Fibro Warrior of the Week (#52)
Location: Greenville, South Carolina USA
She’s been in the Navy, lived in Iceland, and worked in Special Education. Fibro Warrior of the Week #52 Kim Mitchell is now a Granna who loves to spend time with her first grandchild and is trying to learn all she can about Fibromyalgia.
FD: : Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
KIM: I was born in a very small town in Western North Carolina. My father was a Baptist minister and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. I am the youngest of four children. My closest sibling in age is my brother, but he is still six years older than me so I really always felt like more of an only child. My sisters were busy dating and my oldest sister was married when I was only four years old.
I joined the US Navy not long after high school and lived in Keflavik, Iceland, for most of my enlistment. I worked as a Radioman in Communications, but I always wanted to be a nurse and had just started the process to go to school for that when I realized I was expecting my first child. I chose to leave the Navy early to have my baby and moved back to my hometown in North Carolina.
I am married to a unbelievable man who is so supportive of me and what I go through. He is a paramedic/firefighter and has been for over twenty years. I feel really blessed to have him.
I have three sons. Two are from a previous marriage and their ages are thirty and twenty. My youngest is turning fourteen soon. I laugh and tell people I tried to have one a decade, but in reality there was no planning on my part, this was just the way God planned this for me. In January, I became a Granna and I am so in love with this little guy. I now understand what everyone was telling me about becoming a grandparent.
I worked the last fourteen years as a Special Education Teacher’s Assistant. As the years passed, the job duties became increasingly difficult to manage because of the Fibro. There was a lot of lifting and an increasing amount of behavioral issues that just really caused me to become unable to continue working. I am now at home learning to deal with Fibro and trying to learn anything I can that will help my symptoms and help me to become a normal person again.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Kim: I have had issues with my neck since 2000. My neck would be so stiff and many times I was unable to turn my neck. Even raising my head off the pillow became a ordeal. Many times I would lift my head off the pillow with my hands. Even rolling over was excruciating. Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong except a little arthritis. I went from doctor to doctor because I just knew something was not right. Nothing helped, but I watched myself closely and never did any activity that would involve a lot of movement of my head and neck. I bought a very expensive pillow that has been wonderful. In 2005, I started feeling like I had the flu every single day. My doctor checked my thyroid and diagnosed me with hypothyroidism; started me on meds and I was hoping that would improve my pain symptoms, but it didn’t. My GP really didn’t do too much to find out what was causing me to hurt. I went to another doctor who specializes in finding Fibromyalgia and he finally diagnosed me with that along with Sensory Peripheral Neuropathy.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Kim: Properly diagnosed in 2005.
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Kim: Well, really it didn’t change anything I was doing. The doctor I was seeing seemed to think he could cure me so I was hopeful. I just knew he was sending me for test after test and as far as my treatment, it stayed the same. I started to feel i couldn’t afford to continue seeing him. Even though I have good insurance, I still paid copays and he wanted to see me every two weeks for injections in my neck and shoulders along with sending me for more and more tests. Plus he had a terrible personality and it was difficult to get much information from him. I began to question his judgement.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Kim: My outlook on life can be very depressing if I let myself go there. Sometimes I can’t help it, but for the most part I try really hard to stay motivated and upbeat. Not working anymore has helped because I was just so stressed trying to be somewhere and my pain would be so bad that I just didn’t feel like pushing on. It’s a difficult balance. They say Fibro isn’t degenerative, but for me it sure has gotten worse so that is very discouraging.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Kim: : Fibro affects every aspect of my life. I have always felt young, but as time goes on I feel Fibro is stealing what little bit of feeling young I have left.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Kim: Because of Fibro I no longer work my job (as mentioned.) I have worked since I was sixteen years old. I am now fifty-two. If I didn’t have Fibro, I would be very active. I have always taken pride in my home and love to decorate. I love to DIY and be creative, but Fibro has stolen a part of that from me. I just can’t do what I want to do and if I have a good day I almost always over do it and pay for it the next few days.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Kim: I am more aware of my physical limitations and that is something that probably wouldn’t be a big concern if I didn’t have Fibro.
FD: : What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Kim: I have found doctors want to say they are familiar with Fibromyalgia, but cannot prove to me they really are.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Kim: I don’t do as much with friends as I would like just because I don’t feel good. Like I said, my husband is wonderful. He gets it. He helps me so much and is so supportive. I can’t help but feel like a burden sometimes. I worry about how boring and just not fun I have become.
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Kim: My biggest challenge living with Fibro is just to keep going as much as I can. I believe if you stop moving then you get to where you can’t move at all. It is so hard to just keep moving, though.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Kim: My children of course, but I fight because of my husband, too. I still strive to be the woman he married. I want to be that woman.
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Kim: If you don’t have someone close that understands then please find someone. It is vital to have someone on your side.
Follow Kim on Facebook: mikenkim
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