Fibro Warrior of the Week (#16)
FWOTW: Jamie Sanders
Location: Fredericksburg, Virginia, United States
Facebook: The Migraine Diva
Mantra: “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” ~ Mother Teresa
Jamie Sanders is our 16th Fibro Warrior of the Week. Jamie plans on starting a non-profit to educate people about Fibromyalgia and Migraines, two comorbid conditions that have been in the news more than normal lately. She also writes a popular blog, is a busy wife and mother, and commands quite the musical tummy…-FD
FD: Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Jamie: I was born and raised in Queens, New York. I grew up in Queens Village, which is a small family oriented neighborhood of the borough located just ten minutes from the Nassau County line. At eight years old, I began having excruciating headaches that would completely disable me. I was diagnosed with having Migraine headaches which have plagued me ever since. I currently live in Virginia with my husband of 15 years, 14 year-old daughter and my 12 and 11 year-old sons.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Jamie: Over the years, I have experienced times where I would have episodes of pain in various areas of my body that didn’t seem to make much sense. Naturally, I dismissed them as being a result of some activity that I had recently done. However, about two to three years ago, I began to have pain in my ankles. I had thought that it was a result from a possible sprain when my feet slipped off my sandals. But, as the pain became daily, persisted for months and was so bad that I couldn’t stand to put weight on them I knew that it was something more. My wrists and hands had also been cramping and the pain would feel like they were on fire. I thought for years that I was developing arthritis in my hands.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Jamie: I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in November of 2011. After some time, I began to develop widespread pain, dizzy spells, digestive issues, insomnia, and chronic fatigue. At first, my primary doctor said that I had Myofascial Pain Syndrome, but my gut was telling me that it was Fibromyalgia. I asked for a referral to see a rheumatologist where she confirmed my beliefs.
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Jamie: I was devastated because I was already dealing with a life of chronic pain due to chronic migraines, chronic daily headache, and intractable migraine. In no way was I prepared for another chronic pain condition. Treating my migraine headaches had proven to be almost impossible. They were unreceptive to medication and due to a severe allergy to triptans (medication FDA approved to treat migraine pain during an episode) I am limited to narcotics and NSAIDS.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Jamie: Life has felt like a conundrum for the most part; as if its purpose is to inject difficulty and struggle every so often. Before the diagnosis, I was pretty hopeful that I would gain a much better quality of life once I was able to control and reduce the number of migraines I had. Once I was hit with this new reality I had a hard time finding that hope. It’s been almost two years and I have learned better ways to cope with these changes in my life. Now, I see this as an opportunity to grow and help others find acceptance with a life of chronic pain. It isn’t a death sentence and life is most certainly not over on the day of diagnosis. Finding ways to get the most out of my new life is my focus now.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Jamie: So much has been affected now that I live with Fibro. Doing household chores such as washing dishes, laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom or washing the floor have become so hard to do. Driving more than 30 minutes ensures severe pain in my hands, wrists, ankles, feet and hips. Lack of sleep makes me very fatigued and I am not able to move around a lot. The biggest thing for me is not being able to cook or do the grocery shopping like I used to. Between the Fibromyalgia and Migraines, every day tasks and running errands have become extremely difficult.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Jamie: As of now, I cannot walk for long periods of time anymore. My feet give me so much trouble that my favorite exercise is something I can no longer do. Having to go to the store or the mall prove to not be fun anymore as I can’t stand for long periods of time without stabbing pain coursing through my feet. I cannot avoid doing these things so I try to have someone with me when I go out to help in completing errands.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Jamie: Before all of this I was just a woman trying to raise a family while living with chronic migraines. I started blogging to help bring a greater awareness to Migraine disease and to dispel the stigma surrounding it. Ever since my Fibro diagnosis, I have been more active in the blogging community and am even planning on starting a non-profit organization focused on helping people who suffer from both Migraine and Fibromyalgia. This is something I never would have imagined myself doing!
FD: What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Jamie: My experience in seeking medical treatment is somewhat limited, in the fact that it’s only been 17 months since my diagnosis. Last November I had a severe reaction to an antidepressant I was taking to treat my MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) that left me in a medically induced coma for three days. Since my release from the hospital, I stopped taking all prescription medications and have turned to treatment through homeopathic, naturopathic and holistic means. I still see my rheumatologist and as the pain in my lower extremities has been more debilitating, I may need to introduce some Western remedies into my current treatment plan.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Jamie: Fibro has most definitely made interacting with family, friends and my husband a challenge. I am not able to jump up and go hang out with girlfriends. Planning a get-together, lunch date, or party is something I tend not to do anymore. Having Fibromyalgia and Migraines make it very hard to know if and when I’ll be having a good enough day to go out. The fatigue I get from just taking a shower and getting dressed sometimes makes me almost not want to bother leaving the house. Fibro also can make being intimate with my husband a painful experience, but he is the most gentle and considerate person. He is my rock and helps me navigate through the pain, guilt, and shortcomings that I feel
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Jamie: My biggest challenge is not letting it get me down, especially since I also suffer from depression. Chronic pain and depression tend to come in a“two for one” package. Fibro makes me feel extremely limited in what I can accomplish and participate in. So when Im in the middle of a flare-up thats pretty significant, those feelings of limitations begin to feed the depression. Managing both of these conditions can be complicated, but I use all of the tools in my chronic illness toolbox to help get me through them.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Jamie: My biggest inspirations are my children and my husband. I will always fight for them. They deserve to have the best version of me so I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that. Through working on my happiness, self image, and in finding what will lead to less physical pain, I can be a better mother and wife.
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Jamie: For anyone living with Fibro, I would say to never feel like you are in this alone. Yes, this life certainly makes a person feel completely isolated from the rest of the world. But, there are so many people out there living similar lives who can help you figure out how to get the best out of what you are dealing with. Seek out resources, support groups, and try not to get hung up on the guilt that a Fibro diagnosis can bring. I truly believe that people who have chronic pain conditions are some of the strongest people around. Don’t ever doubt your strength and capabilities!
FD: Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Jamie: Irritable bowel syndrome, commonly known as IBS, is a symptom of Fibro. Thanks to this I sometimes have the most loud and obnoxious noises coming from my insides. One day, my husband and I were lying in bed watching television and the program was about a musical group. There were snippets of music being played and as if on cue, my stomach began “singing” along with the melodies emanating from the TV! It was hilarious. It went on for a few minutes. I don’t think we laughed so hard in a long time. You’ve got to love Fibro and all the quirky things that come along with it!
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @MigraineDiva
Like Jamie on Facebook: The Migraine Diva
Follow Jamie on her blog: The Migraine Diva Blog
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