Fibro Warrior of the Week (#3)
FWOTW: Felicia Fibro
Location: United States
Mantra: I’m on a quest to raise fibromyalgia awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive.
We were lucky enough to convince Felicia Fibro to be our third FWOTW, despite the holiday madness and being in her third trimester of pregnancy! If you’ve spent any time poking around Twitter looking for info on Fibro, then you’ve probably seen her smiling brown haired avatar with the purple background. Her work raising awareness and sharing information has undoubtedly helped thousands. Her positive attitude towards life with fibro is a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. -FD
FD: Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Felicia: I’d like to think that everything that I do in life is done with passion. To me it’s not worth doing something if you don’t believe wholeheartedly in it! I enjoy photography, flowers, baking, traveling and bicycling and am an active volunteer with my local Arthritis Foundation office. I’ve lived all around the U.S. from inside the downtown of a big city, a small town in the country, a college town and the suburbs. Everyone who knows me also knows my favorite color is purple.
He knew I had fibromyalgia when we started dating and before he’d even seen any of my symptoms he’d researched it online
I am married to a wonderful guy, The Helpful Hubby. He knew I had fibromyalgia when we started dating and before he’d even seen any of my symptoms he’d researched it online. The Helpful Hubby is very physically and emotionally supportive and I know I am very lucky to have him by my side! Soon there will be a new addition to our family, as I’m currently in my third trimester of pregnancy.
I have one pet – a cat named Squeaky. Squeaky is a rescued tabby cat that The Helpful Hubby (boyfriend at the time) got me while we were dating. Squeaky also has a medical condition, Cerebellar Hypoplasia, which causes him to have balance problems. To me, this makes him the perfect cat! He doesn’t climb places he doesn’t belong. He also has a heart murmur, but luckily no heart disease.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Felicia: It was my freshmen year of college and I was in constant pain that wasn’t going away, was more tired and found it extremely difficult to keep up with my friends of the same age.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Felicia: My sophomore year of college, at age in 19 in 2001
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Felicia: I was elated to finally have an answer to what had been wrong with me for nearly a year. I dove right into learning as much about it as I could to try to live my best with fibromyalgia. Of course, getting the diagnosis of a life-long condition with no cure or good treatment at age 19 was a little daunting, but I knew I had no choice but to find a way to live well with it. I wasn’t going to give up on the next seven decades of my life, so I just had to make the most of it.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Felicia: I don’t let fibromyalgia change my outlook on life. I know there may be things that aren’t smart for me to do (like something that would cause a huge flare-up), but overall I try to find ways to modify activities so that I can do everything that I want to do in life. I look at it more like a puzzle to solve than an impenetrable barrier.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day to day life?
Felicia: Obviously, pain and fatigue can affect how much I can do, but mostly it affects my daily life by making me an over-planner. I was always an organized person, but now I like to have tons of details so I can make multiple back up plans in case I don’t feel well. These back up plans allow me to continue doing activities instead of giving up, but they require a lot more planning and force a loss of spontaneity.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Felicia: I know there are things that will cause pain for quite awhile if I do them, but if I really want to do something I find a way to make it happen with as little pain as possible. It’s all about risk and benefits to me, so it is MY choice if I can or can’t do it.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Felicia: Prior to fibromyalgia I could go strong all day on 6-7 hours of sleep. Now, my body deals with life a lot better when I can stay in bed and try to sleep for 10 hours each night. Trying to schedule that time in is not always possible or easy, but it is never something I thought I’d try to do.
FD: What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Felicia: Like most things in life, it has been both good and bad. I’ve had doctors tell me nothing is wrong and to just deal with my pain (before getting diagnosed) and I’ve had doctors refer me to colleagues who know more about fibromyalgia so I can get better care. What I’ve found is that my personal persistence has played the biggest role in getting great care.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Felicia: It adds another layer to the relationships, that’s for sure. Most of my friends aren’t big talkers on the phone, so I have to make sure to suggest lower-key activities that we can get together and do – like dinner and drinks, happy hours, movies, etc… so it doesn’t always seem like they are the ones who have to ask me to do things or that I turn them down all the time.
There is a fine line between explaining how fibromyalgia is affecting me or something we want to do without sounding like I’m complaining
There is a fine line between explaining how fibromyalgia is affecting me or something we want to do without sounding like I’m complaining. I try to find that line so they can understand where I’m coming from with certain responses/reactions.
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with fibro?
Felicia: Although I’ve gotten much better at pacing myself, there are still times I struggle with it. I can clearly see the results of spreading tasks and activities out and planning rest/relaxation times between them, but sometimes I have a hard time forcing myself to keep those times when life gets really busy.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Felicia: My hope for the future is the key to my attitude. I have faith that at some point in my lifetime researchers will fully understand how fibromyalgia works and better treatments will become available. It will be such an exciting time!
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Felicia: Hang in there, you aren’t alone! Just keep trying new modifications to your lifestyle/medications until you find a formula that helps you live your life the best that you can. Once you find something that helps it will be worth it. Being educated about fibromyalgia may help you and your health care team find that solution faster. Keep hope for the future (see previous answer).
FD: Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Felicia: For me, I think the funniest moments come out of moments of fibro fog. I often “play” charades or “word thesaurus” with friends trying to have them help me think of a specific related word that I’m trying to recall. It almost always works and they seem to get a kick out of it.
I think the funniest moments come out of moments of fibro fog
One time I was talking with some people at a party when it would’ve been funny if I brought up RuPaul (a drag queen). Instead, I unknowingly used the wrong name and said Ron Paul (a politician). I was wondering why nobody thought what I said was funny, but then The Helpful Hubby heard me repeat it, started laughing and gave me the name I’d meant to say. He knows me well. A drag queen and a politician are quite different!
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