Fibromyalgia: What I’ve Learned and How I Cope

11 Apr
Fibromyalgia Awareness

Fibromyalgia Awareness (Photo credit: Kindreds Page)

Fibromyalgia (FMS or Fibro for short) is not a disease – it is a syndrome. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that together are characteristic of a specific disorder. Although there are specific sets of symptoms that characterize Fibromyalgia, each sufferer is different and will have their own particular symptoms. The complete list of possible symptoms is rather extensive; therefore, I will leave it up to you to search the many available sites that include this information. In my particular case, I experience generalized fatigue, muscle and joint pain, point tenderness (pain and tenderness on specific points of my body), “fibro fog” (a temporary lapse in memory that causes me to struggle for words at undetermined times), insomnia, depression, and anxiety. These are the most common of symptoms amongst most FMS sufferers. There are no medical tests to determine the existence of the syndrome. Rather, traditional western medicine bases the diagnosis on the symptoms and by performing a battery of tests to rule out other possible illnesses. Because of this, many people can suffer for many years before a diagnosis is made. Also, many people are often miss-diagnosed. In my particular case, it took me 5 years before finding the right doctor who was able to make the diagnosis. I knew I had it all along because of my many years of experience as a nurse. However, I still needed confirmation due to the fact that I progressed into it very rapidly and it left me unable to work. Today I am considered disabled and receiving Social Security benefits. Most doctors will tell you that Fibromyalgia is a muscular and/or connective tissue disorder. They will also tell you that depression and anxiety are normal symptoms for you to have; and that pain can be resolved with a combination of antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, Lyrica, and often some kind of narcotic pain reliever. In my experience these treatments are inadequate at best. It’s like putting a band-aid on a gushing wound! According to all the information I have found during my research online, there is no cure for Fibromyalgia. Sure, you can always find websites that promise a cure – these are usually a hoax. There are no amount of herbal supplements, potions, or elixirs that will actually cure it. The best advice I can give is to educate yourself and your loved ones (you’ll need lots of support from your friends and family), buy the best book on Fibromyalgia diet that you can find and make sure you follow it to the letter. Also, moderate exercise is key to keeping your pain level down; however, make sure you consult your doctor and/or physical therapist before beginning any exercise regimen. I find that swimming is the best for me because it is virtually zero impact, is gentle on my joints, and I can move easier in the water. I want to make it clear that I am by no means an expert on Fibro, but the last 7 years of suffering and researching, and listening to my body have certainly taught me a lot. If you suspect you have Fibro and are not happy with what your doctor is telling you…change doctors! There are certainly a great number of caring, dedicated, and capable doctors who will listen to you carefully and treat you according to your needs. Best of luck to all those of you who are still battling to obtain a diagnosis, and lots of butterfly hugs!

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