My Story: Jennie Freiberger

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

Beginning in my early 30s, I experienced what I thought was the beginning of arthritis, because my mother and grandmother dealt with this. It was especially painful in the winter months because the cold weather seemed to make it worse. By the summer of 2008 I was beginning to dread the coming fall and winter, so I made an appointment with a rheumatologist to see what I could do to make the winter less painful. My blood was tested and I was given a physical exam; the doc noted that I only had just a small amount of arthritis in my knees, and he explained all the different illnesses that my blood tests ruled out. I was afraid he was going to say I must be making it up, but he mentioned fibromyalgia, because that was the usual diagnosis for pain like mine that couldn't be explained. I went home, tried to figure out what fibro was using the internet, and got sad and scared.

Who has been there for you? How?

Definitely my husband and my daughters. They help to pick up the slack when I'm having a bad day, and they understand when things are a mess or they need to make dinner. I've been married for 24 years and have a strong marriage and that support is essential for me. My daughters are 20 and 23, and my 23-year-old also suffers with fibro. There are times when things get crazy and there may be tension, but we work it out and take care of each other.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

Since my diagnosis in 2008, a lot more is now known about fibromyalgia, and I have, through trial and error, worked out a plan that works for me. 20mg twice a day of Savella (milnacipran), 8-10 hours of sleep EVERY night, no soda or anything that contains artificial sweetener, no white sugar, no white flour, no processed foods. Two fish oil capsules every day. At least one banana every day. I either work out three times a week at the gym for 30-60 minutes each time (warm water aerobics or walking) or do moderately strenuous yard work (enough to keep me moving & healthy, without doing so much that it causes a flare). Relaxation to help eliminate stress (sitting in my garden, listening to music, reading something that speaks to me). I also left a job that was very stressful and found a job that I love with less stress.

I went home, tried to figure out what fibro was using the internet, and got sad and scared.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

The fact that I've been able to manage my health so that I can continue to work. The fact that I have recently lost 10lbs. and will keep working to lose an additional 60lbs. And the fact that I am removing a sidewalk and putting in a new garden on the west side of my house. The most important accomplishment so far is helping to create a strong marriage/strong family.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

The fact that I've been able to manage my health so that I can continue to work. The fact that I have recently lost 10lbs. and will keep working to lose an additional 60lbs. And the fact that I am removing a sidewalk and putting in a new garden on the west side of my house. The most important accomplishment so far is helping to create a strong marriage/strong family.

Don't be afraid of exercise

Don't be afraid of exercise

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

Find out what works for you. Try different things, and don't be afraid of exercise. It's hard to get started, but I have felt so much better (less pain and fewer flares). Realize that you aren't alone, and if you are not finding support at home, look for support groups, either in person or online, because talking about what you're going through, especially with others who are dealing with the same types of issues, can help a lot as well. Find and do things that bring you happiness and joy because a positive mood can help so much. Get lots of sleep and eat healthy foods and take care of yourself because you are definitely worth it!

My dream job would be to live on a large farm and have it be a home to all the rescue dogs & cats

Is there anything else we should know?

I'm pretty short—4'10"—and weigh 200lbs., so I am considered obese, and fibro makes losing weight hard. But I keep plugging away at my weight loss because it's important for my health. My dream job would be to live on a large farm and have it be a home to all the rescue dogs & cats it could hold, where I could take care of the animals and write about our adventures.

About Jennie Freiberger

My Story: Jennie Freiberger
I'll be 50 in February. I graduated with a B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Miami University, Oxford, OH. I've been married for 24 years, and have two daughters (23 and 20). I love corgi dogs and have one named Lucy, who is 6 years old, and a huge mutt, Hootie, who is 11. I'm an Office Administrator for a Unitarian Universalist congregation (even though I'm a Catholic!). I enjoy gardening, reading with my Kindle, watching the Cincinnati Reds, cooking new recipes (the healthier the better), having peanut butter banana smoothies for breakfast, sleeping late on the weekends, and spending time with my family & friends.

Jennie's Blog

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