My name is Ashley, I'm 18 years old, and am currently getting ready for college. I'm very happy that you're visiting my page.  I live with my mom, my dad, and my little brother in West Virginia. If you were to meet me, I bet you'd describe me as a caring person. I always try to consider the feelings of any situation. I'm happy when I play the piano, sing, spend time with my friends, chat on-line, go to church, travel with my band "T.O.F",  and spend time with my wonderful boyfriend Stephen. He makes me SMILE! There are times when it's tough to find that smile, though. Times that are quite challenging for me. 

I have a very painful disease called fibromyalgia, or Fibro for short, or even FMS. My case of FMS is very severe, but the strange thing is that you'd never know anything at all was wrong, just by looking at me. Believe me, lurking inside this healthy looking body is a core of pain. There are many tender areas on my body, and when they are touched they are incredibly painful. Most doctors think FMS is caused by mononucleosis or by an injury of some kind. Well, I once had mono, and when I was in 3rd grade, my mom and my brother and I were in a car and were hit head-on by someone who had been drinking. Maybe that's what brought on all of my problems. 

Besides the fibromyalgia, I have some problems with my stomach. The acid in my stomach doesn't stay where it belongs and backs up into my throat. This "reflux" burns my throat and makes me throw up. Not at all pleasant. I'll tell you, I was really discouraged for 3 whole years when my doctor kept telling me that my problems were "growing pains" and "all in my head". When I was 12, I was finally I diagnosed at a clinic in Ohio.

School is something that I used to really enjoy. I was on the honor roll as well as the cheerleading squad until 7th grade. That year things got really tough. I had to go on homebound schooling when I entered 8th grade. Now I'm a sophmore in high school and still receiving homebound education. I miss all of the "school" activities like dances and football games. People say that your high school years are the best ones of your life. But they are hard for me to enjoy, especially since I'm not in the thick of things anymore.

Since I've been out of school I've lost many of my "friends". Some of them believed I was making all this up for attention. Others just didn't want to have anything to do with me when I had to stop cheerleading. During this time, though, God sent me an angel. Really. And the funny thing is I've known her all my life. Stephanie and I had been friends, even doing a science project together when we were little, but we were never really close. When I got sick, her family would always be sending me cards and thoughtful gifts. Now I think of her more like a sister; a sister I can't live without, and she feels the same way. Always there, no matter what the situation. A shoulder to cry on. She always takes time to ask how I am feeling, and when I feel awful, she tells me she will "say a little prayer for me." To me, that means a lot. She sticks with me and helps me through...thick or thin. 

I feel that as long as I have my mom, my grandma, Stephanie and God in my life, things will be ok. They are the best friends anyone could ever ask for. During the past few years I've learned to keep my faith in God. If you are having tough times, remember that you, like me, have been created special by God, who is always there for us. And that is good news! 

Thanks for visiting my page. 

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Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: November 16, 2004