I happened to run across a blog yesterday while I was searching through some Fibromyalgia posts that was yet another reminder of how ignorant society still is on chronic illnesses like Fibromyalgia. If you read her post, when you scroll to the bottom to see what categories she has posted her opinion of Fibromyalgia under – Whining is one of them.
For those of you who suffer from Fibromyalgia, when you read this post and some of the excerpts I have included below, you will find yourself in disbelief that there are people who still think this way. Debra, the author of Big Brass Blog, had this to say about Fibromyalgia (I have included my comments after each quote):
I know I’m going to get into trouble and offend people with this post but fibromyalgia or FMS as it’s now called, happens to be a pet peeve of mine. When women in Africa, the Amazon or some other poor nation start to suffer from this disease, maybe I’ll believe in it.
My Comment: First off, Fibromyalgia is not exclusive to women. Women make up a higher percentage of FM patients, but men and children are also not excluded from this ILLNESS – yes, it is an ILLNESS. It is estimated that 3 – 6% of Americans have Fibromyalgia (Source: National Fibromyalgia Association). Secondly, I’m sure there are women, men and children in less-fortunate countries who have Fibromyalgia and suffer daily. But in the U.S., we are fortunate to have the means to treat these types of illnesses.
While there are people who legitimately suffer from widespread chronic pain, fortunately they are few (not as few as there could be) and far between. Unfortunately, they are rarely treated for the amount of pain that they actually suffer and live under the threat of having themselves or their doctor arrested on some type of drug charge.
My Comment: Approximately 20% of the population suffers from chronic pain. However, the pain from Fibromyalgia is such that normal pain relievers do not ease the pain. We are not talking about slight aches here and there. It is excruciating pain that is felt to the bones that hinders our ability to function normally or at a decent level. I do agree that people who suffer from chronic pain are not treated properly.
While they don’t get the treatment they need, there are a whole group of people who complain about pain who get way too much attention. And now they get to have a drug for this “condition”.
My comment: There is no need for anyone to have to suffer or just “suck it up”. Life is too short to spend the majority of your time miserable. People with Fibromyalgia (CFS and other illnesses I’m sure you don’t believe in) often go years through suffering without “complaining”, whining, or being attention seekers. Do you get what CHRONIC means? Obviously, you do not have the slightest clue as to what it is like to live 24-hours a day, 7-days a week with chronic pain, fatigue and other disabling symptoms. It is those who have no clue who are the first to spout off ignorant remarks such as yours.
Only by people who refuse to deal in reality or those who like to profit from their difficulties. Take a pill, it’s easier than dealing with the fact that your life sucks, it isn’t working out the you want it to and your family only does what you want because they feel sorry for you or they just want you to quit whining.
My comment: This new drug, Lyrica, that was approved by the FDA to treat Fibromyalgia, is helping patients regain a normal life after years of suffering. As with any medication, there are patients who it is not helping and there are side effects. With illnesses like FM, there are no easy answers or even a diagnosis. Patients need to be treated in order for them to live a productive life.
Being sick with Fibromyalgia is not a cop out or an escape for us because our “lives suck”. If you take the time to talk to more FM patients, you would find that most of us were (and still are when able!) high-producing, active, happy, Type A personality, goal-driven, and motivated individuals.
I have a supportive, loving and caring family who BELIEVES that I am sick. They live with me, or have lived with me, and KNOW from DAILY EXPERIENCE what these illnesses can do. They know that there is no way I could have faked being ill for almost 20 years.
These women are almost always the first born girl and have some type of family problems where they were ignored unless they were ill. The majority of my patients had had mononucleosis or some type of flu like disease between 14 and 18 and it was the only time that they got consideration within their family. Since they are fequently of above average intelligence (have you ever noticed how well they research their disease?), they quickly learned how to manipulate people into feeling sorry for their problems.
My comment: I don’t know where your sources are to back up the claim of FM mainly affecting first-born daughters but that assumption is way off. FM affects women regardless of their birth order. Study after study after study has proven over the past several years that FM is of a physical origin – not psychological. As with any chronic illness, there is always a psychological component but many of those issues do not occur until AFTER the person becomes sick – not before.
Thank you, we are very intelligent. Intelligent enough to know that comments like yours are full of crap and have no basis. We are also intelligent and self-confident enough to stand up for ourselves in the face of controversy and ignorance (look in the mirror, please) and continue to struggle daily knowing what we go through is real.
The world is supposed to revolve around them and if you make any progress with them, they stop taking the herbs, they stop showing up for their appointments until they are in pain again and they absolutely refuse to change their sleeping habits. They always have some excuse for not being able to follow through or to complete a course of treatment. Then they go find another practitioner so they can start the process all over again and maintain their belief that nothing helps them. Wouldn’t want to lose that control over their loved ones.
My comment: There are always people, regardless of what illness they have, who do not follow through with treatment regimens. It is human nature in most people. But because many of us went many years without proper help and diagnosis, we have done and continue to try and pursue every treatment possible that will help us. Fibromyalgia is not a simple illness. It is hard to treat and a lot of times people quit taking medications because the product worsens the symptoms. I agree that some people tend to give up too quickly when trying a treatment, but that is not true in all cases. When flares of Fibro hit, patients find they can’t do anything at all – and that includes driving themselves to a doctor’s appointment.
The sleeping dysfunction in Fibromyalgia is not due to us not wanting to change our sleeping habits. Our bodies physically do not allow us to sleep naturally and at regular hours. It has been proven that Fibromyalgia patients have less deep sleep, awaken more often, and have more trouble falling asleep. Sleeping medications are often required to help patients sleep and often they don’t work for long periods of time.
If you feel that your experience as just a massage therapist rules out the daily experiences of millions of people suffering from the EXACT SAME SYMPTOMS, then have at it. I hope and pray that the day doesn’t come where you need compassion, understanding and someone to believe in you if you are stricken with a chronic illness.