Tuesday, November 9, 2010

*ALERT* - Squalene and Fibromyalgia, CFS, MS, and RA

Hello Everyone,
This post will be short for the time being. However, PLEASE take my advice and start to look at some information on Squalene (An adjuvant added to vaccines) as it may relate to Fibromyalgia, CFS, MS, and RA.

I am currently doing some research on squalene and will post more at a later date. For now, please keep yourself informed and armed with information so you can make the choices that are right for you and your family.

Here are some links to get you started:

(1) Squalene: Be very afraid (Part1)


(3) Squalene

(4) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/08/04/Squalene-The-Swine-Flu-Vaccines-Dirty-Little-Secret-Exposed.aspx  (*Must subscribe to newsletter to read article.)

Here is a quote from Dr. Mercola's article:

 “Your immune system recognizes squalene as an oil molecule native to your body. It is found throughout your nervous system and brain. In fact, you can consume squalene in olive oil and not only will your immune system recognize it, you will also reap the benefits of its antioxidant properties.

The difference between “good” and “bad” squalene is the route by which it enters your body. Injection is an abnormal route of entry which incites your immune system to attack all the squalene in your body, not just the vaccine adjuvant.

Your immune system will attempt to destroy the molecule wherever it finds it, including in places where it occurs naturally, and where it is vital to the health of your nervous system.

Gulf War veterans with Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) received anthrax vaccines which contained squalene. MF59 (the Novartis squalene adjuvant) was an unapproved ingredient in experimental anthrax vaccines and has since been linked to the devastating autoimmune diseases suffered by countless Gulf War vets.”

(5) Gardisil & Swine-Flu Vaccines

Until next time my friends. Here's to your success!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ultram / Tramadol *Warning*

Hello Everyone,

I came across some startling information the other day concerning Ultram (Generic name = Tramadol) that I want to share with you.

I was prescribed Ultram starting about 7 years ago when I was battling Endometriosis. My doctor prescribed it for pain explaining to me that it was essentially a nerve blocker. I didn't think much of it because I just wanted something that would help. At the time I was taking upwards of 1600 mg of Motrin at a time for pain, and of course the risk to my kidneys was horrendous. My doctor was alarmed to find out how much I was taking at a time because of the risks. Ultram seemed like a viable option and a good alternative. Besides that, it worked!

Later on when I became ill with Fibromyalgia, my new doctor, seeing that I was already taking Ultram, went ahead and prescribed me Ultram ER (along with Lyrica) so that I would have a continuous amount of the medication running through my system over a 24 hour period of time and would only need to take 1 pill per day. So the Ultram ER and Lyrica work together to keep my pain management under control.

Now for the warning part.  When my husband's orders for active duty with the military expired, our medical coverage was temporarily interrupted and I wasn't able to renew my prescriptions. It took about a week for the situation to get fixed in the system. In the mean time, without my medications I became worse and worse physically as you can imagine. HOWEVER, .... I came to find out, through some research into alternatives to Ultram, that one of the reasons I was so sick was because of the withdrawl from Ultram that my body was going through.

Yep.... I said "withdrawl".

I learned that Ultram (Tramadol) can cause the body to go into withdrawl symptoms when it is discontinued abruptly instead of being "weaned out" of the system by gradually reducing the dosage. Surprise, surprise.


Drugs.com  (http://www.drugs.com/ultram.html)   "Ultram may be habit-forming. Tell your doctor if you feel the medicine is not working as well in relieving your pain. Do not change your dose without talking to your doctor. Do not stop using Ultram suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, tremors, chills, hallucinations, trouble sleeping, or breathing problems. Talk to your doctor about how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when stopping the medication."  

E Med Expert.com (http://www.emedexpert.com/facts/tramadol-facts.shtml) "Withdrawal symptoms may occur if tramadol is discontinued abruptly. These symptoms may include: anxiety, sweating, insomnia, rigors, pain, nausea, tremors, diarrhea, upper respiratory symptoms, piloerection, and rarely hallucinations. Other symptoms that have been seen less frequently with Ultram discontinuation include panic attacks, severe anxiety, and paresthesias. Withdrawal symptoms may be avoided by tapering tramadol at the time of discontinuation.
Abrupt cessation from tramadol has been associated with two types of withdrawal syndromes 2:

 Opioid-like withdrawal. One is typical of opioid drugs with flu-like symptoms, restlessness and drug craving. This type of withdrawal syndrome is encountered in about 90% of cases of withdrawal from tramadol.

 Atypical (Not Typical)  withdrawal. Another withdrawal syndrome (encountered in about 10% of cases of tramadol withdrawal) is atypical of opioids and is associated with hallucinations, paranoia, extreme anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, and numbness and tingling in the extremities
    (Retrieved 9.28.2010 via the internet pages at www.drugs.com and www.emedexpert.com)

I became very ill. I was faced with sweating/chills, stomach problems, leg and hip aches, and the worst part was a sudden onset of depression and fatigue. I felt hopelessness, stress, anxiety, and a deep "sinking" feeling within. It was terrible! I  was so stressed over the aches going on in my legs and hips (thinking it was Fibromyalgia pain) and I would just writhe. There was no comfort in laying down, standing, sitting, or stretching. Nothing helped but when I would finally wear myself out and be overcome by fatigue and fall asleep. I slept for hours at a time and was unable to function normally. Until my husband came home, (he was on orders in another part of the state) I needed to rely on my oldest daughter for help in getting my littlest one to school and back home, or asking my mom for help. I hated what was happening to me and I was so stressed for relief. That's when I forced myself to go online and see if there were any pain management alternatives to Ultram (Tramadol).

I found website after website and forum and forum of people experiencing the same things I was going through or worse. I chastised myself for not reading more information about the medication(s) I am taking so that I could be prepared. I learned my lesson, believe me.

Please, please, please make sure to read ALL  of the information about any medication you are taking. In the event that you are unable to renew a prescription BE PREPARED for what you may experience physically and/or emotionally until you can renew it. Know all of the ins and outs and the risks to taking the medication and STAY INFORMED.

I have chosen to work with my doctor to gradually reduce the amount of Ultram I am taking until I can wean it out of my system. Although I LOVE the pain relief it offers me, the side effects when I am not taking it are horrendous and I don't want to face those withdrawl risks again. For me, it's not worth it. I don't want to be dependent on a medication that puts me through that if I'm not able to get it for whatever reason.

I found some GREAT information about two different natural alternatives for Ultram (Tramadol). They take some time to build up in the body, but over time many people have said the benefits have been significant to their Fibro pain management. One is Celedrin and the other is Osteo Bi-Flex . The ingredients in both of these have been shown to widely improve joint pain. Another alternative is a product called Tramaden. There are various places to purchase Tramaden, so do a web search to find the best supplier and price for you. I chose to use Celedrin and Osteo Bi Flex because they had the same main ingredients I was looking for and I was able to purchase them for less. I take them on a daily basis now to build them up in my system while I'm reducing the amount of Ultram I'm taking. (*This was the choice I made for myself. You should consult with your doctor before making a choice that's right for you and poses the least amount of risk(s) to your health.)

As always, remember that you are not alone in your fight for the quality of your life while maneuvering through the vast domain of Fibromyalgia and all that that entails. The main thing is to stay informed, read-read-read, and ask lots of questions. Remember, each person experiences Fibro in a different way. Yes, we may have many of the same symptoms, but each of us feels them differently, to different degrees and levels, and each of us experiences side symptoms differently as well. Take each symptom one at a time. It helps you to keep focussed and in control of your body instead of this thing being in control of you. (My Pain Management and Symptom Tracker (see side links) has been a helpful tool for many people. Feedback)

Have a blessed day today! (((((HUG))))))
Here's to your success!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fibromyalgia and Traveling (A Few Hints and Tips)

Hello Everyone!

Recently my family went through our summer routine and brought my step-children back home to Nebraska after their visit. (P.S. - I MISS THEM SO MUCH!! AUUUUUGH!!)  We spent almost two weeks back home visiting family and up to our necks in activities, hustle, and bustle. A family reunion, a yard renovation, family games, the zoo, a day at the lake with tubing and boating.... wow! We did A LOT!

Of course, because of my "little friend" the Fibromonster and it's "buddy" Allodynia, I needed to take special precautions and measures to ensure that I could A.) keep up  B.) avoid a flair C.) avoid a major case of pain and fatigue on the drive to and from home across country.  It's no easy task and it takes planning and care to manage.

I want to share some of my little "doodads", tips and tricks for managing a busy vacation. Now of course all of us are unique and our diseases are different in the way they manifest in each of our bodies so this is general information that you can tailor to meet your own individual needs. I'm all about easy, "just in case", and the least amount of stress possible.

1.) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH OF YOUR MEDICATION ON HAND. Plan ahead and be sure that you even take a little extra "just in case". You never know if weather or transportation will be a problem and cause a delay in your travel plans. ALWAYS TAKE EXTRA. I usually take an extra 3 days worth of medication with me.

Also, I NEVER take whole bottles of prescription medications with me. I transfer what I need to a secondary prescription bottle (saved when I refilled my prescription) and leave the rest at home. That way if there is a situation where I lose my meds, I always have immediate backup at home that can be sent to me. You may find this extreme, but just take a look at the weather patterns across the U.S. in the past year and you may think twice. Even in other countries there seems to be unusual weather patterns and disasters (in my opinion). It's not worth taking the risk of having your disease flair up and debilitate you in an unplanned situation if there is a way to have backup.

2.) Take extra comfort measures. What do I mean? Well, for instance I use ThermaCare Heat Wraps to keep my muscles warmed up and loose when I feel over tight or especially painful. There are a variety of wraps for different areas of the body and the heating mechanisms last for a good 8 hours. I've tried other heat wraps and I just don't like them as much as ThermaCare because they don't last as long. I swear by this product. (I get nothing to endorse this product, I just happen to love them and don't mind promoting them at all.)

Another comfort measure I take is a really good and comfortable pillow that I use at home. (Or purchase an extra one like the one you use at home) For me, this saves A LOT of headache, neck ache and frustration. Having the "right" pillow on vacation can make things go much, much smoother for you and really, it only takes up a little extra space. (*Now, if you are flying and you don't want to carry on or pack your pillow in a suitcase, plan to send your pillow(and even extra items) ahead or make sure there is a store that carries the one you need to purchase when you get there. Trust me... it makes all the difference.)

Take along extra over the counter medications that will help you feel better on your trip. Who wants the hastle of the ever present overactive stomach, bladder, headaches, muscle tension...etc without an immediate and reachable "buddy" to help you out? I personally take (and don't laugh here because I've saved myself a heck of a lot of trouble. OK, laugh a little, but still take the stuff with you!) 

Here's a few essentials that are on my list:
A.) chewable Pepto-Bismol tablets (or generic version)
B.) Dulcolax stool softener (or generic version)
C.) Excedrine Migraine (or generic version)
D.) chewable vitamin C.
E.)Arnica for muscle pain. (You can find it in most health food stores such as Sprouts)
F.) chewable Junior Tylenol for the kids. (or generic version)
G.) Uristat or a similar remedy for a urinary tract infections (*or take cranberry supplements with you for a daily dose to maintain a natural balance in the body)
H.) Band-aids of all sizes AND Friction Block stick by Band-aid. (This product is AWESOME for your feet! I keep mine in my purse to keep my feet from blistering.)

Some other "buddies" to consider are: anti-nausea medication, motion sickness help, ear plugs, a sleep mask, anti-snoring helps, contact lens cleaners/re-wetting drops, sinus medications, allergy medications, etc...

Keep your "buddies" in an accessible place/bag that is near to you either on the plane or in the vehicle. It takes a lot of stress away when you know help & comfort is an arms length away. You may think I'm being overly dramatic, but try it and see. It's worth it to have things on hand that you don't have to worry about going out and finding later or when you're in a bind. Get travel sizes and minis perhaps so that you're not stuck with tons of bottles and boxes taking up huge amounts of space or putting a dent in your wallet. There are all kinds of inexpensive organizers out there that can easily accommodate a nice little portable way to keep everything easily accessible and manageable.

Keep your clothing and shoe choices realistic with your activity level and body pain management. If you know you're going to need more comfy clothes rather than dressy restrictive clothing, then find stylish but comfortable clothing and shoes to take with you. You know yourself best. I personally take 2 outfits that are super comfy and stretchy because there are days when I need to wear soft and stretchy clothing that allows my muscles to relax. You know what I mean. Sometimes a pair of sweats and a soft cotton T-shirt paired with tennis-shoes is just right. The key is to dress in a way that works for pain management but still makes you feel good about yourself so that you can relax and make the most each day and activity. Remember one of my favorite sayings: "Fight for your quality of life!"...

3.) Don't allow yourself to rush, push too hard, or take on more that you can handle at one time.  Look, fibromyalgia and/or allodynia, or CFS is hard enough to deal with. You have it/them, period. If other's don't want to accept it, deal with it, or make a few accommodations to help you, then you have to stand up for yourself and protect yourself as much as possible. (*this applies to daily life as well.) You may have to sit out of an activity, or you may have to make a few extra stops if you're traveling by vehicle. Maybe an extra nap or two will be in order. Who knows? The point is..... TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF so you can enjoy your time and be able to participate as much as possible.

So what about you? What travel tips and hints do you have to share? Post some of them here for all of us to read and take advantage of. I'm always looking for good ideas and suggestions to make fighting for my quality of life a little easier. PLUS I want to share with my readers too!

Remember what I said earlier... you ARE NOT alone. Don't suffer in silence. Find ways to reach out and connect with others who are going through what you are going through. There is strength to be found in the understanding of another who shares your situation.  (((HUG)))

Have a blessed day today : )

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fibromyalgia Fatigue

Hi Everyone,

Today I was hit with a bout of fatigue so intense I couldn't keep my eyes open for anything. I've faced this symptom many times over the years, but I don't blog about it much. A couple of my friends from church who also live with Fibromyalgia have mentioned getting hit with this fatigue as well. I thought I'd do a post on it so that those of you who have loved ones living with Fibo can have a better understanding of what it's like.

When this overwhelming fatigue hits our bodies it's as if we are between conscious and unconscious. When it finally hits me I get dazed and woozy I MUST lay down or sit down and I am asleep within seconds. There is not a darn thing I can do about it but succumb most times. My limbs go completely limp, I am very aware of the increase in my heartbeat, and my head "lolls" until I find a surface to rest it on.

Usually I have about an hour warning before I get incapacitated. I am unusually tired and unable to focus, I forget things quickly, and I can warn the family that I can't drive or I can quickly make arrangements for the kids if they need a ride for something important. Generally, I lay down on the couch in our home so that I am at the center of all the activities my children are doing. I have a vague consciousness that they are ok for the time being or if something happens I can grab my phone for help. I keep my cell phone tucked next to my body just in case. Since all of my kids are teens or at an age where they are capable of taking care of themselves for the most part, I've taught them how to help me manage a fatigue attack and what to do if they need anything or anyone.

Trying to talk while in a fatigue attack would be funny if it weren't so darn frustrating. It's something like being given anesthesia and trying to talk right before you "go under". It's very slurred and slow. I find it hard to form sentences. It's very discouraging.

If you have a loved one who is living with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, please rest assured that they are NOT playing a game, lazy, or trying to 'get out' of anything by being tired. NOPE. The truth is that their body simply shuts down. Period. Their choice is to go ahead and succumb to the fatigue until it wears off, or try and function through it. Trying to function through it is somewhat like trying to swim through thick caramel or tar. The force against the body stifles everything and makes it very, very difficult to do anything ordinary. They don't simply decided "hey, I'm gonna have a fatigue attack now". It comes on anytime, anywhere. Most of us who've had these before, sometimes have little warning signs that tell us it's coming on and we can make arrangements to deal with it as best as we can, but there is always the off chance that it will hit and not give us any warning or time to figure out what to do to endure it while it lasts. That's when we need help and support the most! Find some time to sit down with your PWF and ask them how you can best help them the next time a fatigue attack comes on. Write down what they say if you need to. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

**** (Warning! Random thought ---->) One more thing on an off note:  The LYRICA commercials? WAY TAME compared to what it's really like to have Fibro and deal with it. I get so disgusted with them and WISH the company would put on something real. It makes Fibro look so incidental and it's SO corrosive to our lives! One can only hope that the company will start showing what it's REALLY like! ****

Anyway.......Hang in there fellow fighters and know that you are NOT alone.

Here's to your success! ((((HUG))))

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Memorial Day Is Coming! - THANK YOU!

Things To Remember...
A Time To Be THANKFUL...
A Time To Show The Proper Honor and Respect...



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

~ Fibromyalgia Awareness Day ~


Today is OUR day. A day to shout out, educate, and raise awareness about Fibro and it's effects not only on us, but on those around us. My dream is for Fibro awareness and support to become as nationally and globally known and supported as breast cancer awareness and support. It can only happen if we raise our voices and start the conversation. 

I am thinking about all of you today. I'm lifting you in prayer. You are not alone.

Your Fibro Sister,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Do I Matter? Am I Important? (Fibromyalgia, Allodynia, CFS L@@K at This)

I was blessed to be shown this series by my daughter. The youth leadership at our church has been showing it to the young people and I felt lead to share it with you too. My hope is that it will bring you peace and comfort as you manage each day and fight for your quality of life. It's for EVERYBODY. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fed Up With Fibromyalgia, Allodynia, and/or CFS?

Sometimes I force myself to look through another person's eyes so that I can motivate myself to look for my strengths, not focus on my weaknesses, and keep fighting for my quality of life. I want to share something with you...(((HUG)))

Monday, March 8, 2010

44 Days Today - Smoking & Fibromyalgia

Started March 8th, Finished April 5th

Hello Everyone : )

I shared with you that I made a few choices recently that have helped me a great deal with managing Fibromyalgia and Allodynia. This post won't be pretty format wise or grammatically, but most of my posts never are! Hahahahaa!!

One of the choices I made, I started a while back and didn't stick with. (surprise, surprise...) I decided to start making it a priority again. That is making sure I'm exercising on a consistent basis. I've mentioned one of my favorite workouts before on the blog, but I'll put it here again just for reference.

I have a workout that I purchase at Wal-Mart called "Walk Away Your Waistline!" by Leslie Sansone. The reason I like it so much is because it's low impact and has 3 levels of exercise that you can choose. (1, 2, 0r 3miles.) Leslie keeps it real and actually sweats! : ) hahahahaa!!! Gimme a "high five" if you know WHY I like that so much! mmmhhmmm...(nodding head). Anyway, this workout helps me move, burn calories, and stay flexible. I do several combinations 6 days a week so that I change it up and also keep up with my body's daily abilities. If I can only do a mile or less, that's what I do. If I feel good and can do more, I do.

I realized that staying still was my nemesis. The more I tried to stop moving because of pain, the stiffer and more painful I became. I know, I know... my Dr. TOLD me to keep moving, but those of us with Fibro know exactly why I was stubborn about it and DREADED the idea of trying to exercise at all. Over the last 5 years, my body has become very, how shall I say it, "Jell-Oish" from sitting and laying down. I'm turning 40 soon and I'm not happy with what's going on in the mirror. Also my food wasn't digesting well because I'm wasn't walking enough or drinking enough water. I had to make a change if I was going to do what I write about and fight for my quality of life.

Another program I started is the "30 Day Shred" by Jillian Michaels. Boy am I at the lowest starting point on this one, but I'm getting better at it. This one you have to work into because it's about building muscle and that means lots of repetition and some weights for resistance. START SLOW. This one I sort-of fell into because of my daughter and her best friend. They started doing the program and Ashlynd bought herself a copy for home. We began doing it together to keep each other motivated. So it has a two-fold benefit. Exercises and lots of laughs and quality time with my girl. Yeah... we do a lot of laughing while we're struggling to keep up. Hahahaha! But we actually made it to the point we could finish level 1 almost entirely without giving up. For me, that's a major mile stone after all these years. Hey, I gotta get some definition back into my form. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do right? (Hubby's probably nodding his head) Heehee...

Ok......on a more serious note:

The other change I've made took 25 years to finally complete. P.S. it's super hard, embarrassing, and humiliating for me to share with you. I took a couple of weeks to really think about whether or not I wanted to post about it. In the end, there were two factors that made me decide to go ahead with it. #1) I gave my word to The Lord that if He delivered me out of what I was facing, I would honor Him for it and help others who are trapped the same way I was. #2) I felt that the help and support this could offer to even 1 person is worth my being willing to talk about it with you.

(Deep breath)...Obviously from the tone of my blog you can tell that I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for some time now. Let's see.... as of January 10th this year it has been 28 years now since I chose to give my life to Him. I was almost 12 years old when I made that choice. I take my relationship with Him very seriously. I know that, especially in today's society, being a Christian is becoming increasingly unpopular. I personally don't care. I know that if anyone wants to find and identify true Christianity and not the media's or society's version of it, nor those who seek to use the title as a means of exacting their revenge and self-serving power, they'll find it. There are enough of us out there that are the real deal. However...being the real deal means doing a lot of work on the inner self and choosing to follow the leading of The Lord rather than our own way. I've made some really bad choices during the times I chose my own way rather than His way of doing things. I make no excuses. They were ALL my own choices. I can't believe He'd even consider forgiving me for them, but that's Who He is. I still have to accept the consequences and results of those decisions though.

One of those times I made a seriously horrible choice not to follow His way of doing things was when I was 15 and my friend handed me a cigarette to try. Little did I know that that one cigarette would lead to 25 years of bondage. 25 years! It was an addiction I tried over and over again to quit without success. I prayed, I bargained, I cried, I did everything. But I gave more power to the addiction than I gave to quitting. I was a "weird" smoker too... I hid, I smoked in secret, I couldn't stand the smell, I was embarrassed to buy them... weird. Plus, only those closest to me knew about it.

I felt SO stupid knowing that I was The King's daughter and living as a smoker at the same time. I felt stupid fighting own self. On one hand I was a smoker, on the other hand I hated it. I was living a double life inside my own body! I was two-faced.

"Why all the guilt and drama?" you ask.

Scripture teaches that Christ died to take our sins upon Himself, pay for them, then rise again back to life, to show His authority over all things including death itself. The Father then sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to live our lives according to God's Word if we choose to follow Him and accept His Lordship. The scripture teaches that God sees that our bodies are inhabited by the Holy Spirit once we make that choice, and we are then God's temple. Rather than having a physical building as a temple, God has chosen to live within us. For the longest time, I didn't let it sink in that by smoking I was bringing a polluting substance into a Holy place..... God's place.

I finally had a light bulb go off one day. That would be like me going into the sacred Holy place of the temple that used to stand in Jerusalem, standing there with a cigarette and smoking in God's face. (That's where the Ark of the Covenant stood and where the high priest himself could only go in once a year. Incidentally, if anyone dared enter besides that day, they died).

I began to see clearly, the mercy He has extended to me for 25 years by forgiving me for this, and I also began to realize that although He forgave me, He still expected me to show Him the proper respect that He is due if I'm going to choose to have The Holy Spirit of God dwell within me. Otherwise, at some time, I would have to face the consequences of my decision to stay addicted to something that had more possession of me than my devotion to my God and King.

I began to earnestly pray and pray that He would take my desire to smoke away from me so that I could honor Him and no longer live a compromised spiritual lifestyle. As time went on I gradually became so disgusted with smoking that I yearned and longed to be free of it once and for all. I couldn't ignore what I was doing any longer. I began to hate it and hate it's control over me. I resolved to do virtually anything I had to do in order to get rid of it.

As far as Fibromyalgia and Allodynia go, the illnesses are bad enough without adding the something like 4000 extra poisons and chemicals in cigarettes to the mix. Those toxins get in the blood steam and tissues and fester there. Just waiting. There are numerous places one can look on the Internet and elsewhere to find out about the devastation these things cause to the body and yes, specifically to people fighting Fibro and other diseases. There are absolutely NO benefits cigarettes or any nicotine device can offer to us. None. Not even the fake euphoria of the "calm" that they give us when we smoke one. It's a lie. All it does is create another receptor in the brain that has to be fed with nicotine. Cigarettes/nicotine devices (chew included) breed receptors like rabbits breed bunnies. Let's just get down to brass tacks. We are fighting enough garbage without adding more fuel for the enemy of our bodies to use against us!

The final choice I made was to attend a 7 week smoking cessation class at our Health and Wellness Center on base, use Chantix in order to block the receptors in my brain that were feeding on nicotine, and I also signed up with AshLine for a counselor to call me every week and keep me accountable while I quit. I have a counselor assigned to me for 6 months. I am very grateful and would recommend it highly to anyone else who is determined to quit nicotine. AshLine provides an awesome service to the community.

I have to pause here and thank my friend Teddy Lyons who has been my confidante and prayer partner in this. She will be embarrassed that I wrote about her, but she deserves the "shout out" believe me. Teddy is an amazing woman. She is one of the main leaders of our Youth program at church and her passion and drive are incredible! Teddy is my friend at church who I chose to confess to about my addiction. She has kept my confidence and has prayed for me time and time again. She knew how scared I was to take Chantix and she prayed over my mind and my physical well being so that there would be no problems with potential side effects. She keeps up with my progress and we celebrate together with lots of hugs and tears. Teddy never downplays the importance of this determined stand against addiction to nicotine. She gets it.

Getting back to what we're discussing... previously I had tried things like nicotine gum and quitting cold turkey. Neither method worked long term because while I quit, I still longed to smoke. This time was different because I no longer wanted anything to do with cigarettes. They became my enemy, a false way of dealing with emotions or pressure, an escape I leaned on to numb my feelings. However, the lure of them was killing me. Cigarettes were physically, spiritually, and emotionally killing me.

I have been clean from nicotine for 44 days as of today. For me, it is a miracle. It is the first time that I don't long for and think about smoking almost all of the day. I don't even think about it much anymore. I can't believe it! I have cravings here and there but they've become an annoyance to me that I bitterly approach with war-like aggression. "Go Away!!!!". I breathe deeply and calmly until they subside, or get busy doing something, or just allow myself to cry through it. I approach it just like any other addict approaches their bondage. I say what it is; nicotine addiction. I say what I want; never to smoke again. I do what I need to; never allow myself to yearn for them again. They are liars and killers and they don't benefit me whatsoever.

Let me address Chantix for a second, because choosing to use it was a tough decision for me. I went to my doctor first and asked him if the medications I use for Fibro/Allodynia would interact with Chantix and cause any problems for me. He assured me that although every medication has risks, the mechanics of the way Chantix works in the brain, had nothing to do with the mechanics of how Lyrica or Ultram work in the body. There wasn't any crossover danger in his estimation. (*** Please always consult your doctor first before choosing to start Chantix. You may have a different situation that needs to be checked out first. Don't just take what my doctor said to me as your answer. Please!) I did a lot of reading on Chantix. Some of the potential side effects scared me and I was nervous about taking it. However, after talking to my doctor and after finding out that the Health and Wellness Center doctors on base would be continuously monitoring my progress with it, I felt more at ease. I knew I wasn't on my own.

I sat down with my husband first and explained everything I knew about Chantix and what my doctor said. Then he went with me to the initial class at the base so that he knew what to expect while I was quitting nicotine. We both felt solid about the support system I had in place. Then we sat down with our kids and explained what to look for just in case there were any side effects that I experienced. We banded together in prayer and then decided to tackle this thing head on!

I have to say that my family has been AWESOME through each stage I've gone through. They count days with me or call to see how I'm doing, or the kids cheer me on at mile stones. They've really supported my desire to beat nicotine and to get rid of the "idol" that I felt was interfering with my ability to have a more committed relationship with God.

I feel that after what God has done to show me His love, I owe him my allegiance out of sheer gratitude if nothing else. (That's putting it lightly) I don't want a "religion", I want to know my Creator in all ways that I can possible know Him. But because He is Holy, and has standards, I need to meet Him on His terms and respect Him. I don't find that restrictive or dictator-ish, I find it incredibly comforting and safe. He is a GOOD God, and He is also a Just God. He's been good to me.

As I mentioned before, I promised The Lord that if I was set free from nicotine, I would testify about His showing me the way to break this bondage off me. I knew that I needed to make the first step in this case. After He saw the determination I had to do virtually anything it took to be clean and to honor Him, He stepped in. He was there and has been there every step of the way. Through the roughest stages of withdrawal and the highest celebrations of mile stones, He's been there.

Listen, I'm not going to romanticize the whole issue and say how easy it was for me. Nope. It was very, very, very hard. During the first 14 days I had to learn a whole new way of living, deal with my emotions and stresses without cigarettes, and deal with the nausea I had at first while taking Chantix and my body was getting cleaned out. The first 14 days were the hardest for me and there were times I just gripped the edges of the sink or nearby counter and cried my eyes out, telling God how much I wanted to smoke so I didn't have to feel anything. I just stood there and allowed myself to have a melt down. That's when I was sure I would fail. But... I didn't. I wanted to be clean from nicotine more than I wanted to smoke and put myself right back into that vicious cycle of addiction again. I could hardly believe my inner drive to get rid of this thing. I had a resolve I'd never had before. God is faithful to meet us right where we are when we come to Him honestly and just let go of being in control. He took my blubbering, snotty, crumbled mess and lifted me up. That's the REAL Jesus.

44 days in, here are the benefits (not in order) of my choice to be clean from nicotine:

1) I can breathe so much better now. The weight is off my mind, my heart, and my chest.
2) I know The Lord is pleased and I see the best He wants for me.
3) My children, my husband, and my parents are seeing me fight.
4) I have LESS body pain. It's the truth. I feel better and I have more energy. I don't hurt as much anymore. Taking those pollutants out of my body has definitely improved my day to day function and ability to manage Fibro.
5) My hair has stopped falling out so much.
6) I don't feel like a slave to something that "owns" me anymore.
7) I don't have to hide.
8.) I turned 40 yesterday, and I was clean for the first birthday in 25 years!

My friends, I'm fighting for my quality of life right along with you. You are not alone.

Your friend and fellow fighter,