Fibro Warrior of the Week (#26)
FWOTW: Shannon Smith
Location: Nashville, Georgia, USA
Mantra: If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.
We’ve got the hole (whole? hole?) scoop on Shannon Smith, our 26th Fibro Warrior of the Week. In the interview she describes a family with multiple cases of Fibro, including her mother and sister. Shannon works from home as a graphic designer and with no health insurance, has been extremely proactive with finding non-prescription treatments for herself and her family. Growing up in a Fibro family means that everyone understands each other… silver lining? – FD
FD: : Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Shannon: I was born in Sacramento, CA. My dad was civil service for the military, so we moved a little bit. I’ve lived in California, Washington State, Utah, Georgia, then back to Utah and then back to Georgia. I’m a single mom of one boy. I’ve been working from home as a freelance graphic designer since April 2007.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Shannon: I honestly don’t remember what caused me to finally get diagnosed. My mom has had Fibro for as long as I can remember. My sister was eventually diagnosed with it as well as Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had researched and studied it to a large degree in a quest to help them, so it was easy enough to recognize the symptoms in myself. My understanding is that any traumatic event, physical or emotional, can trigger it as well as make it worse. In a five year period, I was hit by a drunk driver, had a baby, and lost my father to a heart attack. About six months after my dad’s death, I was tested and the diagnosis was confirmed.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Shannon: November 2005
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Shannon: I had a mix of relief at knowing what was wrong, but also dread because I had seen what it had put my mother and sister through.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Shannon: I’m not sure my outlook has changed. I have a pretty strong faith in God, and probably because of that I have always had a mostly positive attitude. That’s not to say I don’t have my day of being down and maybe even a little pessimistic, but even though some things have had to change, overall I know everything will be ok.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Shannon: I have to plan ahead a little more than I used to, but at the same time be willing to be spontaneous on the good days. But if I know something is coming up, I’ll take it easy for several days and attempt to get more sleep to “save up” for the busy day.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Shannon: I’m not sure at this point there’s anything I can’t do. Mostly I just have to do things differently. Plan ahead. Or take extra time to recover.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Shannon: I’m strongly considering taking apple cider vinegar as a daily supplement. My research keeps showing that it is very likely to help. I hate the stuff. LOL I can’t stand the taste or smell, but I’ll pretty much try anything that is proven to have a good chance at helping.
FD: : What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Shannon: When I first decided to confirm the diagnosis that I suspected, I had to call around to the rheumatologists that accepted my insurance to find somebody to do it. The first couple I called flat out told me they didn’t believe in it so wouldn’t see me. Since then, I’ve had a fairly ok time with finding doctors to treat me. One or two have still been iffy with their thoughts on Fibro in general, but still treat me for the car accident pains, so it works out. I haven’t had insurance since I started working from home, so my medical treatment through the medical field is pretty limited anyway. I utilize mostly home therapies. Even when I had insurance, I relied heavily on what I could naturally and less on pharmaceutical help. After watching my mom and sister use one thing until it didn’t help anymore and then need something stronger, I decided I wanted to delay that as long as I could if at all possible. My sister died in February 2007 due to a combination of things including the meds she was on at the time. That has reinforced my desire to put off the prescription route as long as possible. Other than natural remedies, I utilize some OTC meds, and very few prescription meds.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Shannon: Overall, it hasn’t. Most of my family and friends are familiar with Fibromyalgia. Besides my mom and sister, I have several other family members with it: grandma, aunts, cousins, etc. I’ve had a few friends that I think at first didn’t understand and thought it was more of an excuse than something real, but overall they’ve not only been supportive, but will go out of their way to help me out during the bad days.
As for partners, I’ve been single pretty much since well before the diagnosis so it hasn’t been a problem. I am currently starting to get more involved with somebody, and he’s been beyond understanding and willing to learn more about the condition.
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Shannon: I used to have a really hard time keeping up with house cleaning and stuff. A fairly decent cleaning would have me down for a week recovering. I’ve learned to do things a little differently in order to keep up with it. I also hire a friend to help me with the heavy stuff if and when needed. My son is also old enough to help now and will pitch in more when he knows I’m having a bad day.
Doing things with my kid is one of my biggest concerns. I remember so many times growing up my mom wouldn’t be able to participate in one event or another because she was in too much pain. I vowed that wouldn’t be a problem for me if at all humanly possible. So far I’ve only missed one field trip, and that was because we were in the middle of moving. It often takes me up to a week of laying on the couch to recover, but so far I’ve been able to do those things with him and not let him feel bad because I was too sick to go.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Shannon: My son: pure and simple.
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Shannon: Hang in there and don’t let it become an excuse.
Do you what you have to do. I remember when I used to do the research to try to help my sister, she wouldn’t even try some of the things I found that were said to help. She wouldn’t give up her 6-pack of Pepsi and drink more water. Etc. I’ve given up favorite foods and limited others. Just try it. Give it a fair chance. If it doesn’t work, fine. But if it does work, it’s totally worth it.
FD: Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Shannon: Nothing specific. Fibro has messed with my memory big time, so I’ve had to learn to laugh at myself and not be such a perfectionist. I’ve also found myself with lots of word substitutes. An example is using hole when I mean whole and vice versa. So I have to proofread everything. Usually twice. That in itself has caused many laugh out loud moments especially when it happens on Facebook, and my friends catch it before I do.
Follow Shannon on Twitter: @singlewahm
Like Shannon on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swahm
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