My Story

Hey, I'm Ashley. I'm 30, I live in beautiful state of Colorado, and I've been happily married for 11 years to my goofy best friend. We have been through more ups and downs than probably most couples...

I say this because along with the intense ride that marriage itself is, chronic illness was not something we were remotely aware would affect our near future. They don't mention in your vows, (outside of "in sickness and in health") that sickness could be something that doesn't leave your side, and can enter your life at any age. Many couples typically encounter the sickness part much later in their life. But that is not every couple's experience. And it hasn't been ours...this in some aspects has brought us much closer together as a team and great supporters of each other. I'm aware of how beyond blessed I am, to have such a supportive partner, and a close family, to make it through these challenges.

 

 

I have several invisible illnesses, one of which started very young.

I found out I had stage IV endometriosis at the ripe ole age of 21. In this year of my life, I underwent surgery to remove extensive endometrial implants, it was extremely trying on my overall health to say the least. My recovery was much longer than expected. I gained 30+ lbs, was in immense pain every day, and had to quit work because of the pain. The trajectory of my life started to change. While many friends were out partying, going to college, making plans for the future, I didn't know what my tomorrow would ever look like...nonetheless change for the better.

Ever since then, my health and immunity declined. I gained the weight within those seven months because of a hormone treatment that induced menopause temporarily for about seven months. I ended up losing the weight, eventually... However, the adverse effects stuck with me. Joint pain, fatigue, imbalances were my normal day. 

The diagnosis that changed my life just as much, if not more, was fibromyalgia, in 2014. Because of unmanaged severe pain, I had to give up my career as a massage therapist after years of practicing an art I mastered and loved deeply. I waned back and forth, giving it up for a few months at a time, then going back to practice, only to realize it was going to happen. 

Things weren't going to happen at least, in the way that I had planned out.

Among these illnesses, I also ended up developing irritable bowel sydrome (IBS), among other GI issues, which are commonly co-occuring disorders as it goes with both fibro and endo. GI issues in and of themselves are a daily battle, dealing with food and drug hypersensitivities. I have suffered from chronic vertigo and unexplained neuropathies for years as well. 

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The silent stigma of fibromyalgia makes it difficult to find connections with others who struggle with these challenges, particularly when we are younger... 

And younger people are being diagnosed with these chronic illnesses more frequently, and without adequate direction or support...

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I believe that even though I (and maybe you too) face health challenges, they do not have to make up who I am entirely. Even though my illness defines and limits a lot of what my body does, it is not my whole identity and does limit my worth as a woman. 

Some of my hobbies include reading, writing, hiking and walks, although the latter two are shorter-lived these days. Recently, I have taken up swimming, which I find in the summer helps joint pain some. I am getting more into crafting and creating just about anything!

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On this blog, I will share my personal experience, and some of the strategies I enjoy for managing my chronic illnesses and finding joy, strength and support. 

 

sending "spoons", XOXO

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If you find yourself scratching your head in regard to what this "spoon/spoonie" stuff is, I highly recommend you read "The Spoon Theory", by Christine Miserandino, the blogger of butyoudontlooksick.com ...The Spoon Theory is a helpful analogy the author created while out to eat with her friend. Her friend wanted to better understand how her chronic illness, lupus affected her (the author) day to day. Using nearby utensils at empty tables, she proceeded to explain how her illness took more energy/effort/pain (spoons) to perform simple daily tasks that an otherwise healthy person may take for granted. This helpful analogy caught on and has been coined for use in the chronic/invisible illness community since to help other's understand our limitations.

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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and do not make any claims/assumptions that what works for me will work for you. This does not take the place of advice from a licensed medical doctor. I am however, a licensed massage therapist, and techniques I recommend, are used at your own risk and reasonable judgment (for pressures, etc.)* Make sure to talk with your doctor or health professional before trying any massage therapies*