About Kirsten

Hey Y’all!KA Milan Duomo

I’m not from the South but live here now and this is one thing (among many) Southerners do so well. No other greeting makes you feel quite so warm and fuzzy. And you can’t help but say it with a smile. I’m Kirsten Ambrose.

Welcome to the Fibromyalgia Companion! Thanks for checking it out. I truly hope you get some useful information from it, some tidbit that makes your life a little easier. There’s so much great information out there about fibromyalgia (and even more not-so-great information!) that might not make it to you or that might make you scratch your head or want to ask a question. Hopefully, this site can alleviate your itches through current and landmark research findings about fibromyalgia and related chronic pain conditions, trends in care, expert opinions, and real life experiences from people like you and me. If knowledge is power, then I hope you’ll feel a little mightier after spending a few minutes here.

But, you may wonder, who the heck am I to have all this information in my back pocket?

I’m no one in particular, really. I just know where to look and who to ask. Technically, I have a BA in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University, an MS in Exercise Science from The George Washington University and over 15 years of experience in three major academic research centers studying chronic pain, with emphases on fibromyalgia, temporomandibular disorders and irritable bowel syndrome, and of course, the many comorbidities like vulvodynia, migraine and tension headache, Gulf War Syndrome, and chronic fatigue to name a few. I’ve contributed to a bunch of publications in the field whether by conducting the studies with our loyal and wonderful participants or by obtaining and managing grant funding or by writing/editing/submitting manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals, an online medical education site, and patient advocacy magazines.  Check out this post for a few more details about my career and experience.

No really, why do this?

Because I care. (Together now…aww.) No really, I get it. I fully believe that chronic pain is real and that at times, it’s ugly. I get that people struggle everyday and that some health care providers don’t always “provide.” For fibromyalgia, specifically, there is no cure and current medications are mediocre at best, working reasonably for some and not at all for others, to say nothing of side effects. I get that therapies like exercise, behavior changes and the like are not only difficult to perform regularly but are extremely difficult to start doing, period. Even when you do “all the right things” you still have pain and struggle to cope. This is not the prettiest of pictures and people who have pain are often left without good support or resources. As I said, I think there’s a lot of great information that doesn’t make it to the people who need it most. And when information does make it to you, it can often be confusing.

My hope is that this blog will be a conduit for evidence-based (well-researched) information about fibromyalgia and related chronic pain conditions, pharmacotherapy and alternative therapies, discussion, support, and really anything else we feel like addressing; that it will be a place for you, me, and everybody else to learn and grow together.

Enough about work…

I know, work always gets in the way. Outside of work, you will find me on a boat (though admittedly, I will work from the boat as often as possible. It’s very peaceful.) A sailboat, usually, though it could be a powerboat or dinghy depending on the wind and the mission.

You’ll also find me at the gym. I love to exercise. Really, I do. Weights are my thing. I am a believer that exercise is the single best thing everyone can do for themselves on the planet. Ever. And there are a lot of things you can do on the planet.

Wanna know a little secret?

I feel like a complete fish out of water in this world of science I find myself everyday. I didn’t plan to go down this path, it just happened. After grad school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do; but while my head was in the clouds wanting to travel and lead bike tours around the world, my feet were stuck in the hole that used to have some semblance of bank account in it and my first student loan bill that blew in on the breeze. (Durn you, Reality!) So I fell into my first job as a research assistant studying fibromyalgia and ran with it. It turned out to be a good choice on many levels, but in my heart, I am a little too free spirited for it. So, I maintain sanity with alternating doses of ballet, pottery, writing, and being on the water.

Anything else you want to know? Just ask! Drop me a line, send me your feedback. Your comments, concerns, latest greatest home remedy, hilariously frustrating experience, you name it.

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    8 Comments


    1. Kirsten

      Thank you for the article that clarified that the NFA and the NFMCPA are two separate entities. I look forward to reading your posts that will help to empower those searching for the knowledge they need to manage fibromyalgia, overlapping conditions, pain and other ongoing medical challenges.

      Cindy Sharp

    2. Kirsten. Please change “were” to “are” in my comment. Thank you so much!

      • Hi Cindy. Great to hear from you! Yes, they are separate entities, but in reference to your “are” vs. “were”, you could really go either way, I’m afraid. Aside from merging key programs with the NFMCPA, it doesn’t appear that the NFA will re-emerge as it once was. Lynn Matallana had a great team of people working tirelessly to advocate for FM so this is unfortunate; however, the NFMCPA has really grabbed the reins and done a great job of continuing the NFA’s advocacy mission within its own program and taken it to the next level, so kudos to the NFMCPA! It’s hugely important to keep this sort of advocacy, education and support for patients going strong.

    3. Hi Kirsten,

      I have recently started FCK: a directory of Bloggers who educate, support, enlighten, inform, inspire and motivate people about and with Fibromyalgia (http://fibromodem.com/?page_id=1857).

      I would really like to include your blog.

      Please have a look at the information for Bloggers (http://fibromodem.com/?page_id=1859) on my site and, if you would like to be included, please follow the directions and then email me.

      I hope you choose to be part of this new project.

      • Hi FibroModem! Thanks for stopping by and for the invite, of sorts, to your directory! I took a quick look already and was definitely intrigued – in addition to the directory being a good resource for people, you’ve got some great information on your site. I’ve just gotten started recently, myself, so it’s good to know you’re there! See you on your side.
        kirsten

    4. Tomorrow (Australian Time – sorry!), I will be nominating you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award…Congratulations. As with all these awards, there are rules before acceptance – please check out tomorrow’s post (http://fibromodem.com/?p=10116) to see what is required.

    5. Hi Kirsten – I just checked out your site, and I was so inspired by your commitment to helping people with fibro! I have a different condition, Myasthenia Gravis, and I’ve loved seeing all of the support that’s available now for people fighting chronic conditions, there wasn’t anything like it when I was diagnosed 18 years ago.

      The reason I’m reaching out is that I just started a small business that offers really high quality and stylish keychain pill holders for people that need their medicine with them all the time. I have to have mine on hand, and I found that most of the options out there were pretty cheap and junky.

      I’m just starting to promote my site, and I was wondering if you’d be willing to take a look at my site and potentially link back to it?

      Either way, I love what you’re doing, and good luck!

      Thanks for your time,

      Chris

      • Thanks for visiting, Chris! I appreciate your comments and your story! I, for one, go the extra mile to find things I use every day that also make me smile when I use them because they look pretty while they’re doing whatever job they’re supposed to do. Just the other day my new hubby and I rented bikes in Ocracoke, NC, over the 4th of July and I *had* to pick the one with the purple basket because no other bike made me quite the same kind of happy. You know. So I love the idea that something as simple and functional as a pill holder could be so much better. I can’t be the only one… Good luck to you! I’ll give you a nod over on my facebook page.
        kirsten

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