In late 2012, Erin was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition. The years since her diagnosis have involved a lot of patience, frustration, confusion, hope, and learning. Going on this journey with Ged is Erin's way of owning her body, while also documenting the ups and downs that a walk like this will present to her. She didn't get to this point quickly. The first year after diagnosis involved coming to terms with the reality of living with pain for the rest of her life. But the disappointment and frustration of that year led to the realization that fibro had the potential to over-run the way she approached everything, from seemingly simple tasks, like climbing a flight of stairs - now much more difficult than before - to how she handled her days, and months, and years. While still making reasonable accommodations for pain and and treating her body well, Erin began to change her mindset and push back against the lifestyle impacts of living with pain. She wanted to feel strong and vibrant again. So, she took a step and joined a sailing expedition; she knew that it would throw her into the elements and push her physically. And it did. It also put the wind back in her hair. A few months later, she took a step and walked a 5k, followed by a half marathon. The motion and distance reminded of her of what it felt like to run. It wasn't the same, but it was something, and that was much, much better than nothing.
Erin is hopeful that this journey, and the training it requires, will serve as the beginning of sustained motion. At times, losing her strength has caused her to long for the past; for a childhood spent playing myriad sports, and in recent years, walking, running, and cycling around cities. However, she knows she has a choice: nostalgia or transformation. So, she's moving forward and hopes to make herself stronger than she was before, in spite of fibro, and perhaps even because of it. With the journey will come pain, false starts, a necessary dose of stubbornness, and also, she's quite certain, a lot of joy. Despite the initial swelling in her body, Erin knows chronic pain is largely invisible to the world, and that has allowed her to stay relatively quiet about it. But over time, she's been inspired by others who have written publicly about their health experiences. Although it's still not easy, they give her the comfort to write. Erin hopes that if you can relate to living with chronic pain or a similar condition, then perhaps by reading about her journey, you'll feel a little less isolated. Or perhaps you'll feel inspired to push forward, even if the first step in your long journey is having someone help you up, out of a chair, to stand on the floor. It's important to keep going. She means it with all her heart when she says she'll be cheering you on.