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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

When a door closes, another, better door, often opens up.

If you would have told me 5 or 6 years ago that I would own a company that is taking its products to the GBK Oscar Gift Lounge, I honestly would have probably looked at you like you were nuts. Where I am now and where I was then, are almost on two entirely different planes.

I remember distinctly sitting on the kitchen floor, with a baby (my now 5 year old boy) sitting in his swing screaming, while I sat and cried. Not just from the usual hormones and total lack of sleep, but from grief, and fear.

The grief was due to the loss of my Dad the year before. I had just finished closing out his estate. With nothing else to do for him, it finally hit me that after being with him for nearly five years fighting colon cancer that it was truly over, he was gone. My constant coach, the person that had believed in me my whole life, was never going to be there for me again. The pain that was in my heart was almost unbearable.

The fear was the pain in my hands. I had been diagnosed with fibrositis (now called fibromyalgia) at the age of 19. Aside from headaches and some neck pain, I had been able to deal with it. Since having Sam, my youngest, I noticed that I could not sit too long in one position without my knees freezing up and that my whole body hurt, really hurt. I ignored the pain until that day in the kitchen, when I could not grasp the baby bottle to get the cap off. I had no idea what was going on, but decided bite the bullet and called my doctor.

Three days later, I sat in his office telling him what was wrong. He knew about my Dad. That I had been his primary care giver for those five years. That I had just closed out his estate. I explained the pain to him and insisted that it was more than being a new mom and grief, that something was wrong. He agreed and sent me to a rheumatologist.

Two weeks later, I was given a complete workup including x-rays of my hands and feet to see if I was developing RA. RA was scary enough, but then the doctor suggested that there was a strong possibility that I had lupus. The nurses took was seemed to be a gallon of blood and it was sent away for a 5 week test to determine if I did in fact have the disease. Five weeks to wait, look up every morsel of information about lupus on the internet to freak myself out, five weeks to pretend some more to my family that I was OK.

Somewhere in those five weeks I made a decision. If I did have lupus, I would fight with every ounce of my being, just like my dad fought the cancer. If I didn't have lupus and it was fibromyalgia rearing its ugly head, I would be grateful. I would start being grateful for the time I had been given and do everything possible to make the most of my life.

Thankfully, the lupus test was negative. But, the doctor stated that she thought the fibromyalgia was worse because of the pregnancy and that there was a good chance that the pain I was experiencing was my new "norm". We talked a long time trying to figure out the best way to help me deal with the pain. Part of the treatment is, of course, medication. The other part was more about how I deal with stress. The doctor suggested that I try to do something that helped me to relax, something that brought me peace. She asked if I had anything like that in my life.

I remembered sewing as a kid on my grandmother's old Singer. How, somehow, the rhythm of the machine and the ability to create something gave me not only a sense of accomplishment, but soothed my creative soul. I had stopped sewing when my Dad got sick because I didn't have the time. I told her that I would try it to see if it helped. I started sewing again after a 5 year break and haven't stopped.

I still have fibromyalgia, will have it all my life unless they find a cure. I am still in pain every day, have a hard time standing up after a movie because my knees freeze up. Walking up stairs is a challenge some days. And, yes, even as I type this blog, my hands hurt. But, I am okay. I am not the type of Mom who can run around with her kids and play ball, or go skiing in our new home state of Colorado. But I am here. Not only am I present each and every day for my family, I have built a successful business that might not have been if I hadn't been looking for a way to deal with my condition.

I thought long and hard about sharing this information in a public forum. Only my closest friends and family know about the fibro and I was afraid that people, potential customers, would think I was weak, that I could not successfully run a business with fibromyalgia. My daughter changed my mind. She said that I am strong and that I should tell my story to others so that they can see what you can do with fibromyalgia. Maybe if someone with fibro sees my story, I can give them hope. She is one smart kid, my daughter.


  1. What a powerful story and you are such a strong person--your daughter is spot on! My thoughts and prayers are with you. You are a very special person!

  2. This is a fabulous post. It really touched me and I know it will touch others too. Kudos for being brave enough to share and congratulations on your business. I wish you all the best in everything you endeavour.

  3. Losing a parent is one of those milestone and I can only imagine your pain from your loss. Fibromyalgia is hard to deal with -- I commend you for pushing on, Janice! Your story is an inspiration to us all.

  4. You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing. Your daughter is indeed, right in suggesting you tell your tale.

  5. Janice, thank you so much for sharing your story! Don't forget, God can take what is broken and turn it into a blessing. Your words may be blessing and bringing comfort to someone you don't even know. God bless YOU!

  6. Beautiful and truly inspiring post. You are a very strong woman!

  7. Admitting a weakness, especially one you have no control of, is never a weak thing to do. Announcing who you are and what you deal with is a sign of strength and acceptance. We all have issues we keep from others, things we deal with privately, so know you aren't alone. And you're speaking up can help others, too! Kudos to you and your daughter, and keep up the good fight! We're here with ya!

  8. I just want to say that I am so touched by the response to my post. Being a part of this group has truly given me a strength and inspiration. Watching all of you commit to your craft, made me believe that it was possible. Thank you.

  9. I was diagnosed with RA 3 months ago. That diagnosis was accompanied with a lupus scare too. I'm also determined to fight this awful disease with all that I've got!! Your story is inspiring, thanks for sharing.