Fibromyalgia…an invisible syndrome!
Fibromyalgia is a mysterious ailment that influences all facets of its sufferer’s life. It hasn’t been that long ago when those receiving a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia were ridiculed, and the doctors doing the diagnosing were criticized. There was a perception that Fibromyalgia was a ‘waste basket’ diagnosis; given when no other explanation could be provided. It is for those, who remain attached to this perception, to which I write. Do you believe Fibromyalgia is over diagnosed? Do you believe people with this condition exaggerate their pain? Do you think their symptoms/pain is all in their head? Are these people simply hypochondriacs? Do you wonder if their pain is an excuse to obtain prescription narcotics? If so, you are not alone! At present this perception is still shared by many doctors refusing to recognize Fibromyalgia as a genuine ailment worthy of treatment and continued research. My hope is that by the conclusion of this essay you will have a different view of Fibromyalgia. My goal is to provide you with enough information to see this medical mystery from a new perspective. I became pregnant with my first child at the age of 28, and up until that time was relatively healthy. This pregnancy wreaked havoc on my body, and serious complications resulted in an emergency C-section at 30 weeks gestation. After this birth I began experiencing all over body aches, joint stiffness, and I consistently felt like I needed to sleep. I had my second child four years after the first (also via C-section), and my body has never been the same since. I remember thinking that at my age I SHOULD NOT feel like I am eighty years old. I continuously felt as though I had the flu, my skin hurt, and most days my body felt like it had been run over by a MAC truck. Each morning I would maneuver out of bed, my limbs like brittle twigs that would snap with the slightest bend. It was increasingly difficult to care for my infant and soon to be five year old; I always welcomed assistance with my motherly duties. I began asking my doctor what could be wrong with me. I was in constant pain, and it was difficult to stay awake during the day; I’d catch myself falling asleep at work, at school, and in the car. Driving was terrifying as I found myself regularly nodding off at the wheel. One morning after 7 hours of sleep, I fell asleep at the wheel and totaled my new car. My passengers preferred to be drivers, and as a passenger I was usually asleep within 15 minutes of being on the highway. My sleep was unrestorative; I could sleep as little as 5 hours or as much as twelve - without interruption - and still wake up feeling as though I hadn’t slept at all. My doctor became concerned about my symptoms and referred me to a sleep specialist. After a series of sleep studies, no definitive answers were found. When I was alert, my senses were often irritated by everyday noise, casual touch, and light. A ringing phone often sent my nerves jumping out of my skin. My daughters’ hugs made me cringe as the sensation of touch was at times unbearable. My eyes were dry and irritated, sore from squinting as a result of being highly sensitive to the light, particularly natural light & reflections. For years I reported my symptoms to my primary doctor with no concrete answers. After a series of tests ruled out things like Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and Thyroid Disease, I was diagnosed by a rheumatologist as having Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS). Even with its reputation of being a ‘waste basket’ diagnosis, I was relieved to finally have an explanation of my symptoms, and it was comforting to know my primary doctor of ten-plus years supported it. I began researching FMS in an effort to find out all I could.
Fibromyalgia affects numerous areas of a sufferer’s life, and its symptoms can interfere with the accomplishment of daily activities. The symptoms of Fibromyalgia can be just as debilitating...
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