Families and Alcoholics

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When you live in a home with an alcoholic, it can be a day to day walk on eggshells, wondering if today is the day they will lash out at you and belittle you in an attempt to deflect the real problem which is them and their addiction. I found this wonderful article and thought I would share it. Please read if you have this issue. I got this from the website http://www.psychcentral.com.

 


When Family Members Protect Alcoholics

By ERIKA KRULL, MSED, LMHP

 

In families with alcoholism, emotions and priorities can get very mixed up — and not just by the alcoholic. Spouses, kids, parents, and extended family members can also get emotionally entangled with the alcoholic’s situation. Everyone has expectations and needs to be met, and in many cases the alcoholic falls short. When everyone gets accustomed to living with an intense emotional situation, feelings start taking on way too much importance.

The Problems

Family members:

  • Don’t want to lose their relationship with the alcoholic. Some family members don’t put pressure on an alcoholic because they don’t want to be abandoned. They would rather keep that person in their life instead of possibly losing them altogether. Rather than talk about alcohol rehabor tell the alcoholic their true feelings about the problem, they play it safe and avoid the truth. 

    It is understandable that others may want to stay connected to the alcoholic. But the family member makes their choice because of what they want to keep, not because of what might be better for the alcoholic.

  • Don’t want to rock the boat. Going against the grain in an alcoholic family could make someone a hot target. If one person tries to speak the truth about an alcoholic and put up boundaries, that person quickly can become the black sheep. Family members often will air out the truth-teller’s dirty laundry; whatever positive standing they might have within the family could be knocked down. Rumors and negativity may even spread beyond the family group. If that’s the price for helping an alcoholic family member, why would anyone do it? It takes courage to stand up to an entire family, and many people aren’t sure they have it.
  • Don’t want to be isolated. It’s bad enough that a person giving tough love to an alcoholic family member may get harassed — the breach of family rules may be enough to cause relatives’ rejection. When your alcoholic cousin Jimmy asks for money and you refuse him, you make a wise decision. But you also risk your overprotective grandma putting a black mark against your name. In her eyes, you did something wrong, not Jimmy.Grandma also may influence other family members to isolate you. If you feel this potential isolation and loneliness is too much for you to bear, you may decide to give in to Jimmy’s money requests to stay connected to the family.
  • Don’t see the harm in protecting and rescuing the alcoholic. Some people may truly believe they are helping their loved one by rescuing them. Family members hate to see the alcoholic so upset about his or her circumstances. They give money, shelter, food, or whatever the alcoholic might need at the moment. It may make the family feel better that the alcoholic isn’t suffering as much because of their help. However, it’s the suffering that can make an alcoholic realize how much he or she needs to turn his or her life around.

The Solutions

Family members should:

  • Give compassion and keep firm boundaries. Setting boundaries has nothing to do with being mean. Having compassion does not mean lacking backbone. You can say “no” with a gentle look in your eyes and with a caring tone of voice. You can say “I love you, and because of that I won’t be giving you money right now.” You can tell an alcoholic that when he or she is clean and sober, you would love to have a visit. 
  • Present clear choices and hold to them. It’s one thing to give ultimatums and choices to an alcoholic relative. Holding your ground is much harder. When you tell someone you won’t be giving them any more money or a place to stay, you need to hold to that line 100 percent. If you give in just one time, you will undermine your entire strategy. Alcoholics need to feel the full amount of stress for their troubles just like everyone else. If they are bailed out all the time, they don’t face the full responsibility of their lifestyle. When they have to fall and stumble on their own, they have a better chance of seeing why they really need to change.
  • Provide information about good rehab options and addiction resources. By now, it may seem like there isn’t really much you can do to help an alcoholic relative. Thankfully, that isn’t true. An alcoholic really needs good information about alcohol treatment and support groups in the area. You can find lots of information online, in the phone book, and in newspapers. Gather your information and write down a few good choices. Hand it to the alcoholic you intend to help and tell them how much you care when you do it. Do not be surprised if the person scoffs at the idea of alcohol rehab, gets mad at you, or gives you an excuse. He or she may reject what you have to say publicly, but look at the list in private.
  • Be prepared to lose the relationship. Your alcoholic relative may be very upset with your firm boundaries and alcohol rehab information. He or she may say “I “hate you,” “you don’t really love me,” or “I want nothing to do with you.” It’s also possible that the alcoholic may act on these words and stick to them for some time. That can be a painful thought for many people trying to help alcoholic relatives. The thing families fear most after anxious months or years of no contact is hearing that their loved one died.It takes a lot of guts to keep a firm, loving boundary, give information, or even set up an intervention. Talk to a rehab counselor or AA support group leader to get support and guidance. You never know how the alcoholic in your family will respond to your rational but caring approach.

Offering Help to an Alcoholic

The Mayo Clinic has a comprehensive webpage describing alcohol dependence and what generally can be expected from alcohol treatment. The Alanon/Alateen website also has good information about their support groups for family members and friends of alcoholics. Also, contact a local alcohol treatment center in your area to understand how you can truly help an alcoholic family member.

Medical Terminology 101

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This is a repeat of this post. I thought it maight be worthy of reading again.

Lingo or Medspeak

As someone who comes from a medical professional background (nursing), I had to learn how to medspeak, or the language of medicine with its roots of latin and long unpronounceable words in nursing school. Since my diagnosis, I have found this knowledge to be an asset to understanding what is going on and the variances of the disease. I have also found that many others have been forced to learn the lingo or medspeak upon their diagnosis as well.

When you are diagnosed with a chronic, incurable disease, the first thing many do is look it up online. This can be good or bad. There may be a lot of information out there, some good and some bad, some not important, some important. Some of the information will scare you to death if you read it. For example, when I was first diagnosed with lupus, one of the first things I read was that the life expectancy was ten years. I should point out that I passed the ten year mark about 9 years ago. Unfortunately, that information is still out there and some may stumble upon it and freak out.

With medical diagnoses and prognosis changing every day, it is no surprise that many people are confused by what they find. I think I would recommend if you are researching your diagnosis, start with the national organization in your country. Most times, they have the most current, accurate information available. Once you have waded through the goldmine of information you find there, give it time to digest and process in your mind.

Another great source is to join a support group in your area. You can find out if there are any by once again checking your national organization’s website or calling your local hospitals and asking. Many times, your doctor may even know of any support groups as well.

One of the best ways to investigate the medical lingo is to take it word for word. When you happen on a word you do not understand, stop and look that one word up individually and then try to make sense of it as a whole. Put it in perspective with the sentence. If there is a sticking point, write it down and ask your doctor. Better safe than sorry.

On the whole, always remember that unless it is from an “official” website, it may not be as accurate as it could be. Caution is to be exercised above all and always consult your physician as well.

Fibromyalgia Basics Overview

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Since the beast of fibromyalgia has reared its ugly head in my body recently, I decided to review the basic facts of fibromyalgia (fm). I always feel that knowledge is more powerful than ignorance so in my quest for the information, I found this website which has a great description of the basic information of fm. I got this from the website www.prohealth.com. You can find more information there. Here is their article:

What is Fibromyalgia?


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread pain, fatigue and sleep disturbances. It was originally thought to be a musculoskeletal disorder since most of the pain was felt in the muscles and other soft tissues. However, recent research and the advancement of brain-imaging technology is revealing that fibromyalgia is actually a disorder of the central nervous system, which causes abnormal pain processing and results in pain amplification.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms


The three primary symptoms that are common to almost everyone with fibromyalgia are pain, fatigue and sleep disorders.

Pain: Pain is usually the most prominent symptom of fibromyalgia. FM pain is chronic and widespread, affecting all four quadrants of the body, although not necessarily at the same time. Its intensity may range from mild to profound. FM pain tends to migrate, sometimes affecting one part of the body and sometimes another. Patients also report that their bodies ache all over, much like having the flu. In addition to the aching, FM pain has been described by different people as burning, throbbing, sharp, stabbing or shooting pain. Most people with FM also complain of feeling stiff and achy when they wake up.

Fatigue: While everyone knows what it feels like to be tired, the fatigue experienced by fibromyalgia patients is so much more. It’s a pervasive, all-encompassing exhaustion that can interfere with even the most basic and simple daily activities. Another feature of FM fatigue is that it is not relieved by rest.

Sleep Disorders: Most people with fibromyalgia have problems with sleep. They report having difficulty getting to sleep, waking up frequently throughout the night, and not feeling refreshed when they get up in the morning. Studies have shown that FM patients spend little to no time in deep, stage four sleep because their sleep is repeatedly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity. Since deep sleep is the time during which the body replenishes itself, fibromyalgia patients are not able to get the restorative sleep their bodies need. In turn, this lack of deep sleep can result in making their pain and fatigue worse.

Other Symptoms: Most fibromyalgia patients also report a number of other symptoms and overlapping conditions, which may include allergies, irritable bowel, irritable bladder, headaches, migraines, dizziness, numbness and tingling, sensitivity to cold or heat, depression, restless legs syndrome, chemical or environmental sensitivities, impaired balance or coordination, dry eyes and mouth, vision problems, or problems with memory, concentration and cognitive functioning.

(For more information about specific symptoms, see “Common Symptoms“)

Who is at Risk for Developing Fibromyalgia?


Adult women appear to be at greater risk for developing fibromyalgia than men or children, however, it can affect all ages and both sexes. Historically, 75 to 90 percent of people diagnosed with FM have been women, but new information may eventually change those figures.

FM experts are finding that men often have fewer than the traditional 11 tender points required for diagnosis, yet meet all the other criteria for fibromyalgia. And what was once thought to be “growing pains” in children may turn out to be a previously unrecognized form of FM.

Although fibromyalgia will probably still occur most frequently in adult women, we may soon discover it affects significantly more men and children than once thought.

Another risk factor may be family history, as there is growing evidence of a genetic component in fibromyalgia. If someone in your family has FM, you may be at greater risk of developing it yourself.

How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?


Fibromyalgia (FM) should be diagnosed by a qualified physician who is familiar with the illness and has experience diagnosing and treating it. In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology established the research criteria for fibromyalgia, which are now the criteria most commonly used to diagnose it.

For a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, both of the following must be present:

  • A history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months, and
  • Pain in at least 11 of 18 designated tender points when four kilograms (about 10 pounds) of pressure are applied.

According to the American College of Rheumatology fibromyalgia is not a diagnosis of exclusion. However, there are several other illnesses that have similar symptoms, so it is important that the doctor test for certain comorbid conditions as well. Which particular tests may be necessary will depend upon the individual patient’s symptoms and medical history.

Fibromyalgia Causes


In the past few years scientists have made tremendous progress unraveling the mysteries of fibromyalgia. Although there is still some disagreement as to the cause of FM, there is little disagreement that its onset is usually triggered by some form of trauma. The trauma may be physical, in the form of an injury or illness, or it could be an emotional trauma that produces severe, prolonged stress.

Current research seems to indicate that some people have a genetic predisposition to fibromyalgia, although the symptoms usually do not show up until triggered by one of these traumas.

One popular theory as to the cause of fibromyalgia is that a trauma or significant stressor turns on an individual’s “fight-or-flight” response. This response, designed to help us function in an emergency situation, usually only lasts a short time, then turns itself off.

But when the stress becomes prolonged, the fight-or-flight response gets stuck in the “on” position and the person’s body remains in a state of high alert. Being in a constant state of high alert puts even more stress on the body. This results in, among other things, a loss of deep, restorative sleep, which in turn causes pain amplification throughout the body.

Regardless of what initially triggers the illness, research has shown that fibromyalgia patients have very real physical abnormalities, including:

  • Decreased blood flow to specific areas of the brain, particularly the thalamus region, which may help explain the pain sensitivity and cognitive functioning problems fibromyalgia patients experience.
  • High levels of “substance P,” a central nervous system neurotransmitter involved in pain processing.
  • Low levels of nerve growth factor.
  • Low levels of somatomedin C, a hormone that promotes bone and muscle growth.
  • Low levels of several neurochemicals: serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and cortisol.
  • Low levels of phosphocreatine and adenosine, muscle-cell chemicals.

Treatment


Since the cause of fibromyalgia remains a mystery, most treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and improving quality of life. Most patients find that a multi-disciplined approach using a combination of  prescription medications, alternative/complementary therapies, gentle exercise and lifestyle adaptations seems to work best.

Unfortunately, finding which medications, therapies, etc. work best for a particular patient is generally a matter of trial and error. What helps one patient may not help another. It’s important that the patient, doctor and other healthcare professionals work together as a team to develop an individualized treatment plan.

(For more information about different treatment options, see”Treatment Modalities.” )

Choosing a Doctor


If you have a primary care physician with whom you’ve established a good rapport, discuss your concerns regarding fibromyalgia. Chances are she has other patients with the same illness, but if not, provide her with information you’ve found helpful. She may or may not remain the gatekeeper in your care, but she should be able to help you find a physician who is familiar with fibromyalgia and able to help you.

In the past, rheumatologists were the specialists who diagnosed and treated fibromyalgia. However, since research is indicating that FM is most likely a central nervous system problem, some rheumatologists are no longer taking FM patients. Check with the rheumatologists in your area to see if they will treat fibromyalgia. Logically, if FM is a central nervous system issue, neurologists would be the specialists that should treat it. Unfortunately, most neurologists are reluctant to add fibromyalgia to their practices. A few, however, have jumped on board. Again, check with the neurologists in your area to see if they will treat FM.

If your doctor is not knowledgeable about FM and is not able to recommend someone, your best resource for finding a doctor who is knowledgeable about fibromyalgia in your area is probably a local support group. (Check ProHealth’s Support Group Listing to find a group near you. ) FM message boards are also a good place to ask if anyone knows of a good doctor in your area. (Visit ProHealth’s FM message board.)

Talking with family and friends may shed some light on your search as well. Hearing of a physician with compassion, one who spends time with patients and listens, goes far when making a decision. Overall, you want to find a physician who is committed to learning as much as she can about the condition so she can provide you with the best possible care.

Do a little research on the doctors you are considering. First, check with your insurance carrier to find out which health care providers are covered by your plan. If there aren’t any suitable doctors in your plan, inquire about out-of-network coverage and charges. Next, check out the doctor’s medical credentials and whether there have been any malpractice suits or disciplinary actions against her. Below are just a few resources to help you begin your research:

  • American Medical Association’s Doctor Finder includes physician profiling information such as medical school, training and specialty.
  • The American Board of Medical Specialties will tell you if your doctor is board certified and in what specialties. “Board certified” means the doctor has completed two additional years of training and passed a national examination. “Board eligible” means the training, but not the test, has been completed.
  • Contact your state’s Board of Medical Examiners to find out about any history of malpractice suits.
  • Find out how other patients feel about a doctor you are considering. There are several Web sites, like RateMDs.com where patients rate their doctors. This particular site covers doctors and dentists in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and India.

As with any chronic illness, navigating your way within the medical world will require you to be your own advocate. This means being proactive about your care, staying informed, and being organized about your needs during each appointment. This is not an easy road, and balancing the medical, insurance and care aspects of your health is going to require clarity and work on your part.

Related Conditions


Seldom is fibromyalgia a solitary illness. Most FM patients have one or more comorbid (related) conditions. Which came first is one of those chicken and egg questions.

Why do people with FM usually have so many other disorders? The answer to that may be found in a new paradigm proposed several years ago by Dr. Muhammad Yunus. He suggests that many of these related illnesses could be classified as Central Sensitivity Syndromes.  Basically, this means that the central nervous system becomes hypersensitive, which stresses the rest of the body and can eventually lead to any number of different disorders. (See “Are Fibromyalgia and Other Chronic Conditions Associated?” for more information on Central Sensitivity Syndrome.)

Some of the related conditions that fibromyalgia patients may have include:

  • Allergies
  • Migraine disease
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Chiari malformation
  • Intermittent cervical cord compression
  • Cervical stenosis
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Sleep apnea
  • Raynaud’s syndrome
  • Sjogren’s disease
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Depression
  • Osteoporosis
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Gulf War Syndrome

A Simple “Thank You” Would Be Enough

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As the title implies, many of us do many things for others and yet do not hear these words. In some instances, we do not expect them. In others, it would be nice to know we are appreciated. We could do some small thing or some large thing, but no matter what, those two words can make a big difference!

The same principle applies to other thigns as well. For example, if you ask, pay attention and listen to someone else’s issues, it would be nice to have the same thing done in return. Like it says in the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Sadly, it does not happen though.

Too often these days, people are too self absorbed to deal with anything other than themselves. It really is a shame. Life is found in many of the “thank you’s” in this world. Be reaching out to others and in return giving of yourself, you experience the wonderful feeling of empathy and understanding. If you do not, you find yourself isolated and apart from those around you.

How refreshing, then, to find other people who genuinely listen and care. They show empathy. They listen, really listen, to you and care enough to give advice and loving support in return. They freely give so that others may know it is worth living. These people are support groups, individuals who are sufferring from the same or different diseases than you, but give of themselves freely so you can cope with your issues today. In return, you do the same for them when they need it. You all know who you are! It is a rare commodity indeed today and for those who do this I have two words…”THANK YOU!” These people have made my life easier to deal with, given me hope, shared their experiences with me and shown me I can do this thing called life. Somehow, two words do not seem enough. Thank you all from my heart.

Lingo or medspeak

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As someone who comes from a medical professional background (nursing), I had to learn how to medspeak, or the language of medicine with its roots of latin and long unpronounceable words in nursing school. Since my diagnosis, I have found this knowledge to be an asset to understanding what is going on and the variances of the disease. I have also found that many others have been forced to learn the lingo or medspeak upon their diagnosis as well.

When you are diagnosed with a chronic, incurable disease, the first thing many do is look it up online. This can be good or bad. There may be a lot of information out there, some good and some bad, some not important, some important. Some of the information will scare you to death if you read it. For example, when I was first diagnosed with lupus, one of the first things I read was that the life expectancy was ten years. I should point out that I passed the ten year mark about 9 years ago. Unfortunately, that information is still out there and some may stumble upon it and freak out.

With medical diagnoses and prognosis changing every day, it is no surprise that many people are confused by what they find. I think I would recommend if you are researching your diagnosis, start with the national organization in your country. Most times, they have the most current, accurate information available. Once you have waded through the goldmine of information you find there, give it time to digest and process in your mind.

Another great source is to join a support group in your area. You can find out if there are any by once again checking your national organization’s website or calling your local hospitals and asking. Many times, your doctor may even know of any support groups as well.

One of the best ways to investigate the medical lingo is to take it word for word. When you happen on a word you do not understand, stop and look that one word up individually and then try to make sense of it as a whole. Put it in perspective with the sentence. If there is a sticking point, write it down and ask your doctor. Better safe than sorry.

On the whole, always remember that unless it is from an “official” website, it may not be as accurate as it could be. Caution is to be exercised above all and always consult your physician as well.

Great day!

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Hello everyone! Today was a great day! Truly! It started by waking up and going to the Walk for Lupus Now walk. Once there, my son and dil came with the baby, my mother came with another granddaughter and I saw old friends I met last year. It was a lot of fun! I also was so happy because we made our team goal of $250! Woot woot! We were $40 short before the walk started and then son and dil gave that and we made it!

I have so many people to thank for the success! We had encouragement from many who donated money to the cause! We also had none who were committed to walking on our team. While some were not able to keep their committment because of very valid reasons, others stepped up to fill the void and we had a great time! It is encouraging to me to see that my grandchildren are being taught by example to give and help others. This powerful lesson can be taught without actions but it means so much more when they see examples of others who are giving of themselves as well.

On that note, I am blessed indeed! Last year, four of my grands walked with me. Also last year, three of those same grands grew their hair and gave it to Locka of Love. They do that every time they grown their hair out. My grand who was walking today is only five and yet she knew to wear her purple outfit and she remembered that only lupus patients wear the lupus hats! I tried to get her to wear mine (since I was not walking) and she told me that since I have lupus, I needed to wear it! From the mouths of babes… she also raised $55 which meant she got a tshirt, a bracelet and a car magnet! She did not know it until they gave them to her! She was so proud and happy!!!

On another positive note, last year we had 17 patients attending the walk and this year we had 25!  The word is getting out and not only do these people get input and support about the disease from others at the walk, but they find out where the support groups are in their area and other resources available to them. It is not good that we are increasing in numbers but it shows there are many more out there!

Sadly, one incident did mar the day. One of the friends of several  people there got lost and stopped at a restaurant in Blue Ball  (named Mom’s) to ask for directions. She was not only completely ignored but blatantly so. You see, she is african american and it appears that the folks at this particular establishment are prejudiced and went out of their way to get her to leave. She cried and we were ready to go back and see what the problem had been. In this day and age, it still shocks me that this kind of behavior is still out there. That is why I put the name of the restaurant and the location right here. No one, and I mean no one, should ever have this kind of treatment in this day and age!!!!

I did not walk. Unfortunately, my lymph nodes in my neck and under my arms are swollen and painful. My mouth is so sore (from sores) that I am unable to eat anything but soft foods. I am also running a bit of fever and really so tired that I can barely function. Yet, after the walk, I drove three hours to Ky. to bring my sil her car back. I am in bed as I write this, medicated (which explains any typos) and in pain from my fingers to my feet and to my mouth and in between. Was the walk worth it? YES! I may be in bed for a few days or so but in the end, I feel a sense of accomplishment in getting our goals met and the walk done!  

My sil and bil are such sweeties and they know I need to rest. I am enjoying their hospitality until we return home. In the interim, my son is house and animal sitting and enjoying HIS time alone! It is nice to not worry about things.

That is it for today! Now, I get to start fund raising for next year! The more I can get done, the more we can raise! Thanks to each and every one who helped in any way to make today the success it was! I am truly blessed!