An Attitude of Gratitude

By Laura Walker, Content Development Director

20150501_161855-1When 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 30_Days_of_Gratitude-_Day_13_(4099849737)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.