Countdown-to-the-Holidays Planner: Week 3

Avoid last-minute gift-buying craziness with these helpful preparation tips

By Arianne Cohen Posted October 29, 2010 from Woman’s Day; November 1, 2010

If you let them, the stresses of the holidays—especially shopping for presents—can outweigh the pleasures of them. This year, don’t let that be the case! Instead, tackle gift-buying with an organized approach. Here, we’ve broken it down into six easy steps—from mapping out a wrapping space in your home to list-making and online shopping tips. Trust us: Pre-planning will not only help you avoid the last-minute mall rush, it’ll leave you with enough time and energy to find the right gifts for the people you love. Imagine: Come the holidays, you’ll have nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy your company.

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Week 3: Gifts

1. Create Gift Central
“Carve out a spot off the beaten path to create a holiday wrapping center, so all of your wrapping tools are in one place,” says Ellen Kosloff, a certified professional organizer in Carmel, New York. Look at the wrapping supplies you have and note what you need on your shopping list for this week.

2. Make a Recipient List
Write down everyone you need to give gifts to, and how much you’d like to spend. “I have an Excel spreadsheet dating back to 1996,” says Kosloff. “It saves me so much time remembering what I gave and spent, and whom I need to give to.”

3. Make a Gift List
“Ask yourself what each person values, then focus on that,” says Robyn Freedman Spizman, author of The Giftionary. For inspiration, visit her website, TheGiftionary.com, a collection of ideas. When you’re finished and over budget, go back and see whom you might give handmade gifts or baked goods, or offer a service like a free babysitting coupon. Remember, it’s about being grateful, not buying stuff.

4. Click and Buy Gifts
Go through your list, highlight all the gifts you can buy online and order them. Compare prices at Bing.com/Shopping. Your strategy: Stick to the items on your list, and group your purchases so you order from only two or three of the large retailers that offer free shipping after you spend a certain amount. Before you buy, search DealNews.com and FatWallet.com for coupons or discounts on the specific items you’ve found. Online shopping is much more efficient because you’ll stick to your budget (you’ll buy the $40 chef’s knife for your friend, not the pretty $110 one at the store).

5. Hit the Stores
Map out where you need to go to get the remaining items on your list (art fairs, the mall), grab your list and go. “Research shows that people who shop with a list spend less,” says Rowley. If you want to save time, shop solo—you’ll get it done faster.

6. Wrap!
Try to wrap right away when you get home from the store. If you can’t, schedule two hours of dedicated wrapping time. Make sure to put Post-its, gift tags or pretty labels on the presents, so you can remember what’s what!

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Do Men Get Fibromyalgia?

Yahoo News – Charlene Collins Wed Oct 27, 1:01 pm ET

The medical term, Fibromyalgia, comes from the Greek words fibro, myo, and algo, indicating fibrous tissue, muscles and pain associated with those parts. Fibromyalgia involves all the muscles, tendons, ligaments and tissues of the body, affecting the age group of 20s to 40s, mostly in women. It is for this reason doctors tend to misinterpret the symptoms of pain in men, and overrule the diagnosis as Fibromyalgia.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia in men

The symptoms of Fibromyalgia are the same in men and women. It starts with pain all over the body, though the pains and symptoms will be milder in men, than in women. It is usual for the suffering man to attribute the pain to being overworked; hence, the disease goes unreported if in men. There could be pain, associated with muscles or a general throbbing and burning sensation all over the body. On certain specific areas of the body, there would tenderness and when pressure is applied over that point, severe pain is produced. These tender points could be in between the shoulder blades, around the neck, inner knees, back of the head, upper chest, and the upper region of the hips. Sleep disorders due to severe muscle pains all over the body are common in both men and women who suffer from stiffness of the muscles. Continuing to stay asleep, if one could sleep at all, is often difficult due to the constant pain in the muscles of the body.

Other unique symptoms of Fibromyalgia in men are loss of memory owing to lack of concentration, pain in the jaws, cheek bones and facial muscles. Those suffering from Fibromyalgia cannot smile and laugh heartily, owing to the pain associated with the muscles and tendons of the mouth and face. Morning sickness, nagging headache that will not subside (even after considerable rest), irritable bowel syndrome, sensitivity to light, and being irritated by noise are other symptoms of fibromyalgia in both men and women.

Diagnosing and treating fibromyalgia in men

A differential diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is done based on ruling out other diseases that trigger the same physical symptoms of pain and fatigue. Treatment is not yet established, and it entirely depends on the attending physician. Most common methods are to use general pain medications and sometimes corticosteroids will be administered, under strict medical supervision.

Conclusion

Because of the social reasons that men are supposedly stronger in muscle strength and disease resistance, men suffering with Fibromyalgia often do not report any pain and associated discomfort until the last moment. Oftentimes, the pain can be managed with specific medications such as Lyrica and certain antidepressants. Fibromyalgia can be as troubling for men as it is for women; however, trying to keep a positive attitude and trying to stay active as possible do help to keep some of the pain at bay.

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Countdown-to-the-Holidays Planner: Week 2

Get started on menu and guest list preparations with this easy guide

By Arianne Cohen Posted October 21, 2010 from Woman’s Day; November 1, 2010

If holiday hosting has fallen on your shoulders this year—hey, we can’t all have a gorgeous dining room or Top Chef-worthy cooking skills—it’s time to start preparing for the gaggle of hungry guests. Word of advice? Break. It. Down. Below, see an outline of helpful planning tips—like streamlining your food spread and figuring out which groceries to pre-purchase—for pulling a beautiful party together without breaking a sweat.

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Week 2: People & Food

Plan the Menu
Decide what you want to serve at all holiday meals or parties that you’ll be hosting, including Thanksgiving and Christmas meals:
• Appetizers and hors d’oeuvres
• Side dishes
• Breads and biscuits
• Main courses
• Desserts
• Drinks (alcoholic and non-)

Then list all the baked goods you want to make in the next eight weeks: cookies, bars and desserts.

Now Simplify
Less is more—one good dish in each category is often plenty. And you can serve some of the same items at both holiday meals. Most pies, rolls and pastas, for instance, freeze and reheat well. “You want to do as little last-minute cooking as possible,” says Diane Rossen Worthington, author of Seriously Simple Holidays. So opt for dishes that can be made and frozen ahead of time, like casseroles, or dishes that can be made a few days before the meal and refrigerated, like cranberry sauce. Include ingredients you can buy premade, like pestos, compotes and salsas, whenever you can. Finally, list your dishes in the order in which they must be cooked: Far Ahead, 3 Days Before Holiday and Day of Holiday.

Plan Serving Pieces
Great food is useless if you have nothing to serve it in. Map out how you’ll serve (buffet or sit-down?) and which platter you’ll be serving each dish on. If you need to buy or borrow, arrange it.

Make Food Shopping Lists
Convert your menu into four shopping lists: a Far-Ahead Shopping List, a 3-Days-Before-Thanksgiving List, a Christmas Pre-Party list if you’re hosting a party, and a December 22nd List. Try using ZipList.com, which lets you keep an online shopping list linked with your phone and your family’s phones. ZipList understands abbreviations (“2 lg turkeys”), and also lets you search recipes and add ingredients to your list.

Invite Your Guests
Now’s the time to let people know if you’re having them over. “The further ahead you invite people, the more opportunity they have to attend,” says Pamela Eyring, president and director of the Protocol School of Washington.

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The History of Halloween

Taken from History.com

Halloween, celebrated each year on October 31, is a mix of ancient Celtic practices, Catholic  and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions that blended together over time to create the holiday we know today. Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity and life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Halloween has long been thought of as a day when the dead can return to the earth, and ancient Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off these roaming ghosts. The Celtic holiday of Samhain, the Catholic Hallowmas period of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and the Roman festival of Feralia all influenced the modern holiday of Halloween. In the 19th century, Halloween began to lose its religious connotation, becoming a more secular community-based children’s holiday. Although the superstitions and beliefs surrounding Halloween may have evolved over the years, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people can still look forward to parades, costumes and sweet treats to usher in the winter season.

Ancient Origins of Halloween

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.

Halloween Comes to America

As European immigrants came to America, they brought their varied Halloween customs with them. Because of the rigid Protestant belief systems that characterized early New England, celebration of Halloween in colonial times was extremely limited there.

It was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups, as well as the American Indians, meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance, and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that, on Halloween, they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings, or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers, than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft.

At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of their efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6.9 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

Today’s Traditions

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.

The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.  

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Superstitions

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.

Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday–with luck, by next Halloween!–be married.

In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night, she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces.

Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly. Ours is not such a different holiday after all!

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A Sample of Celtic Woman

Here is a great song my Celtic Woman – O America.

We should feel honard that these beautiful women from ireland can sing such a heart felt song about our country.

Just listening to them, relaxes me and makes me feel better.

I would love to know what you think about this song and the group.

I actually got to see them in concert this year and it was wonderful.

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Breast Health: Mammograms, Clinical Exams and Self-Exams

By , About.com Guide 

Timing Your Exams for Most Effectiveness
  
mammogram
You have three important ways to maintain breast health and monitor changes. Knowing how and when you need to use them makes these tools most effective.

Mammograms

The American Cancer Society recommends that women who are 40 years or older receive an annual mammogram. Even if you are in good health and do not have any symptoms of breast cancer, a consistent record of mammograms can assess any changes in your breast tissue. Your first mammogram is your baseline, against which newer images are compared. Keep a record of the dates of each mammogram, along with results, if you have them.Benefits:

  • Mammograms find all types of lumps, 80 percent of which are benign
  • High-quality images can help detect 85 to 90 percent of all breast cancers
  • Mammograms reveal breast cancers at early stages, before you can feel a lump
  • Early detection leads to effective treatment and increases your five-year survival rate to 95 percent or higher
  • Treatment for early-stage breast cancer is less aggressive

Clinical Breast Exam (CBE)

If you are in your 20s and 30s, you should receive a clinical breast exam (CBE) along with your annual physical. Your family doctor, nurse practitioner, or gynecologist can do your CBE. It’s a good time to ask any questions about your breast health, and note any changes due to age, pregnancy, surgery, or other health conditions.

Breast Self-Exam (BSE)

You can start doing your breast self-exam when you’re in your 20s, or you can ask your health professional when is the best age to start. Your family medical history and risk for breast cancer will be a factor in that decision. Always report any change in look or feel of your breast to your doctor.

Changes to take note of are:

  • swelling or bump(s)
  • rash or skin redness (inflammation)
  • dimpled skin (similar to an orange peel)
  • unusual pain in your breast or nipple
  • nipple pulling inward
  • nipple discharge (not breast milk)

If you’re not sure how to do your BSE properly, ask your health professional for help. Set aside a regular monthly time for your self-exam, so you can compare breast tissue at the same time of your menstrual cycle. Breasts do swell and are tenderer at different phases of your cycle, so plan ahead for your own comfort and consistency.Related Articles

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6 Breast Cancer Symptoms that Most Women Don’t Know About

By , About.com Guide

Breast that is warm to the touch: A breast that always feel warm, sometimes hot to the touch is a symptom of inflammatory breast cancer, a dangerous and rare type od the disease.
Flat or inverted nipple: A nipple that is flat or inverted is also a symptom of breast cancer. This does not include having an inverted nipple since birth.
A breast that is often itchy: If you have itchy breasts or nipples, talk to your doctor. These are both symptoms of breast cancer.
The skin around the breast is dimpled or looks like an orange peel: Breast and surrounding skin can take on a dimpled appearance, looking like an orange peel. Many women are too embarassed to show a doctor, thinking it is cellulite or from being overweight. This is not the case.
Swollen or breast that does not change with menstrual cycle or size increase: It’s normal for a woman’s breast to become swollen and tender during a normal menstrual cycle, but when it’s constant, it need to be evaluated by a doctor. Women also need to be aware of a sudden breast size increase.
Breast that is red or blotchy: A breast that is red or blotchy, even having a rash-like appearance should be evaluated by a doctor. It is a symptom of inflammatory breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is a type of cancer that is often undected by a mammogram and self breast exam.

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What You Need to Know About Breast Cancer Symptoms

By , About.com Guide – Updated October 04, 2010

Symptoms of Early Stage Breast Cancer, Advanced Disease, and Recurrence
 
Why You Need To Know About Breast Cancer Symptoms
Breast cancer begins in a cell, which divides and multiplies at an uncontrolled rate. A small clump of cancer cells are too tiny to be felt, so the earliest stages of breast cancer usually have no symptoms. A mammogram can detect cancer before you can feel a lump, which is why your annual screening mammogram is so important. Some benign breast conditions can seem like cancer, so it’s good to know the difference, and get a health professional to check out worrisome lumps.

Understanding Symptoms
The classic symptom for breast cancer is a lump found in the breast or armpit. An aggressive type of this disease, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), grows in sheets or nests of tumor cells that invade the skin and can resemble a rash. Doing your monthly breast self-exam (BSE) is a great way to be familiar with your breasts’ texture, cyclical changes, size, and skin condition. Early detection is the best way to protect your health and improve your odds of survival. Don’t hesitate to see your doctor or nurse for a clinical breast exam (CBE) if you have a question about a change in your breasts.

Symptoms You Can See or Feel

Symptoms Seen On Breast Imaging

Some Symptoms of Advanced (Metastatic) Breast Cancer
Stage 4, or metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced stage of this disease. Metastatic breast cancer is defined as having spread beyond the breast and underarm lymph nodes into other parts of the body.

  • bone pain (bone metastases)
  • shortness of breath (lung metastases)
  • drop in appetite (liver metastases)
  • unintentional weight loss (liver metastases)
  • headaches, neurological pain or weakness (could be brain metastases)

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) – Aggressive and Unusual Symptoms
One type of breast cancer that does not appear in lumps is called inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). This aggressive cancer grows in sheets instead of lumps, and it invades nearby skin, resembling a rash. It will not respond to topical creams or antibiotics, and should be treated very promptly. Symptoms:

  • a sudden increase in mature breast size (as much as a cup size in a few days)
  • itching in the skin of the breast that is continuous and not relieved by pills or creams
  • a change in the breast skin color, resulting in pink, red, or dark-colored areas
  • breast is excessively warm to the touch, or harder or firmer than usual
  • unusual pain, which occurs out of the regular cycle
  • sometimes a change in skin texture, similar to the skin of an orange
  • breast skin ulcers (later stage IBC)

Symptoms of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Recurrence of breast cancer is classified as local, regional, and distant. A distant recurrence is the same as advanced (metastatic) breast cancer. A local recurrence is breast cancer that has returned after treatment, in or close to the original tumor location. It can often be effectively treated. Regional recurrence may be in the chest wall muscles, or in lymph nodes located beneath your sternum, just above your collarbones, and around your neck.Local Recurrence Symptoms:

  • a small lump or rash in the excision scar, on or under the skin

Regional Recurrence Symptoms:

  • swollen lymph node in the same armpit where cancer was previously removed
  • swollen lymph nodes above collarbones or sides of neck

A New Tumor Is Not a Recurrence
If a new tumor appears and has a different pathology than the original breast cancer, it is not considered a recurrence. It is called a new primary, and can occur in a different area of the breast that was originally affected, or in the opposite breast. A new cancer is diagnosed and treated independently from the original tumor.

Source:
National Institutes of Health. Medline Plus. Breast Cancer. Symptoms. Updated: 4/3/2007
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Let me know what you do to unwind and relax and WIN!!!!

I know with Fibromyalgia, we are not supposed to get stressed.  Well, that’s kind of hard now a days with the economy, my husband and I expecting our first child, starting a new business venture, etc.

I try to relax and unwind the best I can.  I love to read, listen to music, garden, and spending time with family and friends.  My favorite author is Nicholas Sparks so his books are great, my favorite music to relax to is Celitc Woman.

What are your favorite things to do to unwind and relax? Leave comments below.

YOU CAN WIN: If you want to participate in the contest, just leave a comment between today and October 24th.  You can win a book or two from my collection.  I have a lot of books that I have read and loved. 

**** You have to comment on what you do to unwind and relax.

GOOD LUCK!

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Swollen Glands With Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By Adrienne Dellwo, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Guide – Wednesday October 13, 2010

Q: “In your conversations with all of these people who have FMS do you ever come across swollen glands in the neck and under the jaw line? I get a very tight feeling in my neck sometimes and burning sensations. Have had bloods done but they come back as normal. Sometimes it really makes me feel unwell.” ~Lin

A: Swollen glands are a fairly common feature of fibromyalgia (FMS), and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) as well.

Typically, we associate swollen glands with acute illnesses. They’re a sign that your immune system is working against some kind of pathogen. It’s fairly normal for them to ache, even in “normal” people, so they’re especially likely to hurt in us because of our low pain thresholds (the point at which sensation becomes painful.) That feeling of “unwellness” that accompany them probably mean that you’ve picked up some illness, or that your body is having a harder time in the battle against longer-term pathogens.

The “glands” that people refer to are actually lymph nodes, which are little bundles of white nerve cells. In FMS and ME/CFS (possibly more so in ME/CFS), they’re often a symptom of a chronically active immune system — your body is increasing its number of white blood cells to fight off the bug, so the area gets puffed up with them. However, especially in FMS, they may also be a consequence of what some researchers describe as thick or sluggish bodily fluids. The lymph that would normally pass through seems to get backed up.  We have lymph nodes throughout the body, in the:

  • Under the jaw & chin
  • Groin
  • Armpit
  • Down both sides of the neck
  • On either side of the spine on the back of the neck
  • On either side of the thyroid gland in the front of the neck
  • Behind the ears
  • On the back of the head

If you have swelling or pressure in the center of your neck, it could be your thyroid gland.  Be sure to get that checked out right away.

Swollen lymph nodes don’t require any treatment just because they’re swollen. However, if they’re painful, you have several options for easing the pain:

  • Heat and/or ice, possibly alternating. Try different combinations to see what helps most.
  • Ibuprofen, other NSAIDs or other pain medications.
  • Manual lymph drainage (a type of massage) if it appears to be stagnant lymph.

I get painful, swollen lymph nodes that don’t appear to be connected to immune problems. I can usually tell the difference because, at least for me, immune-related swelling is mildly painful and confined to the site, while stagnant-lymph swelling causes a deeper ache that radiates. I’ve had manual lymph drainage for it, and it can feel really good. However, sometimes it takes deeper massage than my body can handle. I have to be thorough in communicating with my massage therapist so she knows how much pressure she can use on any given day. I’ve also had cupping, a traditional Chinese treatment that involves suction cups. It’s not as good at relieving the congestion, but it’s less likely to cause pain later, so it’s a good alternative.

Do you get painful, swollen glands? What other symptoms generally come along with them? What helps? Leave your comments below!

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