Fibro Warrior of the Week (#12)
FWOTW: Ashley Wheatley
Location: Southern California, USA
Mantra: “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus. (Acts 20:24) Regardless of the circumstances in my life I try to stay focused on my purpose. I never want my illness to become a crutch and stop me from fulfilling God’s plan for my life.”
Our 11th and 12th Fibro Warriors are a mother and daughter who both suffer from Fibro. Ashley Wheatley is the daughter half of our Fibro Warrior Duo. Diagnosed at a very young age, Ashley continues to educate the world about Fibromyalgia as well as beautify the world through her hair and make-up artistry. Ashley’s also got some Fibro fog-inspired uses for the toilet and freezer… -FD
FD: Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Ashley: I was born in Anaheim, California and lived in Southern California until I entered my pre-teen years when my family relocated to Texas. After a ten year stay, I moved back to Southern California. Some of my hobbies include crocheting, reading, and writing. Another one of my passions is singing, playing the guitar, and other facets of music. I am involved with a women’s worship team at my church. God has also blessed me with the artistic ability for hair and makeup. The artist in me loves to showcase my creativity through weddings, photo shoots, and bringing out the beauty in those that I work with.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Ashley: When I was in the third grade and my parents thought I had the flu. I remained ill for an extended period of time and wasn’t getting any better. Since I wasn’t showing any improvement, remained exhausted and in so much pain, my mom began to suspect I had Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue like her.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Ashley: After my prolonged illness at the age of 9, I remember my mother taking me to the doctor. I still recall the tears flowing from my eyes as the doctor checked the tender points on my body. It was very traumatic. At that time the doctor prescribed some antidepressant medication to help me sleep. From his perspective it was critical that my body get the necessary rest to rejuvenate and prevent complications later on due to my young age. At least we were grateful that the doctor acknowledged my need for sleep!
FD:When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Ashley: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t ill so the impact was minimal since this was my normal.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Ashley: At times, I find myself down and discouraged. I feel broken and not normal…like an outcast. There are moments when my body is screaming at me from the inside and I become frustrated and overwhelmed that I lose it. I continually fight to focus on what I can do and the wonderful things that the Lord has bestowed upon me. My illness affords me a greater compassion for those whom I come in contact with.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day to day life?
Ashley: Just getting out of bed in the morning is a feat in and of itself. Since I have to get up early for work, my body is drained and feels as if I have been run over by a truck. I never feel rested and I have never known a good night’s sleep. I can expect the Fibro beast within me to be unleashed for several days after I provide beauty through my hair and makeup artistry. Still I force myself to push on and pray for God’s strength continually.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Ashley: Since I was diagnosed at such a young age, I feel I have never known my life without Fibromyalgia (and Chronic Fatigue) and really don’t have a point of reference as to what I am missing. Some of my limitations include falling asleep, as I can toss and turn for hours and when I do fall asleep I awaken numerous times throughout the night. I feel like a little kid with my self-imposed early curfew because I can’t stay up late like “normal” young people my age. My activity is restricted which makes me feel like an old lady.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Ashley: Go to bed early at my age which doesn’t provide the opportunity for me to hang out with friends, let alone participate in any evening activities. I try not to think of what could have been if I didn’t have this ailment.
FD: What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Ashley: I have learned from my mom. Because of her experiences with doctors labeling this as a fad (although they did address my sleeping issue), we pursue a more holistic approach and have learned to listen intently to our bodies. We understand the importance of a healthy diet free from processed foods and those with high concentrations of sugar, not to mention my long list of food allergies and intolerances.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Ashley: I have been teased my entire life. When I was younger I attempted to take part in sleep overs, but my illness got in the way. As a twenty-seven year old, it is hard not being able to function or have the energy for many activities that may seem like a no-brainer for others. It is difficult for me to commit to social gatherings since I don’t know how I will feel when the event rolls around. I continue to be pressured by my friends which underscores the fact that they have no concept of Fibromyalgia. After all, they think I look great! On the other hand, I am grateful my mother can empathize.
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with fibro?
Ashley: Not letting myself get so frustrated with what I can’t do. Last year I was in an automobile accident which has exacerbated my illness. This further redirected my focus to take better care of myself. I am still learning it is okay to say “no” and take the necessary time to rest my body even though my mind says otherwise. I have had a lot of experience “paying the price” after I have pushed myself past my limitations.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Ashley: Leaning on God for my support. In my weakness He is made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). Through the ministry I share with my mother (Kindred Hearts) I know I am used to encourage other women who fight battles of their own. This illness has inspired me to search for alternatives for baking and cooking foods that are healthy for me. I have found a love for the kitchen in my quest to create meals that don’t do battle with my body. In doing so, I have become a “go-to” person for my friends when they are in need of help in their cooking endeavors.
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Ashley: Take care of yourself and don’t feel intimidated by the comments directed your way (easier said than done). This illness will take anyone as its prisoner so help inform the community that age is not a requirement. It knows no bounds. Don’t compare yourself to the “normal” people around you. Rejoice and be encouraged with your own accomplishments even though they may appear insignificant in the eyes of others.
FD: Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Ashley: I feel like I am living in a combat zone…always fighting the “Fibro fog”. I brighten my family’s day with little things like placing my dirty clothes in the toilet instead of the hamper or putting my car keys away in the freezer (so I’ve been told since I have no recollection). Flash cards may be appropriate!
Follow Ashley on Twitter: @ashleyjael
Like Ashley on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ashleyjaelstyling
Like Ashley on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KindredHeartsMinistry
Follow Ashley on her blog: twokindredhearts.blogspot.com
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