An Independent Supplement by MediaPlanet – The Chicago Tribune
In December 2011 the Chicago Tribune published a special MediaPlanet Supplement talking about chronic pain and asked the NFA’s founder, Lynne Matallana to talk about fibromyalgia and her passion to help people suffering with this life altering disease.Question: How has Lynne Matallana improved the quality of life for chronic pain patients?Answer: By dedicating her life to seeking out answers and raising awareness on the issue of chronic pain.
Yes, I am a fibromyalgia “patient”, yet more importantly, I am a human being. And though my fibromyalgia (FM) forces me on a daily basis to deal with a constellation of chronic symptoms that causes both physical and mental anguish, like millions of others with FM, I have to live with the fact that there are many people who give no credence to my condition, dismissing my suffering because they don’t understand it. So, after spending two years in bed not knowing what to do, I realized that I had to create a life that would mean learning to live well despite my chronic pain. Taking charge Pain is not new, so how could the medical community not accept my pain as real or help treat it as some- thing that truly existed? I couldn’t imagine a life where I was supposed to just quietly disappear. Like the women of my grandmother’s generation, whose complaints were dis- missed as one of those “middle-aged women’s things,” I valued life too much not to fight for a life of quality. And while most patients with FM do not have the opportunity to keep searching for answers, I had the emotional and financial support that allowed me to continue to seek out help. Though there were times when I began to lose faith, my pain urged me on, a constant reminder that there was no room for self-doubt. My pain was real, and it was some- thing that could not be ignored. This was an illness, not a punishment, so there had to be answers and people out there who did care. I just had to find them. During my long journey, two years and thirty-seven doctors later, I found my compassionate, open-minded, knowledgeable doctor, and I came to understand that my quality of life was going to be influenced by our doctor-patient relationship. I realized that it was going to take time to build this relationship and that we both had to make a commitment to working hard and doing our part as a team. I couldn’t have expectations that my doctor was going to cure me, and my doctor couldn’t expect me to not share my suffering with him. Pain that is not validated causes one to feel guilt, fear, and hopelessness, which in turn can even become disillusionment and depression. Fibromyalgia is not just a problem that affects a specific group of people. It is a health condition that touches the lives of millions of people every day. As a patient, I can live with an illness that causes pain, but I can’t live with the knowledge that others have dismissed this pain, and find it unworthy of their concern and acceptance.