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Author: Not Specified
Publication: Not Specified
Document Dated: September 13, 2002
Date Posted: September 13, 2002

GWVRP Editors Note: (See more details about Linda's book at:

One sunny afternoon, Edmonds, WA author Linda Martinson looked at her face in the mirror and decided to commit suicide.

Martinson has a chronic musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disease, fibromyalgia, and she wanted to stop her intense physical pain. Realizing the pain she would cause her family, she decided to wait two weeks, then decide if she still wanted to take her life.

She marked the date on her calendar. And after two weeks, she had come up with a better idea. Martinson decided to take charge of her pain and accomplish two goals:

First, she would write a book that tells the truth about what it's like to live with chronic intractable (stubborn) pain. A published cookbook author, Martinson also wrote poetry to describe her physical and emotional responses to pain.

Her physician encouraged her to publish them.

Second, since opiates were the only medication that lessened her pain, she would change Washington state law so her physician would prescribe them for her. In the early 90s, Washington state physicians who prescribed opiates for chronic pain patients risked sanctions by the state medical board.

Martinson published "Poetry of Pain" in 1996. The book helps doctors understand the needs of their chronic pain patients. It's listed as a Pain Resource in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," and selected poems are required reading for first year medical students at the University of California at Irvine.

Some of Martinson's poems appear in medical journals and textbooks, such as the "Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain" (Hayworth Press) and "Pain: A Textbook for Therapists" (Harcourt Brace).

Chronic pain sufferers give copies of "Poetry of Pain" to doctors, family members and friends because it gives them words to explain how they feel. The book gives sufferers a new way of looking at their own pain.

The World Health Organization recommends "Poetry of Pain" to cancer patients.

While writing the book, Martinson became a board member of the Washington Intractable Chronic Pain Association. The group lobbied legislators to mandate new pain management guidelines.

The legislature mandated the Secretary of Health to create new guidelines in 1995, and as a member of the Department of Health Task Force, Martinson helped write them.

The current guidelines assure physicians they will not be prosecuted for prescribing opioid analgesics when treating pain as long as the care is consistent with currently acceptable medical practice.

"Life is better," Martinson says. "I'm still in pain, but my doctor helps manage it, so I'm able to function. I can socialize, do things with my family. I even teach Belly Dancing classes for the city of Edmonds Park Department!"

Since International Awareness Day for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related illnesses is also Mother's Day, so Martinson will observe it a day early.

Martinson will speak at Borders Books and Music Cafe in Bellevue, WA on Saturday May 11 to from 1-3 PM. She will share coping tips for pain sufferers with her presentation, "Living With Chronic Pain: 10 Steps To Joy!"

A free list of coping techniques is available for those who cannot attend. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: JOY! c/o Simply Books, PO Box 2205, Lynnwood, WA 98036.

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