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Fibromyalgia patient sets example for others
Thursday 2 January 2014
Newsmaker 2013: Fibromyalgia patient sets example for others
No pain, no gain, fitness experts are wont to say.
It’s a different tale when the pain won’t go away.
Newmarket-born Angela Roberts, 39, knows this only too well.
Ms Roberts, according to Statistics Canada, is among 540,000 Canadians diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a musculoskeletal disorder that amplifies the way the brain processes pain, often leaving the body’s pain receptors in hyperdrive.
The condition causes widespread pain and, in turn, fatigue, sleep deprivation and depression.
Sensitivity to touch is one symptom. The slightest physical contact can cause violent, lasting pain.
“If a child’s hug hurts, you need to get help,” Ms Roberts said.
Now a resident of Newcastle, ON, she sought support at the fibromyalgia therapeutic education program at Southlake Regional Health Centre.
The program provides a patient-centered, inter-professional approach to people living with this chronic condition.
Research has demonstrated an integrated treatment plan, combining medication with proper education and stress and lifestyle management, improves patient outcomes.
The owner of a Newmarket cleaning service and online wedding invitation site is feeling better by design, not drugs, thanks to the therapy.
A grateful Ms Roberts is paying her improved health forward as a passionate and outspoken volunteer champion of the program.
She speaks to the program’s new patients, serving as a living, tough-love-dispensing example that, while there is no cure for fibromyalgia, there is control and hope.
She shares her journey with a malady often met with skepticism and lack of empathy. Fibromyalgia, similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, has been deemed an invisible disability by many and, unfortunately, a fad disease.
The disorder many doctors dismiss as imagined is very real, said Ms Roberts, mother of a daughter, 10, and son, 3.
Ms Roberts entered the program hoping for a cure.
However, once she began participating, she realized she was the key to managing her pain.
“There is no magical pill,” she said. “It’s not just about speaking with your doctor, exercising, cutting back on stress and getting restful sleep. It’s everything combined together and only I had the power to control those things.”
The program consists of a series of weekly sessions led by the program’s team of rheumatologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, social worker and kinesiologist.
Major themes covered include medication options, exercise theory and techniques, lifestyle management and problem-solving skills needed for successful changes to attain empowerment, self-management and increased emotional well-being.
The program gave Ms Roberts the support she needed to gain her confidence and take her life back.
“I felt like I was part of a group of people who actually understood what I was going through,” she said.
As a program emissary, she shares her experiences with patients.
There’s no sugarcoating. There will be good days and bad, she tells people.
“They are at a fork in the road,” she said. “I tell them to make a decision. Accept it. Listen and take the advice and apply it to your life. It’s not easy, but you can take back control.
“As an ambassador to the program, I get excited for the patients because by being here, they’re on the right path.”
The above originally appeared here.
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