Anna’s great grandparents and her grandparents were both avid supporters of the YMCA. They believed in the vision of a place people could go and regain their health, gain strength for their lives and share in a community of family and Christian values. When Anna injured her back at work in the fall of 2013 and could no longer work, and then developed fibromyalgia, her life became about survival and she poured all of her energy into trying to heal. Anna says, “I spent years hardly able to get off of my couch. I tried PT but it was too painful to do the exercises on land. I tried aqua therapy but I was released from that as well when I discovered that route was also too painful. The only thing that seemed to help was rest and gentle walking.
Every day I prayed for healing and for the answers to come to me so that I could truly get better and live my life again. God is good and the answers began to come to me. I did research on what would be the best diet for me and I changed the way I ate completely. I started to listen to my body tell me what it needed at any given moment of the day. I finally listened to it telling me I needed to swim.”
Anna was living on very little money and trying to make it last so she could get strong enough to work again. She decided to go to the Geauga Family YMCA and apply for a scholarship. “I am so thankful to the Geauga Family YMCA for giving me a scholarship to join. I knew I would have a much better chance of recovering if I could somehow manage to get in shape despite the chronic pain I was suffering. I tried the water aerobics classes, but the bouncing was too painful at first. I tried swimming laps very gently and slowly at first, in my own style, allowing my body to move the way it wanted to. I literally would spin in circles, first on my back, then side then a few breast strokes then back on my back and so on. I swam faithfully and very slowly at first, and then built up. I still could not do land exercises but continued to walk outside every day as far as my pain tolerance would allow,” says Anna.
On her special diet, Anna’s fibromyalgia symptoms began to subside, but she was still having a lot of back pain. Anna says her whole life was about prayer and healing and hanging on. As she lived alone, it was difficult to take care of herself and cope with these challenges. Anna credits God with getting her through. While Anna was swimming her laps in the pool she would often think of her grandparents and how much they supported and believed in the mission of the YMCA. Anna says, “I couldn’t help thinking they might be looking down on me and feeling glad that something they helped to grow and thrive was now a huge part of restoring their own Granddaughters life. I will always be grateful to them for this fact along with so many other things.”
Last January Anna noticed a man working out in the pool often at the same time she was there to work out. Anna thought to herself, “He sure looks determined!” One day the started talking and Anna found out that he also had fibromyalgia and other issues similar hers. When he asked Anna if she would like to have dinner, she accepted and they ended up falling in love! The couple celebrated their first Christmas together in December and Anna couldn’t be happier!
After working out nearly every day, TONS of prayer, being loyal to her healthy diet and finally finding the right doctor to prescribe a bit of the right medicine (which took three years to find) Anna was finally feeling well enough again and strong enough to try a part time job. “I began praying about that too, just like everything else,” says Anna. She had befriended some very nice ladies at the front desk because she was at the Geauga Family YMCA so often. (Anna says, “I really have made a LOT of friends here! And continue to do so!”) When Anna told one of these ladies she thought she was ready to try to work part-time at a job that was not too physically taxing (Anna’s last job was as a nurse’s aide.), she suggested Anna apply for a job at the front desk. Anna did. Now you when you walk into the Geauga Family YMCA, and you see Anna swiping your cards and saying hello, Anna says it is all thanks to the wonderful people at the Geauga Family YMCA that she offered the job! When Anna smiles it is genuine because she knows what it feels like not to be able to work even if she wanted to. Her smile is one of gratitude. Gratitude and faith, that now her dreams can come true again.
“Thank you Geauga Family YMCA! I know with God’s help and with your help I will only continue to grow stronger! I love you!” – Anna
This article is brought to you by the Geauga Family YMCA