May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month, and, as a person living with this disease, I’d love to tell you a little bit about it so you can be more informed.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes joint pain all over the body, exhaustion, sleeping issues, memory problems, and mood swings. The cause is unknown, however, many researchers believe genetics or trauma can be a root cause for Fibromyalgia. Some think it is due to a nervous system that doesn’t work properly. Though the disease usually manifests during 40 years and older, a person can get it at any age. Studies have shown that women are more likely than men to get it. To diagnose an individual with Fibromyalgia, doctors used to do an 18 point check to see if there was pain. However, now doctors diagnose it with a report of widespread bodily pain for more than three consecutive months. Treatment includes rest, maintaining a healthy body weight, and exercising regularly, as well as medication. While it can be treated, there is no cure.
Some people, including some medical professionals, do not believe that Fibromyalgia is real. However, as a person who suffers from Fibromyalgia, I can tell you it is very real. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia about eight years ago and take medication to help control the pain. However, even with the pain meds and exercise, I still have the occasional flare-up. These used to occur every few days; now, they are not as often, sometimes as little as every few months. When they do occur, it is very difficult and sometimes impossible for me to accomplish anything. Think of when you twist your ankle and the pain it causes. Now think of that same pain all over your body. If you can picture it, that is how I feel most of the time, with varying degrees of pain. I get migraines sometimes, though they are also less frequent now.
One thing to note about this disease is that I am always in some level of pain; flare-ups are just more severe. As I am writing this article, I have pain in my arms, neck, and back. I have not been sleeping well, and I am exhausted all the time. There are days when getting out of bed and getting dressed is a significant accomplishment. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing when the flare-ups will happen.
It is frustrating when people do not believe I have it or tell me, “well, everyone has pain.” I have no doubt I am not the only one in pain, but, unless you have Fibromyalgia, the pain is probably localized. The honorary color for Fibromyalgia is purple, so in honor of this month being Fibromyalgia Awareness Month, I wear my purple ribbon every day in May. If you know someone who is tired all the time or complaining of constant pain, I suggest you do not immediately write them off as simply a complainer or as a lazy person making up excuses. Fibromyalgia is real, and living with the pain makes everything difficult.