Finding Purpose with Chronic Pain & Link-Up

Finding PUrpose

I’ve been struggling with chronic pain for nearly 10 years. Finding purpose is key to having a fulfilled life in the midst of pain.

One of the good things about that is connecting with so many wonderful chronic pain warriors. We have such a wonderful support community online.

One of those places is the Diamonds Conference where I met Paula Short. She recognized my blog and knew she had read some of my posts in the past. Now she knew where to find me! So she jumped right over to the blog and signed up for the newsletter. I have asked her to share a bit about her life with chronic pain and how she found new purpose.


Legacy Link up Time! Finding Purpose through trials. Click To Tweet
curleque by Coffee at pixabay
PAula Short interview finding purpose
photo provide by Paula

1. Share the short story of your chronic pain journey. What is your diagnosis? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.

Paula: I distinctly remember sitting on my mom’s bed crying because my legs hurt. That was at age 9. I could never go outside and play long because I had to come in and lay down because of the pain in my legs. My parents took me to the doctor and were told it was growing pains, my parents were told then that I had anxiety. Well, the pain never stopped, it stayed with me as I aged. Then in my teen years, my pain was spreading to other areas of my body. I began getting headaches at around age 4 and having chronic diarrhea since childhood. Of course, the doctors did not say it was IBS but just a nervous stomach. I still have belly pain and IBS today, even though I take medication for it.

I spent my 20’s going from doctor to doctor each area of illness required me to see different doctors. Finally, I was diagnosed with migraines, IBS, TMJ, and at the time MS. Fast forward to my 40’s. I was then diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, degenerative joints disease, and chronic pain. Finally, in 2016 MS was ruled out as a misdiagnosis, and then I got the fibromyalgia diagnosis. I also got my diagnosis of Complicated migraines while some people get auras, I get stroke symptoms. I am told it is a rare type of migraine. It was in 2016 that I had to retire, early at the age of 45.

Losing Purpose

I was devastated to have to leave my beloved Social Work. I felt like I lost my purpose. The constant pain and daily migraines (that cause me cognitive issues) had taken over. In addition to being in pain all the time. I am always in some state of migraine; my baseline pain level is 3 during the days but can rise to an 8. Balance and mobility issues, as well as, the dreaded fatigue and fog have been an issue, causing me to be labeled a fall risk.

So Much Chronic Pain

I don’t remember what it feels like to have no pain. I can’t forget to add in I see a psychiatrist for severe anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. After three years of therapy, I phased out of counseling in August of 2019.

 Grieving and then on to acceptance. I continue with medication management now. Everything seems to get worse as I age. I take a lot of medication and prednisone is my friend. 

I don't remember what it feels like to NOT have pain. #chronicillness #fibro Click To Tweet

2. Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get Stronger?

PAULA: While I had grown up in a Christian home and followed Jesus all my life. Looking back, I see that I was a lukewarm Christian for a lot of my adult life. It was during my 30’s that my faith began to grow. It wasn’t until my 40’s that my faith began to develop into a relationship with God. I found and still do that during my worst times it leads me to draw nearer to God. It was during self-isolation and not wanting to go out of my house that I suddenly had an awakening if you will, I had to surrender not only my illnesses but my life to him. I said,

 “God, I can’t do this on my own, every time I tried, I failed. May your will be done.” 

I am a work in progress

3. Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?

PAULA: No. I really can’t pinpoint a specific event that was a turning point along my way. The best way I can describe it is since it has been a long journey, I continue to be a work in progress. If anything, this journey had led me to have a relationship with Christ. Emphasis on “relationship

4. What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey? Why?

PAULA: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV).

 Although Jesus has not removed my physical condition his power is displayed in my weakness. It reminds me to trust and rely on God instead of myself, admitting my weakness affirms God’s strength. 

Another Scripture that I rest in is Isaiah 40:31, NIV. It gives me hope and reminds me that his promise of strength will help me rise above life’s distractions and difficulties. 

5. How do you find comfort on especially painful days?

PAULA: I remember that God is omnipresent, He is always with me day and night throughout my journey of this thing called life and illness. It brings me great comfort in knowing that. Also, I love listening to Christian music such as K-Love radio. It leads me to sing praises and worship him despite the pain. And thankfully, I am uplifted.

I love to read and prefer reading over TV, and I get creative by Bible faith bullet journaling. 

I also find great comfort in my friend that Jesus blessed me with to journey with me, my ESA dog’s a little beagle named Little. 

6. What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?

PAULA: Well, that depends. My family and friends have not read about my chronic illness to educate themselves on how my fibromyalgia can affect my body and cognition. When I try to tell them how it affects me, sometimes, they listen and sometimes they dismiss or marginalize me.

They do, however, know how my complicated migraines affect me and are receptive towards me through those. Someone always goes with me to my neurologist appointments, so they hear what the doctor has to say. They are accommodating and compassionate when my migraines escalate.

My family and friends do not understand how #chronicpain, #fatigue, and #fibrofog affect me.   Click To Tweet

7. Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this.

PAULA: First, I need to tell you how God gave me my purpose back. If you recall above, I said I felt like I lost my purpose when I had to retire early from my beloved Social Work. I had been thinking of blogging for a long time, my heart was, and is convicted, in sharing more Jesus.

I kept feeling a tugging. Like God was calling me for something. But at the time I couldn’t recognize for what. Then when I did, I resisted saying “But God I’m not a writer.” Well, he had plans for me, and here I am writing hence Simply Chasing Jesus was born in November of 2019.

created by Mandy in

My new purpose was sharing him. Then I began to feel that tug again, still to blog. This time Simply Coffee and Jesus were born in September of 2020. This is where I began to hone in and write more specifically on chronic illness among other new topics for me. I never considered my blogs my ministry, but pausing and reflecting on it, it really is my ministry to help others and share Jesus’ good news. 

8. Offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for purpose in their own chronic pain journey.

Dear friends, living with any chronic illness is rough. I know there are days when you are wondering how you’re going to make it through. I know there are days when you simply can’t function. I get it. Whether you are newly diagnosed with a chronic illness or have been a long-time warrior, educate yourself. 

Try your best to educate friends and family. Some may not understand nor want to understand and that’s okay too. There are many great websites out there about living with chronic pain and illnesses. It was just recently that I was able to connect with other Christian bloggers who have and write about chronic pain and illnesses. So, you see, it may have taken me a while to find fellowship and community with others who understand but I finally did.

Friend, there are others out there, we are out there for you. We support you; we care. You are not your chronic illness you are not your chronic pain. God chose you and called you by name. Keep digging deep into God’s word. All Scripture is God-breathed from beginning to end. The answers, comfort, and hope are there in Him. The Psalms are filled with every emotion and lament you may have. God breathed hope from beginning to end. Dearest friends pray to him with honest abandon.

 God’s got this!

God’s got you.  


Thank you, Paula for this encouraging interview. Though I don’t have as many diagnosis, I could relate to so much of your journey. Especially the “I can’t write”. But God has a great sense of humor doesn’t he?

It’s Your Turn

legacy link-ups
Share your own post about finding purpose. (Not neccesarily though chronic pain)

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Fibro and Finances

Fibro Friend ~ How Are Your Finances Holding Out?

Are your Finances holding out?

This is a question that most friends and family never think to ask, “How are your finances?” It’s a little personal and maybe that is why no one asks but the truth is that sickness can take a big toll on anyone’s finances no matter how much insurance you have. Not only does the patient lose work time but also the spouse or caregiver. I am told that sickness is the number one reason people file for bankruptcy. (See this article at CNBC)

My friend, Colleen Sullivan knows about the challenges in finance due to her own journey with fibromyalgia. I met Colleen through the Christian Chronic Illness Network. She has offered to share her struggles with staying afloat and the lessons learned.

curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Dear Fibro Friends;

Finanaces and Chronic Pain
image created in Canva photo provided by Colleen Sullivan

I keep thinking about what I wished I’d known about the landmines I was about to walk through after I realized I could no longer work and finally had to apply for disability due to fibromyalgia and all of its friends. 

I’ve had fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome since 1995. I managed to work until 2010. During that time frame, I developed a host of chronic illnesses and medical problems. My internist blamed much of it on fibromyalgia. I had an arthroscopy, a total hip replacement, a laminectomy for sciatica after I started to drag my leg. Stomach issues. Phlebitis. That’s the short list. Oh, and I’m an RN. 

Medical Leave

I had been in and out of my employee relations office with medical leave many times. Honestly, I have to say, I didn’t fully understand my rights because I never took the time to truly read the fine print. I never really questioned what I was told. Questions should have been asked. I was, I think, politely pressured to return to work as soon as possible after each medical leave. That’s their job, to get the employee back to work. And I wanted to be a good employee. My job though was to take care of myself. Nurses are notoriously better at taking care of everyone else but themselves.  

Medical Leave – I should have asked questions. Click To Tweet


I’d actually qualified for disability for many years but didn’t want to leave the job I loved. I just didn’t. But after an infection left me with lymphedema and Reflexive Sympathetic Dystrophy in my leg with the hip replacement, I couldn’t manage both fibromyalgia and the leg pain. I was in so much pain, I was afraid it would start to affect my job. A risk I could not take. Since I was over 56, I decided to take early retirement disability. I did so without researching the best way to do so. In hindsight, I should have gone to my local social security office before I resigned. 

I should have visited the Social Security Office before taking early disibility retirement, #disability #chronicillness Click To Tweet

I was assisted with my disability application by my benefits agency. I was fortunate to have them help me fill out the forms but I was initially denied. It was then suggested I get a Functional Capacity Test. I failed it completely. I got my disability on the second try, with an apology and back benefits.  

Looking back, the employer’s goal is to get the employee working and minimize company costs. A third party, such as a trusted friend or lawyer, might have been a better choice. In a great deal of pain, living off minimal state disability benefits and credit cards; I was not able to really fend for myself. I inadvertently confided in someone I thought a friend. It seems so simple now to know to be careful who you give detailed personal information to.  I wasn’t really thinking clearly due to how initially ill I was and didn’t realize it at the time. 

Paying Bills

money issues finances

Taking money out of my 401K to pay off medical bills and credit cards wasn’t a good idea either. I later found out I could have borrowed against my retirement account before I resigned with a great deal less penalty. I also could have gone to an agency such as Consumer Credit Counseling to arrange payments with less interest and fewer penalties. As a single woman with a long history of medical expenses, even with good insurance, I didn’t exactly have a backup plan for finances. 

Things you should do before making financial decisions with #chronicillness #longtermillness Click To Tweet

I also didn’t keep very good track of my medical records. Now I know that when I feel like I’m not remembering things, I’m probably not and I am in a ‘fibro fog.’  Had I kept better track of my records and monitored what was being written down, my application process would have been much easier. I now get records of my complete hospital stay, especially any doctor’s notes. I make sure they reflect what actually happened and are not just the doctor’s opinion of what happened.

Write down the results of every doctor’s visit and track symptoms. I can not say how much I wish I had done this before I applied for disability. A miswritten ‘return to work note’ made things very difficult on the first application. This is why third-party help would have been of great benefit. 

Where to Spend Your Money

The cost of fibromyalgia and all of its friends continues. Insurance doesn’t really cover what works. I have acupuncture up to 4 times a month. Take the necessary supplements. I’m blessed to have found self-hypnosis and self-Reiki for pain control. Sometimes I still need a prescription for pain medication. But getting to this point was not easy. 

I wasted money on specialists that really didn’t help. In my case, I could have skipped the allergist. The most worthwhile expense was going to a well-known nutritionist. Turned out the nutritionist figured out my allergies by my symptoms. I have tried so-called chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia specialists, gym memberships, personal fitness trainers, food and supplement programs, and the like. None have really helped in the long run. Simple walking has done the best. Basic nutritional guidelines, such as sugar and gluten-free like the nutritionist first recommended has helped the most. There are no quick fixes. But I’ve sure tried to find them!! Save your money! 

In Conclusion

I’ve often wondered why I was so trusting and, to be very honest, wasted time and money on quick fixes. Perhaps it’s because I was so very ill and just wanted things to go back the way they were. Maybe it’s because I was grieving the loss of my health and my job. Or maybe it was God teaching me a lesson. The reasons are less important now. 

I feel blessed to be where I am now because of all I’ve gone through. Despite everything, the past five years have been very good. I still miss my job. I still have too much pain. Now I have COPD with my asthma (never smoked.) Yet, I still feel blessed beyond measure. I have learned to appreciate life more than ever before.

What I wish I had Known About #Fibro and #disability Click To Tweet

Your Fibro Friend,

Colleen Sullivan

curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Thank you, Colleen, for your openness about finances. I could really relate to many of your obstacles. We made many of the same mistakes you did and lost our shirts in the meantime. I was fortunate to have a friend who worked for a disability attorney. She pushed us until we decided to apply for disability and then walked us through the process.  And that has been the best decision we ever made. I would not have the medical care these past 8 years had I not been on disability.

Mandy Farmer

Fibromyalgia ~ Physical Therapy & Exercise

This week’s guest is Sarah LaDow, the Fibro Butterfly. She’ll be sharing about physical therapy and exercise. She just started her own blog to help awareness of Fibromyalgia, MCS, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. She has found like many of us with a chronic illness that the chronic illness blogging community is so uplifting and encouraging. That is how we recently met, through Chronic Illness bloggers

She lives in Northern Indiana and works online because of Fibromyalgia and MCS. She has suffered from Fibromyalgia all of her life and with MCS and Rheumatoid Arthritis for the last 10 years or so.

Before becoming ill, she was a university professor teaching several courses online, but can no longer concentrate well enough to continue. She has no regrets – just moving her talents into other channels, like blogging.

Continue on to read her letter to explain how physical therapy and exercise are a part of her fibro life.

curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Hello, My friend,

the Fibro Butterfly on physical therapy and exercise
photo provided by Sarah

When I first became incredibly ill with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), I was told to avoid any and all contacts that might expose me to more perfume. I spent the year grieving in bed, and while I did, Fibromyalgia slithered into my muscles, stroked my brain, and stained my body. I suspect I’ve had Fibromyalgia since I was a young child, but I’d never fed it quite so well as a year in bed. It grew into a giant python within my body.


Getting a Diagnosis

When I confessed how I was feeling to my internist, I was lucky because he had suspected Fibro for a long time–we did the testing, and voila! I know many victims of Fibro wait years for a diagnosis, never knowing what is destroying them. And in a sense, I did too, since I’d never broached the topic with my internist. We also discovered that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis–the weights just kept coming!

We began trying medicines, but he insisted that I must also move those muscles. Come to find out, pretty much every physician on the planet wants those who have Fibro to exercise. Thus began my love/hate relationship with exercise.

The snake wasn’t the only thing that grew during my year of grief. I had become way overweight; I’d never weighed so much in my entire life. I’m quite sure the Fibro and the meds added to this weight, but I wasn’t helping.

So, now I was weighed down with MCS, Fibro, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and overwhelming fatigue. Every step felt like I was moving through wet concrete. Everything exhausted me and doing anything hurt. I would actually cry at the thought of physical therapy (PT). But I started anyway. I began PT at the local hospital. I was pretty sure I had died and entered into physical education h___.

 Physical Therapy Hurts

Right away, they wanted me in the pool with a special class for those with Fibromyalgia. I suspected the chemicals would hurt me, but I tried it anyway. I’ve always loved being in the water. It was wonderful to exercise in the warm pool water, but after therapy, everything in my sinuses was inflamed and swollen–I received two weeks on prednisone with an admonition to never go near the pool again. I was devastated. For those who don’t suffer from smells, the water is an excellent place to begin exercising!

Thankfully, the physical therapist was not about to give up–she moved me to other types of exercises, such as the treadmill, the bike, weights, and stretch and balance class for those with Fibromyalgia.

Stretch and Balance Class

I’m not going to lie; the first time I participated in the stretch and balance class, it hurt. Badly. But I didn’t give up–I attend that class twice a week. After just a few weeks, I was moving fluidly and not moaning in pain every time I moved.

On the days when I wasn’t in my assigned class, I walked on the treadmill and lifted weights (never anything above 20 pounds because if I did, I flared).

I’m happy to tell you that I have graduated from PT into what the therapist calls my “Guided Path”. I still do everything, but now no one is standing over me. All I have to do is check in once a month, and they weigh me, run blood tests, etc.

Losing Weight is Slow but Sure

I’m thrilled to tell you that I have lost some of the weight of Fibromyalgia–since I started last January, I have lost over 20 pounds. I am so proud of myself!

Flares still happen and sometimes time off from exercise becomes imminent, but I always go back as soon as I can. I find if I skip a day, my muscles know it and weigh me down with pain. I also still have to rest after working out, but this probably surprises no one. According to WebMD, exercise should lessen the fatigue of fibromyalgia. Sure, right. Hasn’t worked that way for me, but it might for you.

You don’t have to start with Physical Therapy– you can start exercising simply by walking around the block. Start with 10 minutes of walking–that’s what I did. I’ve now worked my way up to 45 minutes of walking. This isn’t the Olympics–start where you are and do what you can. Over time, you might find exercising helps you, too! Why not try it?

Your Loving Friend,

Sarah LaDow at The Last Days of Pompeii

Sarah's experience with Therapy and Exercise for Chronic Pain Click To Tweet
curleque by Coffee at pixabay


Don’t miss any of the “letters” we are writing. Check out previous letters and subscribe to this series on the main “Letters to Friends” page.  If you know someone with fibromyalgia (and you probably do), join my Facebook page Fibromyalgia, Is it For Real?

Why are you so tired?

Letters to Friends ~ Why Are You So Tired?

Just beyond the pain of fibromyalgia, fatigue is probably the biggest deterrent to life for the fibro warrior. This is not a good tired such as, after a hard day of working in the garden or boating at the lake. This tired stays with you. It’s there almost every morning when you rise, whether or not you slept during the night. It really doesn’t seem to matter how much you rest, this fatigue keeps you feeling zapped with no energy. It sticks around for afternoon tea and evening prayers.

This week, Winslow Dixon is writing to you about fatigue. 


curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Dear Loved One,

Thank you for being concerned enough to ask me questions about my health challenges. I hope this letter will help you understand me better.  

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