Fibro Warrior of the Week (#44)
Location: Goldsboro, North Carolina, USA
Mantra: I have dedicated the rest of my life to FIBRO AWARENESS. I may move at a snail’s pace, but I will never quit. FMS AWARENESS NOW.
Meet Fibro Warrior of the Week #44—and part-time Santa!—Annette L. Jackson. Since her diagnosis, Annette has become a strong Fibromyalgia advocate and author, focusing her efforts on expanding worldwide awareness. Along with her trusty elf Jake, she continues to make the world a brighter place for Fibromyalgia patients, even if she might not know what day it is… -FD
FD: : Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Annette: I was born in Quincy, Illinois. I live in North Carolina and have lived here since 1989. I am married to a wonderful man and he has one son and two grandchildren. My main interest is learning new treatments or medications for Fibromyalgia. Outside of that, I love watching classic films and I belong to a classic film club that is worldwide. I love anything from The Silent Era up to about 1975. I love the church I attend, and when I cannot make it due to Fibro Flare, they come to my house with Holy Communion. I am very blessed to have so many people that support me/believe in me. Also, have my loyal dog Jake; he helps keep me from being alone and also helps my pain just being near me.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Annette: I first suspected something was wrong around 1997. I was having pain in my fingers and pain in my neck like I had whiplash or similar. Physical therapy was not helping at all..
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Annette: I was diagnosed with Fibro in 1997.
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Annette: At first, I was sad and afraid. I had already suffered from major depression and I was afraid this diagnosis would make me lose my husband or friends. My first husband did end up leaving me in 2000 because he felt it was unfair to be stuck with a wife who was always sick.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Annette: Now my outlook is totally different. I have since remarried to a wonderful man. I have the support of my family/friends, my physician, and those that “LIKE” my Fibro Awareness Page. I am dedicated to raising GLOBAL AWARENESS as this disease effects nearly eigthy million people worldwide. With the help of speech recognition software (Dragon), I was able to write my book called I HURT LIKE HELL. Many people had heard the word FIBROMYALGIA, but did not know how it affected the person’s life. My book gives readers a chance to see how devastating this disease is to your career, family, friends; nearly every aspect of your life. I am currently in touch with twelve countries and their Fibro-Support groups. I have mailed almost four-hundred purple bands with my Logo “FMS AWARENESS NOW”. I am planning an awareness rally in Washington, D.C., for 2015.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Annette: It affects everything I do from the moment I get up until I go to bed. The only time I don’t have pain is when I am asleep. I don’t let Fibro win, though; going to smile and enjoy my life. You have to find “the joy” in your Life in order to survive. For me, it’s my family and classic films.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Annette: I can barely write. I type with speech recognition software. I can’t sit, stand, or be in any certain position longer than ten minutes without severe pain setting in. I can’t work anymore, I can’t drive far. I can’t go shopping or go to a movie theatre. Having Fibro has made my life very lonely and isolating.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Annette: I published a book, I have over six-hundred followers on my Fibro Awareness Page. I am learning Portuguese and Italian language so I can talk on their Fibro support groups. I own many classic movies on DVD and have so many close friends around the world. I am very close to my church family.
FD: : What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Annette: I have been blessed to have a wonderful pain doctor who not only listens to my complaints, but believes my pain is real. I have found that a fifteen minute sitting massage feels better than an hour of deep tissue massage. I have medication for my Fibro (I also suffer from Bipolar Disease.) I had no luck with homeopathic treatments or chiropractor. Accupuncture did not help, but I do acupressure at home (tennis ball or trigger point release objects.) Ice packs help me better than heat. I use Ben Gay and sometimes a hot shower feels good as well as the hot tub.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Annette: My first husband left me because he was tired of me not feeling well. I have since remarried to a wonderful man who is supportive. I have lost friends; my family has finally come to realize that my pain is real. I now have hundreds of friends all over the world, some I hope to meet in person someday.
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Annette: I am worried I will soon not be able to do housework, get groceries, or care for myself. I cannot work. If something were to happen to my husband, I know I could not live alone and pay the bills. I am also afraid in the future I may not be able to drive or completely care for myself.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Annette: All those that suffer with Fibro or any invisible disease inspire me to keep fighting. I am determined, I am fairly intelligent, and I will not stop. I have dedicated my Life to spreading Fibro Awareness around the world. I have many followers; I have people that believe in me. I am determined. Especially since some people believe that Fibromyalgia is not real, we are faking it, we are just lazy and don’t want to work. This angers me so I am on a mission to show the world this is not a “fake disease”. I would not wish this disease on anyone.
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Annette Make sure you have a supportive doctor or maybe a therapist plus supportive family and friends. Learn as much as you can about this disease. Knowledge is power. Learn about the medications you are taking, let your doctor know if they are making you feel better or worse. Be honest with your employer, your family, and your friends. Realize there will always be people that don’t believe you. Take care of yourself and if you need help just ask. Fibromyalgia is becoming more acceptable to the media. We are seeing more commercials and talk about developing newer Fibro medications… My book is not only selling in the USA, but in many countries all over the world. Don’t give up, find the JOY in your life.
FD: Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Annette: This is more of a funny Fibro-fog story. One day I woke up and thought it was Friday. I knew I had all these errands to do and the offices would be closed Saturday. So I wore myself out running from place to place making sure I got all my errands done. I got home and looked at my cellphone and realized it was Thursday and not Friday. That is just one of many stories I could share.
Follow Annette on Facebook:AnnetteJacksonFibro
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