Fibro Warrior of the Week (#30)
FWOTW: Joanna Tucker
Location: Houston, Texas, USA
Mantra: Keep going today; don’t give up no matter the pain! You are an amazing fighter!
Busy Joanna Tucker is Fibro Warrior #30! Joanna has traveled the world, spending time in parts of Africa, Europe, and India while doing humanitarian work. She is also a second year doctoral student. Despite all that, she still finds the time to write a blog about her struggles with Fibromyalgia and spoil her pets…
FD: : Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Joanna: I was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I grew up in a small village called Gualcinse, Lempira. This small village was nestled 5000 feet up in the mountains alongside the Honduras/El Salvador border. I arrived in the United States to live in 2003 as a sixteen year old college freshman. I am currently a second year doctoral student living in Houston, Texas. I spend my days doing homework, writing papers, and researching. I have been married almost four years; my husband and I have two cats and a spoiled, adorable Frenchie mix. I have a passion for humanitarian service; I have traveled to a lot of amazing places, like Europe, India, and Africa, serving on different projects. One of my dreams is to one day go on several humanitarian trips a year.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Joanna: I had always suffered a lot with leg pain, growing pains as I was told when I was younger. In college, I started feeling a lot of pain not just when I exercised, but sometimes just waking up in the morning. Once I secured a job with insurance, I began the journey to see what was wrong with my body. It was so hard to explain how much I hurt just about everywhere.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Joanna: My Fibro diagnosis came about six months after I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis by my primary care physician. After that diagnosis, I began seeing a rheumatologist who after putting me on methotrexate for my RA/Lupus, determined I also had Fibromyalgia
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Joanna: In a way, I was relieved because I thought maybe, finally I could get some relief from the intense pain I was feeling every day. I was angry because it was yet another diagnosis to learn to live with and come to understand.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Joanna: I have maintained my determination, but I have learned that I can only do so much. I usually say I have a “new normal.” I have also learned that I will have those angry days, those denial days, those sad days, and those days that I am even more determined to be who I want to be despite having Fibromyalgia in my life.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Joanna: Pain! Pain in the morning when I wake up, pain in the afternoon when I’m trying to nap, and pain in the evening when I’m trying to study. Fibro is very draining, and I have had to have a lifestyle change. Now I am getting better at recognizing how much I can do in a day, and that I must rest and balance! Naps are essential for me to keep going.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Joanna: I cannot shop like I used to do. I cannot keep going, going, and going. When I was younger and before my Fibro diagnosis, I would get up early in the morning and still be going late at night. I cannot do that anymore. I have to rest often, take breaks, and just about every day I have to take a nap.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Joanna: I blog now. I never would have thought about doing that before getting diagnosed back in 2010. I share my life on my Facebook page because I want people to know you can still have a great life and do things even some “normal” people cannot do, like earn a doctorate degree! Just recently I was accepted to be a World Help blogger; I have a passion for humanitarian service so this was an amazing opportunity for me. I am sharing my life in a way I never would be, if I did not have Fibro.
FD: : What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Joanna: Difficult! Some doctors roll their eyes and go ok….as if to say, “Here is another person complaining for pain meds.” Some doctors don’t understand the major fatigue, or how much I can really hurt! I might look all professionally dressed sitting in their office, but it does not mean I am not suffering. That said, I have also found some amazing caring doctors, like my rheumatologist. She has been amazing, calling in prescriptions, and working hard to get my dose of Lyrica right. So I have seen both good and bad sides of how doctors treat Fibro.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Joanna: A lot of my friends I do not think understand this journey. I still have so many people in my life that ask me every time I see them, “How are you feeling?” or “You look great, so you must be all better now right?” Sometimes being around people that do not understand is more draining that it is helpful, so I have found myself staying home a lot more than I used to do. My husband is very understanding, but having Fibromyalgia has changed our life together. When we go on vacations, I have to plan small outings or when we have a weekend together he has come to understand I am probably going to sleep at least half of that weekend. Fibromyalgia changes your whole world at least it did me, but I’m thankful and blessed that my husband is still by my side today. He is one amazing guy!
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Joanna: People do not understand. I look great, work hard, and do a lot. Sadly, the days I cannot move and get out of bed or I come home and am so exhausted that I cannot go back out, those are the things that people do not understand. And that frustration makes living life with Fibro so hard. I wish sometimes I had something physical to show people so maybe I could actually get some more understanding. Fibromyalgia is so hard to live with; I just hate that if feels so invisible that people think at times you are just making it up for attention when that is so not the case.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Joanna: I want to make a difference even if it is just in the life of one person. I want to leave a legacy of change, of awareness, and of compassion for those around the world. I might not be able to solve the world’s problems although being president one day would be amazing—if nothing else to live in the White House!—but I can change at least one life that I can touch.
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Joanna: Keep going and find something to believe in. Find a goal that you want, and work toward that goal every day. That way, when you have that day that you just do not know why you should get out of bed, you remember that goal. Find a support network, whether that is online through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, or in your local community. Find people who understand your journey, the loneliness and isolation that you feel is hard enough…do not feel as if you ever have to walk through this journey alone.
FD: Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Joanna: My entire life is a crazy story! I cannot think of one right now but trust me if you want to laugh just visit my blog or Facebook page on any given day of the week!
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