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Fibromyalgia and Living Life to its Fullest
by Joe Tracy, Publisher of Online Dating Magazine

(February 17, 2010) We have all suffered heartfelt pain of some sort. Whether it was someone we love breaking up with us or someone we love dying, we know what it's like to have a broken heart.

And sometimes a broken heart can be fractured several times in a short period of time, piling devestation upon pain. It’s something never desired and the flow of tears isn’t something that can be turned on or off. When it comes, it comes. When it goes, there’s a brief respite.

My aunt Elaine spent her life helping others as a nurse. She was even a nurse for former first lady Betty Ford. Aunt Elaine was alive and her dedication to others was a great inspiration. I always loved her enthusiasm.

Several years ago my Aunt started experiencing an excruciating amount of body pain. After seeing several doctors she was diagnosed with a little known disease called Fibromyalgia.

As Wikipedia describes it,  

“Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain and allodynia, a heightened and painful response to pressure. Fibromyalgia symptoms are not restricted to pain, leading to the use of the alternative term fibromyalgia syndrome for the condition. Other core symptoms include debilitating fatigue, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness. Some patients may also report difficulty with swallowing, bowel and bladder abnormalities, numbness and tingling, and cognitive dysfunction. Fibromyalgia is frequently comorbid with psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety and stress-related disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder. Fibromyalgia is estimated to affect 2-4% of the population, with a female to male incidence ratio of approximately 9:1.”

The condition can be extremely painful to the point of being unbearable. Her whole life, my Aunt had been fit, until she got Fibromyalgia. Exercise became too painful for her and that caused a drastic increase in weight. Medication did little to fight the pain and the side effects made it hard for her to think clearly.

Earlier this year my Aunt couldn’t take the pain anymore and she committed suicide with painkillers. It was a shock to the whole family. As my mom, dad, and Grandma were on the way to the funeral, a car ran a red light and slammed into them at 55 miles per hour. My mom and Grandma were rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.

My Grandma is one of the most special people in my life. You may have that same type of relationship with your Grandma. Growing up I would spend many summers at my Grandma’s house. I adored her and she adored me. She thought I could do no wrong (boy was she mistaken). On a summer day at my Grandma’s when I was 12 I had a friend over to play. My Grandma had to run an errand, so my friend and I decided to explore. We went to the garage and saw my Grandpa’s nice new motorcycle. My friend, who was older than I, talked me into taking it out for a ride. So we did what any kid with a motorcycle wants to do - we built a huge ramp in the backyard to do jumps like Evil Kneivel. My friend dared me to go first.

So I did.

And the next thing I remember, the motorcycle was plunging into a wood pile with me in tow. The bike was totaled. Scared to death, my friend split for home. I dragged the bike back into the garage and didn’t say a word when Grandma returned. Later that evening my Grandpa came home and went to the garage to do some work. That’s when he came bounding in telling Grandma that his motorcycle was all smashed up in the garage. Not for one second did my Grandma ever suspect me. After all, I was her perfect little Angel.

Trying to make sense of the mystery, Grandma asked me if I had seen or heard anything while she was gone. I didn’t want to lie to her, but I didn’t want to get in trouble. So I quietly responded that I hadn't seen anything. As Grandma and Grandpa were preparing to call the police, their phone rang. It was a neighbor who said she saw two kids riding a motorcycle around Grandma's house. And she had a good description of the two kids too.

In an instant my halo was shattered.

I was devestated when Grandma said she wouldn’t be able to trust me anymore because I had lied to her. I don’t know what hurt her the most – the fact I crashed the motorcycle or that I had lied to her and destroyed that trust.

In high school I wrote the story of that incident for a creative writing course. The teacher loved the story and said I should submit it for publication. So I sent the article, titled "Grandma's Fallen Angel", to a magazine and was shocked to receive a letter back that they were going to publish it. Enclosed with the letter was a check for $250. That started my career in publishing which has included a few books, two print magazines, and Online Dating Magazine.

Today, my Grandma died.

She was in the hospital for more than a month and never recovered. The lady who caused the accident had no insurance. But worse, one careless moment took away the life of someone very dear to me.

I called my Grandma today. Another aunt had to hold the phone up to her ear. I told her how much I loved her and that she meant everything to me. My Grandma couldn’t respond, but my Aunt said she smiled when she heard my voice. I told her again how much I loved her and that I knew she loved me too.

An hour later she passed away.

My mom won’t be able to attend the funeral for my Grandma because she is under home health care to deal with her injuries. She’s just recently started to walk again, but can’t travel. The whole family is still trying to piece together this great tragedy. It tests faith and brings up questions of “why?” Perhaps you’ve been there yourself.

This personal tragedy is also a reminder to me about the important things in life – treating others with respect, saying “I love you” to someone you love, and being kind to strangers to name a few. When we can channel our pain into improving our lives then we become better people and that makes the world a better place and adds one more smile to brighten the world.

Please add that smile to someone you love today.

Thank you.

Joe Tracy


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