Recently my 13 year old daughter told me, "I really admire Grandma. Even though she is old and has a difficult time getting around, she gets out and does the things she loves to do." Wow! What an amazing observation from my daughter and what a wonderful gift my mom has unknowingly passed onto my daughter.
My mom is amazing. Although she will be 71 years old this month, she still lives her life as if she was 30 years old, minus the miniskirts and high heels. She often says her mind still wants to get up and go like she was 30 years old, not almost 71 years old.
My mom spent most of her adult years caring for her six children. She worked part time as a nurse so that she could be home with us the majority of the time. As the younger group of kids made it to school, she began focusing on her own career. She not only received her bachelor's degree while working and caring for a family but she went on to achieve her master's degree also. Amazing.
As the six of us slowly moved out of the house and started our own lives, my mom began building a new life for herself also. She found her passion in parish nursing and traveling. She is a dreamer who makes her dreams come true. To this day she still has too many plans and dreams to let something like fibromyalgia slow her down. Below are some questions I had for my mom. Enjoy.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am the mother of six adult children and three foster adult children, 24 grandchidren, 14 great-grandchildren. I will soon be 71 years old. I work as a parish nurse (I'm passionate about Parish Nursing) and, in addition, do lots of volunteer work in the community. I love people and my two little dogs. I function best when I'm serving others. I like to read and to scrapbook but I don't find enough time to do either as much as I'd like.
2. When were you diagnosed with fibromyalgia and what was the diagnosis process like?
1997 - had lots of tests done because I had been experiencing pain and not feeling well for months. Tests came back negative but it was obvious something was wrong. I had never heard of fibromyalgia when I was diagnosed with it. I read everything I could get my hands on so I would know what the options for treatment were and to have a better understanding of what was happening to me.
3. How is your fibromyalgia rated now: mild, moderate, severe?
Depends on the day. It can go from mild to severe in a few days.
4. What other complications have occurred due to fibromyalgia?
It's hard to tell what is connected to what. I now have osteoarthritis too. I think I blame every pain I have on fibro and sometimes fail to have the proper check up because I believe it's my fibro acting up.
5. How has your life changed due to fibromyalgia?
I am forced to take better care of myself --- get enough sleep, eat healthier, avoid caffeine, rest more on "severe" days. There is no place for perfectionism with fibro --- it doesn't matter if the house isn't cleaned like it used to be, if things have to wait, if you buy prepared foods instead of doing it yourself, etc. I take more breaks between activities. Some things I just can't physically do now regardless of how badly I want to.
6. As your daughter, I know you have gone on to accomplish a lot professionally and personally since your diagnosis. Would you care to share your successes?
I have done a lot of teaching nationally and internationally. I travel a lot and try to not let my fibro define who I am. I'm probably a better advocate for those in pain. But, I'm less sympathetic to those who complain about it because I live in pain continuously in spite of medications. I could choose stronger pain medication but I also choose to have a functioning brain and be in charge of my life. Some days I would rather crawl in a hole with a blanket over my head but I don't allow myself to that.
7. What are two things that guide you each day?
Prayer, daily Mass, positive attitude, in charge of my choices.
8. Any advice for others living with disease?
Don't let it get the best of you. Don't let it define who you are and therefore control your life. Keep pushing. Exercise is good for fibro patients but it hurts so bad to do it.
9. Anything else you would like to add?
Exercise, get plenty of rest, figure out what things work for you and then do them.
Cathy can also be found writing at her personal blog The Life and Adventures of Cateepoo.
Published On: October 17, 2011