21 Sep Voices of Fibro-Ingrid Campos
1.Your Name (as you want it shared): Ingrid Campos
2.Your Location: Seattle, WA
3.Give me some basics… Are you married? Kids? Work? What do you enjoy?
I have an unconventional life which I love. I have my Clan which includes my immediate family, my adult children, and my best closest friends. In them I find all the support I need, and I consider myself so very lucky to have them. I live with my bestie and roomie extraordinaire, who has been my caretaker many times. My mom and one of my brothers live 2 doors down while my children live just one town over. We have many sleepovers, movie nights, game nights and all kinds of family fun.
I am currently working as a Quality Assurance Technician for Amazon Video Prime on the main campus of Amazon Seattle HQ. I love what I do and want to continue to upgrade my knowledge in software tools & tech. Perhaps finally learn some code such as C++ I love reading books, arts & crafts, music, dancing, gaming, photography, and activism of all kinds.
4.When did you first realize there was something different about your health?
When I was 13, I started getting extremely ill. I felt extreme pain and fatigue and although I was told it was due to ‘depression’, deep down I knew there was something else wrong. Ten years later my kidneys were under attack, due to lupus nephritis, and I almost lost my life to that health event. In 1999 I was diagnosed with SLE (lupus)
5.When were you diagnosed?
10 years later with lupus at 23 with fibro at 35.
6. How did your fibro diagnosis change your life?
It has made me aware, so that I may combat it effectively. It also validated the extreme pain I experienced. I find doctors rarely listen to people in pain. They look at us as addicts, drug seekers, and hypochondriacs instead of what we are…chronic pain warriors in need of medical assistance & support.
7. What changes have you had to make in your life?
I stopped all conventional medications and started a cannabis treatment heavy on both CBD and THC that led me to healthier habits and going on a plant-based vegan diet. The latter helped resolved the last of my most severe issue and I have never been physically healthier.
8. How did your family initially handle your illness?
They have always been supportive, and I am grateful for that. My mom has been there from the start; Now that my kids are older they take care of me too, as does my bestie/roommate.
9. What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of Fibro?
The constant pain and fatigue and not knowing when I will be ok to do the things I love. The fact that health can be taken away at any moment and the anxiety that entails.
10. How open are you with friends & family about your illness & symptoms?
I am open and always try to spread awareness, facts, and what has worked for me.
11. Besides Fibro, what other coexisting conditions have been diagnosed?
I was initially diagnosed with lupus, then Hashimoto’s (hypothyroidism) & endometriosis, lastly fibro.
12. What is the best advice you have received regarding Fibromyalgia?
I never got any advice on this really, but I will share that I had horrible IBS which I unknowingly helped by going vegan. Initially I had done that for ethical reasons and I was afraid it would make the illnesses I have much worse. I ended up getting rid of many of the symptoms I was still experiencing like IBS. I will add that my family doctor in NJ, Dr. Faheid, suggested I move to Seattle, where my brother and mom were already living, since it has less sunny days and it triggers lupus. It also has helped me greatly.
13. How do you manage fibromyalgia?
I eat a whole food plant-based vegan diet; take care of myself by avoiding my known flare triggers such as stress, sun, warmth, and infections as much as possible. I exercise, practice mindful meditation and do the things I love as much as I can. I also surround myself with loving supportive people, my Clan.
14. What or whom inspires you?
My Clan, which encompasses my close family & best friends, but especially my adult children, aged 27, 25, 20…. they are my drive in life.
15. What are your biggest battles now and how do you confront them?
The chronic pain and fatigue I experience daily are my biggest battles. I am not cured, but I am managing well and for that I am grateful because not all have that relief. But I am also battling OBGYN issues which have not been addressed properly or recognized. Doctors say everything looks great, but I have periods that last 25 days with no explanation. Currently looking to resolve this issue.
16. What is the best/worst thing that has happened to you due to your illness?
Being physically disabled. I have had many near-death experiences due to lupus, fibro and the slew of health issues I have had. I once was so disabled I could not walk and even needed assistance to go to the bathroom. I was only 30 and to walk again had spinal fusion. No one could explain to me why my spine was so damaged. When I was initially diagnosed with lupus I was experiencing severe kidney issues and almost died. Changed me forever, for the best, and forged me as a warrior. I dislike having my loved ones worried for me or saddened they cannot help or alleviate the pain I experience.
17. How do you balance your illness with your personal and professional life? Are you disabled?
I am thankfully currently not disabled. As stated above I use cannabis to manage most of my lingering issues. I usually dab (vaping concentrates of high dose CBD & THC) as needed. I pace myself and have become much attuned to my body’s needs and subtleties.
18. Fibromyalgia can cause depression and anxiety. Do you struggle with these? Is so, what do you do to keep your mental health balanced?
I do. I was diagnosed chronic depression at 13 and had my first suicide attempt at that age as well. I have suicidal thoughts on the daily, but I mitigate it by practicing mindful meditation to help me when I feel these things coming on. I use cannabis for this too. Anti-depressants never worked for me, I tried so many. Same for pain medication had them all. In 2009 I was on at least 11 different supplements and prescribed medication ranging from hardcore pain medications like opioids, muscle relaxers, to lupus medication such as the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) I am off all of them and only take B12 supplements (1 daily) and cannabis as needed. Recently got back my labs and the doctor say it all looks great. I have had anemia most of my life. He was especially concerned about this due to my OBGYN issues but it all looks great.
19. What words of encouragement do you have for others who are living with fibro?
As difficult as it may seem we can get through tough times and battles.
20. What is one thing you have learned about yourself since your diagnosis?
That I am resilient and will not give in so easily. I am a fighter. When I needed a hero and could not find one I looked in the mirror and decided I would be my own hero, that I would find a way, I used my stubbornness for a positive outcome.
21. What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone newly diagnosed with Fibro (or even still seeking a diagnosis)?
If possible surround yourself with a good support system, hard to find good doctors, people in general, but look for them. Most importantly I would say go whole foods plant-based vegan, it will perhaps not cure, but it will help eliminate many issues, it should be baseline, I wish someone had suggested this to me. Also, I wish someone had told me to try cannabis (with both CBD and THC). Does not work wonders for all but for many like myself it has been a life saver… it may help. Not legal in all states and so that is an issue but if possible, I would recommend.
22. Is there anything else you would like the people to know?
Dream on and NEVER give up.
23. Are you involved in raising awareness? If so? How? If not? Why?
Yes, I have been involved with Lupus Foundation of America and others in the past. I have also helped several people with my condition by sharing my experiences. Several have found relief and I will continue to fight for us all in any which way I can.
24. How are you a Fibro warrior?
Despite all my recent health wins I am not cured and constantly must battle the many chronic illnesses that affect my body including fibromyalgia, which is one of the most insidious. Thanks to fibro I live with constant horrible pain but am thankful that I have armed myself with much love, support, and tools such as cannabis to fight it every day and win many battles.