Welcome to Counting My Spoons!
My name is Julie Ryan, I began this blog in 2010 when I started my journey with Fibromyalgia. A lot has changed over the years. I’ve gone from hopeless to hopeful, from sad to inspired. I’ve learned how to manage my illness and I hope that I can help you do the same. At the very least I hope I can help you live an inspired life despite your chronic illness. Take a look at what’s helped me the most with managing my illness.
Why Counting My Spoons?
The title of my blog originated from the Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. She’s an amazing writer and has inspired me in so many ways. When I was first diagnosed a friend introduced me to this “theory” and it really resonated with what I was going through, so I adopted it (as many others have) and when I thought about what i would name my blog, I realized that it had to be “Counting My Spoons”.
These days I don’t spend a lot of times counting my spoons, or worrying about how many I have. I listen to my body and it tells me when I’m running low, so I slow down. Otherwise, I try to just do what I want to do and enjoy life as much as I can.
Who is Julie Ryan?
I’m glad you asked. I’m just another Chronic Illness Warrior just like you. My journey started with TMJ and then turned into Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis and thyroid issues. I’ve also got cluster headaches and chronic migraines to deal with. But, that’s not who I am, that’s just what I live with.
I’m so much more than my illnesses and so are you. In 2007 I married “the one that got away.” We live with 2 cats, who kindly share their home with us. In 2016 I finally graduated with my undergrad in Psychology (it only took me 20 years). In doing so I realized that my body and full time school were not compatible. So, I decided to focus more on writing. I’ve been a freelance writer and online marketer since the late 90’s. So, I took those skills and created Chronic Illness Bloggers where I help connect other bloggers to companies with products and services that can help those of us with chronic illness.
A few recent interviews where you can learn more about me:
- Speaking from the Heart podcast
- Just Talking podcast
- Facebook Live interview with Men with Fibromyalgia
I still do some freelance writing, but I do most of my writing right here on my blog.
Most Popular Posts on Counting My Spoons
- What Does Fibromyalgia Feel Like?
- 11 Things Those With Chronic Illness Need to Do
- 16 Things Fibromyalgia Sufferers Need to STOP Doing
- What Chronic Illness Does to a Marriage
- 10 Things You Should Never Say to Someone With Fibromyalgia
- 8 Things Those with Chronic Illness Need to Know
- 11 Misconceptions Those with Chronic Illness Have About Themselves
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I hope you will stay in touch with me. There are many ways that you can follow me and my blog. You can subscribe to receive the blogs in your email as they are posted. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
In Jan 2008 I had major gum surgery, as a precursor to getting braces during the summer. This wasn’t a vanity thing. I was told if I didn’t get a few teeth pulled and get braces the over-crowding that caused the need for the gum grafting would result in a need to repeat that surgery. So, I got the braces. However, before the braces even went on (after the spacers went in) the migraines started.
I’ve always had migraines but not like this. I initially tried to pass it off to “teeth moving”, and the orthodontist pushed that logic. However, after three months of doing nothing but laying on the couch in pain or going to the doctor or the chiropractor for acupuncture, I’d had enough. That’s when I found Dr. Clifton Simmons in Nashville who diagnosed me with TMJ. It seems that having my mouth open in the awkward position to have the spacers put in and then again to have the braces put on activated TMJ disorder. The same day I saw Dr. Simmons I began having sharp stomach pains and found out that I had developed and ulcer from all the NSAID pain meds I had taken for the headaches. However, that wasn’t all of it. My gallbladder was going out at the same time. That was a period of some of the most intense pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. Once the gallbladder came out and the TMJ treatment started, I began feeling better.
During this illness I was unable to work and I saw a sharp decline in my income. Knowing that I needed to do something different, I decided to try to go back to school and finish my degree. In the fall of 2009 I was feeling good enough to attempt to do just that. The fall went well. However, halfway through the Spring semester I got hit with what felt like a terrible case of the flu. I was fatigued and hurting and running a low-grade fever. I ended up dropping one class just to finish the others. The fatigue continued and around the same time I noticed some other strange symptoms. I had numbness & tingling in my arms and hands, I had a stabbing pain in my right eye, and my vision had decreased suddenly. A visit to the Neurologist and a bunch of tests and they couldn’t find any reason for the symptoms. He sent me to a couple of other specialists and they couldn’t find anything either. Eventually, through research of my own and pushing to see a Rheumatologist I got a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. I managed to get a diagnosis quicker than most simply because I did a lot of research on my own and because I pushed. Additionally, I was also diagnosed with Cluster Headaches as the cause for the recurring stabbing pain in the eye.
The next two years were pretty awful. I fought with depression, tried a lot of different meds, and just about gave up. Then towards the end of 2011 I was finally willing to try anything, and that’s when I stumbled across the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. That movie changed my life and gave me hope. What was the worst that could happen if I gave it a try, so I did. I created my reboot. I did a juice fast for the first week of 2012 and followed that with an elimination diet, where I slowly reintroduced food groups. In the end I determined that gluten was the thing that affected my fatigue and chronic pain the most. Other foods bothered me too, but not nearly as much. They mostly just impacted my IBS symptoms.
2012 was a great year. I lost 40lbs, managed to decrease or cut several meds, and just felt great. I was exercising regularly again and then I got struck with insane abdominal pains and started another circle of medical specialists with no answers. Along the way we found out I had Endometriosis, but that wasn’t the cause of the pain. After two laparoscopic surgeries to remove the Endo, the pain is still there. I’ve gotten used to it at this point and more and more research points to the cause as (possibly) Small Fiber Neuropathy, which some researchers believe is at the root of Fibromyalgia for many patients. This small fiber nerves run throughout your body and while this neuropathy is most commonly associated with diabetes and problems in the hands and feet, they can affect pretty much every area of the body.
This blog is the story of my journey. It’s my life, it’s what I love and it’s what I’ve learned. I share with you the things that I find along the way, the people I meet, the people who inspire me. One of my favorite things on this blog is the Fibro Warrior Wednesday interviews. Each week I interview a different Fibro Warrior and share their story with you.