Friday, September 19, 2008

A little update on my personal life

I've been writing less than I'd like to; I have loads of notes and ideas, but when I have the time to write, I don't have the energy, and vice versa. Hurricane season is always a rough time for people with problems like fibromyalgia, arthritis, and similar issues, as, even up here in New York State, we experience the rapid progression of pressure changes that wreak havoc with joints and sinuses.

Additionally, I've had a very busy month with my business; when I'm not directly involved with a client, I still have to do promotion, taking care of the animals, and fielding requests to adopt unwanted reptiles. We JUST took in a beautiful adult Savannah monitor, and while I'm glad we will have him for presentations, it means I have another cage to build or buy, another type of food to keep on hand, and more poop to scoop (and boy, is it some nasty poop!). We also adopted some blue-tongue skinks, and we'll be working on a breeding project for them, and we've been asked to take in an adult boa constrictor, which I may decide against.

Of course, we're still fostering cats and kittens, and at one point in the past month, we actually had eleven fosters total, including the family of cats and kittens mentioned in this post. I am very happy to say that the situation discussed in that post worked out very well. The head of the rescue bent a few rules so that we could help those cats, and we were able to find homes for all of them! The family did want one of the cats returned to them after her kittens were weaned and she was spayed, which is something we don't usually do, but that particular mama cat really wanted to be with her original family anyway--she was very happy and relieved when I brought her back to her people. One of the kittens turned out to be deaf (as are 60-80% of white cats with blue eyes), and was adopted by a wonderful young woman who has experience living with a deaf cat. Two of the cats were adopted by another friend of mine, and they integrated very nicely into her family. The remaining kittens were adopted by great folks, and it's all worked out very well.

There have been ups and downs, of course. In the past week, both I and the foster coordinator ended up with FIV positive cats in end-stage liver failure. If we hadn't been there for those cats, they probably would have died alone and outside, slowly and painfully; instead, we were there to give them loving hands until the very end. Our boy purred from the moment we met him to the moment he passed, despite the fact that he must have been feeling terrible. We gave him love, and received his love, and that, really, was all he'd wanted in his last moments. I have no regrets about meeting him and being there for him; our time with him was a gift to both him and us.

Finally, we currently have five very crazy, bouncy, purry, adorable kittens. We kept them for an extra few days to make sure they were healthy; I don't like sending them out for adoption right after they're spayed and neutered if I haven't had them in my care before--I'd rather hang on to them and wait to see if they have an upper respiratory infection or some other issues, than send them home with an adopter potentially ill. So, until Saturday, we have some WILD THINGS in the foster room!

Things here have been busy, but not really bad, just lots of stuff going on. I've been neglecting my poor camera, so I don't have any decent pictures of the babies to share. I do have a lot on my mind to write about, and when I've got my head together, I'll put together some decent blog posts for y'all. I hope everyone is doing great out there.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fibromyalgia is usually associated with "tender points", which are specific areas around the body that respond with an inordinate amount of pain when pressure is applied to them. Researchers are beginning to accept that these are not necessarily a good diagnostic criterion, and that the tender points appear to be areas that are particularly sensitive for all people; they are just more so for people with fibromyalgia, who experience a greater level of pain with less pressure than people without the condition.

Even so, since I started to become ill, my upper arms have become so tender that I can hardly bear to even have someone brush against them--and if more pressure than that is applied to them, it is agonizing beyond description. Blood pressure cuffs are torture devices to me, and tourniquets used for blood draws are even worse. I've had people playfully punch my arm, and then get indignant when I start to cry because it hurt so badly. "I didn't hit you THAT hard!" Most don't believe me when I explain that my arms are insanely sensitive, but they do tend to refrain from repeating the gesture when I explain that the pain is probably similar to getting hit in the testicles, and that, if they do it again to me, I'll be happy to demonstrate to them how badly it hurt me.

The arm-punching scenario happened often enough that I now have panic attacks sometimes if someone looks like they are going to touch my upper arm. Usually I move out of their reach, cross my arms, and place a hand on each upper arm for protection, then explain to them why I reacted that way. I've gotten pretty good at anticipating people, so I haven't been hurt in a while by a person, thank goodness.

But the rest of the world isn't foam padded. I'm sure my blood pressure readings (which are usually very good) are higher than what my normal state would be because of the pain, and the anticipation of the pain. Short sleeves with elastic gathers are abhorrent to me. Sometimes ANY fabric touching my arms is intolerable (I wear a lot of sleeveless shirts). I sometimes bump into objects or get jostled in a crowd. There are many days when they hurt and throb even if nothing at all is touching them. It feels like the whole surface of my upper arms are very nasty, very fresh bruises all the time. And when something DOES apply pressure to them, the pain lingers for a short period once the stimulus is gone.

I don't know what mechanism of my illness causes this excruciating arm pain. If I did, maybe I'd have some idea of how to lessen or even eliminate it. This is just one small aspect of the myriad symptoms I deal with on a daily basis, and I thought that elucidating upon this one aspect might give others some insight on just how difficult it can be to face this in addition to the crushing fatigue, widespread body pain, sensitivity to aural and visual stimuli, and all the other things that my brain fog keeps me from enumerating. Not all of them can be managed or reduced with treatment or drugs, and just being alive and conscious is a painful chore some days.