DAILY LIVING & MOBILITY

How I'm Helping Others with Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Carissa Cordova

Passionate In Sweatpants

My name is Carissa, and I have been dancing and extremely active on a daily basis my entire life. After dancing for two years on my university dance team while pursuing a contemporary dance degree for three years, participated in half marathons, rock wall climbing, weight lifting, hiking, and working towards a bachelors degree in clinical exercise science; I was attacked by neurological and musculoskeletal pain. The pain was excruciating and unbearable. Swelling, fatigue, and constant pain became debilitating for me and no pain medications helped. I was at a loss in so many ways and had nowhere to turn. I reduced my physical activity by about 70%,  and took numerous tests while visiting many specialists. Finally, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia.

My boyfriend of 7 years (now fiancé) has taken on many roles to assist in my treatment, keeping my pain levels at a manageable level, improving my quality of life, and caring for our home with four doggies. After lots of research, I received my medical cannabis card, and have found it to be the most helpful regarding pain management. My Rheumatologist has removed all pain medications except medical cannabis, which has removed such a large portion of side effects that were making my daily life even more difficult.  Without movement I was reaching a depressive state of mental health followed by anxiety, and had no outlet. I'd always been a very positive person, always smiling and surrounded by sunflowers, so my fiancé knew it was very unlike me to fall into this dark place.

Every Obstacle is an Opportunity

I recently completed both bachelors degrees in contemporary dance and clinical exercise science. My entire life has been based upon my use of both brain hemispheres by finding the intellectual side of creativity. It wasn't long before I utilized my degrees for my own treatment as I am beginning to create yoga sequences that allow some movement, pain relief, blood flow, but all tending to the needs and pain of RA and Fibromyalgia. My diet is slowing moving into a possible state of veganism, but currently eating a flexiterian diet which has also assisted in reducing inflammation. Every effort has been a slow progression into a lifestyle that assists my movement and ability rather than hindering.  

Our four pitbulls give me so much love and comfort and have led me to painting on days when I was immobile, lying with them feeling so unproductive on a daily basis. My fiancé immediately purchased supplies for me as well as a stationary bike for low impact exercise. On a semi-daily basis, I ride the bike for 30 minutes, my fiance and I swim a few slow and relaxed laps at the pool, and I paint. We've planted a garden and now I've found such a new purpose in my life and though I have my low points and flare ups, I know that I'm in a much better place. We are working toward creating a program that is aimed at RA and Fibromyalgia by strengthening, stretching, and promoting bloodflow without having to sacrifice energy and pain to exercise.

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