Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month

I was diagnosed with fibro many years ago, along with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Chronic Epstein-Barr Syndrome. Since then, I have also been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and Hashimoto's Disease which are all autoimmune illnesses. I also have a host of other diseases and conditions so it is difficult for me to discern what symptoms go with which illness. During National Fibromyalgia Awareness Month, I will refer to the experts to explain. 

What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia syndrome is a condition that is not very well understood as yet. Fibromyalgia symptoms are varied but usually include chronic pain around the body, muscle stiffness and fatigue (extreme tiredness/exhaustion) which may severely affect a person’s day to day life.
Experts do not yet understand what causes fibromyalgia, but it is a long term condition, that may be linked to abnormal chemical activity within the brain.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are therapeutic fibromyalgia treatments that can reduce the impact of symptoms on a person’s life.
Fibromyalgia seems to affect people of all ages, but mostly those aged between 30 to 50 years old, and women are much more likely to develop the condition compared to men. It is thought to be more common that statistics report, since many people do not seek medical help, or are misdiagnosed. There may be around 1.5-2 million people in the UK with fibromyalgia.

What causes fibromyalgia?

Nobody knows for sure yet what causes fibromyalgia. Current theories suggest that fibromyalgia may be caused by irregular activity within the central nervous system. This is because the pain it causes does not seem to be a result of physical or mechanical problems in the body (e.g. a broken bone, a pulled muscle, inflammation) but instead, seems to be caused by the brain’s management of pain signals. This means that for many people, pain relieving drugs do not have much effect for them and pain cannot be healed.
People with the condition may find it difficult to accept that the causes of fibromyalgia are not yet confirmed. Generally, people like to understand why they are experiencing a healthcare condition. Some people report that the fibromyalgia diagnosis process is also difficult and takes a long time, because there is a lack of understanding of the syndrome in the medical community, for example, GPs.
It is common for a stressful life event to be what triggers fibromyalgia. Lots of people who have the condition report that their fibromyalgia symptoms began when they had an illness, injury, operation, bereavement, relationship breakdown (e.g. divorce), or even after having a baby. Similarly, people report that their fibromyalgia symptoms flare up due to these types of events and experiences.
For treatments and living with this illness, please check out NRS Healthcare or other internet sites.  My advice is: Rest and relax and fly into a good book! *wink, wink* 
Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs! 
Fly into a good book at: 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Life is Not Like the TV Show—The Good Doctor

Life is not like the TV show, The Good Doctor, at least not for my two autistic boys.

For those of you who haven’t seen the show, The Good Doctor is about Shaun Murphy, a young autistic surgeon, played by Freddie Highmore, who has savant syndrome, relocates from a quiet country life to join the surgical unit at the prestigious San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital -- a move strongly supported by his mentor, Dr. Aaron Glassman. Having survived a troubled childhood, Shaun is alone in the world and unable to personally connect with those around him, but he finds his niche using his extraordinary medical skill and intuition to save lives and challenge the skepticism of his colleagues.

Yeah, right! I truly hope that life is like that for other autistic kids, but it isn’t our world. My oldest son has an almost savant-like mechanical, electronic ability. He has been obsessed with cars since he was two. He sees things in 3-D and can figure out how most things work easily. In elementary school, he was doing math that his teachers couldn’t do, but in middle school they decided he was dumb and would only give him picture math (one apple + one apple = ?).

That same philosophy has continued on through school and now to his work. Too intelligent for a day program gluing macaroni and paper, they have tried to place him in an automotive setting in the community. After volunteering for a number of years, he was hired at an automotive repair garage…as a janitor with the promise that they would hire him to change oil. Finally, his job coach company hired a job coach with mechanic abilities and certification. He was supposed to work with my son one-on-one to make sure nothing went wrong. After months of employment, the job coach said to the owner of the shop, “Look, when are you going to let him change oil?”

The answer was, “Never.”

At the time, I wasn’t told any more than that and so my son changed jobs. (With not much more success.) He still hasn’t been given an opportunity to demonstrate what he can actually do.

So, then comes along my other son, also autistic. His school experience was much the same—negative. He has a love of animals, particularly dogs. He wanted to go into the Animal Science program at Salt Lake Community College his senior year. His autism cluster teacher told him he wasn’t smart enough. He couldn’t learn the anatomy. He couldn’t do the math. He couldn’t do it. Period. I spoke with the doctor teaching the program, and he told me kids of all abilities are welcome in his class. I got the district involved, but even the vice principal was negative about my son taking the course. He also told us his cluster teacher refused to help him if he did it anyway. Seriously? What kind of teacher doesn't want their students to succeed?

What you must understand is that people with autism may have difficulties focusing on things, but when they are interested, they are extremely capable. They tend to hyper-focus and are almost obsessed with the subject.

Without special treatment in the Animal Science course, my youngest son passed with straight As and special certifications.

He has been working for an animal hospital for five years as a boarding technician for minimum wage. He has worked there longer than any other employee except one. Recently, we met with his Vocational Rehabilitation counselor to ask again that he be allowed to take on new tasks. We were told that the hospital was a business and are there to make money. They will not risk their business on someone with autism. (At least that’s what their office manager told Voc Rehab.)

I realized at that moment, neither of my children were going to be given the opportunity to prove themselves. I cried for a week. I laughed and scoffed at The Good Doctor. I considered life cruel and wondered why I worked so hard for my boys. Then, I got angry.

I refuse to give up. We have fought so many battles. This is just one more. There has to be companies out there that consider their employees more important than their bottom line; not that I’m asking them to let my son repair a car on his own or my other son to perform surgery on someone’s dog without the proper training, but they are both more capable than the world as defined them.

Life may not be like The Good Doctor for us, but nothing is stopping us from changing our little corner of the world.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Are You Sad because of SAD?

Well, I am here to tell you that my family suffers with SAD. Yes, that's Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. The lack of sunlight and Vitamin D, saps your energy, makes you feel moody and even depressed. The three men in my life really struggle with this and require medication and light therapy. Not even the joy of the holiday season can help them with this disorder. It's been so bad this year, everyone got full-spectrum light bulbs in their stockings.

Here is a more detailed list of symptoms from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
So if you are feeling depressed more days than not, consider talking to your doctor about SAD or buying yourself a sunlight lamp. As for me, I think I will curl up with a good book while everyone is struggling with their moods today.

You might want to consider my latest release, Hawk Mountain Heist. They're getting plenty of sunshine on the winter ski slopes in Utah.

Happy Reading and Escaping!

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs! 
Fly into a good book at: 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Twelve Days of Christmas Event!

You won't want to miss this wonderful opportunity to win!
Please sign-up on Facebook for the event
 so you are ready to win big.
Go to:

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs! 
Fly into a good book at: 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Maybe Christmas, Perhaps, Means a Little Bit More!

Every year, we manage to make Christmas work—the presents, the get togethers, the decorating, the financial expenses! We even manage to get in some spirituality, Christmas movies and Christmas songs.

Even though my youngest autistic son has been terribly ill and in pain for the last four years, we have managed to have the Christmas spirit! Last year in November, he was diagnosed with a debilitating, incurable auto-immune illness called ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome). It is a medical condition characterized by long-term fatigue and other long-term symptoms that limit a person's ability to carry out ordinary daily activities. Despite constant sickness, severe pain, fatigue, suicide threats and attempts, expensive medical bills and waning hope, we still made Christmas work.

But can we do it again this year?

The only treatment they have given him in the traditional western medical world, is compression socks for orthostatic intolerance (OI). OI describes a condition in which an excessively reduced volume of blood returns to the heart after an individual stands up from a lying down position. After 40 years of dedicated research, you would think they could come up with something more than SOCKS!

Anyway, after one financial issue after another this past year, mostly medical treatments, we are embarking on yet another diagnosis for his illness and another treatment plan. This time it is for Lyme Disease. It is an inflammatory disease characterized at first by a rash, headache, fever, and chills, and later by possible arthritis and neurological and cardiac disorders, caused by bacteria that are transmitted by ticks.

For better or worse, we find ourselves without funds this Christmas. In fact, I have taken back gifts to the stores as much as I can. Do we care? Not really. For what is Christmas about? Sure, it is nice to receive presents and fun things to enjoy. But, oh, what joy and a miracle it would be to have our son well again so that he can move forward with his life and not be sick and in pain at such a young age.

Is our whole family on board? Yes. Even his autistic older brother has said he doesn’t want anything for Christmas except for his brother to get well. So, we will put up our artificial tree with old ornaments, eat from our food storage, watch old movies we already have, visit with friends, do as much service as we can for others and pray that God can give us a miracle of health rather than a new video game or big-sized TV.

As the Grinch learned, “"Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." Christmas truly is what you make it.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at: