Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writing With Fibromyalgia by Jemima Valentino

Book lovers and readers, please welcome my fellow indie author and friend, Jemima Valentino, author of The House on Hundred Hill.

In April 2010, after nearly 3 years of a relentless quest for answers, I was finally diagnosed with a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia. You may wonder what this has to do with my current blog tour to celebrate the release of my latest novella, The House on Hundred Hill. Don’t fret; I’ll come to that in just a second.

About 6 months after the birth of my youngest daughter Megan, who is now 5 years old (or 5 and a half if you were to ask her - half years are so important to children), I began to feel aches and pains all over my body: my neck, back, wrists, elbows, and especially my hips, pelvis and sciatic nerve were causing me periods of crippling agony. After several MRI’s, bone scans, x-rays, blood tests and trips to the hospital in an ambulance because my legs had given way and caused me to collapse to the floor, I was finally sent to see a rheumatologist.

During this time in my life I actually felt as if the doctors were simply not taking me seriously. I even thought at one stage, because they could not find a cause to my pain, that I was making it all up. But the pain was more real than I can ever describe, and taking pain killing off-the-shelf medication was simply not enough. My husband was beside himself with worry, and I was trying to hold down my full time management job, as well as bringing up our two young daughters. It was the not knowing what was wrong with me that was starting to kill our family from the inside out.

Then, following my appointment with the rheumatologist, I finally received the answer. For those that don’t know about this condition, Fibromyalgia is a lifelong widespread musculoskeletal pain and chronic fatigue syndrome that affects approximately 18 ‘tender’ points throughout the body, which, during a major attack or ‘flare’, can make you feel as if your whole body is on fire. It also causes enormous weakness in your arms and legs. A flare can affect practically any part of the body and leaves you incredibly tired and unable to move without pain. It also causes lack of concentration and focus and for some (including me) a form of dyslexia, especially during what I have come to nickname ‘bad pain days’.

So what has all this got to do with my budding career as an author? Well, after the diagnosis, I finally began to learn how to manage my symptoms, and become more in tune with my own body. I now know when a flare is coming and can help myself prepare for it. During these times, writing can be impossible. It’s incredibly frustrating, but the dyslexia and foggy brain brought on by the fibro flare can of course make it nearly impossible to use a keyboard, let alone hold a pen.

In June of this year, I finally made the decision to give up my full time job as my health made it intolerable to continue the full on and demanding position that I was employed to do. I have reverted back to my prior career, working with people in a period of career transition, and this enables me to work from home as a freelancer. However, it does involve a lot of time writing.

Just as I was trying to figure out a solution to my ‘unable-to-write-due-to-crippling-pain-days’, something struck me. I had heard of a great piece of voice recognition software called Dragon. After a little investigation, I purchased a copy and it’s changed my life as a writer. After a few weeks of training the software to recognise my accent and the way that I annunciate certain words, Dragon now writes to my laptop screen what I physically can’t on those days where my wrists simply won’t co-operate. Some may call it cheating, but the story ideas and the words still come from my head, but yes, it’s true, sometimes I don’t actually write them. My Dragon does it for me.

I guess if this story has a moral, it’s very simple. Don’t give up. Ever. Even when life chucks you a hand grenade, if you have your sights set on a career as an author, freelance writer or artist of any kind, there is absolutely nothing that should stop you from achieving your dreams. There are so many disabled artists that have had an impact on the lives of others - Beethoven, Stevie Wonder and Stephen Hawking to name just a few! Make sure you can add your name to your own list of heroes.  
Lastly, I would just like to thank Jeff for having me on his awesome blog today as part of the tour for The House on Hundred Hill, and thank you for taking the time to read.
Jemima x

Please show Jemima some indie author love and visit her other blog stops
Check out her super cool website.
Click here to purchase ~~> The House on Hundred Hill. 


  1. A very inspiring story. I've heard of Dragon, glad it has helped you out!

  2. Hi Ciara

    Thank you for your kind comment, I really appreciate it. Dragon is awesome! I now simply couldn't live without it.

    J x

  3. Thank Jemima for sharing this that program sounds like it would be very helpful.

  4. hi Jemima! you told me about Fibromyalgia when we first started corresponding and i'm really glad to know that you found a program to help you with your writing. thanks for sharing and for inspiring me not to give up on my dreams as well. c",)

  5. Hi Sheilagh and AO, thanks for the comments- if you get a chance to try out Dragon, you really should. It's awesome!

    J x

  6. Thanks for being a part of the bomb, Jemima. So glad you have tried to remain positive and to go after your dreams despite your pain. I truly wish you the best.


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