symptom signals

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Aye yai yai y’all, I’m doing too much. The great thing is that my body is sending me an array of symptoms to let me know that I need to slow it down.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, symptoms are signals. How beautiful is that? Restructuring my thinking to reflect this turns each pain I experience into a little love note from my body letting me know what I might consider adjusting.

Usually, it tells me things I already know but chose to ignore. For example, I ate at least half of my meals away from home last week. Even though I stick to my usual diet when I dine out, allergens often slip in. It happens so frequently I should probably expect it. I also consumed alcohol with three of these meals, and that’s a significant increase from my typical 0-1 drinks per week. All of this contributes to inflammation and a bump up in pain. I know this, I preach this, and I ignored it multiple times…along with a slew of other things.

I have a feeling my body tried to send me more subtle clues that I was mistreating it, but I’m still not very good at recognizing symptoms in the early stages. So, by the time I realized what was going on and mustered up the courage to give my body exactly what it needed, I was already in the middle of a whopping flare.

The wonderful thing about all of this is that I alone pulled myself out of it. Yes, okay, I’m going to acupuncture today because I’ll be out of town this weekend and I need to be in better shape to do that, but I have no doubt I’m on the other side, so I’m going to take all the credit. It gives me so much pride to know that I can finally, after over a year of fumbling through life without prescriptions, get through some pretty nasty situations by simply taking care of myself.* I drank a lot of water, tightened up my diet more than usual, and slept a whole bunch. I also doused my body in essential oils, took some lovely baths, meditated, and practiced giving myself Reiki (I’m trained to do that now!). In all honesty, all of these behaviors made for a few beautiful days of healing.

It does bother me that something as simple as socializing can throw me into this, but I’m going to wait to address that. For now, I’m just going to bask in this accomplishment, pull every lesson that I can out of the last few days, and try to avoid making the same mistakes again…at least for a couple of weeks!

 


*Of course, if my breakthrough pain was the result of an acute issue and required treatment, I would seek outside intervention. It took years for me to learn when to ask for help from medical professionals and when I’m experiencing an increase in symptoms that will eventually return to normal.


Image courtesy of People I’ve Loved.

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moon swoon

BY: SUSIE EWBANK

 

The moon is an unstoppable force – and so are you.

Since I was in pull-ups I have been a loony lunar lover. It’s just always been my thing! As the proud luna-tic (see what I did there?) in the family, I receive moon-themed birthday cards from them each year. Last year one card stood out – it was from Anne.

The moon is an unstoppable force, she wrote, and so are you!

I have read and believed for years that the moon impacts all things earthbound. But we are also LIKE the moon – a light in the dark, a powerful source, and a part of something huge and miraculous.

Years of watching my sister endure more than a decade of chronic pain have revealed how isolating being sick can feel. You’re out of the norm, against the grain, and while socially that may seem completely true, you can’t neglect your connection to nature. Nobody in this universe is alone. We’re all connected, powerful beings!

The moon experiences phases – and so do you. Think about it!

The tide of every ocean on Earth rises and falls by moon phases. Humans are 70% water. How could we not feel the power of something magnetic enough to push and pull entire oceans? These phases are our maps, as the moon coaxes us to our fullest expression and then releases, allowing us to reflect and recharge.

You might be wondering, what does this have to do with chronic illness?

I’ve heard it’s a common practice to keep a careful record of your symptoms, but have you ever thought about charting the moon phases alongside them? I watched Anne feel victimized by not understanding reasons why her symptoms come and go. Each time she identifies a new thing to track that might provide insight, she feels more control over her chronic illnesses.

I would love to say there are sweeping generalizations regarding how we respond to moon cycles, but I don’t find that to be true. People who work in hospitals might tell you how things get crazy when the moon is full. Maybe this is the case for them, but it’s not necessarily beneficial to me. In tracking my body’s and mind’s responses to the moon, I learned that I perform best when the moon is waning (getting smaller). With this information, I try to schedule big projects during these periods, and when I can’t, I work extra hard at combating feelings of being overwhelmed with a little extra self-care. Knowing what I’ve learned about how the moon impacts me helps me be a better employee, wife, friend, and person.

At the risk of sounding a bit mystical, I would encourage you all to give the moon the respect she deserves. Let her fuel you and help you reach your greatest potential in spite of the struggles you face. And, when the night is dark and you’re feeling completely alone, look up in the sky and find her, and remember that she is always right there with you.

Sending tons of lunar love your way,

Susie

Visit The Moon in June to purchase your own organic, U.S.-made t-shirts. Use the code “stillmoving” for 10% off your order!

Images courtesy of Susie Ewbank and her beautiful collection of moon-inspired snaps. Follow @the.moon.in.june for more!

my new(ish) favorite pain-relieving modalities

 

 

 

 

 

* Honest, genuine reviews and experiences…not a sponsored post.

I get a lot of questions regarding how I’ve managed my pain this past year without medications, injections, or surgery. Honestly, it’s difficult to answer because I’m constantly trying new things and tweaking old practices. I’m also quite a ways off from having everything figured out. Nevertheless, these are tools I use above all others to try to keep my symptoms under control…at least for today!

Kinesiology tape: Not everyone supports the use of kinesiology tape, but I’m a big fan. It helps keep my hypermobile joints in place and reduces inflammation.

Infrared heating pad: Infrared heating pads are more expensive than their electrical counterparts but, in my opinion, worth every penny. Their heat penetrates deeper than a traditional heating pad, they increase blood circulation, and they emit low EMF radiation. Win, win, W I N !

Chinese herbs: In the course of one week both my acupuncturist and my shaman recommended I take Chinese herbs. As if the timing of their separate suggestions wasn’t coincidence enough, their specific herb recommendations were practically identical. While taking these herbs doesn’t directly influence my pain (yet), they do promote a sense of physical and emotional calm. With my muscles, joints, and mind in a relaxed state, I can more successfully manage my discomfort.

Essential oils: My current favorite essential oil for controlling spikes in pain is lavender. Using a carrier to help it go farther, I rub it over aching muscles, joints, and trigger points before going to bed at night. It’s a beautiful thing.

Anti-gravity running: I finally gave up long-distance running in 2011 when it became clear that my body could no longer handle it. For years I tried to find some form of exercise that didn’t exacerbate my symptoms, eventually giving up. I didn’t realize, however, that the decision to stop moving made everything worse. A few years ago I discovered the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill. It allows me to walk or run at as little as 20% of my body weight and get moving even on the bad days. (If you’d like to try an AlterG, you can click here to learn where there are available machines near you.)

Diet: I couldn’t begin to manage my symptoms without following a strict diet. While my body’s needs are constantly changing, there are three big things that I consistently avoid: refined sugar, wheat, and dairy. They wreak havoc on my body by increasing inflammatory responses, promoting spikes in pain, and making me feel all-around lousy.

Acupuncture: I go to acupuncture at least once every month. When my symptoms are particularly challenging and I need extra help, I’ll add more sessions. I feel so fortunate to have found Noell who is not only a fantastic acupuncturist but has also provides me so much support and guidance as I try to navigate this path towards healing. (By the way, Noell offers distance Spiritual Healing sessions so anyone can benefit from her insight no matter where you live!)

Meditation: If you follow me you’re probably rolling your eyes right now because this is something I bring up a lot. I can’t help it, though, as it’s truly the crux of everything I do. Meditation helps relax my physical body (which can stave off discomfort or even bring down pain during a flare) as well as promotes mental clarity to help me better relate to my world. It enhances everything I do in the name of pain management and has helped me live a happier day-to-day life.

 

I hope you can find something here that helps you. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!