A long time ago, a fellow fibro sufferer gave me a piece of advice.  It was when I was having a hard time dealing with everything that was coming along with fibro.  I was only a few months diagnosed, but the advice made as much sense then and it does now…almost two years later being diagnosed.

She told me that I have to learn to mourn parts of the person I used to be and embrace the new me.  It sounds a bit depressing when you first hear it, but I think it can mean a lot of things…both depressing and positive at the same time.

It’s easy to forget the person I used to be, because fibro has changed almost every aspect of my life. 

I remember being shy when I was young.  I loved playing Barbie’s with my sister.  I loved riding bikes around down-town South Bend with my best friend.  I remember making up dances to Madonna songs with my best girl-friend (inspiration to eventually teach Zumba?…hmmm).  I loved swimming and thought I would “save the world” being an advocate to save the environment.

I hated middle school and found friends in high school through the swim team. When I look back at high school, I see the pool.  I spent most of the later part of high school with boyfriends.  I went to prom, to Friday night football games, movies, worked part time at a grocery store, etc. etc.

I went off to college and had some of the best, and worst times of my life.  I changed my major three times before I decided on an English degree (and then later decided to work in the financial field…go figure).  I was sweetheart of a fraternity and loved them like brothers. I partied too much and too hard (sorry Mom!) but still managed to pull off pretty good grades.

 In college, I struggled with major depression and hit the lowest point of my life.  By the time I graduated, I was ready to move on with my life.

I met my future husband shortly after graduating.  He brought happiness to my life that seemed to chase a lot of my depression away. I had no idea what I wanted to with my life, but I knew I wanted to marry him.  We were dead broke when we got married.  A month after we were married, Trent’s heart started to stop unexpectedly.  A month later, and mountains of hospital and doctor bills, we were even more broke, but somehow seemed to get through it all.  We played board games, ate Raman noodles, and eventually found jobs and started to settle. 

We bought a house and spent a lot of time repairing it.  Work, work, work…

A few years passed and we found out we were going to have a baby!  11 weeks later, we lost it.  It was one of the most painful experiences of my life.  The day I told my Mom I was pregnant a hummingbird came up to hear as she was sitting outside.  As we talked on the phone through the 11 weeks, the same hummingbird came to visit her whenever we talked.  After I lost the baby, the hummingbird never came back.  I have a special bond with hummingbirds.  When one flutters by I feel a little soft spot wondering if it’s a little spirit coming to visit me.  I find peace with hummingbirds now and think I always will.

With that came my major weight gain.  After that came my next love…Zumba (and the start of my weight loss) 

Then I started to get sick more often. 

Then came debilitating back pain.


And then came fibro…and a new me.

I think I did what everyone else does when they’re first diagnosed.  I thought about what I wasn’t going to be able to do anymore.  I was worried about my future.  I felt cheated.  I was 28 and felt like I aged about 10 years over-night.  I felt old, moved like an old person when I really hurt, and got sick all the time like an old person.  I was sure I would have to give up Zumba.  I had heard horror stories of people have to go on disability and how they couldn’t get out of bed for more than an hour a day.  Was that going to be me?

Hell no! 

I should probably have mentioned throughout my stages of my life, stubbornness was always a huge part me.  That never (and probably will never) change! 

I found my “guardian angel” and thank God for her!  (insert tid-bit here:  I later found out some people in an old Zumba class nick-named her hummingbird) She brought me Physical Therapy and Pilates and wouldn’t let (and still won’t let) fibro get me down.  In the long run…the place where I do Pilates, Physical therapy, and Zumba also led me to a great Rheumatologist. 

So why am I in mourning?

Even after two years of having the “hell no, fibro’s not going to get me!” attitude, I still have rough patches.  Patches where I feel more tired, where I hurt more, medications don’t work, seeming to NEVER have a good night’s sleep, feeling frustrated with people’s lack of understanding of Fibro itself and mostly wishing for the days where I didn’t have to deal with all of this.

And then I look back at the parts of me I can mourn and say goodbye to, and the parts that have brought me to being a fibro warrior.

I may still ride a bike through down-town South Bend someday, just because someone said that a person with Fibro can’t. 

I’m still making up dances…but it’s more to Latin music than Madonna.  Looking back, if I hadn’t been diagnosed with Fibro, I probably wouldn’t have ever had the motivation to get certified to teach Zumba.  For that, I am grateful for fibro.

I’ve said goodbye to some of my shyness.  I can’t be shy and be a voice for fibro sufferers.  If I bring understanding of fibro to at least one person through my voice, I feel like I’ve made a difference. 

My days of being a “party animal” are over.  After meeting my husband, most of the party animal in me went away, but after fibro it was gone.  A hangover isn’t really fun when your fibro symptoms make you wake up feeling that way most mornings anyway.

I have embraced my marriage in a new way since being diagnosed.  As much as it kills me, I know I have to ask for help sometimes.  We’ve been through so much together and I know we can handle whatever challenges fibro throws into a marriage. 

I mourn over the part of me that really wanted to me a mother.  I’m not sure after fibro that it’s something I want to be…at least for right now.  I know thousands of women with fibro have babies every day, but it doesn’t help calm my fears.  I think it may happen someday…we’ll see.  I’ll keep my eye out for hummingbirds.

I still feel like I aged over-night since being diagnosed, but I think with that came a new (dare I say, more mature) outlook on life.  A new outlook on what is important in my life and it made things that used to get me so down and depressed seem silly.   

I have to remember that even though people sometimes treat me like I’m going to break, or they try to break me, or I hurt so bad I already feel broken, that the new me has accomplished so much..just being motivated by trying to prove fibro wrong.  Would I have been as motivated to lose weight? Or teach Zumba? Continue to work?   

I don’t ever remember a “me” that was this motivated.  I think some of the things I have accomplished in the last two years are a fair trade for the parts of me I have to let go.





5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Christiana Sayyah
    Sep 16, 2011 @ 04:10:40

    You are so amazing, Jen. I can relate to your story a lot! Obviously I don’t have fibro, but I was just like you growing up and we’ve both been through life transformations. Your Zumba family will always be here for you ❤ Keep going, girl.


    Sep 16, 2011 @ 12:56:40

    “She told me that I have to learn to mourn parts of the person I used to be and embrace the new me.”
    I will try and apply this to my mastectomy. I still get mad that C happened to me because I didn’t have anything on “the list” that contributes to ME getting cancer.
    Thanks again for being an inspiration to your mommy!
    Love you


  3. Ginger
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 01:04:35

    This is a great post and came at a great time for me. My Aunt, who also has fibro, told me two weeks ago that I have to allow myself to mourn the old me. I’ve been trying so hard to be strong and am still in a bit of denial, but she said I really am allowed to feel sad.

    Thanks for this post, I’m really truly sorry about your miscarriage, I had one a few years ago as well and told myself it had to be for a reason. Maybe, for me, fibro was my why.


  4. Stacy
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 04:39:45

    wow this is almost identical to what I’m going through…same age, everything! How wild!!!


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