Friday, April 22, 2011

Special Holiday issues

The holidays are always stressful.  Christmas, Thanksgiving, and, now, Easter.  Most of the problem I have with it is organizational.  I can see how many people with Fibro would have trouble with the actual work of the holidays; the cooking and cleaning and such.  I don't have too much trouble doing the work, I just don't know what I'm supposed to be doing when. 
My head is not organized enough to sort things out and see what needs to be done.  I spent two hours today getting everything I need to make 5 Easter baskets because I didn't have it together enough earlier to think of what I needed. 
I did do one smart thing, however.  I am making a dessert that I was warned not to make, as it is tricky.  What I have found, however, is that if I do one step at a time, it's actually pretty easy (at least so far, I'm not done yet.  Maybe I'm speaking too soon!).  The dessert is little cake pops.  I'm making little chicks, and we'll see how complicated they are when I get to the finishing stage.  Yesterday, I made the cake, let it cool, and put it in the fridge.  Later in the day, I crumbled it all up very fine.  Done for the day.  Day two, today, I mixed in a bunch of frosting, and made little balls out of them, then wrapped them in a baking tray and stuck it in the fridge.  Done for today.  Tomorrow morning, I'll melt the candy coating and dip them, then decorate them in the late afternoon.  How I managed to plan this out, I don't know when the rest of my planning is a mess! 
Maybe the trick is to take all aspects of the holidays the same way.  Small steps that come together into something really special.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ADD connection

I was asked an interesting question today.  Is there a connection between a parent having Fibromyalgia and a child having ADD?  I don't know the answer to that.  But I am curious.  I'm setting up a poll, and what I want to know is; if you have Fibro, do you have a child with ADD or an ADD-like issue?  I'm going to leave this up for a while as I know traffic is low, but I'll post the results in the future...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Outnumbered and Overpowered

That's how I'm feeling these days.  After all, I do have two kids and there's only one of me, so that's not so unreasonable.  The problem isn't the 'outnumbered' so much as it is the 'overpowered'.  Lately the kids' idea of a good time is to distract me into playing with them in a roughhousing sort of way.  I remember doing that with my parents growing up, and I find it kind of nostalgic. 
The problem is that it's killing me.  First, part of why they do it is to put off doing schoolwork.  Second, I forget that I can't do certain things, and next thing I know, I have sore hips, sore knees, and odd pains in my arms.  Doesn't leave much that isn't hurting! 
While I don't let the kids go so far as to miss their schoolwork, I do play with them almost every day.  I'm sometimes tempted to tell them I just can't play that way.  Maybe that's what I should do, but I just can't get past the nostalgia aspect.  After all, how long can this phase of their growing up last?  They're already 10, and going to hit their teens pretty soon!  And, if the doctors are right, fibro won't get any worse, right?  So, if I have some hip pain, so what?  So I gimp when I get up and look like I just got off a horse when I walk.  The next generation must have its memories!  Right?  Sigh...ow...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Doling out the responsibilities, or How do I do all this?

The holidays play havoc with my plans.  What generally ends up happening is that instead of assigning tasks and doing what I'm supposed to do (that is, accepting the job done as long as it's truly attempted), I end up just doing everything myself.

Now that we are past the holidays, it's time to readjust the schedule of who does what.  What I did was pick out one of the jobs that seems to take up a lot of my time, and doled it out.  Luke puts away the dishes and Emily does the dirty ones.  When they turn ten, we're going to try the laundry route as well.  This isn't because I'm a mean mom, it's because we've changed around some of the resposibilities in the house to make it work for us.

Part of that revolves around the fact that the kids are unwilling, as most are, to clean their rooms.  Most parents have them do it anyway, and recently I heard how one parent does get her kids to do so by taking whatever is left on the floor at the end of the day.  Seems like it would work, so I may try that in the future, but for now, once their rooms are out of control, it's my job to fix it.  So, I barter.  They not only do dishes, but fold laundry, vacuum and sweep, and dust as well. 

By taking a non-traditional route, I circumvent a recurring argument about the room cleaning, and peace reigns.  Not only that, but other work gets done that I would otherwise have to do.  I know that they will eventually have to clean their rooms themselves.  I don't think I'm setting them up for disaster, however, since they aren't getting 'off the hook', so to speak, but gaining different sets of responsibilities.  These are responsibilities that they know they've chosen over one they don't prefer, so often they are done more cheerfully.  And if I can make it go smoother, I can save the arguing for math lessons.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fibro Fog and Other Mythsterious Symptoms

I've heard many people with Fibromyalgia complain about Fibro fog.  I never thought much about it, since I'm not one of those people who has it "that bad", I figured that it was something other people had to deal with, but possibly they were dealing with too many things on top of Fibro, which was robbing them of their capacity to cope.

That said, I've been on the other side of the fence too.  Everyone has had one of those days, where they go to the food store to get light bulbs, spend $100, and forget the light bulbs.  I, however, do this consistently.  I would write a list, but I'd have to remember to write it, to bring it in the car, to bring it in the store, to look at it while in the store, and to look at it again until everything was found.  That's a lot of trouble right there. 

This affects homeschooling on many fronts.  In the first place, Mom can rarely recall facts without looking things up.  Of course, this could be said to be almost a benefit, as we are teaching our children how to find answers to our questions through role modeling.  Unfortunately, Mom would have to remember the question all the way from the car to the library or home, and often it doesn't make it.  If, however, I apply the 'list' solution, I may get closer.  My grand experiment will be to keep a small notebook in the car (I have everything else in there, so why not?) so we can write our questions down. It might help some.

It doesn't take care of the real problem for me, which is the distractability issue.  I can get off topic so fast and so far that I leave people completely confused in conversations.  It's because my mind wanders on it's own path, and I just follow along like a bird after crumbs.  This is not good for homeschooling.  On the one hand, it can lead to exploring questions.  On the other hand, it can lead to not answering questions because my brain fell off the topic wagon about 5 ideas ago.  I can give an example that just happened.  I was going to show my daughter an article on a blog about how cats drink.  While trying to find the site, I decided to check out the library book club books to see if they would have something appropriate for her age group that we could do.  Got to the library site, and saw that they have e-books.  Got lost looking to see if the e-books can be read by a Kindle since I have one I got as a gift.  No, they can't, so went back to looking for book club books.  Then realized that I was looking for the article. 
How can anyone teach when they have such lack of focus?  This is ridiculous.  I find that there are times that the kids have better focus than I do, which is a good thing.  On the other hand, I also find that they know that I'm distractable, and have used this to their advantage.  I've noticed that they have skewed the conversations at times to lead to various topics or resources.  I'm ok with that.  I think the main thing is to cover the basics with rigorous curricula.  I don't worry about math.  Sometimes we change around how we use it, but we always always always have a curriculum, and we know what we need to do each day.  Maybe that's the answer for everything.  Maybe having a curriculum for every subject and just sticking to your guns is the way to go.  For us, it is with math.  For everything else, it's a grand experiment.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What does it mean?

So how does Fibromyalgia affect homeschooling?  Many people probably think it doesn't.  So you're tired?  Who isn't?  So you have pain?  Who doesn't?  That's just life.  What they don't realize is the price someone with Fibro pays for doing certain things.

One incident comes readily to mind.  I think this was one of those times when a lightbulb when on over my husband's head:  Jen does have limitations.  A few years ago, my husband wanted help moving our picnic table.  Not just a little bit, but all the way across our fairly sizable yard.  To his constant irritation, I made him pause often, but we got there.  By the time we were across, my finger hurt.  No big deal, I hurt a lot, right?  Well, it turned out that my whole finger swelled up.  It stayed swollen for a while.  There was no obvious injury to it while we were moving the table, it was just too much.  So, swelling in finger goes down.  That's the end of it, right?  So that's not so bad, right? 
No, no.  It didn't end for over a year.  Because I have Fibromyalgia, when something like that happens to me I feel it for a loooong time.  Not only did that finger hurt, but the rest of my fingers had sympathy pain.  I don't pretend to understand it, I just report it.  My fingers ached nearly every day.

So what does this mean to homeschooling?  It means that maybe today, I'd better sit out of dance so I can go for that walk later.  It means that since I didn't sit out of dance, I am limping after the walk today.  For some, it means no walk at all.  The trouble is, we can't not go for the walk, or the dance, or any number of hundreds of things.  As homeschoolers, we feel that push to get our kids out there to do the things kids need to do.  That's our job, our responsibility.  I know that every parent feels that, but if the child goes to school, at least one could feel that the kid isn't missing out on life.  So what happens when we can't do these things?  Guilt, guilt and more guilt.  We feel guilty if we don't participate.  We feel guilty if we ask someone for help.  I have another choice.  I can go ahead, do it, and suffer.  But for some, even that is not an option.  And part of the trouble is that there is so much variety for each person.  What I can do today I can't necessarily do tomorrow.  So what's the best choice?  Suffering or guilt?  I am, for lack of a better term, High Functioning.  It's not obvious.  I just appear weak and a bit lazy.  Others don't see it for what it is.

What I have mentioned so far is only the physical pain aspect.  What I haven't even touched on is Fibro Fog, but I'm a bit fuzzy now and I'll have to cover it later.

But what I can see is the other end of this spectrum that I am on.  The one that has moms who can't get out of bed so they homeschool from there.  That's some serious determination.  That's what I see.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Defining an 'illness'

Is Fibromyalgia an illness?  A condition?  A syndrome?  A disease?  Or what?

Fibromyalgia is a collection of symptoms.  It's understandable that many think it isn't real.  The symptoms are many and varied.  The NIH defines Fibromyalgia:

Fibromyalgia makes you feel tired and causes muscle pain and "tender points." Tender points are places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms or legs that hurt when touched. People with fibromyalgia may have other symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, morning stiffness, headaches, and problems with thinking and memory, sometimes called "fibro fog."

Each of the symptoms is variable, and changes not only person to person, but sometimes day to day within the same person.  It is supposedly not a 'degenerative' disease, meaning it doesn't get worse over time.  This is what I've been told, but I'm not sure I believe it.  How do some people end up bedridden for days at a time?  Did they always?  No.  So somewhere along the line, it got worse.  The trick is to find out what will help in your own situation.

The NIH web site goes on to state:

No one knows what causes fibromyalgia. Anyone can get it, but it is most common in middle-aged women. People with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases are particularly likely to develop fibromyalgia. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but medicines can help you manage your symptoms. Getting enough sleep and exercising may also help.

There seems to be some evidence that Fibro can be genetic, while others believe a sleep disorder lies at the base of the condition.  (Stated on About.com)

In my case, it is surely genetic.  Not that my mother was diagnosed, but as we go through the symptoms together, she has them worse than I do!  Anyway, I don't find that whether it's genetic or not amounts to much, other than the fact that I can pass on some tidbits of info to my mom to try and ease her issues.

I was diagnosed about 6 years ago, and I am a mild case study.  I get around, I am not on any meds other than Tylenol PM or Melatonin to help me sleep, and my energy level is generally pretty high.  So why am I writing this?  Because I am a homeschooling mom who faces the same issues that all homeschool moms face, but Fibromyalgia adds a new dimension, a new wrinkle if you will, to every day.

With this blog, I want to attempt to answer my own questions about how fibromyalgia affects how I homeschool.  I will also assemble a page with helpful links as I find them.