The Gift of Fibromyalgia

November 15, 2007

Without Fibromyalgia:

  • I never would have quit my job.
  • I never would have slowed down.
  • I never would listened to what my body was telling me.
  • I never would have learned to nurture myself.
  • I never would have started my blogs a few months ago.

Fibromyalgia forces change. It screams for attention. It refuses to compromise. It sends a message that says, “What you’re doing isn’t working. Do something different. Do something else–now.”

A few months ago, I was on leave from a job so stressful that my body refused to be a party to it any more. Walking down a flight of stairs became a major challenge. The fogginess was making it impossible to perform the simplest tasks. I was running (well, crawling) to doctors, trying to find a cure that doesn’t exist. In the meantime, I was jumping through hoops trying to make all of this easier on everyone– my employers, co-workers, the insurance companies, my boyfriend, friends, and family. It depressed me and wore me down.

“Find what you love to do,” urged my boyfriend, Tom. “Let yourself flourish. Then the Fibromyalgia will disappear.”

At first, I didn’t even understand what he was talking about, but it slowly began to sink in. Finally, I slammed on the brakes. No more, I decided. I have to learn to do this my body’s way. My spirit’s way. What I believed was most important– a decent wage at any cost, benefits, endlessly trying to please as many people as possible in any given situation–was wrong.

So now, after nearly eight years of spiraling with this syndrome, I’m doing what I love. I live in a little house with a kind man and a passive-aggressive cat. I listen to music, I paint, and I write. I look at the sky, notice the changing leaves on the trees and I feel grateful. I do chores when my body gives me the green light, and I try to stop when the light turns yellow.

A few months ago, I started two blogs– one for my “real” life, and one where I could rant and wail and cry about Fibromyalgia (this one). Immediately, blogging just felt right. At first, my goal was just some self-therapy, and to discipline myself to write every day. Never did I foresee what a gift it would turn out to be.

Through this process, I’ve met so many wonderful bloggers, and blog readers. They’ve given me much food for thought. We exchange advice, ideas, and encouragement. We laugh and cry together, and provide hope and strength. It was through blogging that I met Brian, Little Miss, Beth Z, Tammy, RM, and Wendy, among many others– writers, editors, and friends who encouraged me to start submitting some of my essays. This led me to try my hand at writing for a living. It feels very right, like I’m finally doing something that’s harmonious with who I am.

This week, one of my articles is on the front page of our city’s arts and culture magazine. Tom’s so proud that he nabbed several copies and brought them home. I don’t feel proud, I feel thankful. I’m finally learning to earn my living doing something that I love. In a roundabout way, thanks to Fibromyalgia, I think I may be flourishing.

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17 Responses to “The Gift of Fibromyalgia”

  1. Little Miss Says:

    I haven’t read all your article, but trust me, I will. The first parts I read are great! Congratulations to you. I applaud you and understand exactly what you have outlined above. I’ll post more later – trying to get a very pregnant daughter and active grandson to a doctor visit, while working, again doing too much, and fighting off a flareup. We’ll see how that goes. I know you understand!

  2. ואידך זיל גמור Says:

    So nice to read and so nice to identify with exactly that. It took some time with me (some denial…), but eventually I got the Fibro message and it was exactly as u wrote it here. Its nice that u can rise above the suffering at this stage and see all that already.

  3. Margaret Says:

    Isn’t it amazing that what can seem to be a curse turns out to be a blessing. I was diagnozed with fibromyalgia in 1998 and went all full disability for a year and a half. It was during that time that I learned to be thankful for the small things. Now I am a retired teacher and experiencing so much more than I thought possible. A change of lifestyle, good nutrition, and leaning on the Lord have resulted in a much better quality of life now.

    Congratulations on your published article! Keep up the good work.

  4. Debbishoe Says:

    It took me a while to get it, but I’m very clear about it now, Blessings come in all shapes. My big change in life came ten years ago when I went home for lunch and never made it back to work…ever.

    I also fought the change with every bit of energy I didn’t have, but the decision was ultimately made for me, by my body. It was time to stop everything. I had been holding onto my life with the tips of my fingers but even they gave out.

    Once I regained some ability to think, I started writing a journal and a grateful list. There was very little I could do about my body dilemma, but I finally had the time to work on my ‘Self’.
    I had forgotten that I even had a self.

    I am soooo much healthier now, then I have ever been, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. Physically still afflicted but even with the fibro-fog, a whole lot clearer.

    So, maybe We are the chosen ones?!

    Deb


  5. @ Little Miss: You know I do! Good luck and try not to overdo (yeah, right!).

    @ Israeli Globetrotter: Sometimes I rise above it, sometimes, I just sink in the muck and wallow in it. But I try, and it’s getting much better. My quality of life stinks sometime, but it’s also improving.

    @ Margaret: Thank you! There are a lot of discoveries we make about ourselves as we go through this, aren’t there? I think it’s amazing that there is so much good that goes along with the pain.

    @ Debbieshoe: I can relate to your story so well.
    “I had been holding onto my life with the tips of my fingers but even they gave out.” That’s exactly what happened to me– all of it. If we’re the “chosen ones,” it’s a dubious, mysterious honor! Still, there’s always this feeling of a challenge, like there are secrets about this syndrome that have yet to be unwrapped. There are definitely gifts that go along with this.

  6. Little Miss Says:

    It suddenly occurred to me what I wanted to share with you about this post. My father used to always tell me – based on his own experiences, beginning with when his wife and mother of three (my biological mother) left him for a man who was a trusted friend to him – that “the worst things that happened to me ALWAYS turned out to be the best things that happened to me.”

    See, had she not left like she did, he wouldn’t have fought so danged hard to keep me and my older brothers, be a successful man, and eventually meet and marry the mother I knew from age two.

    And my life has proved him right as well. Without the fibro, I wouldn’t have “met” you either! 🙂


  7. @Little Miss: Okay, like, you totally had me in tears over this. I read it last night, but had to wait until today to respond.

    Your father sounds like an amazing man. Your stepmother too. And your biological mother will never know what she missed.

    I completely agree with your dad. And your last line is one of the sweetest comments in the world. I’m so glad I’ve “met” you too. It is one of the great gifts of fibro.

  8. Little Miss Says:

    I didn’t mean to make you cry. 🙂 My childhood story could be a scene from a soap opera. I was only about 16 months old when bio mom left and I never saw her again until I was in my mid 20s. She died about four years ago and she and I had become friends and I finally understood why she made the choices she did and forgave her. She always told me that she regretted her decision her whole life.

    Ok, so I have totally hijacked your post…LOL. I guess I should do my own post on this topic.


  9. Wow! You’ve had quite a life. Thank goodness you got to befriend your mother (and I’m sorry she’s gone)– I’ll bet it answered many questions and provided some closure. Of course she regretted it– look who she missed out on knowing for all of those years. Of course, you’d be a different person if she’d been the one to raise you.

    You did not hijack, but I would love to read a post about this!

  10. adiemusfree Says:

    Hi Moonbeammcqueen – lovely blog this, especially this post. If you’re OK with it (and I can learn how!!) I would love to post this on my blog which is about resources for health care providers helping people with chronic pain. Let me know if you’re OK with it – just email at adiemus [at] clear [dot] net [dot] nz.
    cheers
    Bronnie


  11. Thanks for stopping by, Bronnie. I’m glad you like my site. Feel free to link.


  12. My wife was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years ago and our lives were changed forever. I am developing an online community for people suffering from fibromyalgia. The online community, “You’re Not Alone” ( http://fibromyalgia.ning.com ), will allow members to participate in fibromyalgia-related discussions in the Forum, share their thoughts and ideas in their blog, and post their personal photos and videos. There is no cost to join. Members of the site follow a simple process to create their profile page, which they can later customize including a profile photo and additional details about themselves. I created the project while participating in a Landmark Education leadership program. Part of the coursework was to create a project that benefits the community. When I had the opportunity to create a project that would make a difference in the community, it was only natural that my wife’s illness would be the inspiration.


  13. Ms. McQueen,

    I’ve kept an eye on this side of your blogging life, and I have to say I’m most proud and amazed at what you’ve accomplished. I can’t give you enough applause for your triumphs. You deserve great recognition for how far you’ve come.

    I also applaud you for inspiring the rest of us, with and without fibromyalgia, to always move forward.


  14. Beth: I get so emotional when I read some of these comments. This was one of them. My triumphs have been small ones, but this is a period of adjustment, and I’m slowly learning to make my life a more rewarding one. I guess the less I post on my Fibromyalgia blog, the better I’m doing. I’ve learned so much from those whose blogs I read (yours included), as well as the people who comment here, and I can’t thank you enough. It’s you who inspire me.

  15. sewsforbikers Says:

    may i quote you…?
    cindy

    I want to go on TV to give US all a better voice!!!!!!!@


  16. @ Cindy: Hi! Quote me where, and for what?

  17. icarecafe Says:

    the icarecafe would really like your help with a discussion on Fibromyalgia

    As you many know the icarecafe has been set up to provide a space for patients, carers and their supporters online.

    Some of the members have set up a discussion group on the subject of Fibromyagia. The group has asked lots of questions which are still in the process of being answered. So we thought it appropriate if we invited people from other Fibromyalgia discussion group and blogs to ask if they wished to participate.

    To have a look at the discussions so far please have a look at

    http://www.icarecafe.com/?page_id=1107&group_id=36

    Please do feel free to join in the discussions and to post any information which might be of interest to our members.

    If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch. I’m one of the moderators of the icarecafe and I can be contacted by sending and internal email to my profile.

    Thanks very much in advance for your help!

    Best wishes

    Belinda Shale
    Moderator – the icarecafe

    http://www.icarecafe.com

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