Fibro Warrior of the Week (#69)
Location: Quito, Ecuador
Mantra: I know my pain, I know my power and I know I will overcome it.
Ana Rueda is our 69th Fibro Warrior of the Week. She is a teacher and a student, a young woman dedicated to getting and giving all she can in life no matter if she’s working, going to school, turning green with a super mood or wearing a red clown nose …..
FD: Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Ana: My name is Ana, I was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. This South American country is rich in culture and natural patrimony. I love my country and has had the pleasure of traveling all over it.
I am the second daughter; my older sister is one year older than me. We both live with my parents, at an apartment in the center of the city. She is an architect and is currently studying at Madrid, to get her masters degree.
I am twenty-nine years old, I have a degree in Hotel Management and worked at Marriott for three years. At the moment I work at GRAF, which is a soccer school managed by my uncle. I am studying for a second career to become a soccer coach. As you can tell by this, I love soccer, playing it and teaching it.
I enjoying traveling, photography, reading and SIMPLY LOVE WATCHING TV.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Ana: Well for this we would have to go back to my birth… I was born with some issues that have contributed to my Fibro, or at least that is what I think.
I was born with a hip dysplacia and scoliosis. As a result, I have one leg 0.5 cm longer than the other, but this doesn´t make a difference in my walking.
During my childhood, I was in constant pain from my legs and was told to be normal, so I had to sleep with bandages on my legs and have them rubbed with very strong menthol crèmes.
When I was nine years old, they noticed I had a curved back. My spine was 53º out of line, so I was forced to wear a fiberglass corset with a metal strap to keep my back in position and make it better. This was the most horrible thing ever! It made me look huge and very uncomfortable; it hurt by arms and my body, and I had to keep it on even during the nights. I used it for three years and my back actually got better, but the pain remained.
From there on, the pain was more noticeable. My hands would hurt during cold weather and my knees even worst.
At fourteen, I developed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and had a bleeding ulcer, again because I kept complaining of the pain. Doctors and parents said that it was nothing, because regular examinations showed nothing.
I went on with this regular pain, unable to complain because people would always say I was making it up, and as we all know that is very annoying.
But I knew something was not right. People my age were able to do many things and had no pain, nor were they tired like me. The pain in my hands was so hard and my legs would just fail on me. There had to be something that the doctors were not seeing.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Ana: Two years ago I broke my ankle, and got surgery. I have four screws and a metal plate in there now. After recovery, the pain in my leg was stronger than me; I just couldn´t put up with it anymore, couldn´t walk normally and was even more tired during the day.
Finally after hundreds of examinations and tests, a light hit my doctor and he sent me to a general doctor, thinking of Fibromyalgia. He looked up at me and after touching the tender points and noticing pain in all of them, he diagnosed me.
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Ana: Although it was hard to know that it was going to be with me forever, it was very good to know that I was not crazy, that my pain was real and that there was a name for it.
I got some medicine and this helped with the pain of the leg, which helped me to do my rehab and go back to my normal activities.
My family still does not believe in Fibro and just assumed/assumes that was a way to justify pain and getting medicine.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Ana: Well, in many aspects it has changed. I now know how far I can push myself, I have found myself doing lots of research about Fibro and people suffering from it. I now try to live more experiences and appreciate movement more. I never judge someone´s pain, because I know about judging firsthand. So every time somebody tells me they feel some pain, no matter the intensity, I push them to get professional help.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Ana: Fibro stays on all day, and the biggest issue is the fatigue and the pain moving around my body. Everyday is different and that actually makes it harder for anybody to understand me.
As I told you, I work with kids in a soccer school. But because of Fibro I cannot play with them or teach them in the field, because sometimes pain won´t let me run or hit the ball. So, I try to keep active to make sure that I can become a teacher soon enough.
I go to my gym, exercise as I can for one hour. Pilates is low impact, but good to stay in shape. I go to work from 10 am to 17h30 (5:30pm), both in an office and in the field, supervising the training of all the students. Then I drive to college, until 22h30 (10:30 pm). There I have class inside a classroom and sometimes in a field, training to learn more drills.
Not always able to fulfill all of it, and it is really hard not getting any comprehension from my family, co workers and “friends”.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Ana: I can´t train soccer on my normal bases anymore, and cannot do as many things as I used to do, like working all day.
I can´t eat anything because my stomach won´t put up with food charged with sugar or deep fried. So now, I have to choose properly my food and make the time to have it ready.
I find it hard to go out at nights, because I feel exhausted by nine pm.
I can’t plan ahead on a day or on a holiday, because I don’t know how strong am I going to be or how low.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Ana: Drink pills every day. Falling sleep in my desk without my control. ( Note from editor: I left the word “drink”; even if Ana means “take”, she makes a good point.-JC)
FD: : What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Ana: I have only stayed with the doctor that diagnosed me, but when seeking alternative medicine I found people saying Fibro is just a name to justify constant complaining for different pain.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Ana: It has made me realize who is willing to help me and who is just not ready to deal with this. My family is supporting me, but at moments still believe pain is not really that hard, because I try to keep my life as normal as possible. My friends have tried to learn more about Fibro and are good to me. Fortunately, I found a man that understands fFbro and has read about it to be ready for me.
In general people try to understand, but I find it hard to make them realize my pain on days when it is harder to resist, specially when they get use to me living with this.
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Ana: Making people I work with or study with, in general people that are not my close ones, understand Fibro and how it affects me. Also finding good medicine to make me better, because what I have been given makes me nauseous.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Ana: I have big dreams, and I am not willing to give them up just yet. Many things I couldn´t do and I regret them. I DO NOT WISH TO REGRET ANYTHING ELSE.
Also, my family, my mom and my dad, always made all the efforts to give me all I needed for a good life, so I want to repay them.
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Ana: If you notice my twitter user name, I love HULK for a reason. His super power comes from his mood, when he gets upset from what people say or do to him, he gets stronger. Be a HULK and take power from all those people saying Fibro is not real and Fibro is just an excuse. You know your pain, you know your power.
Do not just hang in there, keep fighting the fight. Believe in your won battles, because even getting out of bed is a won battle. Every extra effort you do, do it for yourself and be happy for having achieved it.
Walk for at least thirty minutes everyday at your own rhythm, keep your mind and body healthy to keep up the fight.
FD: Sometimes humor provides relief when dealing with chronic illness. Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Ana: Well no story really, but humor really helps. So fall in love as much as you can, laugh at every simple moment you can and if there are no happy moments, make them… get a red clown nose and take a picture of yourself.
And exercise will make you happier.
Follow Ana on Twitter: @ana_loves_hulk
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