My Story: Janice Pfile

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

I have been a very physically active woman for many years. For the past several years, since about 2000, I have been an avid walker, logging between four and six miles daily. Most of my walking has been in our small town. One lovely afternoon in 2003, I was on my way home from walking and was crossing at a very busy intersection when a gentleman driving a pick-up jumped the light and hit me. Fortunately nothing was broken, however, because I was thrown backwards and landed on my bottom, this caused severe trauma to my spine and a lot of soft tissue damage. After weeks of various treatments, I was finally diagnosed with trauma-induced fibromyalgia. Because I have other medical issues, I could not be treated with the more common medications and had to learn through trial and error how to manage the pain. I am still fairly active, but experience higher levels of pain at times.

What lifestyle changes have you had to make?

As I stated previously, I cannot be treated with the normal varieties of medications, so it has been necessary for me to seek out other ways to manage my pain. My primary way to find relief is through deep tissue massage therapy. I first began with bi-weekly massages, but for the past few months I have had an increase in pain. I am now getting massages on a weekly basis.

My Story: Janice Pfile

My Story: Janice PfileI have also found that Gabapentin has helped reduce pain levels, which I stumbled onto by accident when it was prescribed for a case of shingles I had last year. I am not able to take as much as would normally be prescribed, so have had to adjust it to fit my body tolerance levels. I have also found that the more physically active I stay, the better I feel. Last winter was definitely a challenge for me because I was not able to get outside to walk; my pain levels increased dramatically. Since warmer weather arrived, my pain has been reduced due to my increased activity. I walk and/or bike daily and I also do a short strength training between three and four times a week, all of which seem to be helping.

I have noticed that my hands are in much more pain than they have been in the past. I have to pace my yard work or suffer with very painful hands. I have been tested for RA and osteoarthritis this year due to the increased pain and stiffness. I tested negative for RA and only have a very minimal amount of osteoarthritis, so am feeling blessed. While the pain is intense some days, I try to work through it and keep moving. When the pain is more intense in specific places in my body, I often use ice packs to help get relief.

My best advice to anyone is to know your body and to listen to it.

Being able to continue to tend to my flowers and vegetables has been such a blessing.

Being able to continue to tend to my flowers and vegetables has been such a blessing.

Who has been there for you? How?

I have a lot of support from my doctor and my family. I read as much as I can about fibromyalgia and talk to as many professionals and those suffering as possible. I have also been blessed to be able to retire early, which has dramatically reduced my stress levels and in turn reduced my pain.

I had to be vigilant about what my body needed.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

I have always been an avid gardener so being able to continue to tend to my flowers and vegetables has been such a blessing. There are days that I have done too much and then have to rest the following day, but am so proud that I can be as physically active as I am at sixty-two years old. I have also been extremely proud to have success in getting my weight to a more normal level for my body, which has also helped reduce pain.

 

What's your advice to someone else living with Fibromyalgia?

I am blessed to be what I consider a mild sufferer of fibromyalgia, so my best advice to anyone is to know your body and to listen to it. I am very sensitive to any medications, so drugging up was definitely not an option for treatment. I had to be vigilant about what my body needed and how best to calm the pain and inflammation. I eat a very healthy diet and do my best to keep my muscles strong and stay as active as possible.

 

Is there anything else we should know?

I'm a type A personality, which is not good for someone suffering from fibromyalgia. I have had to understand how stress increases pain in my body, so I've had to work hard to modify my personality. It’s a difficult objective to meet, but I do pretty well most of the time.

About Janice Pfile

My Story: Janice Pfile

I am sixty-two years old and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2003 after being hit as a pedestrian. Prior to 2001, I worked for more than thirty years in various administrative assistant jobs, the last being in the legal field. I have always been a very physically active person and love gardening. Since being diagnosed with fibro, I have had to find new ways to continue gardening. Deep tissue massage, bicycling, walking, and other types of exercise help to keep my muscles strong and thereby helping to reduce the pain. I was recently tested for RA as I have had some difficulties with my joints and was happy to learn that I do not have it. I continue to stay active and find comfort knowing I am not alone in this condition.

I have much support from family and friends and thank God every day that I am able to live a fairly normal life with this condition. Reducing stress and getting a sufficient amount of sleep is also very helpful. My other passion is dog rescue, which I share with my husband. We foster for a local rescue group, which gives me great joy and is a huge distraction on the days my pain is high.

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