Contributed by: Samantha
Reviewed by: Evelyn Corsini, MSW, May, 2009
My name is Samantha and I am 29 years old. My story began in March of 2003 when a tree fell on me at a campfire. Since then, I have had Fibromyalgia, low back pain, and severe migraines. Learning to cope with pain in a positive way was a long journey for me but very rewarding. The biggest step in the right direction was learning to accept that I had these ailments and would probably live with pain the rest of my life.
Acceptance is very hard. I was not able to return to the job I loved and this left a huge void in
my life. I felt worthless; until I began seeking acceptance. I was then able to move forward in my journey. I now volunteer for the American Chronic Pain Association as a group facilitator and Michigan Regional Director. This has filled that void I had from not being able to work a conventional job. It has also been so very fulfilling and rewarding helping others in pain.
Living with back pain and Fibromyalgia is not easy. But I’ve learned to integrate exercise into my life. Keeping my muscles strong and toned has been key to helping my pain level. In the first few years of having back problems, it hurt so bad that I didn’t want to even get out of bed for fear of hurting even worse. But after getting through the first few days of activity, it started to feel better, both physically and emotionally!
I’ve also learned that distraction from the pain is key in coping. This distraction for me has been making jewelry, crafts, reading, spending time with my friends and family, playing with my Chocolate Lab, Gunner, and cooking! It’s amazing what a busy mind can do for the body!
One of the biggest keys to success in managing your pain is becoming your own advocate. I started early on reading all I could about my conditions, researching online, talking to others with pain, and knowing my rights as a person with pain. I work with my health care team. The minute I stopped looking for the doctors to cure me; instead voicing my needs and concerns to them, I was able to receive better medical care. I also have to be sure to follow the doctor’s directions to a tee.
Overall, knowing that I can still live a good quality of life even with my pain is a great feeling! I have chronic pain, the pain does not have me!