In 1970 when I was twenty years old I was the starting guard on a division one college basketball team as well as a second team Academic All American at Kent State University. In the spring of my sophomore year I experienced an emotionally traumatic event. I continued to function at a high level through most of the following months but then became ill and began experiencing disabling generalized chronic pain and fatigue. Unable to continue the life path I had been on I sought help. My doctor diagnosed me in 1972 with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Not knowing what else to do he referred me to psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors. I remained in the Psychiatric area of healthcare for the next twenty years. As many of you know this is a scary place to be. Being told that my pain and fatigue were all in my head.
As the years went by and my pain and fatigue continued I was unable to effectively work. I did have jobs during those years but they utilized little or none of my skills and intellect. The pursuit of a career was put on hold for years. Though my life had been thrown into the abyss of chronic pain and fatigue and its partnering conditions of helplessness, anxiety and depression, I refused to give up or give in to them. It seemed like I was crazy but I refused to give in and after many years made the decision to continue my education. I went back to school on a part time basis but realized that this path was my way to move forward with my life and so in 1978 I went full time. I completed my BS Ed from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh (UW-O) in 1980. Sadly I wasn’t able to effectively use my degree and so in 1984 I returned to UW-O to pursue a Masters in Counseling Psychology. This choice was made because this educational pursuit could help me not only pursue a career but to understand my life and my pain and fatigue that doctors didn’t have any answers for. It turned out to be both career wise and personally the best choice I could have made. My degree in Counseling Psychology in 1987 gave me a career and gave me great insight into how I could find relief and healing of my chronic illnesses. I learned to empower myself with mind-body solutions. I learned to heal myself by making cognitive and behavioral changes. I also learned how to help others that lived with chronic pain illnesses. I became aware of the power of individual and small group coaching/counseling to positively affect the life and well being of others. I was hired Fox Valley Technical College. I was finally working at a career helping others which I felt very good about. While I worked as a counselor I continued to take classes and have been a specialist in group work from that time to the present. I was able to coach/counsel individuals as well as large and small groups.
In 1996 I was hired by New Holstein High School (NHHS) as a guidance counselor and basketball coach. That same year I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (FM) which was helpful in having a diagnosis or label but of course it didn’t change my condition. Unfortunately, my FMCP+ prevented me from being able to handle the rigors of this very demanding full time plus work. It wore me out and I didn’t have a life outside of work. I was forced to go on temporary insurance disability in 2002.
For six years I continued to educate myself and work part time. I was finally able to gain full time Social Security Disability in 2008.
For years I’ve been active in using my counseling in combination with my coaching skills and have now through the NFMCPA begun to provide FMCP+ health and wellness coaching to people on an individual and group basis. Please contact me if you are interested in participating. There is a tax deductable donation fee to the NFMCPA for my coaching services.
I’m excited to work to develop and achieve the vision and mission of the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) as Vice President of Community Support. My vision along with the NFMCPA is to begin personally providing coaching to folks with FMCP+ by phone and to begin training others as coaches so we deliver relief and healing to thousands.
Thomas A. Hintz