September 6, 2011

Fibromyalgia Awareness

Posted in Health tagged , , , at 8:54 pm by potofcallaloo

“Fibromyalgia? what’s that?”, “something to do with fibroids?”, “never heard of.” These are some of the responses I get when I mention the word ‘fibromyalgia’ in conversation with people I encounter.

For a condition that affects possibly 1 in 20 people globally and drastically changes the lives of its sufferers, there seems to be little awareness of it. Fibromyalgia is a condition that’s characterised by widespread body pain and a host of other symptoms including:

-hypersensitivity to pain

-chronic exhaustion which can be debilitating

-insomnia

-regular dizziness

-cognitive issues like short and long term memory loss, problems concentrating

– inability to regulate body temperature

-depression and anxiety

‘Fibro’ means fibrous tissues, such as tendons (tissue that connects muscles to bones) and ligaments (tissue that connects bones to bones); ‘My’ means muscles and ‘algia’ means pain.

There is hardly anyone I know with fibromyalgia who can’t attest to how this dreadful condition impinges on our everyday lives.

Yet, sufferers often find themselves marginalised by skeptical friends, family, co-workers and even general practitioners who many times seem to think the symptoms are conjured up by our overactive imaginations. This has been my continuous experience since a childhood of frequenting my dubious doctor’s office.

“You just need exercise” and “your shoes must be too tight” were some of the responses I got from my new GP, whose office I limped into recently, a couple weeks after I had been unable to walk due to severe pain in the soles of my feet.

Never mind that she had been aware of my diagnosis for over two years, had me seen by a specialist to confirm this diagnosis and frequently writes the referrals that grant me appointments with new rheumatologists (not to mention the increasing prescriptions for pain killers and other meds).

This experience isn’t uncommon among sufferers though. The stories can get quite nightmarish. In fact many of the people I know with FM are in wheelchairs or using walking aids and still face great skepticism!

Many sufferers find it difficult to manage simple lives, relationships and work, and significant numbers have ended up on social care.

A lack of support and awareness only makes living with fibromyalgia even more distressing.

There is no cure for it but I pray everyday for advances in medicine which could put an end to our oftentimes dreaded existence.

Please take some time to learn more about it and spread awareness. It’s fibromyalgia awareness week in the UK but the world certainly needs to know and understand more about it.