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Fibromyalgia: My Story

I would like to start this by introducing myself. My name is Denna, I am a twenty-seven year old single mother with three children, and I have Fibromyalgia. I feel the need to write this because it is time that people are introduced to FMS. (Fibromyalgia Syndrome).

I was first introduced to FMS on June 4, 1997. That is the day I was diagnosed. I work in a factory and had been having pain and numbness in my arms and hands that began in December of 1996. I was sent to the company doctor who told me it was inflammation brought on by repetitive motion, he gave me an anti-inflammatory and sent me on my way. When I had no relief from this treatment I persisted on seeing my own doctor, she wanted to send me to a specialist because it was out of her league. My persistence finally got me restrictions (February 1997) from my normal duties, which supposedly caused my pain, and a trip to a company specialist. My pain did seem to get better while on these restrictions, but never completely went away. During these many visits to different doctors I was given a number tests, such as: two EMG's, blood tests for thyroid, hormonal imbalances, inflammation, rheumatory diseases, and X-rays, all of which came back normal. The company specialist I saw actually told me I was a "medical mystery". I saw the specialist my doctor referred me to, but only as a consultation type visit, for a second opinion. After that I was released back to regular duty, this was in May of 1997.

As soon as I began working on the line again I started experiencing pain, this time it was more in my shoulders and elbows than in my hands, so once again I filed a report and asked to see the doctor. This was the visit that got my diagnosis. I would like to add that during this period of time I changed shifts from 3rd to 1st three times, I had to deal with rude and harassing human resource workers, disbelieving co-workers, and un-professional health care workers, whose main concern was me finding another line of work.

My diagnosis came with little more than that word - Fibromyalgia, yet somehow I was comforted in finally having a name to place on my pain. I began searching for and reading information on this disease and then realized I would have many changes to make in my life. I would indeed have a new life to create for myself. All of the little things I once took for granted, now seem almost impossible for me to do some days. I am now unable to work at my job without constant and unbearable pain, but I desperately need the income to support my family and the insurance to help with my increasing medical bills.

Fibromyalgia is pronounced "fi-bro-my-al-gee-a". The official definition of FMS is a painful, but not articular (not present in the joints), condition predominantly involving muscles, and is the most common cause of chronic, widespread muscular-skeletal pain. There is no known cause or cure for this disabling disease, and there aren't any laboratory tests that can be given to diagnose it, only to rule out other diseases. There are however theories of how this is brought about, stress is one of them, ongoing lack of level 4 sleep, and/or a trauma, such as an accident or a surgery. Locating tender points is the basis for diagnoses. There are a multitude of symptoms with FMS, but the most common are: the presence of unexplained pain or aching, persistent fatigue, generalized morning stiffness, non-refreshing sleep, and the multiple tender points. Some of the most recent studies have shown lower levels of seritonin, elevated levels of substance P, and a reduced blood flow to parts of the brain. This syndrome was first described in 1816 and today there are seven to ten million Americans suffering from it.

This is to widespread a problem for people to go on not knowing about it. We need recognition from our health care professionals to receive proper care, our government to receive help with Social Security Disability and affordable insurance coverage, and with funding for research, and from the general public for understanding, so that maybe we will no longer be looked upon as lazy and maybe we will have opportunities presented to us that wouldn't be there if no one is aware of or understands this disease.

Thank you,

I would appreciate any feedback and suggestions you may have. Denna = )

Denna ©11 Jul. 1997

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