Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fun with Fibromyalgia!

Fibromyalgia is a collection of symptoms that result in widespread pain and fatigue. I know a lot about it, because I've had it for years; and I also have a lot of friends who hang out at health stores and watch infomercials. Therefore, in addition to having fibro, I know what everyone except people who have it thinks will cure it.

So I have put together this helpful fact sheet for long-time sufferers, the newly diagnosed, anyone with a family member battling this demon; and hypochondriacs. All in simple terms. No scary graphics, posters or newsreels; and no Doctor Scribble.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Within the last few decades, medical doctors noticed an alarming trend. People, mostly female people, swamped their offices, complaining of pain and fatigue. The doctors, of course, recognized hormones and hysteria, and prescribed appropriate anti-anxiety medications. Resulting in decidedly not anxious patients with widespread pain and fatigue, returning for follow-up visits.

So some of these doctors got together at a fancy resort, to discuss the trend. After a few martinis, they decided to have a Name-The-Syndrome contest. Some of the ideas floated about were "Fibrocystitis", "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" and "Fibromyalgia" (literally, 'pain in the fibro.') The votes were split evenly, and they decided on a Limbo Tie Breaker. Dr. Finartener, from Sioux City Iowa (who was only 5' 4" and some thought should have been disqualified because he had a genetic advantage) won the Limbo Contest. He cast the deciding vote for "Fibromyalgia", because he had used that word in Scrabble and swore on his Merck's Manual that it was a real syndrome and won the game. And now he could prove it.

What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

Well, if you wake up in the morning and you feel like total poop, and everything hurts and you have stomach cramps and you are already menopausal or you are male so you aren't getting your period, and you had no idea your ears had joints except now something that seems to be an ear joint is throbbing, and you don't have a fever and you don't think you have been bitten by an exotic insect; you likely have Fibromyalgia. Another sign is if you are trying to explain to the dog how to start the coffee maker, because the thought of putting a foot on the ground makes your teeth hurt. And, come to think of it, lying here with those sheets TOUCHING YOUR SKIN is pretty painful, too.

What are the causes of Fibromyalgia?

My personal Healthcare Team have offered the following list of possibilities:

A physical or emotional trauma
A virus
An autoimmune response
A side effect of my thyroid disease

And my mother thinks I need a new mattress.

How is Fibromyalgia Treated?

What doesn't work: Everything ever invented for the treatment of pain. Like Anaprox, Aleve, Ibuprofen...all for "inflammation" that we don't have. Topicals, like Ben Gay, and Icy Hot; because even though you THINK your knees hurt, in 15 minutes it will be your elbows. Hello, the pain is not really coming from what hurts. It is coming from your brains!! They just want to trick you into believing your hips hurt, when it is really your Frontal Lobes! Haha, silly brains! You could play Smack The Gopher with a Thermapad all day and never land on the part that hurts.

You can take Vitamin B shots. You put the needle in your arm and, I am not making this up, inject the Vitamin B slowly over a period of 3 minutes. When a doctor demonstrated the technique (using my arm) I swore I would never be in enough pain to make THAT treatment worth it. He assured me that "one day you will crawl to me on your hands and knees to beg for a Vitamin B shot!" Good to know.

You can take drugs, off-label, designed as sleep aids. Is that brilliant? I hurt, so I will take something to make me sleep through it. And then my handsome prince will kiss me awake, and I'll find the glass slipper, and let down my hair and escape from the tower.

Or, someone call Billy Mays, you can try this NEW! BREAKTHROUGH! TREATMENT! I read about yesterday...a low dose "addiction" drug is showing some promise. So it can help crack addicts, and all of us "pain addicts." Come on.

Exercise appears to be a real antidote (perhaps because when you fatigue other muscle groups you don't notice the fibro?), and I think that "mind over matter" is a great approach; staying active scares the bejesus out of this syndrome.

And some people report relief with a bubble bath, and a nice chardonnay.

We won't die of fibromyalgia; but we can wither away if we don't fight back. 4% of the population suffers - I imagine this number is very low because most people who exhibit fibro symptoms think it is a natural effect of aging. It is not.

Fight the Fibro.

This blog expresses personal opinion and a degree of smartypantsiness, and is not a substitute for actual medical advice. Please consult your medical healthcare provider for real information. No animals were harmed in the process of this study, although the dogs resent the fact that dinner will be late.


AllThatGlitters said...

Very interesting!

Jo-Anne said...

Glad to see someone has finally explained this "made up" disease.

Angil Tarach RN said...

I LOVE it! Humor is good medicine, and if we don't laugh about some of this, our eyes will be so puffy from crying we won't be able to see anything to laugh at!