myfibrostory

Story of a Fibro Warrior…

Why I Quit Teaching Zumba… April 11, 2014

Filed under: chronic pain,Fibromyalgia,Obesity and Fibromyalgia,Weight Loss,Zumba — jenfibrofighter @ 5:55 pm

NO IT WASN’T BECAUSE I HAVE FIBRO.

Many times I have been told that my fibro would eventually become so bad that my activity, including Zumba, would have to stop.

I want to clarify THIS IS NOT THE CASE!

Giving up teaching Zumba was a very difficult decision for me, and it wasn’t one that came suddenly. I still highly respect, and highly recommend Zumba for anyone looking for a fun and effective way to get in shape. I owe the program SO much. Yes, it started my weight loss journey, but more importantly, it gave me a love for fitness. I fully believe Zumba has impacted where I am even today. My fertility issues where impacted by my poor health…then “Surprise! You’re pregnant!” I found a job that is full of fitness oriented people and LOVE that and am SO happy with my new job! I was diagnosed with fibro, but loved Zumba so much I wouldn’t let it impact my fitness or health goals. There are probably a thousand other examples of what it has done for me and I will always be grateful for that! When I sold some of my Zumba clothes I cried. It was a very special part of my life, but it was time to move on.

I reached burn out. I suddenly began to dread getting ready for a class. NOT because I was in too much pain and NOT because I was too tried, it just kind of happened.

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the class, or my students or how I felt after class…I just had a feeling in my gut like it was time to move on. I became an instructor as one of my “fibro isn’t going to stop me” goals and I feel I more than succeeded reaching that goal…but I needed a new one.

I wanted to do something more independent, not lead a class, or be told by an instructor what to do…I wanted to see if I could maintain my weight, my fitness goals AND my fibro on my own. I continue to be very blessed having great support in all of these areas, but at the end of the day, it’s up to me to maintain!

Shortly before finding out I was pregnant I found a love for running. Ok….honestly….it was (and still is) a love/hate relationship. It was a brand new challenge. It tested different muscles, tested my endurance, and I had to get my body (and fibro) adjusted to the change, but the more I did it, the more I enjoyed it. I could get lost in my own head, in my own music and take everything at my own pace. If I WAS hurting one day, I walked. Feeling great? Pushed myself to do a little extra distance.

I took my first run, post-baby, yesterday. It SUCKED! I loved it! It felt good to sweat and push myself again. Yes…I huffed and puffed and probably looked like a crazy person trying to find my stride again, but hey…I did it!

My new goal?

I WILL run a 5k by next summer.

I can’t wait to put another met goal under my “Fibro’s not going to stop me” list.

 

Did you miss me? April 8, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenfibrofighter @ 8:28 pm

I’m BBBBAAACCKKK….

One year ago today I decided to take a break from writing this blog to do something different.  Little did I know HOW different my life would be in just one year!

Let’s see…what all has happened since April 2013….I don’t even know where to start…

June-Found out I was pregnant!

July-August-suffered through TERRIBLE morning sickness.  Every. Single. Day.

August-I quit my job at the gym.  My head wasn’t in the right place to be there at that time.  I still love them dearly, but needed to move on.

August-Started a temp job that was supposed to take me through my pregnancy. 

October-Change of plans.  Got laid off due to lack of work. 

October-December- Job interviews. Job Interviews. Job interviews.  Consistently denied, I’m guessing due to the pregnancy, although I’m sure not one company would admit it.  This was one of the toughest times I’ve been through in my life.  Pregnant, unemployed, hormonal, scared and lost.  I thank God every day for my husband, who rode the storm with me, tried to keep me calm and supported me the best he could.  I was in a dark place and I hope to NEVER be there again!

January-I accept no one will hire me pregnant and vow to enjoy the last month of my pregnancy.

-I then get a job offer at 37 weeks pregnant for a job that I REALLY wanted and was willing to hire me/let me go on maternity leave.  It was a very unexpected blessing and surprise.

February- We welcome our son to the world!

I went into labor the night before he was born.  It took me until almost 3:00 a.m. the next morning to actually admit it was happening.  I was in denial of the contractions…until they were about 5 minutes apart and then I was fully aware I was in labor!

Nothing about labor or giving birth was ANYTHING like I expected.  The pain was different, the feelings were different and my emotions were different than I anticipated.  I felt…calm…totally unlike me!

After going through almost 18 hours of contractions, I only pushed for about 10-15 minutes and he was here.  When he came out, the world went quiet….it was just me and him for a few minutes.  I will never be able to explain what those few minutes felt like to anyone…there are no words. 

My mother was able to see my son born and that meant the absolute world to me.  She is someone I know I can show weakness to if I need to, but someone I will stay strong for because she pushes me to fight through the weakness.  I knew this had been the case with my fibro, and I knew it would be the case in labor so I was glad she was there supporting me!

 

My son is now 8 weeks old and time has flown by.  He’s growing like crazy and puts a smile on me and my husband’s face every single day. 

 

So how has all of this been on my fibro?

Well for nine lovely months, my fibro was almost nonexistent.  The insomnia was there, and a few minor flares, but pregnancy definitely calmed it down.

Why???  Why have they not researched this further?  What extra hormone, or vitamin, or internal body changes happen to quiet the pain during pregnancy? 

Now that my symptoms are slowly creeping back in, I’m more frustrated than ever by this.  Lack of research seems to be rearing its ugly head once again.  I’ve had fibro for seven years now and no advancements have been made, no new research seems to be posted…Blah, blah, blah…same old fibro problems as always…however, my frustration has inspired me to write once again.

I look forward to sharing my NEW fibro story…New mom, new job, new life, new challenges my way! 

 

So long…For now… April 5, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenfibrofighter @ 4:54 pm

GoodbyeGoodbye…

 

It’s been great sharing my Fibro story with you.  While I’m taking a break for now, I may be back someday.  Until then, I’m attempting a different project that may take up some time… If I follow through with the project, it won’t be the last you here from Jen!  I hope I have helped someone better understand Fibromyalgia.  I hope I have inspired someone to get active to manage their pain.  I hope I have inspired someone to lose weight.  I hope I have made an impact on at least one person.  Please support those with Fibromyalgia, pray for a cure.  For those out there WITH Fibro, please don’t forget to take care of yourself and always SUPPORT other fibro sufferers.  Love to all….

 

Ohh…Ahh…Yes! Yes! December 2, 2012

Filed under: chronic pain,Fibromyalgia,Pilates,Zumba — jenfibrofighter @ 11:54 pm

So I’ve been at my new job at a fitness/bariatric center for a few months now.  I’m starting to get into a groove there, getting comfortable in my new position…all the things that go along with starting a new job. 

Although…I’m getting used to an aspect of the job that isn’t a “common” issue when starting a new position.

I can’t sugar coat this so I’m just going to come out and say it…

People make sex noises when they work out.

Not just little grunts and puffs, but full blown, loud, heavy breathing, groaning, yelling out…with the inevitable final yell out at the finish.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging them in the least!  Good for them for working so hard and pushing themselves so hard to get fit!  But now I’m a little paranoid when I exercise that I may be making the same noises!  Not that anyone in the gym would think anything about it as it’s a normal part of the environment, but now I really think about it during my workouts.  This, in turn, has changed a possible grunt I need to get out while I’m in the middle of my “100” in Pilates into a laugh instead.  This not only makes me look a little crazy, but seems to be confusing my Pilates instructor.

I got to thinking about this more this week and my feelings on the subject?  Screw it (no pun intended)… Let it out!  If that is a part of getting healthy (or in our case, managing Fibromyalgia) then yell, moan, grunt, huff and puff…and get that exercise in!

It is estimated that 80 percent of people with Fibromyalgia are physically unfit, and I’m sure we’ve all been told that exercise can help improve our symptoms.  It’s hard for us, there’s no doubt in that…however… the noises I hear every day at work are the best evidence that it’s hard for everyone else too, in one way or another. 

Before Zumba, I was one of those people who was majorly intimidated by the Gym.  I was afraid it would be a bunch of beautiful, muscular people who were going to judge me for my inability to do a perfect squat.  There are people of all shapes, sizes, and reasons for being there.  Maybe the person is trying to lose a few pounds, or GAIN a few pounds, or get flexibility back after an injury, maybe they just had a baby, maybe they just wanted to get away from their kids for an hour, or maybe they’re fighting through a chronic pain condition like us!  Knowing what I know now I could kick myself for that fear.  Not everyone at the gym is a body builder or a model.  And here’s another secret let out of the bag…working out is not a “beautiful” process for any one.  Faces turn red, sweat flows, people cuss, people fart, and yes…they make sex noises.

I fully believe exercise has saved me from being completely swallowed by fibro pain.  I will always support it as important treatment for fibro patients.  If you want to try an exercise program, please don’t let the gym intimidation be a reason not to start.  If it takes a few moans and groans to feel even a little less fibro pain, then I say let them out!

 

Thirty Percent?? November 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenfibrofighter @ 11:10 pm

Oh my poor, neglected blog!  I’ve had major writer’s block and just plain haven’t felt like talking about my Fibro.  We have had major weather switches for the last month or so, and I’ve been doing my best to just get through and try not to think about it.

I wish I was going to make my blog reappearance on a happier note, but I’ve found an interesting story that perked my attention, on a subject I’ve been avoiding writing about up until this point.

I’m sure we’ve all heard of Dr. Jack Kavorkian.  While I was familiar with his suicide assistance for patients with terminal illnesses, I was completely unaware that he also provided his services for people with chronic pain conditions. While I had mixed, but understanding, feelings about his assistance with patients with terminal illnesses, I don’t know how to digest his assistance with those with chronic pain conditions.

I know I have to step back 10-20 years and try to imagine how much worse it had to be.  The lack of understanding and empathy we have today had to be so much worse!  I think anyone with a chronic pain condition would be lying if they said they never had days where they “just couldn’t take it anymore” but I sincerely hope people don’t act on those feelings and emotions!  A recent study was done in Spain to find a correlation between fibromyalgia and suicide risk.  It was found that 30 percent…30 PERCENT…had one to three previous suicide attempts. For research 180 people were surveyed.  That’s 54 people who make up the 30 Percent!

You can find the full results of research here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21750003

To me, this is a scary percentage.  It makes me hope and pray that you fibro warriors out there aren’t struggling to this point, but please, please, please believe me! I know where you’re coming from.

How do I know??

Because I have attempted suicide twice, both times in my early 20’s.  I struggled in college to keep my emotions under control.  Depression, panic attacks, anxiety, it all built up in those few years (first sign of my fibro?) and I just didn’t have the energy to deal with it anymore.  I don’t talk about this often because of the guilt of the pain I caused my family, but I also know how important it is to have someone who understands what you’re going through so I feel it’s important to share my story for those who may be struggling. 

Both attempts changed me, hardened me, hurt me and made me so much stronger all at the same time.  I’m not going to go into details about each attempt, but want to share some of the frustrating aspects of each situation.  When you enter into an E.R. after an attempt, you would assume the Doctors and nurses would treat you delicately, assuming you feel like you’re breaking, you should expect to be treated that way.  No way…not the case.  My doctor insisted on telling me how stupid I was and also gave me advice for drugs that “would actually kill” me since I was so stupid to take a pill I couldn’t over-dose on.  I only stayed overnight (no dramatic, forced inpatient stay in the insane asylum).  The extent of my counseling the day I left consisted of a Doctor making me “promise” him I would never do that again and I could go home.  No after treatment needed.

Promise broken about a year later.  Still no dramatic stay in the asylum, but forced on to a cardiac floor with an elderly roommate.  While they did provide counseling for this visit, they also provided it in my room next to the old lady in my room, who from that point on, did nothing but preach to me and ask me if “I had found Jesus.”  She also liked to tell her visitors about my “story” and how I wasn’t allowed to have “real” silverware at dinner, only plastic, and that I needed Jesus, etc.

Lowest point of my life.

People wonder why I try to stay so positive and proactive about my fibro (to the point of annoying some) and these two experiences are exactly why.  While it’s a kick in the pants to end up with it, I refuse to ever let my life get to such a low point ever again.  While it’s a harder life I lead, it’s still my life.  These attempts are why I try to avoid negativity from people or environments.  I started to live by choosing my battles, and Fibro has been a battle I choose to take on head first.

If you’re struggling, please reach out to family, friends, doctors, or anyone else that can bring you out of the darkness.  If you fail with one person, keep reaching, there are people out there who can help!  Please don’t be embarrassed if you’re having these thoughts.  Keep searching.  It took me a long time to find the right doctors, the right man (love you Honey), and the ability to swallow my pride and finally rely on my family more for help. 

It saddens me to think that the patients who turned to Dr. Kavorkian were robbed of lives that could have been very full.  We turn again, to rely on the medical community to understand not only Fibro, but mental illness, whether or not it’s connected with chronic pain.  Hey Doctors…are you listening?  Are you working hard for us?  Can we please lower the 30 percent?

 

What I’ve learned this week… September 23, 2012

I started my new job this week.  So far so good!  I crammed enough learning into five days to send my fibro fog into overdrive.  By yesterday, my husband I went grocery shopping and I caught myself talking backwards.  Hey, at least I saved that for the people at Wal-Mart (along with a very confused hubby) and not the clients at the gym.  I can hear myself now “Are signed up you today Pilates?” 

Going from a nursing home to a gym is quite a switch and I’ve learned a few new things this week:

-People LOVE their early morning workouts.  At 6 a.m. on the dot, clients come in ready to work.  These people are my hero’s.  I am NOT an early morning exerciser.  I think a lot of it is because my fibro handles night work-outs much better, but truth be told, I’m not very pleasant in the morning.  I’m probably putting that lightly.

-While my Zumba® Gold chair classes are starting off slow, I had one of the best experiences while teaching this type of class this week.  I cooled down to “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble’.  http://search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0oG7iWDSV9QNFkANxJXNyoA/SIG=120somkru/EXP=1348450819/**http%3a//www.youtube.com/watch%3fv=Edwsf-8F3sI  You have to click this link to this song to truly appreciate the “sultry” mood of the music. An adorable woman who attended my class LOVES this song and started singing along.  Before I know it, she’s yelling “Take it off, Take it off!”  It was a good thing this song was my cool down because I was laughing so hard I probably couldn’t have composed myself for any other songs!  Experiences like these are why I LOVE teaching Zumba®!

- People make very interesting noises while they’re working out.  Nuff said.

- I lost 3 ½ pounds this week alone!  Crazy what happens when you don’t sit behind a desk for over 8 hours a day.

- Starting a new job the same week the weather switches from 70 to 39 degrees was ridiculous!  I had fully prepared myself for a “stress from starting a new job, new schedule, oh my God…CHANGE” flare, but I was unpleasantly surprised by a “new weather” flare.  Here comes fall!

- My bosses are Filipino.  I need language lessons.  Can you imagine Fibro-fog mixed with a brand new language!  I have enough trouble with English most days!

- Our gym has partnered with the bariatric center who helped me with my diet during my weight loss.  A much needed “follow my healthy diet” has happened this week.  And if anyone out there has followed a high-protein diet, you feel my pain here.  My increase of protein has also come with an increase of gas.  Aren’t I sexy??  This partnership let me in on one a client’s start of her weight loss journey.  She lost 7 ½ pounds her first week starting with the diet and exercise program.  Seeing her do this was really amazing!

- This change has been good for my mindset.  It was time and I’m happy to make some changes in my life!

We’ll see what next week brings!

 

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. ~Victor Frankl September 14, 2012

I may be putting my foot in my mouth by saying I think I “might” finally be pushing through the “grieving” process of losing my “old self” to Fibromyalgia.  I am almost three years into my diagnosis and I never imagined it would be such a long process.  I feel I’ve taken my final steps these past few weeks to enter into the last and final stage of the grieving process.  Some say there are five steps to the grieving process, some say there are seven, in my honest opinion there are probably more around the range of one hundred and two steps with someone with chronic pain, but for now, I’ll stick to the seven to see how far I’ve come:

 

1.  SHOCK & DENIAL-
For me (and probably a lot of Fibro patients) the “shock” factor wasn’t really there when I was diagnosed.  Doctors put patients through such a long mess of tests and procedures before finally reaching the fibromyalgia diagnosis, there isn’t a huge surprise that something is “actually wrong.” 

The denial, however, was definitely there.  I wasn’t in denial about having a “pain condition.”  The “Chronic” part of the condition definitely did not kick in for some time.  The thought that this was something that could last “forever” was something I refused to even think about.  As the symptoms progressed, the reality of that hit me like a ton of brick…and led me into the next stage:


2. PAIN & GUILT-
This is where I started to realize the I wasn’t the same person I used to be, and I had guilt for not taking better advantage of how my body and mind used to be.  How could I let myself get so fat and be so lazy with a perfectly able body??  Why wasn’t I more active when it wasn’t so hard to get up and move without pain and extra fatigue. I should have ridden more roller coasters when I could.  I could have slept in a little longer just because I actually “could” sleep.  The list goes on and on…and as expected, the guilt and the regret eventually lead to…

3. ANGER & BARGAINING-
Why me? Why me? Angry outbursts at my friends, my family, the cashier at Wal-Mart…whoever got into the path of the Fibro monster.

I want to add here that for me, a lot of this phase was directed at God.  I was angry, feeling I was being punished for something I had done wrong. And so I bargained with Him.  If I stop doing this, if I live this way, blah blah blah, would He heal me?  When He didn’t, I just became more and more angry.  This stage lasted a long time for me.  I’ve just now accepted why God has given me Fibro, and as my life as continued and changed so much because of it, his reasons become more and more clear. I trust Him. 

4. “DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS-
This is the stage where you really learn who your true supporters are.  I know I’m not alone here by saying that when fibro came, friends slowly started to disappear.  Some people can’t handle the change, some can’t handle the depression, and in all honestly, some just aren’t as good of friends as you thought they were. 

A dear friend told me awhile back that it was time to do a “clean sweep,” so to speak, of who I had surrounding me in my life at that time.  Were they helping or supporting?  Could they accept the person I am now and let go of the person I used to be? This isn’t an easy thing to do, but after following her advice the loneliness has slowly disappeared because I never question the intent or distrust the people I have surrounding me.  Are there as many of them?  Nope.  Does it matter?  Nope.

5. THE UPWARD TURN-
This turn did not come until I stopped being afraid to take control of my life.  I’d had enough and it was time to stop rejecting this Fibro and learn to live with it.  Which leads us to:

6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-
Reconstruction is not a strong enough word.  Totally re-organizing every aspect of your life seems more accurate.  From the time you get up in the morning, what you eat, finding a realistic exercise schedule, learning how to deal with flares, finding tricks to help with fibro fog, etc.

I have done all of those things, but there was one aspect of my daily living that was due for reconstruction…my job.

This is my last week as the Business Office Manager for the nursing home I’ve worked at for the last four years.  The job came before the fibro and as I changed with the condition, my desire and feeling of a real “need” for a fresh start became over-whelming. 

I start Monday as Gym Manager for the gym where I teach Zumba.  I’m excited to have a fresh start, doing something new, and be surrounded by people who already know and support me, know my fibro, and at a place where I enjoy spending my time. 

7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-
I may be a foggy, tired, emotional mess at times, but I am what I am.  When I accepted my new job my new boss told me “Just be yourself” and that’s what I’m intending to do. I’m still new to this phase and may have some setbacks, but I’m trying to stay as positive as possible in letting my “old self” go.   

I’m Jennifer and I have Fibromyalgia.

 

 
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