What’s it really like to live with chronic illness every day? How do you deal with the physical symptoms, emotional turmoil and practical problems? In this interview series, real life ‘spoonies’ share their stories and tips.
PJ runs the motivational and inspirational website Pajama Daze for people with chronic illness, pain and fatigue. She’s currently writing her first book.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 61 years old, retired on disability. I earned a BS Ed and an MA in Communication, am a Certified (PA) Holistic Health Educator, and was a Fellow of the PA Rural Leadership Program. In my previous life I worked in radio and television in both advertising and documentary production. I’ve worked in a couple of independent films, as well having published various pieces of freelance writing and photography. I also worked in community health education for several years.
I am currently writing my first book based on my website Pajama Daze for people with chronic illness. I’m also doing what I can to save pollinators through local projects and my website Posies for Pollinators.
I’ve had asthma all my life, arthritis and minor subluxations at various sites for much of my life, uterine cancer in 2002, three mild heart attacks in 2005, and another in 2008, caused by vascular spasms. It was discovered in 2010 that I have an uncommon disease called Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD), which causes abnormal cell growth in my carotid, vertebral and renal arteries, as well as other problems with connective tissue. I suffered with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 10 years after my heart attacks, but went into remission last summer, thankfully.
When did you first get sick?
I first became noticeably symptomatic with FMD in my mid-30’s, though it would be more than 20 years before I was diagnosed. I suffered from severe, debilitating migraines and dizzy spells which, thankfully, have become less prolonged and severe, but still crop up from time to time.