This week I’m interviewing Fibro Warrior, Judi Lieberman, of Chesapeake, VA. She’s a single lady who lives with her therapy cat, Samantha. She was diagnosed with migraines in 2005, and Fibromyalgia in 2007. She’s no longer working as a result of her illnesses, but she loves to read, blog, and advocate for awareness.
What lead up to your diagnoses?
The migraines got more severe and frequent, so I saw a migraine specialist. We tried preventives, triptans, and Botox, before I was referred to pain management. Body pains (I thought I tore tendon in my knee) and sudden, severe hip pain sent me to the rheumatologist resulting in the Fibromyalgia diagnosis. I tried Lyrica, but there were too many side effects.
What was your life like at that time?
I was working full-time as a Practice Manager for a dental practice. I loved my job, had been there for 6 years, and expected to work there until retirement.
How did your family initially handle your illness?
It’s just my Mom and myself. She is the most caring, loving, empathetic woman I know. She feels horrible that I have to go through this, but she’s always there for me.
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of Fibro?
Getting people to understand that just because this illness cannot be seen, doesn’t mean it’s not real and debilitating. Awareness is key and spreading the word for more money for funding and research.
Do you have any other co-existing conditions?
Daily Chronic Migraine, Intractable headache, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
What, if any thing, have you found/ done that has improved your symptoms?
Nothing so far. I’ve tried holistic, diet, stress-relief, chiropractic, biofeedback, yoga, exercising (when able), swimming, etc. Still seeking that “miracle cure!
How open are you with friends & family about your illness & symptoms?
I share everything with my Mom, who lives with me. I’ve lost many friends due to my illnesses, including my best friend. I’m not sure if they couldn’t handle the missed lunches, movies, parties, etc, or if they got tired and couldn’t handle the person I had become (introverted, depressed, anxious, in pain, etc.)
Do you blog about your illness? If so, what inspired you to do so?
Yes, I recently started a blog mainly to vent my frustration. In doing so, I started remembering things I had forgotten about my “previous life.” Writing inspires me to advocate for better treatments and cures. Raise awareness and hopefully write something that will make another sufferer see themselves and respond or at least relate.
What is the best advice you’ve received about Fibromyalgia?
Find an empathetic doctor!
What was the worst advice that you followed?
Get over yourself! It’s not THAT bad!
What is your favorite way to cope with your life as a spoonie?
What is it that inspires you to keep going, despite your illness?
Hope for a treatment that works. Faith that things will improve. Talking to others with similar conditions.
What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself since your diagnosis?
I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone newly diagnosed with Fibro?
Don’t give up! There are empathetic, informed doctors out there, so do your research and don’t give up!
Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
Always keep fighting! Be stronger than your demons! Advocate, educate, make yourself be heard!
Get to know Judi better! You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and on her blog.