Fibro Warrior of the Week (#49)
Mantra: “I don’t punish myself. Life’s too short.” – Keeley Hawes
Jessica McCoy is studying to be a Veterinary Technician while coping with her Fibromyalgia diagnosis. Jessica may be young, but she has a lot of great advice to give about Fibromyalgia! Find out how she deals with the changes in her life and how yoga surprises her…
FD: : Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Jessica: I was born and raised in Minnesota and that’s where I am…for now! I am halfway through my freshman year in college. I am going to be a Veterinary Technician. I am an only child so my amazing cousin, Laura (pictured), is the closest thing I have to a sister. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and watching British tv and movies.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Jessica: My junior year of high school. I went to the ER with severe pain, that looking back on it, was a Fibromyalgia flare. They did every test you can think of and came up with nothing. I was sent home on pain pills and told to follow up with my primary doctor.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Jessica: I received the official diagnose in June of 2013. But it is suspected that I have been suffering from it since January 2010, just misdiagnosed.
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Jessica: At first, I felt relief. Relief that we finally had an answer. I had changed so much from this pain and we finally found a way to make it better. Even if it was just a little bit. As the days and weeks have gone on, I’ve had a lot of anger. I don’t understand why I have to have this. It upsets me that at 19 years old, I can’t do the things my friends can.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Jessica: I have tried to stay a lot more calm. (That doesn’t always work.) But I also try not to be so hard on myself. I’ve learned that I am only human and I cannot push myself to do something I can’t do. I also have appreciated my friends and family so much more— the ones that do not judge me for my health issues.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Jessica: : I have my good days and I have my bad days. During the winter, I have a lot more bad days than “normal”. On a good day, there is minimal pain and I do need to rest, but I can do most things. On a bad day, I don’t want to do anything. It hurts to even walk. Sometimes I have to force myself to do things because I want to graduate on time. That usually causes the flare up to become even worse.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Jessica: I can’t do a lot of sports or active things. I flare up a lot and although I was never a big sports girl, it is hard to sit on the sidelines when everyone else is having fun. I also can’t stay out and do things as long as I could before.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Jessica: Yoga! I never thought that would be the activity I would do! But I have gotten really into it.
FD: : What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Jessica: I see my primary doctor for the most part. He is the one who got me onto the correct dosage of medication to help control my pain. I also see a pain management doctor. He is helping me find ways to calm my nerves and reduce pain. Yoga was recommended by him!
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Jessica: I lost friends because of this. I went through a very dark period when I was not diagnosed yet in a constant state of pain and I was often accused of faking it for attention. People don’t know how to help. How to act. I have family members who aren’t sure how to treat me and usually end up shrugging off my pain as no big deal, which in turn frustrates me even more. I have changed in so many ways since Fibromyalgia came into my life. I have a hard time sometimes figuring out how to tell people I am not the same girl. Pain changes you so much. People don’t understand that. They get mad at me because I’m not how I was a year ago. A lot of time, people will say “You’re so young! You can’t be that sick!” Most of my friends don’t understand how I can have these issues a nineteen. (Photo: Jessica with best friends Dan and Drake.)
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Jessica: Trying to get people to understand about Fibromyalgia. To treat me with respect no matter what.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Jessica: My future. I know what I want to do and I don’t want to let anything, even Fibromyalgia, stand in the way.
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Jessica Find something that you can lose yourself in. Whether it’s a book or a movie or an activity. When you become overwhelmed go to that. Shut the world out for a few hours and just be. Find someone you can trust with your life. Let them be your shoulder to cry on and also be the person you turn to when you have your biggest joys.
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