Fibromyalgia: An “Invisible Illness”

In the past few years, I have become a professional patient. I have been in and out of the doctor’s office and hospital. There are times when I felt like I should just move in. I have dealt with the pain of the doctors pushing on me, and the medical tests that they have put me through. I have reported any new symptoms that have come up. It does not take a degree to become a “professional patient,” it just takes an illness. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia about two years ago.

According to the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA), it is estimated that 5-7% of the United States population has it. There are many people out there who do not know they have Fibromyalgia. When I was told what I had, I blocked out a lot of what was being said. Mainly it was because I did not know what it was. The only thing that I did know was a friend had the same illness, but I was happy to finally have a name of what I was going through.

Fibromyalia is a chronic illness that is mainly found in women. It is known for its wide spread pain throughout the body, fatigue and tender points. In some cases, even the smallest pressure can cause the person to have pain. So a pat on the back, for someone that has Fibro, is not a good idea. Even though there are theories, doctors do not know what causes the syndrome. There is also not a cure yet. There are many things which could make the symptoms worse. For example: stress, the weather and physical activity.

I am slowly learning about the many symptoms which can go along with Fibromyalgia. Keep in mind there are many more symptoms than what I am going to list. The primary symptoms of Fibromyalgia are widespread pain throughout the body, fatigue and sleep disturbances. There is also brain fog/ Fibro fog, Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS), headaches, facial pain, sensitivity to noise, bright lights and touch. People also suffer from morning stiffness, cognitive or memory impairment, blurry vision, dizziness, rashes, muscle twitching, Raynaud’s Syndrome, difficulty concentrating, painful menstrual period, Interstitial Cystitis (IC), dry eyes, skin and mouth.

It is hard to diagnose Fibromyalgia because it mimics other diseases like Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Lyme Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Some patients not only have Fibro, but also have one or more of these diseases. For some people Fibromyalgia can be disabling. At this moment, I cannot work outside of the house, and I need a cane to walk. Even though I have started, it is hard for me to exercise. I have also learned, even though I do not like it, I need to cut down on the list of things I want to do. I just do not have the energy to do it. If you feel that you may have Fibromyalgia ,check with your Primary Care doctor and they can direct you to where you need to go. No matter what people may say, it is not in your head.
by Jill Sheets

Web Sites:

National Fibromyalgia Assocation (NFA)

Mayo Clinic

Fibromyalgia Network