An Attitude of Gratitude
By Laura Walker, Content Development Director
When I responded to the job posting for a “new online health care company” I had no idea what to expect, and then I received an email back with more information about the company. So I Googled the name of the CEO and discovered that she founded the National Fibromyalgia Association. My heart began to beat faster as I read more about Lynne Matallana and her new project, the Community Pain Center, I knew right then that this was my dream job and I was going to get it. I could see how all my past experiences—everything I had been through—was for a purpose: to help others with chronic pain.
You see, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2011. In addition to anxiety, depression, and feeling fatigued all the time, I had been experiencing an intense burning sensation in the backs of my legs and buttocks that wouldn’t go away. Then my right arm would periodically go numb and my neck and right shoulder became extremely tense and hurt like I had torn muscles. The doctor couldn’t find any damage, so he sent me to a massage therapist to loosen the tension. I had regular massage every week for a few months and still didn’t notice improvement. I eliminated processed foods from my diet and tried to exercise, but found that it just created more pain.
After several visits over the course of a year, my doctor asked me several questions about my physical abilities, mental/emotional state, pain, sleep, and stiffness, and then applied pressure to the 18 tender points (I was sensitive to 16), and then just like that, with a sympathetic smile, he said, “fibromyalgia.” He explained that fibro is a disorder of the central nervous system and how it processes pain signals. He even drew me a picture, pointing out the difference between normal and fibro. I was devastated to hear that there is no cure and all we could do is manage symptoms.
I began physical therapy to ease me into a simple exercise routine, which helped reduce the pain. My physical therapists also performed myofascial release, which relaxed my muscles and improved my poor circulation. Stretching throughout the day has also been somewhat beneficial, and eliminating processed foods and sugar has reduced my inflammation.
I also tried acupuncture twice a week for a few months, but found that the only relief it gave me was from menstrual cramps. My doctor put me on Cymbalta, which did not have good results for me. My depression only got worse. Almost everything I have tried has only provided me with a little relief. What provides me with the most relief is not focusing on myself.
So, I’ve grown accustomed to the fact that I always have pain. I accept that. And now I can continue to do what makes my heart sing and that is to help others. When I am in the service of others, my mind doesn’t dwell on me and my struggles. When I am more concerned about what I can bring to the world rather than what I can get from it, I hardly notice the pain. And this, my friends, is why developing content for the Community Pain Center is my dream job.
Not only do I get to spend my day planning and creating the most relevant and informative content that will help our members, but I get to be part of this community of people just like me, who know what it’s like to live with pain every day, yet persevere, so that we can make a difference in the way pain is perceived and treated. I am truly grateful for my pain today because it gives me the opportunity to be part of this amazing community.
By Lynne Matallana, President & CEO
In 1995, my life had become a practice of patience. I would tell myself, “I can stand this pain for two more months,” and I would imagine that during that time I would find the reason for my pain and a way to make it go away. For the next two months I would practice living life in a very structured and predictable way. I would try to sleep as much and as late as possible (which wasn’t easy!) and then I would begin my day of routine. Each day was the same…I had found a few distractions that I could practice (walking to the mail box once a day, watch an old movie that was upbeat and I didn’t have to put any effort into following the simple story line; try to do stretching exercises on a yoga mat, sit in a hot bath with herbs and mineral salts, and see how many times I could walk from my living room to my dining room–back and forth)…all of which would help the day pass a little more quickly, until it was time to go to bed and then start the whole cycle over again the next day.
As I would sit in the exam room waiting for the doctor, I would practice to myself the explanation I would present when the doctor would finally show up and ask me for the reason I was there.
I would begin telling my story, putting up a brave front, sharing my symptoms and my current treatment strategy…but would usually end up in tears, trying to get the doctor to understand how much pain I was in and how desperate I was for his/her help! Most of the time the doctor’s reaction was like seeing a deer in the headlights. I knew they saw a healthy looking woman, who seemed to not be coping very well, overreacting to something they didn’t understand. This disconnect would make my body hurt even more and my emotional state go from bad to worse.
I would ask myself, “Why did I get my hopes up?” As I walked out of the doctor’s office with a piece of paper that had the name and number of a local psychologist, I would tell myself, “You aren’t crazy! Your pain is real. Someone, someday will have the answer. Try to stay positive and have faith. This is just a temporary situation. Have patience, and remember…you just have to hang in there for two more months. They have to have answers for you by then!”
It took more than two months for me to get a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, but when I finally found the doctor who knew what was wrong with me and told me with time I would get better…I told myself, “I’m proud of you! You held onto hope and never stopped believing that anything is possible.”
Introducing Good Grief
By Annie Skapinsky, Marketing & Media
Welcome to Good Grief, the Community Pain Center (CPC) blog! This is the place where you can meet the “brains behind the business.” We want you to understand the CPC from a true insider’s perspective and that starts by letting you get to know our incredible CEO, Lynne Matallana, as well as our amazing team members, and even some of our friends. You’ll get a chance to hear from all our departments—from the marketing team to the graphic designers—as well as special guest writers, and of course, Lynne.
We will share snippets from our current and past endeavors, adventures, and experiences, as well as what we find interesting, what we’re working on, and why we’re so invested in this project.
This blog will have everything from our personal thoughts and feelings to our journey with this company to the treatments we have tried to help with our own health (or someone we know personally), down to what we see for the future of health care. This is a place for us to explore our thoughts in a personal way for you to understand what makes us tick.
Feel free to share your comments on each post or in our forum in the member section. We encourage questions, comments and concerns you have about us, our company, and what direction we’re heading in.
Thank you for joining the Community Pain Center and allowing us to be part of your journey while being part of ours.