May 13, 2017

Shocking Cure for My Mystery Fibromyalgia Muscle Pain

I have been in pain for years!  My Dad called it being "Muscle Bound".  The muscle soreness symptoms fit all the markers for Fibromyalgia.  Sports journals identify it as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).  My natural doctor said my body was inherently tight and suggested that I increase my yoga, we also identified several foods that were increasing inflammation (nightshades and wheat) and causing pain.  The physical therapist said the surgery scars and scar tissue were impeding natural movement and that was creating imbalances throughout the body.

They were probably all right but none of the above totally captured what was going on and neither did a single article on the internet (that I could find), so I here is the story and the surprising way I've received relief.

I begin at the beginning for a couple of reasons, first to demonstrate that this goes back a very long time, second because my Father and Grandfather had the same symptoms so no one thought this was out of the ordinary, finally in all of the possible causes above most of them are adult onset, so we had a mystery.  This aspect is particularly troubling because both of these fine men died in their early 60's of heart failure, could there be a link?  This study raises the troubling possibility.

At about 5 years old, I began having terrible pain in my legs at night.  My Dad called them shin splints and growing pains, he'd rub me down with Ben Gay and put a heating pad in the bed so I could go to sleep.  When I was about 8 years old, I had a particularly hard gymnastics workout.  Two days later I could not straighten my legs and could barely walk.  My Dad put me in a super hot bath and then made me "jog it out".

Exercise regimes were difficult because they caused disproportionate muscle stiffness and soreness that lasted upwards of a week and required massive doses of ibuprofen to function.  The older I got the worse it became.  An hour of light weeding in the garden = one week of pain.  Five Sun Salutations = three days of back pain.  It is almost impossible to motivate yourself to exercise when the result is such agony.

Was it hormonal?  I began looking at "relaxin" the hormone produced largely to relax muscles while you are pregnant.  One researcher has focused on this in relation fibromyalgia pain but his results have been inconclusive.  Hormone research is in infancy so breakthroughs on that front are still to be discovered.

Years ago, Bill Phillips developed a product called Phosphagen Elite and it worked amazingly well for me, but alas Bill sold his company and the product is no longer available.

Was it allergies?  Avoiding nightshades and wheat certainly, plays a role.  This is especially true for a body at rest but it was not the full story.

How about lactic acid?  Most experts think this is the cause of DOMS.  I made an off-hand comment to my natural doctor, "Is there some vitamin that you can give me to make the mosquitoes stop eating me alive?"  He said, well, there actually is a product that will control the lactic acid which is what they are attracted to. Takesumi Supreme.  I took it prior to going into my garden and noticed that not only did the mosquitoes leave me alone but the debilitating muscle soreness seemed to be reduced.  I mentioned it to him on the next visit and he confirmed he saw a decrease in his muscle soreness.  This offered some relief but it wasn't the ultimate answer.

Vitamins and suppliments - there is no doubt in my mind that three years of loving care by my natural doctor helped to bring my body into balance.  Of note, two suppliments seemed to make the biggest difference - Magnesium Citrate and CoQ10.  Those are integral parts of my daily regime but neithere were they the magic element.

At the end of the day, the solution and the "cure" or at least the symptom manager came from the most unlikely place, amphetamines.  Given to my Mother while she was pregnant with me to keep her weight down.  Yes, dear friends, many of your Moms and Grandmothers were given speed to help them keep their weight gain to a minimum in the 1950's to the 1970's (read here).  The implications of this go well beyond what tradition science tells you - it goes deep into the epigenome.  As I began my weight loss journey and my medicine regime I noticed immediately that I could exercise like a normal person.  A small dose of phentermine changed everything.

Gone was the debilitating muscle pain, gone was the post work out stiffness, gone was the need for dozens of ibuprofen pills after a simple work out.  Perhaps it is my specific biology, my specific situation, maybe it is just an answer to years of prayer but since I was never able to find anything online to help me, I thought it was worth a post.  Peace and Love, Friends.

May 8, 2017

The Day the Lutheran Preacher Stunned His Congregation

When I was about 14, my Lutheran Pastor preached a sermon.

That is a statement because most of the time, he gave little inspirational sermonettes.  A softly spoken, feel good, 15-minute talk designed to tell me how much God loved me and how secure I was in my position in Christ.  It was a comfortable and affirming message; promptly forgotten over Sunday lunch at the Ryan's all you can eat salad bar.  This message was different; decades later his words still ring true.

Our mild-mannered servant Pastor from the Mid-West lit into his complacent suburban congregation like a sweaty tent preacher.  Stunned and wide-eyed, nobody moved.  He convicted us for leaving the work of the church to him and to him alone.  He visited the sick, he led the Bible study, he organized the food drives, he did the counseling, he did it all and we let him.  

Being 14, I felt sorry for what he was going through, but I was a kid, I was not supposed to do those things.  That was for the adults to do, then he hit me right between the eyes with this question:

"When was the last time you told someone about Christ?"

I squirmed, I shifted - I could not recall ever directly witnessing to anyone.  Apparently, I was not alone.  Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, estimates that only 2% of Christians actively share their faith.  There are a myriad of reasons why and each believer needs to examine their own heart but at 14, I was afraid of rejection by my peers.  I was afraid to be labeled as a crazy Christian, I was not brave enough.

Over the years, I began to understand that witnessing to someone is the most sacred and loving thing you can do for them.  It takes courage.  The alternative though is to leave hurting people without hope.  To let people grieve without Christ, to face an uncertain future without eternal salvation, to risk tomorrow without the protection of the cross.  How much of a coward do you have to be to let someone you love face eternal damnation in Hell and not tell them?

Praying with the Hurting
Every encounter is different, each circumstance calls for a Holy Spirit inspired approach.  Sometimes evangelism is logical and fact based, others times it may call for discussions that are reasoned and scientific.  Some simply need to hear that there is hope in Jesus Christ and hear of His love, some need to know there is a cleansing from their sin.  Others need comfort when a loved one has died, some need to be shocked by the reality of hell. 

Cowards and fools think that all Evangelism is street corner preachers screaming at people that they are going to hell.  Do not let the judgment of cowards and fools keep you from telling others about Christ.  Be the 2%.

May 7, 2017

Defining Yourself

In a perfect world, we operate in complete understanding and self-knowledge.  We understand our motivations, we are rational in our decision making, and we do not allow emotions to override what we know to be an evidentiary truth.  In this Utopia, we are grounded in the reality of who we are and focus not on our failures but the lessons we learned from the tough times and the positive results that were achieved by rising above.  We are strong and self-confident, we accept praise from those we love and believe the good things they say about us.  Critics, while they exist here, are to cause us to examine ourselves, to course-correct where necessary but never to let them determine how we feel about who we are.  Likewise, those who reject us - employers, lovers, family, and friends are shrugged off as not worthy of us, not a good match, or unsuitable for long term companionship.

Unfortunately, in reality, the critic and the rejectors are often the very people we allow to define us to ourselves in our internal thought life.

We can allow the most hurtful insults, the most painful rejection, the lowest points of our lives to become the defining moments and characteristics that play over and over again like a broken record that refuses to stop.  The rational part of the brain knows that this is not the truth, the people that love us and encourage us, assure us that this is not reality but there is something broken inside of us.  Something that clings to the terrible.  Deep inside, we believe the critic and the rejector.

As Christians, we recognize this is the sinful fallen nature, the flesh and the blackness of who we really are without Christ.  Perhaps it is our way of punishing ourselves, definitely, it is a way for the enemy to keep us in condemnation, or at the very least it is something we do that is so buried that we do not really recognize that we are doing it at all.

There are studies that say that 80% of self-talk is negative.  How much of that comes from letting the critics and the rejectors define who we think we are?  How do these phrases that loop through your head at regular intervals frame your life?

Have you been fired from a job?  Do you hear the words, "I'm sorry but we are going to have to let you go." over and over again?

Rejected by a lover, "I just don't love you anymore.  You used to be fun, now you are so serious."

A false friend, "Sorry I haven't called, I've just been so busy.  We'll get together soon, I promise."  All the while posting picture after picture of themselves and other friends at events where you were not included or invited.

"Why aren't you more successful like your Brother Harry?"  The cruel and judgemental parent asks.

Overheard whisper at the family reunion, "Yeah, the youngest one over there, nothing but trouble.  In an out of rehab, drugs... I always knew that one..."

The exasperated teacher, "I just don't think you are going to be able to succeed in this class, Roland.  I've made arrangements with the Special Education Teacher for her to come and get you and take you to her class from now on."

These events, phrases, and times can be decades old yet they still haunt our psyches.  They still play over and over like a bad commercial, they still define who we think that we are.  Only when we recognize the pattern can we be free of it.

Consider for a moment, we take critics and rejection so personally because they are often rejecting the very thing that makes us unique - the thing that makes us who we are!  

If we try to remake ourselves into something we are not, we are not being true to ourselves. The critic will never take back their hurtful words, and new relationships that we might form are stymied because we are not being honest with anyone!

I have done this several times!  I was fired from a General Manager's job and given a list of reasons why they let me go, mainly that I was not sales oriented enough, that I was too operations-centric.  My next job?  You guessed it, full-time sales.  Several years later, I took another General Manager's job and was determined to do everything right - all the criticism the last company had levied at me, I made sure I did not do.  In the end?  You guessed it, they fired me for not being operations-centric enough and being too sales-focused!  It was bizarre.  I reeled.

In the end, we can not allow those who reject us to define who we are to ourselves.  That inner self, the inner dialogue should be defined by those who love us.  It should be filled with affirmations and love, not condemnation and regret.

May 6, 2017

Grief - Truth Serum for Toxic Relationships

An old good friend of mine died this month by her own hand.  I have mourned harder than I expected, especially considering that we had lost touch many years ago.  Events like that make you pause and examine your life, and your friends; they make you determine to draw closer to the ones that you love.

Grief has a flip side though, it peels back sentiment to reveal hidden truth.   

This is especially true for straight forward people who operate without agendas and subterfuges.  Open and honest people, who take others at their word can go through life believing that people who they love, love them back - they say they do after all.  Through grief, rose colored glasses are removed to wipe away tears; as the grieving person reaches out to loved ones, they can be shocked to find a sneering face looking back at them.

Shock envelopes the griever, both parties go through the charade, but for the first time, the griever knows it is an act.  Having operated for years in subterfuge, the manipulator never knows they have been unmasked.  

The honest emotion of grief sends the deceitful one scurrying away to the shadows where they have alway truly inhabited.   Adulters, liars, manipulators, and self-absorbed flakes can never truly give unselfishly of themselves to comfort another person, they are too broken.  The sad truth is, the only person they really love is themselves.

As the days and weeks go by, remembered conversations, flashes of memory, long forgotten events, small digs and subtle insults, hurt feelings, begin to come into focus.  With the rose colored glasses removed, the truth about the toxic relationship emerges.  Even in perfect times of peace and harmony, these relationships are selfish and one sided.  The realization is often as painful as the grief that precipitated it but facing it and dealing with it are a vital part of emotional healing and restoration.  

Every relationship has an emotional bank account. Each person makes deposits and withdrawals from the account as the relationship goes on. The depth of the relationship, the longevity, the closeness all contributes to the available funds. Those factors also contribute to the amount of "overdraft" protection the account has and how long an account in the red will be allowed to stay active before it is closed.

The most difficult thing we can do is close the account for someone we have loved deeply.  To walk away from someone that hurts us, to leave that relationship in the grave with the grief that revealed it, is the most empowering and freeing things we can do for ourselves.  Ironically, the person you are walking away from might not ever realize you are gone, but then again, that is exactly the point.