What would you like to see on Our Invisible World?

August 23, 2014

Relapse Rollercoaster

Originally posted on THE DIARY OF AN ILL GIRL:

On Saturday, July 4th I woke up feeling like my life was turned upside down compared to the functionality of the last 8 months. It took me until 7pm to manage my symptoms well enough to go sit in a lawn to watch fireworks. The next day, Sunday, July 5th was worse. I was shaking life a leaf in church and declined rapidly afterward. Whole body muscle spasms, extreme weakness, moments of neurological paralysis, so much pain, lack of postural control…always hard for me to describe it through brain fog when it was 10 days ago. The day after, Monday July 6th I was terrified at work because I could not work. I had to tell my boss I could only do a little work here and there, which is devastating to me because for the past 8 years I’ve never been able to keep a job. But this one…

View original 315 more words

By brendahankins Posted in Tips

Declining on a roller coaster

Originally posted on THE DIARY OF AN ILL GIRL:

Hard to believe my last entry was only written 18 days ago. But M.E./CFS can rapidly decline in a few hours so it’s no surprise. I feel like I’m losing control of my body and life. I am. When I saw my mom Thursday she said I seemed drunk (she knows I’m not – she’s just saying it seemed like it). I couldn’t hear what she was saying, I couldn’t reply to her, I was dropping things, I was a zombie, etc. I had been feeling improved on LDN (low-dose naltrexone, a neuroimmune disease medicine) and now I am slipping into a sort of relapse. Just now I wondered if maybe I made myself sick by trying to ice skate again (skating was my childhood hobby). I was trying to enjoy as much of life as I could and maybe I should have just rested and enjoyed being able to…

View original 119 more words

By brendahankins Posted in Tips

New Life, High Hopes

Originally posted on THE DIARY OF AN ILL GIRL:

I’ll attempt to write a diary entry about my illness. I used to be a wonderful writer and in fact it was one of the things I loved the most. My brain broke when I got sick in 2007. The concentration it takes makes me more ill when I attempt it and what comes out on the page is not nearly as well written as it would have been prior to 2007.

So, life has been quite nice lately. I met 3 other girls on the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Global support group on Facebook. Lindsey posted what if we did an ice bucket type challenge. Nicola said she’d already thought of the Chilli ME Challenge with her husband. I really wanted to make it happen with them and Catherine jumped on board too. So the four of us formed a friendship and dove into this thing unequipped and ignoring what others…

View original 430 more words

By brendahankins Posted in Tips

LDN low-dose naltrexone info

Below are links for information about the medicine that changed my life.

Quick points:
–It heals so many areas of you body: neuro, immune, endo, sexual reproduction, and more.
–It’s completely safe, safer than any prescription drug you could take. I’ve had zero side effects.
–It’s super cheap. Mine is $46 for a 3-month supply. $12/mo. I’d gladly pay more than that to save my life like it has.
–You do need a prescription but you don’t need insurance. You just call a doctor like Dr. Feeney for a phone consult and they fax you in a prescription to a pharmacy that mails it to you.
–It’s not a narcotic at all and it does not boost nor suppress your immune system as many people with immune system issues like lupus are afraid of. It’s not addicting at all.
–Make sure you start low and go slow in increasing your dose. Start at .5 mg and either go up .5 every 2 weeks or every month. The ONLY side effect people usually face is that you could get nauseated if you go up in dose too quickly, as your immune system is adjusting to being balanced and healed. Every one needs a different dose (up to 5 mg). I take 2.25 mg each night. You can take it at night or morning, which ever you prefer. I take it at night because it helps me sleep. Some people take it in the morning because it keeps them up at night.

Good documentary video about LDN

Cort Johnson LDN

LDN published research studies
LDN published in-vitro studies

By brendahankins Posted in Tips

LDN Changed My Life (Low-Dose Naltrexone)

I am taking the time out (of my fatigue and excessive sleep schedule lol) to make a post about my wonderful news. I’ve been enjoying a little taste of normalcy. I was actually able to go for a walk and rollerblade this week!!! That is huge news!!! I even ice skated for a few minutes last week. Amazing!!! Why, you ask??? Because of LDN (Low-Dose Naltrexone). If you have an autoimmune disease, neurological disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc. — do whatever you can to get your hands on some LDN. I ordered mine on the internet from the U.K. and will soon do a phone consultation with a specialist doctor from another state to get a prescription for it. I’ll post an article about it later, because I’m pretty tired right now, as usual. But it’s not quite as severe on LDN. I need to post about the wonders of this drug later!!! I’ve posted before about it on my Facebook page for my blog. You have no idea how thankful I am that something finally helped me somewhat. NO IDEA. There is no treatment for my disease and it’s disabling. I have dreams that I could be sort of normal…

My Story

I’ve been meaning to write my story on here, my journey of chronic illness – the me before, the me during denial & acceptance, and the me now, hopefully after acceptance. It’s been a long hard road, which no one knows how hard, with the exception of maybe my mother, lol. I’ve been way too mentally fogged, physically and mentally fatigued, and scatter-brained to put my thoughts together to write this. The events surrounding my diagnosis are also a traumatic time of my life that I probably have a little PTSD from (for even more reasons than I wrote here). That sounds lame, haha. So here’s an’ll be edited many times I’m sure..

All of my entire life, even as a child, I wondered why I got tired sooner than others. Why I would stay up nights with my mind racing. Why my room, car (once I drove), and appearance would be immaculate, beautiful, and organized for some months and then a disaster other months. Why I took short cuts for everything, seemed lazy, and seemed like “she’s just no trying hard enough.” Why even as a child I would stare out the classroom window at the clouds some days in a haze and yet perform super well academically other days. Why I was so athletic, creative, brilliant, prolific, and cheerful some days and seemed like such a sloth, stupid, depressed, and spaced out other days. I just thought I was stupid. Seriously. I believed that I was the problem and that I was more of a failure than others. I never made a connection between any health issues and my tired behavior. I always knew my mom was different but never thought much about it. As kids we knew to let her sleep in the morning, that she fatigued easily, that she had arthritis and the cold hurt her, that she couldn’t remember what color someone’s hair was she had seen every day (memory), etc. etc. But I never thought much other than, “Oh, yeah, my mom has lupus.” I thought of myself as super capable physically. Even when I would have an off-month of struggling to do the very same athletics I had just been good at a few days ago. I ran track, was a cheerleader, was in dance, loved going to the gym so much, liked adventure and far away places, etc. Even as a kid I preferred to eat healthy.

In college I was a health science major and ate very healthy and knew all about nutrition. I went to the gym many days of the week with intense workouts and was smug when I’d outrun all my roommates. Then I would spend days in bed tired. I sometimes suspected I was depressed, but I didn’t feel depressed. I was just upset that I was “lazy.” I’m not sure exactly why I didn’t know it was my body. Complete and total utter denial? I got the A’s to get into grad school for occupational therapy in college. The summer before grad school, ironically, I fell very ill. I had just gotten all my vaccines (ahem!) to work a summer internship for my bachelor’s degree at a hospital in Dallas. Once in the internship, something felt wrong. It hurt me to go to and from the floors and units of the hospitals. I asked my coworkers, “Do you hurt when you push these heavy doors open?” They shook their head. My boss looked into my eyes and would ask sternly, “Are you high? You look high as a kite!” He was serious. I just blew it off and thought I was a weirdo. I was also taking a couple summer classes during this internship. I was stretched pretty thin and studying after internship work and classes (all 3 in different towns – home, work, and school). Nothing normal people can’t manage though.

Once the internship was over, 2 months later, I flew straight out to California to visit friends on vacation before I would start grad school. It was cool, beautiful weather at Six Flags and we hadn’t even ridden a roller coaster yet but were in a long line. I was so dizzy, nauseas, and my heart was racing faster than it did even during exercise. My friend had to keep catching me from stumbling over. “Do you want to sit down?” No, I said. During the roller coaster I kept passing out. After the roller coaster ride I collapsed in a friend’s arms. I briefly lost consciousness. They took me to a table to sit down and brought me water. (Many years later, I learned these are symptoms of dysautonomia/POTS). I let them ride the rides without me, determined not to spoil their fun, and when we got home I collapsed in bed and would not be able to keep my eyes open for a long time. This part is so hard to explain why it was one of the worst feelings ever. Still to this day when I get like this it’s very hard to explain (other people with M.E./CFS know what I mean). My friends brought me strong shots of Starbucks coffee, 5-hour energy drinks, Monster energy drinks, etc. I could not wake up! This was very strange. I couldn’t sit up in bed or move my limbs (sounds crazy huh?). I couldn’t keep my eyes open and when I did it hurt sooo bad mentally to do so and I couldn’t take in anything around me but could hear noise. If I heard any words they morphed with my dreams. I saw images around the room I was in when I would see the room. I couldn’t answer what they were saying to me or comprehend it. Why we didn’t go to a hospital, I’m not sure. I was a healthy normal girl, why go? And even with my high fever, mostly these symptoms were not your typical call-the-ambulance type symptoms. They were bizarre, you’re-a-weirdo symptoms. Lol. But yet they were agony, complete-hell symptoms. Torture. And I had gotten a very normal amount of sleep – in fact, more sleep than normal. I slept as much as I could and stayed there way longer than I should’ve in order to get back to grad school in time.

I arrived back in DFW TX the day before I was to start school. I was so not ready to start. I didn’t know my schedule and the very first professor I had was so disgusted with me for it. She branded me as lazy and told all the rest of the professors and administration that. When I would talk to the others, they even told me so and looked down on me. (Female bitchy gossip eh? Ugh.) She made my grad school stink. Everyone had loved me in undergrad. Anyways, grad school was a night mare. I did very well despite my illness and I’m damn proud of that now!! But at the time, I hated myself for what I could not do. I fell into a depression due to the limitations my illness put on me. That first semester of grad school, my school health clinic diagnosed me for the first time with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. My brand new symptoms I’d never had all my life were: intense pain all over with muscle spasms at times that would seize me up some days so much I couldn’t move that particular muscle, intense fatigue when doing anything at all, inability to shower myself most of the time (besides the fatigue and hard to breathe and dizziness, I’d pass out in the shower and then collapse on the bed after the shower), insomnia late into the night, sleeping all day and not feeling refreshed, sudden sensitivity to cold and heat. I would go to take a written exam and not know how to write, LITERALLY (that part is M.E./CFS). I would start a sentence and my hand would roll the ballpoint off the page and I couldn’t do otherwise. I spent all my time sleeping in my apartment bedroom and my awake hours studying. I tried my best to hide all of my symptoms from my friends and classmates and resume a normal social life, yet I could never get out of my apartment. I had a high fever everyday and swollen lymph nodes all over my body. I would be driving down a road next to my apartment I had driven down hundreds of times and suddenly not know whether I was on the right side of the road or not and would pull over to figure it out. I had a couple seizures (syncope-induced ones from dysautonomia/POTS). I had tachycardy crises episodes with EMTs and all. I always insisted I didn’t need the hospital/ambulance. I couldn’t afford it. I was prescribed medicines that made me much worse. I was thrown anti-depressants (so not helpful). My hair started falling out in chunks.

I was scared. I didn’t know anything about what I had been diagnosed with and neither did anyone else. There was no information on the internet back then!!! And the information that was on there was false because it was people pulling theories out of their butt that were not true (current research now says so). Most theories were that it was all in our head. This made me very sad. Was I crazy??? Was I lazy??? Everyone else thought so. My doctors told me I just had anxiety (I was on top of the world and happy with life when I fell ill, what??) and that I need to exercise more and eat healthier (no one did this more than me when I got sick, trust me). My family never ever acknowledged what was happening to me and especially not the gravity of it, perhaps the most painful and scarring of all of it. I know that’s airing dirty laundry, but it’s a huge part of my story. When everyone you love and respect thinks you are insane for something you are suffering terribly with and are disabled with, it is a big mindfrack. Imagine if you were on top of the world and your world was suddenly turned upside down when you lost everything you had worked so hard for because you were dying of cancer (one of the diseases that are socially acceptable, ahem!) and you had to stay isolated in your bedroom majority of your time and everyone told you it was your fault, you’re making yourself sick, you’re lazy and not trying hard enough, you need to just Snap Out of It, you are ungrateful, and no one would help you. It was terrible. The people that go through this, that are stigmatized and left to their own devices and are so confused, they go through hell. This is why our illness is not like other ones. It’s truly traumatizing, I promise.

So, after grad school, I could not be an occupational therapist, which I mourned the loss of for years. I was “too sick” to have a career. I had no clue what I was capable of doing now. I took a medical transcription course and began working at a medical transcription company. I got to use my medical knowledge and love of language. But desk jobs wreck havoc on a body with fibro and dysautonomia. The second most ill I’ve ever been happened when I worked at my first MT job in Austin. I had to quit due to health but it was just in time for me to move back home closer to family anyways. My brother so kindly took me in here in DFW. If he had not I shudder to think where I would be now – I can’t even type here about that part yet. Maybe another day. That time frame where I was working at an MT job in Austin, I began researching even more all about my health every chance I got. I learned so much and saw that the information on it had exploded since I first got diagnosed. Ironically, in the past year, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome research has hit a gold rush. Even though there was a fibro study with proof of brain lesions(!) on MRI back in 2009, the real attention-grabber was a study last year, 2013, that revealed physical evidence of neuropathy in fibromyalgia. Ever since then, suddenly researchers care. =p They mostly want a nobel peace prize and to make pharmaceutical profit. Funny what motivates humans. Funny how people worship scientists as gods that actually have pure intentions to pursue the truth and help people. While this is true for many people, it’s also very untrue for many others. I too used to not realize this until I got my illness. We see such a wicked side of humanity when we have an unknown illness. You’d have to see it to believe it, trust me. I believe I’m now in healthy place with the acceptance of my whole ordeal. Grief is a cycle (have you heard?) – Denial, bargaining, anger, sadness, acceptance, and one other thing. I cycled through all of that over the last 7 years since I was diagnosed at 22.

I always understate my illness when I describe it. So this story is an understatement – it does not capture the worst of it AT ALL. What I want you all to remember, the healthy ones, is that majority of the information you read on the internet about fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome is wrong!! The info is either outdated or written by people assuming what they pulled out of their behind is true. For example, some doctors say the treatment is psychological therapy. Haha! Would you tell a cancer patient that? Doctors used to say 50 years ago that cancer was from repressed feelings. 99% of doctors are behind the times. You’re better off getting on the computer and reading the scientific studies yourself, because most of them sure haven’t been reading the up-to-date stuff themselves. Then print out what you learned and put it on their desk. I’m sort of babbling now, even though that is an important point..Hm..what else? Oh, in 2013, the year I did all that research (and still Every Day!), I joined a bunch of support groups on Facebook and my mind was blown! I read people posting their symptoms and I said Oh myyy you have that too?! I had never met anyone with my health condition and it’s such a complex bizarre disease that I never pieced together all the symptoms until I joined in with others to piece it all together. We all were like Wow we’re not crazy! Like everyone thinks we are. There is a very unique pattern of symptoms to fibro that popular media Never mentions. All they say is “pain.” Nooo, intense pain is the least of our problems. We are also suddenly stupid, senile, fatigued people. We can’t concentrate. We stay up all night because we cannot get to sleep, then we sleep all day to make up for it. Trust me, we’ve tried every thing in the book for insomnia – it aint changin! We stutter, to say the least. We can’t form a sentence sometimes. I would walk up to my boss’ desk in Austin and stare at her with a blank look on my face and have no clue how to articulate what I was going to say. I couldn’t speak. There are also many comorbities to fibro, like endometriosis and lupus. The fatigue is everyone’s worst symptom, they all say. Which brings me to my next point.

If I just had fibro, that might be easier to cope with by itself. I also have, for one, myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.)/chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is perhaps even more misunderstood than fibro. It is not about being tired. That’s a slap in the face. It’s like what I described earlier when I went to California. Please know that most people with CFS/M.E. cannot work/are disabled and about 25% are bedbound!!! See how that could be scary for me? ;) Did I mention how HEALTHY I LOOK?? As everyone contrarily points out to us. (“But you look so healthy,” they accuse us. =P) Scientists now are discovering so much about M.E./CFS in scientific research. They know there is inflammation in the brain, for one. You guys can see my links about all of the research for my illnesses on this WordPress. I also have dyautonomia/POTS, as described before, which many people with M.E./CFS also have, and this is what caused the seizure and tachybrady episodes.

Many people diagnosed with a chronic illness look back and realize the signs of their illness over the years before they were diagnosed. Three of my first signs (besides what I just said about my childhood and teen years): 1) At about 16 I started having really bad chronic infections (sinus and urinary) that would not go away until I learned how to prevent them in my mid-20’s. I now know this is a very common sign of immune system dysfunction. 2) When I was 18 I had really bad cramps so I tried birth control (ever since then my cramps have been much easier) and my reaction to the b.c. was nuts. I’d have times I couldn’t breathe and was dizzy suddenly and my heart would race uncontrollably (that’s the POTS/dyautonomia part), etc. I suddenly needed physical therapy, anti-inflammatory meds, and muscle relaxer meds for sciatica, back spasms, back inflammation, and back pain (that’s the fibro part). ALL of which I had never had before. I would cry in my doctor’s office to take me seriously because I couldn’t even drive anymore. My room suddenly started to become messy and I couldn’t concentrate on school. This only lasted a few months because all of the symptoms cleared up after I got off the b.c. I now know this is a very common sign of immune system dysfunction – chemical intolerance and hormone-therapy intolerance. I tried b.c. again a few years later to see if I’d have the same reaction and I did. I will never touch it again. I have had many bizarre symptoms to chemicals and medicines over the years since then. 3) Majority of people with fibro have some kind of gastrointestinal issues. Mine is gastroparesis, which is very common with POTS — my stomach and intestines move at a very slow rate, which I’ve had all my life but didn’t get worse until I was 22. I also have sensitivity to the chemicals in some foods, which didn’t start until I was 22 when I became severe in college. I usually feel ill immediately after meals, which didn’t start until I was about 27 when my POTS got worse…. I didn’t have the first 2 set of symptoms I just described again until 22 year’s old with the vaccines I got in college (for my internship, remember?), and after the vaccines I was never the same again and the symptoms have always remained, with flares of some times being worse than others.

Okay, this has fried my brain typing all of this, so I’m going to go get some water and do something else. Thank you so much if you read up until this point. I’ll continue/edit my story later. :)

By brendahankins Posted in Tips

Research article! Link between dementia and vitamin D confirmed.

Have memory issues? Check if your vitamin D level is low. Your doctor likely won’t point it out to you. My mom, who has dementia at 57 (brain scan confirmed) and has always had memory issues, had low vitamin D on tests for years before she heard she should check her results. I have memory issues too – this is one of the main symptoms of M.E./CFS and fibromyalgia.

Today In OT’s layman-friendly summary:

The actual peer-reviewed evidence-based scientific research study:

How to get tested for vitamin D:

How to get tested for dementia and other info: