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 migraines and TMJ, and then turned into Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, thyroid issues, and inter-cranial hypertension.
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 2015 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 helped connect other bloggers to companies with products and services that can help those of us with chronic illness. I sold that business in early 2018 so that I could refocus on writing (both freelance and here on my blog).
In 2019 I sold my house and downsized to a 42′ 5th wheel RV. I’d always dreamed of traveling the country and it finally hit me that there was no reason to wait (and that if I did wait, it may never happen). In June, 2020 I hit the road in my 5th wheel with my boyfriend and our cat. If you’d like to read more about that side of my life, please check out my RV Life blog – RVwith.US.
A few interviews where you can learn more about me:
- Speaking from the Heart podcast
- Just Talking podcast
- Facebook Live interview with Men with Fibromyalgia
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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My Health Story:
In Jan 2008 I had major gum surgery, as a precursor to getting braces.
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.
The orthodontist just kept telling me it would hurt because my teeth were moving. Initially, I believed him.
However, after three months of excrutiating pain that left me 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.
And, if that wasn’t enough, evidently 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, resulted in a bunch of tests but 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 received 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.
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 believe it’s related to eating high fat. It feels a lot like the gallbaldder pain and while I’ve managed to get rid of it entirely for months or even years at a time. If I start eating a higher fat diet, it returns.
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.
I’d love to hear from you and have you share your story and your journey with me and with the other readers. I’d also love to hear what you’d like to see me write more about.
Related: What treatments have helped me most