25 Aug From Today’s Vantage Point, Nearly 30 Years Later
I was diagnosed in 1989, 18 months after injuries in a motor vehicle accident. I had excellent prior health and was a registered nurse. When a physical medicine specialist gave me the diagnosis I was sure he was mistaken. I had never heard of fibromyalgia. When he suggested viewing it as a chronic disease, my mind went into overwhelm. I lived in denial for nearly 4 years. I continued to push my body repeatedly to perform as usual. Finally, I had to admit that something had indeed changed and I needed to learn how to accommodate these changes. I was depleted physically and emotionally. I was single, with no family members close-by, so fear and uncertainty loomed. I was face to face with the vulnerabilities of being human.
From today’s vantage point, nearly 30 years later, I admit there have been unexpected losses, changes, and adjustments in my life. The financial impact was considerable. On the other hand, there have been many resulting events and experiences that have enriched my life as well. One painful change was the need to leave nursing. It took several years to feel capable of re-entering healthcare in a new role as a health educator. Twelve years after the diagnosis I was ready to develop and begin teaching fibro education classes to support others who were confronted with this same diagnosis. Now I am semi-retired but continue teaching part-time as it is my passion. My focus is on six elements of self care based in the realization that we are each much, much more than the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
Your journey forward may look different than you once planned. However, the question that I ask myself and others is what is truly most important to you now. What is it that truly means the most to you? This is a journey that requires courage and courage comes from listening to your heart. Listening to your own heart is one of the most reliable barometers of truth for each of us. I have returned to it again and again. I have also found that this journey encourages the discovery of personal empowerment and deeper self-trust.
And thankfully, there is so much more known about the medical aspects today. A reference that I suggest is The Fibro Manual by Dr. Ginevra Liptan. She is a physician who specializes in fibromyalgia treatment and also has personal experience with this condition. I work with her at The Frida Center. This book describes the medical aspects in easy to understand terms and outlines an integrative treatment approach to managing fibromyalgia. It also includes an appendix for providers (A Health Care Provider Guide to Fibromyalgia Management), an evidence-based reference for treating patients with this complex condition.
About the Author
Elaine Merryfield currently teaches classes at The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia in Portland, OR. Her recently published ebook, Life Beyond Fibromyalgia: A Personal Guide for Moving Forward and Leaving Struggle Behind, can be found on Amazon.