Kristina Lum is a self-described go-getter. The former Mrs. Hawaii 2008-09 has danced ballet since the age of 6, performing in numerous competitions, pageants and private events. But after a bout of viral meningitis at age 24, Lum says things were never the same. She began suffering chronic episodes of immense pain, tension, migraine headaches and exhaustion. On her worst days, Lum describes the feeling as being “like someone was drilling in my legs, arms and back.”
Last year a bit of relief finally came in the form of a diagnosis. Lum was suffering from fibromyalgia, a pain disorder characterized by chronic, widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue and often psychological distress. Though a common syndrome, fibromyalgia is relatively unknown to most people, and Lum says she still comes across skeptics in the medical community. Which is why she has tirelessly worked with the city over this past year to designate May 12 as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day in Hawaii.
“I feel the more people become knowledgeable of fibromyalgia, the more supportive and understanding they will be,” says Lum, 30, who received the official proclamation Sept. 10 in a presentation at Honolulu Hale. “It has and continues to be a long road for fibromyalgia to find its place in health care and society, so it is a wonderful moment to have this day recognized in Hawaii. Hopefully it is the beginning of more positive things to come.”
Good things are coming, thanks to Lum - two new local fibromyalgia support groups for children and adults. The first meetings begin next month, and through flexible, monthly get-togethers, Lum hopes to educate others and bring much-needed attention to this complex disorder and its symptoms.
“I want these support groups to not only be a forum for people with fibromyalgia to share their experiences but to also have members of the community (doctors, message therapists, chiropractors, psychologists, etc.) come in and contribute their knowledge,” says Lum, who has a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Chaminade University. “It will be a positive place for people to gain support, know that they are not alone and feel empowered in determining what treatment modalities will work for them.”
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