Saturday, September 18, 2010

If you are new to this thread, please go back to to start. It will make more sense.


A Lesson on Fibromyalgia
By J.D. Hosack MS (almost)

“Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a common and complex chronic pain disorder that affects people physically, mentally and socially. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause.

Fibromyalgia, which has also been referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyositis and fibrositis, is characterized by chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue and often psychological distress. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.”
National Fibromyalgia Association

Fibromyalgia effects millions of Americans, most often diagnosed in women in their 30’s and 40’s but it can effect men and children as well. There are no tests for FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome). It is often difficult to diagnose as patients report random symptoms and often all of the pieces of the puzzle are not present at any one time. Basically, it is a diagnosis of exclusion. Numerous blood tests are done and all come back normal. Often the patient is healthy but still reports pain, fatigue, depression, insomnia and often trouble concentrating or short term memory problems (commonly referred to as fibro fog). Ultimately, FMS is diagnosed as a last resort. The one and only “test” is to touch certain spots throughout the body referred to as “trigger points”. A person will react to 11 of 18 of these spots if they have fibromyalgia. The reaction is extreme for the amount of pressure applied. The feeling is often described at an electric jolt and a pain that lingers for minutes or more.
Treatment for FMS often includes anti depressants, pain medication, sleep medication, and physical therapy. Fibromyalgia is as debilitating socially as it is physically. People with FMS are often considered lazy, complainers and hypochondriacs. It is difficult to explain exactly what is wrong to someone who does not have FMS causing strain in marriages and friendships as well as at work.

I read a writer’s thoughts on FMS on a blog a while back. I wish I could remember where so I can give credit. It gave a pretty accurate description of what fibromyalgia can feel like.. Although the author nailed it, I am going to embellish a tad because I don’t think her language was quite strong enough.
Imagine you are going to have a party in your home. You invite 100 people. You have 10 friends who promise that they will come over the day of the party and do the cooking, cleaning, decorating, etc. The night before the party, you are so anxious that it takes you hours to get to sleep. Even when you do sleep, you wake every 2 or 3 hours with something that you have forgotten to do. In the morning you wake up stiff and sore. Your body aches. You have no energy. Your head hurts. And now you have a kink in your neck. One by one, your friends call to say they won’t be coming to help you. Your guests will be here in an hour and you have nothing done. Your husband is angry and doesn’t understand that you don’t feel well. All you want to do is crawl into a corner and cry. You are going to repeat this whole thing scenario tomorrow. This could go on for days or weeks. You never know when this day will come again. This is going to be your life from now on.

All of this I know from personal experience. I was diagnosed with FMS 2 ½ years ago. I was lucky. My doctor put the puzzle together relatively quickly. But that, my friend, is a story for another letter.

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