Fibromyalgia Care Society of America | Voices of Fibro-Sharon L. Martingale
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Voices of Fibro-Sharon L. Martingale

27 Jul Voices of Fibro-Sharon L. Martingale

 

I live in Linden, New Jersey, and I am married to my amazing husband, Matt. We
live with our two kitties and goldfish. I am an Assistant Vice President for Investors Bank
in their IT Department. I have been in banking for almost twenty years. I love traveling
with my husband, seeing new places that I have always dreamt of seeing. I am an amateur
genealogist for my family and have spent hours compiling our family tree. I also collect
teddy bears.

 

I think a part of me has always known that something was off about my health.
My brother used to poke me in the arm and wait for the delayed pain response that he
found funny. I started feeling tired more and more, often attributing it to long hours and
stress. I was only partially correct about that.

 

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2011 at the age of 37. This was after
visiting every type of doctor imaginable – including holistic medical practitioners. I was
almost relieved to have a name of something to fight. It was so hard for all those years to
think that it was all in my head, or that it was my imagination. Finding out that I had
something real was overwhelming. I cried out of gratitude for having the name of my
enemy.

 

I have been very lucky since my diagnosis. I am still able to work and care for my
family. Some changes I have faced have been to slow things down a bit and use a walker
when I need to for long trips. I have learned to ask for help and to rest when I need it. I
have had to adjust to letting others do things for me that I would have normally done for
myself.

 

My family didn’t know what to think or do at first. It was several years before
they started reading the information I gave them, but they have been extremely
supportive. My husband has been so incredible through all of this. He takes care of most
of the heavy-duty items in the house, he keeps me focused, and he reminds me to rest. He
is my hero.

 

One of the biggest challenges that we face is the lack of knowledge out there
about the illness. We have come a long way, but there are still many doctors who have
only a footnote of experience in handling our condition. They often get frustrated because
there is nothing that they can “see” and “fix.”

 

I am an open book with friends and family about my illness and symptoms. I
share EVERYTHING with my friends, family, co-workers, online, etc. I want people to
see that this is a part of my life, and I am still fighting. I want people to know what the
signs and symptoms are, and to get information that they may need to get their own
diagnosis.

 

Besides Fibro, I also have degenerative osteoarthritis and endometriosis.

 

The best advice I can give someone regarding Fibromyalgia is “Don’t be afraid to
rest. It is OK to give yourself a break and heal. You are not responsible for everything.”
How I manage my fibromyalgia is, in the evenings, I try to meditate and color. I
find that coloring allows my mind to rest and just be. I try to avoid pain medication but
take it when I need it.

 

My father was always a huge inspiration for me. He taught me to keep fighting, to
never settle.

 

One of my biggest battles that I confront is having arthritis for many years, I am
familiar with pain. For me, the worst part is the fog. I was so proud of myself as a student
growing up – top of the class, honors, etc. Now I must make a note to remind myself to
read another note. But that is what I do; I make notes. I set alarms and timers. I carry a
notebook when I go to meetings.

 

One of the best things that has come from this for me has been finding FCSA. I
am honored and grateful to be able to spend time with the people that are involved,
learning from each other, venting to each other, and supporting each other. I have found a
safe place where I am not alone, and people genuinely understand what it is I am going
through.

 

I have been very fortunate so far in that I am still able to work. I have times where
I need to work at home, and my manager is generally OK with that. I am lucky to have
been with my company long enough where I get a good amount of time off, so I take my
vacation days and use them wisely. I rest, I travel, and I enjoy my time away from the
office. My husband has taken on a lot as far as the household. We have a housekeeping
team in once a week to clean, so that gives me peace of mind. We live very near to my
mother, so we often have dinner together, making sure that we eat a little healthier. I
order my groceries online and have them delivered so that I can avoid the supermarket
“meltdown.”

 

I am on medication for anxiety. I make sure to take it every night. I keep photos
of my family around my desk at the office, and my walls at home are lined with photos
from our travels and of family. I keep motivational phrases taped up where I can see
them. I also make a point of cuddling with my cats. They make a huge difference
sometimes.

 

My words of encouragement for others who are living with fibro are “You are not
alone. Get educated about your condition and speak up. Do not be afraid to ask for help.”
The one thing I have learned about myself since my diagnosis is that I learned that
I am not invincible, but neither am I fragile. I am a strong, competent individual who is
making a difference, and will continue to do so with every breath that is left in me.

 

 

The most important piece of advice I can give to someone newly diagnosed with
Fibro is to get educated, find out the information that is out there and what works for you.
Don’t think that what is good for one person will be good for you; everyone responds
differently.

 

We are real people fighting for our lives. This disease won’t kill us, but it robs us
of the lives we once had, the people we once were. It makes us into something we never
imagined for ourselves, and I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.
I have been honored to work with FCSA on the Caterpillar Walks for the past
three years. I have spent time speaking to my friends, family, and co-workers about this
disease. I reach out to others in the Fibro community by sharing posts on social media
about the disease, ways to cope, new research, etc.

 

I am a Fibro warrior because I get up every morning and get out of bed. I live and
breathe and keep fighting. I am not ready to die, so I am not giving up. There will be a
cure for this, and I intend to be around when it gets here.

 

1 Comment
  • I so enjoyed reading your story.I have had fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome for 34yrs and so many other symptoms. Thank you for sharing. Hugs to u and prayers for u and family

    July 31, 2018 at 9:48 pm

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