Fibro Warrior of the Week (#28)
FWOTW: Dawn Rose
Location: Anaheim, CA, USA
Mantra: Find things that you like to do and do them! Also try to focus on the positive things in your life. EVERYONE has problems, so try not to dwell on the negative things.
This week we feature Dawn Rose, a newly diagnosed Fibro Warrior who prefers to focus on the positive side of life by having FUN—in all caps!— and staying as active as possible while caring for her health. Furthermore, she’s never met a Duck she didn’t like…
FD: : Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Dawn: I was born in Anaheim, CA, and have lived in Anaheim for most of my life other than a few years in Oregon. I’ve always loved athletic activity (swimming, biking, skiing, tennis, jogging & working out at the gym), but unfortunately I’ve had to cut back on my activity level due to my various medical conditions. I’ve also been a major hockey fan for the last twenty-some years, and have had season tickets to the Anaheim Ducks since Day 1. My faith in God is also very important to me. Although I do have tough days, I’m grateful that God has helped me through every obstacle I’ve encountered so far.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Dawn: I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Mono, & Hepatitis (viral) in my early 20’s. Ever since then, I’ve been fighting a battle with my health and energy level.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Dawn: One year ago – July of 2012
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Dawn: When I received my Fibro diagnosis, I was— in a sense—relieved. Finally I had a reason for so many confusing medical ailments. It was helpful for me to find out why I’ve been so tired, and why it’s taken my body so long to heal from each of my surgeries. I was diagnosed with Lupus, MCTD, and osteoarthritis at the same time, so it brought clarity to the many & varied symptoms.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Dawn: Since then, I’ve tried to focus more of my time and energy on things I enjoy instead of spending every waking moment researching and focusing on my medical conditions. This has brought me more happiness, enjoyment, and overall satisfaction with life.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Dawn: Oh, boy— lots of ways. I need more naps and have to go to great lengths to write things down or set reminders for myself due to my memory issues. I also deal with head-to-toe achiness in varying degrees of severity on a daily basis, so I have to be very careful making commitments to things. When I do make a commitment, I’ve learned to give warning that I never know how I’m going to feel each day and may have to back out last minute based on that day’s symptoms.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Dawn: I can’t exercise the way I enjoyed years ago. Jogging, weight lifting, and tennis are off limits for me now, unfortunately. Most household chores and grocery shopping are off limits for me now also (due to the heavy lifting and the exhaustion it induces.) Fortunately, though, my daughter has taken over some of those activities for me. There are a few activities I can still participate in, but I’ve learned that I can’t push to the max like I used to. I’m still able to swim and ski on occasion, but I need to keep my sessions shorter. I can still enjoy a nice bike ride from time to time, as well as a little kayaking when we’re at the lake.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Dawn: My diagnosis has really helped me to learn when to say no. It used to be extremely hard for me to say no when I’d been invited to do things or asked to help out in various ways, but I’ve learned that I’m no good to anyone if I don’t take care of myself. I’ve had to learn to work within my limitations, and saying no from time to time is crucial in ensuring that I don’t overdo it.
FD: : What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Dawn: Very good actually! My rheumatologist told me I had Fibro and I didn’t believe him since I’d been this sore & achy for the last ten years. He told me that the soreness in all those (very specific) areas is not normal, and he connected the dots for me based on a ten page questionnaire he had me fill out. Finding meds that my body will tolerate has been extremely difficult since NSAIDS and steroids interfere with some of the other meds I’m taking for my heart problems.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Dawn: For the most part, everyone has been extremely supportive, but I know it’s hard for most people to understand where I’m coming from. From my experience, those who have dealt with similar medical conditions seem to provide the best support and understanding. Those that have never dealt with a chronic or debilitating illness have a harder time understanding why I can’t push myself like they can (as most people are taught to push through their weaknesses), but I know they mean well and are only trying to help. My daughters have gone through similar health issues, which have enabled them to empathize in a way that others can’t. Although I wish they didn’t have their health issues, it is helpful to go through this journey with people who can relate. My husband is blessed to have great health and strength, and although he can’t relate to what I’m going through, he never fails to provide for me and take care of me. I feel very lucky to have such a strong support system around me!
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Dawn: Making plans for vacations or future events! I never know if I will have the energy to enjoy them, or spend the time napping or resting because I’m too sore or exhausted.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Dawn: Because life is FUN!!! I’ve found things I can do that I totally love and they actually seem to give me energy when I do them. I’m grateful to live in an era with so many opportunities at our fingertips. I’m always looking for new hobbies or activities that I can do that aren’t physically draining. Also, I love building memories with my family and will continue to do so as long as I live!
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Dawn: Don’t be afraid to tell people NO, and take naps when your body tells you to nap. Napping doesn’t mean we’re lazy— sleep is just one of the things we may need more of than “normal healthy” people. Also, try to be open to new experiences and opportunities. While I generally avoid uncomfortable situations, I’ve made a big effort to be open-minded and go beyond my comfort zone while trying to find new hobbies. I have been amazed at the joy I’ve found in some of those hobbies that I would have completely missed out on if I avoided all new and uncomfortable situations.
FD: Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Dawn: Not really, but my sister who is an RN, EMS Director, & Trauma Nurse had a funny reaction when I told her I had Fibro. She said, “Now THAT explains why you’re always so tired! It all makes sense now looking back on it.” She was actually laughing as she said that which made me see it in a more humorous light. She’s my best friend, and has always been there no matter what so it was a relief for both of us to know there was an actual medical diagnosis for what has been happening to me over the years.
Follow Dawn on Twitter: @LadyTennisBall
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