Recent posts on Still Pain

I’ve been blogging about my recent diagnostic circus over at Still Pain (my health-focused blog).

It’s been a busy many months, in and out of hospital to get a diagnosis of spondyloarthritis after 30 years of symptoms, a bad allergic reaction to sulfasalazine, starting a light dose of chemotherapy with methotrexate, and so. many. tests!

The new diagnosis of spondyloarthropathy includes the sciatica and costochondritis I had as a kid, and moves the fibromyalgia to be a secondary symptom, because I developed it in my 20s as a result of the childhood of abuse and the chronic pain since before I was a teen.

c1c14-917596_609182152570974_951920713_nDespite, or perhaps, because of this, I’ve been a crafting machine – I finished many crochet projects in 2015 and am well on my way to powering through 2016.

A slow 20 minutes a day really gets results, it’s how I finished the cross-stitch pillow in time for Easter, taking part in the SustainablyCreative 20 minutes a day challenge.

Around all of this, I’m trying to get as many photographic jobs done as I can, and recently upgraded one of my lenses, to better take craft and food photos.

But that’s the limit of my energy at the moment.

I’d love it if you popped on over to StillPain, and if you find anything interesting, do leave me a comment there!


Quick pain management for a costochondritis flare

Johnny, lying in the balcony garden.

Costochondritis can knock you out!
(my cat Johnny, sleeping in the balcony garden)

Managing the spiking pain of costochrondritis is draining and difficult.

Especially when it’s a chronic symptom of another illness like fibromyalgia.

→ How to quickly manage a costochondritis flare

My recent post on

Unfortunately, last night at bedtime the costo spiked, probably due to a physio session, earlier in the day.

I couldn’t get comfortable, breathe properly. It felt like it had cramped all through from my back and out my chest.

I stayed calm (or rather, tried). Took a pain killer, but knew it wouldn’t kick in for 30 minutes. I lay on my back on one heat pack, as flat as possible, with another heat pack on my chest. Breathed slowly (mostly), did a bodyscan meditation for about 20 minutes – that was hard!

This morning, I’m sore. Very sore. Solid back, shoulder and chest. Hot shower helps.

I’ll rest for a few days. No cleaning, lifting, shopping, cooking, etc.

From experience, I know I’ll be ok in a few days.

Main blogs – StillPain and LearnedWords

IV port in handIf you are interested in following along with health musings, medical research and my journey to untangle my complex health problems, I’m blogging over at

Endometriosis, adenomyosis, PTSD, fibromyalgia, costochondritis, spondyloarthritis, stress and pain management, as well as a constellation of other health and lifestyle related topics will be featured, along with my photography in black and white. has tips for language teachers and learners, and for writers. It’s more work focused, and less personal than my health blog. You’ll find lesson plans for my EFL classes, puzzles and handouts, as well as reviews of the software I use and related books.

I’d love to see you there!

Why are habits so difficult?

20130626-072825.jpgI have struggled with adding good habits and getting rid of the not so good ones for a long, long time. The tricks that work for many, don’t work well for me.

Perhaps it’s that I’m rather scatterbrained, chasing after ‘shiny’ thoughts and activities, and letting the habit work fall by the wayside.

Motivational tricks like ticking the calendar days or rewards for activities done, fail. Asking for people close to me to keep me accountable also fails, they sympathize with difficulties in dealing with my illnesses, and don’t annoy me to keep on track.

But I haven’t tried public accountability!

So, starting today, I’ll be using the Lift app, and committing to the first of hopefully many good and permanent changes – daily stretching. It’s a habit that will help me manage my illnesses better, and should show improvements quickly (like touching my toes!)

Leo Babauta has some tips about sticking to a habit – focus on one, make it tiny, reduce the resistance, and then just do it.

What tricks work for you to add good habits or get rid of bad ones?

Beating procrastination

Typewriter in monochromeI was once told that I was too smart to use any of the productivity hacks against procrastination — I could see through my reward systems, etc.

Although I suspect my problem is more due to fear, just like everyone else’s. Fear of failure, or of success. Of being noticed or asked to do more, or being unheard.

And for me, there is the fear of increased physical pain in most of what I want to get done. Fibro, endometriosis and random virus infections eat my to-do lists more often than not.

I often tell myself, I’m not a routine person – my daily routine is always modified by how I’m feeling physically. To-do and goal lists run pages long, impractical even for the most super-productive person in the world.

But I suspect it’s more about the fear of hurting, than the actual hurting – when I get things done, I typically feel relieved and happy (even if it hurts).

The reward system isn’t strong enough to beat this. Perhaps an accountability buddy would be, if I could find one who understood that sometimes the to-dos are less important than crashing.

What are your favourite anti-procrastination and productivity hacks?

Let me know in the comments below!

If you have a friend in a similar situation, who could add their productivity hacks, please share this post.

When pain lasts – keep searching for the cause

Origami cranes for health

Origami cranes for health, after the earthquake at a shrine in Fukushima.

I’ve had somewhat of a long history with a variety of chronic pain conditions.

Migraines, sciatica, costochondritis from my early teens still plague me today, although some are more easily managed than others with physical therapy – movement and stretching help sciatic pain enormously, and the chest pain some of the time. Migraines seem to be cyclical, with a bit of stress influence.

Fibromyalgia joined the mix in my early 20s, probably after a bout of undiagnosed glandular fever, throwing in muscle and joint pain and fatigue. Of course, this is an umbrella diagnosis – no one know the real causes, and treatment varies wildly between patients. Recent theories have proposed that fibro pain really is in sufferer’s heads – malfunctioning pain receptors in the brain. I struggle with remaining productive with my fibromyalgia using hacks when I can, but know that the other pain conditions are worsening this condition.

The worst ongoing pain and doctor ignorance, has been thanks to me producing far too much estrogen. Painful, heavy and long periods hounded me throughout my teens and tweens, with doctors and specialists constantly assuring me either that it was normal, or that I was fully imagining the pain.

It wasn’t normal. Not in the slightest.

Because the doctors had ignored it for so long, endometriosis had covered the inside of my abdomen, making it too dangerous to remove surgically, until the blood supply had been reduced  with Zoladex.

Even after three operations for the worst endometriosis the surgeons had seen, I was told the pain was just in my head. They later found my womb was riddled with adenomyosis – endo that had grown through and in the muscle wall. Even after 5 surgeries, and now 3 chemically induced menopauses, my belly tortures me with cramps, aches, IBS symptoms, bloating, bursting cysts, and inflammation. The endo has now grown into my bowel, throwing up the risk of a bowel re-section (no thanks!)

A surgeon recently gave me hope, suggesting a oopherectomy might get rid of the incessant problems, but the gyn has refused. Am now seeking a third opinion. Anything to get rid of this overriding pain.

Morals of the story

Have you ever had doctors say that you imagined your pain, only to find out they were wrong some time later, and you really were sick? 

Tell me about it in the comments below!

If this post resonated with you, please share it!

Coffee reads – working on one’s self

A collection of blog posts, articles and tweets which caught my attention in the last week. Some may be recent, some older.

Coffee and chocolateGuidelines for change – Down to Earth

On downshifting, simplifying, focusing on things other than money, and doing stuff yourself – growing a garden, reusing and recycling. Something I keep meaning to do more of.

7 reasons you struggle with happiness – Marc and Angel Hack Life

Points 1-5 resonated strongly with me – I have a habit of letting problems lie, and not doing enough about them, hiding my feelings from myself, and putting my passions aside.

Pick one – First Today, Then Tomorrow

Being overwhelmed with choices, with things to do, projects to complete, idea overload. Solution – pick one. Must try this!

Lying to yourself – James Gowans

Saying no isn’t hard – kids do it all the time. But I’ve forgotten how to do it. A necessary skill to keep using, to keep sane, productive and avoid overload.

Don’t compare yourself to others, just get on with YOUR important work – Sustainably Creative

In comparison, you always end up lacking, losing, wanting, and then feeling bad and not doing whatever it is you want to do – not feeling good enough. This is certainly a description of me!

“When you’re feeling lost, take heart. It’s just your brain gathering the information it needs to make good decisions.” ~Josh Kaufman  via @ThinkSimpleNow

Got another article or tweet you’d love to add? Let me know in the comments!

Know someone who would love these articles, please share this post!

Dealing with anger

Japanese dragon painting

What are your favourite ways of dealing with anger?

I’ve had a rough and tough year for me, for a number of reasons, and have noticed just how much anger is contributing to my higher pain levels.

It has become a nasty cycle, and one that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight for the next many months.

So, I’m on the hunt for ways to deal with the festering anger.

Books, therapies, activities?

Any suggestions are most welcome!

%d bloggers like this: