Desiree Quinn isn’t comfortable with her crown. The Eugene, Oregon, resident and Ms. Oregon State America 2015 didn’t set out to be on the beauty pageant circuit. In fact, it’s not her style. She’s the mom of two athletic sons, Brendin, 19, and Bryson, 13. But the 38-year-old saw the pageant circuit leading to Ms. America as a opportunity to make a difference.

Every contestant needs a platform, and Quinn had an obvious one.

She was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2012 after suffering from migraines, poor sleep and a general feeling of exhaustion. Despite the diagnosis, she felt lucky. he had a doctor who understood that her pain was not all in her head. She did not have to shop around to find a doc who believed her.

But even having a primary care physician who “got it” didn’t prevent what came next. Quinn was bedridden for nearly two years. During that time, she tried acupuncture, physical therapy, trigger point injections and medication.

“I prefer natural therapies, although I haven’t always used them,” she says. “When you’re a busy mom, you use what you can to get through the day. Eventually I realized that I was just existing; I wasn’t living.”

quinn1She’s now using supplements and vitamins and taking just one prescription. Yoga and meditation are helping her feel better than she has in ten years. She’s cooking for her family again.

Her husband, Matt, has helped her through the good and the bad. “He’s in the trenches with me. We’ve been together for 20 years. He knew me before fibromyalgia and knows the person I was and still can be,” she says.

One side of that person is a beauty queen on a mission. “I don’t like to draw attention to myself,” she confesses. “I’ve put myself out there by taking steps into the dark and hoping to help people understand more about chronic pain.”

And she has. Due in part to Quinn’s lobbying, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a proclamation making May12 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. Supporters, including high-profile people such as Janet Chambers, president of the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association, had been trying to get that recognition for more than five years. “People worked so hard for this,” says Quinn. “I don’t deserve the credit. There was a lot of work that went on before I got involved.”

Quinn is now lobbying to have fibromyalgia treatments covered for Oregon residents on Medicaid. Oregon is the only state that excludes Medicaid coverage for the condition.

“It’s baffling,” Quinn says. “Especially when you consider our former governor was a physician.”

Her message to anyone living with chronic pain: never give up hope. “I used to be stuck in the victim mentality,” she says. “But once you begin to accept that your life is different now, you have to give it your all, even though your all may not be what it once was. It helps if you feel like you accomplished something, even something small, every day.”

These days, Desiree Quinn is accomplishing quite a lot. {PP}

FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.eugenedailynews.com>>SEARCH “Fibromyalgia Awareness Month”
www.fmcpaware.org>>SEARCH “Oregon+ Medicaid”

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