Jennifer’s Fibromyalgia Story

If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.
– Michael Jackson

***

Hi there.

I’m so glad you’re here, because I’ve been waiting for you. I’ve put the kettle on, so make yourself comfy and I’ll tell you why I — and we — are here.

The idea for this site was born when I decided to step out from behind the bravado of the dynamic entrepreneur and reveal to the world that I had fibromyalgia, a chronic illness with which I had been battling for a decade. The meds weren’t working anymore, and my life and health were in a downward spiral. So I came out of the closet. I had no idea there were so many people standing next to me, however, hiding in the darkness. Soon the e-mails and direct messages were pouring in from people also suffering in silence — some of whom I’ve known for years — who didn’t know where to turn to ease their aches, their emotions — and their wellness.

Something had to be done. Luckily, my doctor showed up from that blog post, and started me on a road to holistic healing, where we could get my system back in order. I went gluten-free and dairy-free to see how my body would react. It was happy. Soon I was learning more about adrenal fatigue, and how chronic stress damages the glands we need for survival.

I surrounded myself with a team of people who could provide insights and answers, because I knew that the information needed to be shared. And I brought them here to help me help you. I don’t want one single person who is in pain or facing a chronic illness to be left behind because they can’t find answers that aren’t rooted in medications with horrible side effects (I had insomnia for 6 months, and cankles from a swollen body, so I feel you).

Here, we are looking at things holistically — and with some tough love. So many chronic conditions can be managed from a holistic point of view, where we take body, mind and spirit into consideration and train them to act in harmony. But it’s up to you. We can provide the how and the what, but you need to decide the when and the why. Are you ready to feel better? If so, come on in. We’re happy to have you.

Jennifer Iannolo
Founder & CEO
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Post image for Why I’ve Chosen to Become a Leader Against Pain

I recently received a note from the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) asking leaders to throw their hats in the ring to be considered for training as an advocate.

The letter was timely, as I’ve just begun looking at fibromyalgia and what I want to say about it going forward. Zenfully Delicious was initially created as a safe haven, where we could vent, explore and put everything on the table; at the time, however, my motives were slightly different. Several years ago, my main focus was to come to grips with my illness and survive the process, and sharing that was cathartic for me. Coming from there, however, I soon became tired of talking about it, and found that so much of the conversation out in the wild is negative and depressing. Since I preferred not to center my entire life around my condition, I just wanted to get on with the rest of my life.

So I went back to my professional life, worked with a startup, created a couple of new ventures of my own, and was really on a roll. My condition is a continuous thing to manage, but it was just there. Then I had a conversation with a friend who also manages a lot of pain in her own body, including lupus and other autoimmune issues. “Jennifer,” she said in her adorable Texan drawl, “I implore you not to stop talking about this. You have been such an inspiration to me, and the world needs to hear from you because you’re saying what other people aren’t. And you’re doing all of this without medication. I don’t know how you do it. Please do not stop talking about this.”

How does one say no to a request like that? I’m in tears just writing about it, because the notes I’ve received over the past few years have sometimes taken my breath away. The thought of someone suffering through pain, hopeless and thinking there are no other alternatives, is not OK with my soul. Or on my planet.

So I threw my hat back in the ring, and am delighted to announce that I was given a scholarship to attend NFCPA’s advocacy training camp in Salt Lake City, UT later this month. After several intensive days with experts in research, advocacy and media training, I will be certified as a Leader Against Pain and will create an initiative for the coming year.

The conversation to be had about fibromyalgia is massive, especially when it comes to treatment, and while I could sit here in my own world and make it work for myself, that doesn’t do much for others in my shoes. As someone who can make a difference, with advocacy training I can take that even further. I’m looking at you, Washington, DC.

And so begins a new era in my fibromyalgia life. As this is the second decade, that makes good sense. I feel incredibly honored to be a part of this, particularly given all the work NFMCPA founder Jan Chambers has done to make this a national conversation of great importance. If those of us who can speak up do not, we leave our futures in the hands of someone else; and given the state of our health care industry, that’s not OK with me, either.

Game on.

P.S. I’m still running my other new ventures and projects, too. Because I say that with this condition, you can still have it all. See more on the boot camp I’m taking on for myself to make that a reality.

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