Monday, March 16, 2009

Mom, A Role Model of Strength and Determination

My mom has fibromyalgia. She has had it for years. Like rheumatoid arthritis, many mornings are difficult for her to get out of bed. Like rheumatoid arthritis, she fights pain throughout much of the day. Like rheumatoid arthritis, it drains every bit of the energy she has.

What is remarkable about my mom is that even though she fights fibromyalgia on a daily basis, she doesn't let it stop her from living her dreams. After working as a RN, a director and parish nurse for over 40 years for a hospital in Kansas, my mom was laid off. For many, this would have been detrimental. Not so for my mom. She ignored the age issue and the physical limitations and followed her strong belief in the work of parish nurses to create Kansas Parish Nurse Ministry where among many things, she puts in tons of hours organizing an annual conference for parish nurses.

Instead of letting fibromyalgia get in the way of life, my mom had a beautiful house built for herself, she volunteers many hours of her time a week, and in the last year she has spent her time and energy with an elderly friend during his last days.

My mom has had a dream of traveling ever since she was a little girl. Rather than feel sorry for herself or worry that she may not be able to keep up with everyone at all times, she has gone on several trips abroad. Right now she is on a pilgrimage to Turkey and Greece.

My mom is a remarkable woman. She has spent her adult life caring for six children, patients in hospitals, and many friends. She has a heart of gold that keeps giving. She also has determination. Many days are a challenge for her physically and mentally. Like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia can rob you of your self esteem and worth. There are many times my mom can visualize her body doing more than it already is. Yet, she doesn't let that stop her from living life to its fullest.

I don't know if it is the caring nature of my mom or that because of her fibromyalgia she understands very well the ups and downs of my rheumatoid arthritis, but I often get emails or phone messages from her just letting me know that she is thinking about me and that she loves me. She checks in on me often and has been supportive of all the choices I have made along this journey with rheumatoid arthritis and life in general. I feel lucky to not only have her continued support but to have her continued determination to see life as beautiful with endless possibilities as my guide in life.