a good quality brand (you can google and order online). As for getting to work on time, I find I really need a LOT of time to get going in the morning, so I make sure i have an extra half hour just to sit and drink my coffee and read the news. Try to schedule that time in. As far as pain relief, some people find turmeric supplements helpful (it didn't work for me, but might be worth a try) and some people find a lot of relief from magnesium - you can soak in espom salts, or if you don't have a bath, there is lotion that you can get. I think you can even soak your feet in it? Am I right anyone? I think you're basically trying to absorb the magnesium. I also do understand that feeling of being overwhelmed by the school environment and socializing. I'm easily overstimulated and I think that's more to do with being an introvert than my fibro (although I think I'm one of those undiagnosed ADD females as well). I was a teacher for a time and found it incredibly difficult. Try to find a way to have quite breaks throughout the day - even 5 minutes in the bathroom where no one else can bother you can help - I'm not sure what the school set up is, but if you can find a way to be inside your own head periodically it might help you from feeling so overwhelmed.
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