Fibro Warrior of the Week (#39)
Location: Rochester, NY, USA
Mantra: Live each day, one day at a time.
Learning to cook delicious yet healthy meals is an important part of living with Fibromyalgia which is why our 39th Fibro Warrior of the Week, Calvin Eaton, wrote the book Cooking with Fibromyalgia: A Young Man’s Guide to Simple and Delicious Vegetarian, Gluten and Dairy. Calvin completely changed his outlook and life to deal with Fibromyalgia so offers some valuable advice on coping with the condition, even if he does use his refrigerator like a desk…
FD: : Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Calvin: I am a twenty-seven year old special educator and writer. I was born in Lockheart, Texas, and raised in the upstate New York town of Rochester.
This journey is the primary subject of my poetry. I live vegan and gluten-free and enjoy cooking, baking, running, swimming, and Pilates. I currently reside in East Nashville, Tennessee. My personal mantra is, “Live each day, one day at a time”.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Calvin: In late 2009, I lost my job at the University of Rochester. I was working on my Masters degree at the time. I had enough savings, had just bought my first townhouse and had no reason to worry about not finding another job. That was just around the time the economy fell and to my dismay finding a job was more difficult than I expected.
As the months progressed, I noticed my sleeping pattern worsened. I felt more tired, lethargic and just blah. I noticed no matter how much I slept, I never felt rested. My muscles ached all over and the fatigue was like nothing I had ever felt before. Taking a shower became a huge undertaking to the point where I had to take a shower every other day because it just took me too long to take a shower and get dressed.
These conditions worsened into the new year. Throughout early 2010 I became sicker, weaker to the point where I was bedridden for one month at a time. It was then that I knew something was very wrong. The incessant doctors visits started and the rest I guess is history.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Calvin: It wasn’t until Fall 2010 that I was formally diagnosed with the debilitating illnesses of Fibromyalgia and Degenerative Bone Disease.
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Calvin: Initially, I looked at it as something that I could conquer or get over. I was the one who brought the issue to my doctors and so I increased my research looking into every type of self treatment I could find. I bought books, vitamins, etc. I started to lose more weight, take yoga, Pilates, acupuncture and the like. In my mind, I would overcome this illness. At that time I had no reason to think it would completely consume my life. I made plans to relocate to Nashville. I figured the warmer climate would do me well. In June 2011, I move dto Nashville to embark in Nashville Teaching Fellows. I was 130 pounds lighter when I left.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Calvin: These chronic illnesses changed the course of my life. I continue to raise awareness and battle these health challenges while trying to live as full a life as physically possible.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Calvin Fibromyalgia has changed me in every single way imaginable. I mean, I became an author because of this illness. I have had to change every single aspect of my being. There just aren’t enough words to truly express it, but I wrote a blog post at the start of 2012 on how Fibro has changed me for the better. You can check out the post here: 10 Positive Ways That Fibromyalgia Has Changed My Life in 2012
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Calvin: Oh, God, where do I begin…Honestly, now I try to be as positive as possible. I have learned that what we say and think directly effects our emotions. Fibromyalgia has changed the way I work. Since I cannot work as a teacher anymore, I started blogging and writing which have become the ways I make my income. For a time, I was an avid runner training for a half marathon. I am now able to run again, but not as hard, fast, or long as I used to. I still have the goal of a half marathon on my agenda. One day I will run my marathon. I like to look at it like inch by inch.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Calvin: Blogging, writing, publishing books, seeing a therapist. The list is endless.
FD: : What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Calvin: Umm… Again, there are not enough words in the world. As most sufferers, my collective experience has been less than ideal overall. I wrote about it on my blog in an open letter I penned to the medical community. Check that out here: An Open Letter to the Medical Community
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Calvin: Many relationships are now different; some for the better, others not so much. One thing I had to come to is that no person will fully understand what I go through and that is ok. I spent a lot of energy crying and frustrated, trying to make someone understand. I have learned to let that go. I have written many poems on my blog about acceptance, family and friends who have lef tmy life since this illness changed me. Again, framing this in a positive way I look at it like not all relationships are built to last forever. This is ok. The time we spent was not in vain.
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Calvin: This is a hard question. I think my biggest challenge is myself. As in I am my own worst enemy. It is a constant battle to not beat myself up when I fail. I am a classic Type A planner, perfectionist, and overall go- getter. There has never been something that I have not conquered or overcome until Fibromyalgia. I am constantly telling myself to let the past go, live in the moment, and do not stress out about what I cannot do. Being positive and doing what I can when I can is a daily challenge.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Calvin: Some days I wish I could end it all. Sometimes the pain, fatigue, and overall effort to just get out of bed is too much. But I love life. I love my family and I keep fighting because I know there are so many who have much less than I do. So many who have it much worse than I do and I see them push forward with a smile and so I think, “what are you complaining about? You have all you need and so much more.”
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Calvin My advice is to stay triumphant. Your example means more than you know.
FD: Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Calvin: Umm… I guess the constant Fibro Fog and forgetfulness. Like putting my keys in the fridge and looking for them for hours. Funny after the fact, but not so much in the moment.
Follow Calvin on Twitter: @ceaton85
Read Calvin’s blog: Living with Fibro Fog
Check out Calvin’s cookbook: Cooking with Fibromyalgia: A Young Man’s Guide to Simple and Delicious Vegetarian, Gluten and Dairy
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