danvance_120If really into knitting, you probably have heard of 49-year-old Annie Modesitt, who has a popular knitting blog that goes by the name of "The Knitting Heretic." She and her husband both have been dealing with disabilities. His has been caused by multiple myeloma, which you will learn about next week. Hers is caused by fibromyalgia, which the National Institutes of Health defines as a "common condition characterized by long-term, body-wide pain and tender points in joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues." Its cause is unknown.

Modesitt began knitting in 1986 when a friend in Texas gave her yarn and needles. Eventually, she moved back to New York and began designing hand-knit sweaters for magazines. Today, as an acclaimed knitting writer and instructor, she teaches throughout the world. She has been writing online about eight years and perhaps ten thousand people weekly visit her blog.

Said Modesitt in a telephone interview, "I began noticing I had a lot of pain in my legs and joints a couple years ago and just thought it was from exhaustion. We had just moved to Minnesota, my husband had just been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and I was doing more physical work around the house because he wasn't able."

Last October, she was a featured speaker at a major New York knitting show and working under particularly stressful conditions. Afterwards, she ended up in bed for weeks with what she called a "major flare-up," and was almost unable to move.

"At first, I thought I had a really bad flu," she said. "My doctor tested me for lupus and mono and then for Lyme disease, which I'd had in 1991."

During one visit, her doctor did a pressure-point test to diagnose fibromyalgia. "I had a friend with fibromyalgia twelve years ago and knew how serious it could be," she said. "When my doctor did the test on my legs, shoulders and back, it was scary how he'd touch one part of my leg and I'd scream in agony."

Her pain has gone down, she said, due in part to doctor-recommended diet alterations and help from a chiropractor and acupuncturist. Through it all, people visiting her popular blog have emailed in their personal experiences with fibromyalgia.

Next week, learn about her husband's disability caused by multiple myeloma, which is a cancer in bone marrow plasma cells.

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