Fibromyalgia is not a new malady that suddenly emerged five or ten years ago. Twenty-five years ago, it was known as fibrositis. Some people think that when people were diagnosed with lumbago years ago, they actually had fibromyalgia. And still others think that those darling spinsters in the 1800's who relied on homemade alcohol to ease pains that doctors insured were imaginary were actually suffering from fibromyalgia.
Today, thankfully, most doctors recognize fibromyalgia as a real problem. Finally, research is being done to find the cause (s) and adequate treatments of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, which often accompanies fibro.
Some describe the symptoms of fibromyalgia as being similar to having the flu all the time. One can have headaches, pains through the body, nausea, and fatigue. But unlike the flu, fibromyalgia does not go away. Those symptoms are a daily occurrence. Prescription and over-the-counter medications can alleviate them, as can chiropractic or acupuncture treatments, but fibromyalgia can not – yet – be cured.
It helps the fibro patient to know that doctors have recognized this syndrome as a real problem. Now, rather than just offering a pain pill or scheduling patients for mental evaluation, doctors are willing to set up a program of treatment. They have read the research papers, and they are willing to spend time trying to help patients find comfort as research into the causes and cures continue.
It is also imperative that family and friends understand, but that may not be as easy a task. Family and friends see the fibromyalgia patient on more regularly basis. To them, it appears that their loved one has good days where the symptoms do not affect the life or attitude of the patient. While that may appear to be the case, it is not exactly true. A fibromyalgia patient may, indeed, spend the day with family and friends at the park or the beach, and appear to be "normal." The next day, that "normal" person will, most likely, succumb to the pains and fatigue and be forced to spend time in bed to recuperate from the activities that Invigorated others in the family.
Recently, I discovered the site of a fibromyalgia patient who violated when she learned that one friend understood her enough to explain her and her malady to another friend. The first friend asked the second one to imagine a day when she had overextended herself, where she had done too many physical and mental activities and had to recuperate the following day. This friend suggested that the second woman imagine a time when she was so physically exhausted that she ached from head to toe. She told her to imagine being so mentally fatigued that she had just a touch of "foggy brain" or memory loss. And then she explained that their mutual friend – the fibromyalgia patient – experienced these kinds of physical and mental exhaustion each and every day.
How satisfing it had to be to know that a friend cared enough to understand and to explain her and defend her to another.
So, here's my challenge to you. Visit some web sites that provide information about fibromyalgia, check out a few studies, and read a few essays by persons with fibromyalgia. Then write your own explanation of what fibromyalgia is or how it affects those who live with it every day.
Why should you do this? First, May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month. Those of us who suffer with fibromyalgia would love to know that our neighbors, friends and family care and understand.
And, secondly, you should do some research and try to understand FM because in the past, it has been poorly understood and commonly misdiagnosed. Fibromyalgia sufferers make up as much as 4% of the entire population. Still, they were left to doubt themselves as doctors struggled to understand and diagnose the disease. What a difficult task that was, since fibromyalgia symptoms can change by the hour! I know mine often do.
According to the National Foundation for Fibromyalgia, 12 million Americans suffer from FM but remain undiagnosed. While fibromyalgia is most common in women, especially between the ages of 20 and 50, it can affect men, the elderly and children. Kids are often mistakenly diagnosed with growing pains or behavioral problems. And often times, FM is mistaken for chronic fatigue syndrome, since the symptoms are similar and the two can go hand-in-hand.
You, or someone you love, could be a fibromyalgia sufferer without knowing it. Should not you find out everything you can? Today?
Disclaimer: I am not part of the medical community. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2003. Like most fibro patients, I have been forced to do research about the malady myself.