Fibro Warrior of the Week (#25)
FWOTW: Lisa Pearson
Location: Hertfordshire (near London), England
Mantra: Be YOU.
Lisa Pearson is our 25th Fibro Warrior of the Week. She lives near London, and is a bestselling author on Amazon with more books in the works. A self-proclaimed geek/tree-hugger, her beauty secrets include toothpaste on the face and a healthy dose of peanut butter in her tea… If none of that sparks your interest, what about a couple of Norwegian forest kittens?
FD: : Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Lisa: I’m a 43 year old mum to a seven year old boy and three year old girl. I’ve been with my husband for twenty-three years, and we also have a friendly labradoodle and two HUGE Norwegian Forest kittens. I worked in IT for thirteen years, so I’m part geek. But I’ve been a healer and coach for thirteen years, too, so I’m also part tree-hugger. I’m now an author, blogger, and coach, with a mix of geek and tree-hugger in there!
I LOVE writing. I itch if I can’t write. It’s partially the Zen-like experience of writing and partially the ability to be available to help people 24/7, 365 days per year. My books and blog are under the name of “Mummy Whisperer” (“Mommy Whisperer” for my American readers); basically, I’m not a fan of parenting techniques— I’m all about helping the mum (and myself) to enjoy being a mum more and listen to natural intuition. That way, I feel that the family will grow stronger, as she becomes more and more contented.
I’ve self-published and managed to get to number two in “Motherhood” on Amazon with my book Six Steps To A Sparkling You And Enjoying Being A Mum. The second edition is now ready to publish and I have a publishing deal — woo-hoo! My second book is called How to Become Healthy, Fit, and Sexy Without Diets and Bootcamps, and will be out early next year. I have a third book brewing, too.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Lisa: Two years after my son was born, I had a big lymph infection. Two months after my daughter (2010) was born, I had such a bad lymph infection that they thought it must be cancer, and it took six months to get the all clear. I also had SPD (hip pain) during my pregnancy with my daughter, and my sleep was much worse after her birth (both my kids have disturbed my sleep, but now I understand it was the beginning of the ‘brain buzz’ I get.) I also had a really stressful year, and became terribly unhappy and pretty pathetic to be honest. I blogged my way out of it in 2011 and got really fit (this is where my first book came from), but suddenly at the beginning of 2012 I had awful back pain and had to stop running. I tried everything, but couldn’t “fix” my back, despite the fact that when I first started as a healer, backs were my specialty — very frustrating.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Lisa: I was really lucky. At the end of 2012, I went to a Pilates instructor who does Osteolates (Pilates, Osteopathy and acupressure massage.) He told me to go back to the doctor and because of the points that were so painful during the Osteolates session, my doctor was able to quickly diagnose me. This was when I realized that all the “other stuff” that was wrong with me, was all part of the same thing.
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Lisa: At first I was relieved, and it helped a bit at home because suddenly my husband realised that there was something wrong with me, that wasn’t a little bit of an achy back. But the pain was very chronic, and I did wonder how on earth people carried on with it. I was so glad that I had kids, because although they made me more tired, they were also a reason to get up in the mornings. Plus it kept me moving.
At first it was awful. I couldn’t believe that I had to consider whether to go shopping or go for a walk with the kids, but I couldn’t do both. I was massively limited in what I did. I stopped all paid writing work, and cut back on everything until I was at the barest basics of what needed to be done.
I was “lucky” that my husband was made redundant, so I have been able to have a few months were I didn’t need to do the school run every day and could let my daughter have a good nap on my lap. She only has a couple of months of napping left, and I’m ready to do without it now. I’m gradually building back up to doing the school runs, and am able to look as though my life is pretty normal now.
I felt very ashamed that I had become ill as I’m a healer myself, and also very judged by many in my community. It was tough getting my head around it, as I felt that I was a pretty healthy, calm person.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Lisa: At first I was at war with the Fibro and wanted rid of it. Now I see it as a guide that gives me speedy feedback about what I’m doing. I would only want it to go away totally if I was naturally doing all those things without any reminders needed. It took six months to get here, though — the things that I did eventually seemed to build upon each other until the symptoms improved so much that I can keep my eye on the remaining ones much more easily. Beforehand there were just too many symptoms for it to be helpful at all.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Lisa: I’m learning to check in with my body and myself regularly throughout the day. I think that this is a good thing. I’m also learning to think about myself a lot more—as a young caregiver for my mum, I think that sometimes I wouldn’t even notice putting my own needs to one side. I’ve done it for so long that it’s taken a while to work out what I needed!
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Lisa: I can’t run. I miss it. I wouldn’t schedule back-to- back events or several weekends in a row with stuff going on. I need my time to chill at home with the kids and just reground without extra noise or people around.
At the moment I can’t go out at night, in fact I go to bed with the kids. But I do hope that I might be able to stay up for an hour or so in the next few months. I can’t rely on my brain to remember anything, as my short-term memory is still basically non-existent. If it’s not in my diary or an electronic note, it’s not going to happen. I used to be a competent person; it’s weird to not be any more.
I start EVERY day with a shower — then my body works much better. There are no Pyjama days for me.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Lisa: I say “no” a lot more. I’m learning how to recognise what I need and want more often and then. I’m MUCH clearer on what my priorities are. Basically there is only time and energy for my priorities.
I thought that I made time for myself, but I’ve come to understand that I need a LOT more than I thought. Maybe I’m extra sensitive or something, or my body is less forgiving. I’m looking into different types of meditation that can be fitted into daily life really easily several times a day and much gentler simpler therapies than I’ve used previously.
I’ve made a cushion! I’ve realised how important the arts are for stress relief, so I’m doing a lot more stuff that is creative, purely because it’s fun.
I think that my books will be much better due to the Fibro, especially the one about weight loss, as I understand how to tackle it even with Fibromyalgia (I’d already tackled PCOS, being a mum and working from home!)
FD: What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Lisa: I was lucky that my doctor was willing to check for vitamin D and didn’t mind me Googling A LOT! He was recently gutted to find that I already know about and take the cherry active, when he phoned up to tell me about the luric acid connection
I did take amitriptyline for six months, but I didn’t want to take it any longer (I haven’t told my doctor I’ve come off it, which is wrong — I’m going to tell him next week.) I don’t have anything against drugs and I really appreciate the time out they gave me. But from what I’ve noticed online it spirals into an ever increased number of drugs. Plus I was itching from top to toe and the water retention was so bad in my legs that the skin started to split – not attractive!
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Lisa: I remember being told to just take an ibrupofen and then reading that Fibromyalgia pain is worse than arthritis (how they can tell that I don’t know). I’ve been disappointed by some friends and family when I’ve explained that I’m having a flare at a particular point in time, to find that they are not more helpful at that point.
I’ve also lost friends who didn’t understand how tired I was, or the ditziness of how it affects our brains. Other friends were upset that I didn’t take their advice — I was blown away by how much advice I got, which is lovely, however a huge proportion of it was from people who really understood very little about the disease.
It was tough on my kids at first as well as I needed them to take on more responsibility around the house, or just for themselves.
However, my son says that I look happier since I’ve been ill (he means since the diagnosis and I’ve been taking better care of myself.) My daughter has admitted she doesn’t actually want me to get better because this way Mummy works less, doesn’t go out in the evenings, and spends more time with her! (She’s going to have to get over this, as I plan on getting even better!)
I think that it is extra pressure on my husband and it was especially tricky in the beginning when it would hurt me to be close to anyone. However, I also think that it can bring a relationship together, and it is actually better for us as I look after myself better.
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Lisa: Fear. Fear of pain. Fear of a flare. Never knowing when it will hit. Or knowing that what I’m doing is going to cause one, but there is nothing I can do about it. I hate sounding like a wimp when I say I can’t do something.
I’m still tackling the sleep issue, especially now I’m off the drugs. I’m managing it about 75% of the time. But nights of a buzzy head all night are horrid. This is what I’m currently focusing on improving the most.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Lisa: My kids – thank god for them!
And my blog– – I have a specific page for Fibromyalgia and it helps me to know that I’m helping other people: http://mummywhispererblog.com/contact-me/fibromyalgia.
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Lisa: Stop fighting it. Start listening to your intuition.
The problem is that there is no ONE solution, but there are common factors for us all — you just need to take your time and work out your recipe. It’s going to be a combination of medication, sleep improvement, exercise, hydration, nutrition, supplements, stress relief, and getting rid of traumas, hormonal influences.
I do believe that it’s imperative to focus on helping the amygdala to calm down and stop thinking that a T-Rex is chasing it permanently. Plus that Fibromyalgia is always secondary to another illness. If it appears that you don’t have a primary disease, you probably have adrenal fatigue.
My favourite supplement is Cherry Active – I can now walk the dog EVERY DAY. This is a miracle. For six months I’d been doing Pilates, but I couldn’t increase my exercise levels at all until I found Concentrated Cherry Juice. vitamin D also helped (get your doctor to test you for it.)
I haven’t had to make big changes to my food as I already ate pretty well (from scratch, rather than a packet) and didn’t take sweeteners. But swapping the sugar in my tea for xylitol has reduced my pain levels a lot.
I had a MASSIVE realisation recently. Stress isn’t just being upset. It’s anything that puts additional pressure on the body. So long periods of excitement can do it too. My environment affects it— e.g., noise, types of music, glaring lights, mess, etc. But most importantly to help my body, I needed to reduce the stress put on it by nutrition as that is something very much in my control. My body hated sugar — yours may hate something else.
FD: Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Lisa: The worst funny story was being called by a radio show (I do a monthly lifestyle gig) to ask where I was – I had thirty seconds to prepare something and do my feature over the phone instead. Fibro-fog at its worst!
Or, if I don’t make sure I’m present with what I’m doing, there will be peanut butter in my tea, sugar on my toast, and toothpaste on my face!
Follow Lisa on Twitter: @Mummywhisperer
Like Lisa on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MummyWhisper
Check out Lisa’s website/blog: MummyWhispererBlog
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