The first thing that comes to mind when I think about fibromyalgia is that it’s been a long road of and fatigue that gradually worsened over time. I don’t fully understand when I hear that it isn’t a progressive illness or disease, since over the past seven years I’ve gone from saying ouch while bending over in the garden, to having many days (possibly years worth) of being completely debilitated by pain and fatigue.
Is it a disease or a syndrome? Illness, disease or syndrome? I think it may be all of those.
Fibromyalgia is a pain filled life changing experience.
Fibromyalgia is often misunderstood, stigmatized and people who suffer from it are wrongly judged.
Sometimes I feel like I understand what I’ve learned about fibromyalgia, particularly that it’s a central nervous system disorder, and other times, when I’m deep in the throws of severe pain or terrible fatigue, I question what I thought I understood. During these times, I wonder if the doctors have missed a rare disorder or another disease more understood than fibromyalgia is.
Some days I fully accept it and other days I wonder if it even exist, and again, wonder if the doctors have simply missed something that would clearly explain all the pain, the fatigue and the myriad of other symptoms I have.
I’m afraid of fibromyalgia. Not all the time but some of the time. I’m afraid of getting older and adding an aging body to an already painful weak one.
I believe we are human. I do not believe that pain, sickness, illness and diseases are a result of karma, sin or character issues. I believe humans are susceptible to diseases because we are human.
Disease can be caused by chronic stress but this cause doesn’t make it any less real.
I believe fibromyalgia is a medical entity that causes great suffering and drastically changes lives.
Fibromyalgia is not the same for everyone.
Treatment for fibromyalgia is not the same for everyone.
The view that fibromyalgia is a central nervous system disorder, Central Sensitivity Syndrome, (CSS), makes the most sense to me.
The first time I heard about CSS was when I met with a Rheumatologist, Dr. John B. Winfield at UNC-Hospitals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I had an appointment with him the day before he left his position and moved to the mountains. I wouldn’t have been able to see him again anyway because UNC-Hospitals would not allow him to see a patient for fibromyalgia more than once. (Politics…) I don’t think this helped him help his patients.
As I write, UNC-Hospitals doesn’t have a doctor who specifically treats fibromyalgia. They have the department of Rheumatology, but they refer fibromyalgia patients to a family physician who often refers the patient to a Rheumatologist.
My visit with Dr. John B. Winfield remains one of the best doctor’s visits I’ve ever had. I spent over two hours with Dr. Winfield that day. He told me I would see his research in a few years but at the time that seemed like forever. Now I see his research.
Finally, I hear doctors, or at least mine, talk about CSS. Finally.
“Central sensitivity syndromes: a new paradigm…” Yunus MB, (PubMed.gov)
Excerpts from an abstract summary of the article (above link) —
“Such terms as “medically unexplained symptoms,” “somatization,” “somatization disorder,” and “functional somatic syndromes” in the context of CSS should be abandoned. Given current scientific knowledge, the concept of disease-illness dualism has no rational basis and impedes proper patient-physician communication, resulting in poor patient care.
–“The disease-illness, as well as organic/non-organic dichotomy, should be rejected.”
After having caught up a bit on the latest articles, which I find to be tiring to my brain, I’m somewhat confused.
I understand that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is part of fibromyalgia. I guess you can have one without the other, but I’m not sure. I was diagnosed with CFS before fibromyalgia.
I had Lyme’s Disease in 2003, which caused my joints to protrude and hurt very badly. They got better except bending over never did stop hurting.
I had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in 2005. I didn’t get treatment for six or seven weeks. My wrists joints were protruding again. I was severely ill. I was finally diagnosed and took Doxycycline.
The fatigue continued. I began to have severe low back pain. Neither went away. I was referred to immunologists. They said I had Post Infectious Disease Syndrome and wrote on my records that I have CFS as a result of RMSF. They said the disease stayed in my system so long that it caused a systemic infection that could last, possibly, the rest of my life.
I saw Dr. John B. Winfield the next summer, in June, 2006, who diagnosed me with Classic Fibromyalgia.
He spent a lot of time with me, several hours, educating me about fibromyalgia and talking with me about how to live with the stigma around the diagnosis, particularly as it is considered an invisible illness.
I don’t know where to draw the line, or if there is one, between fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
I have all the symptoms of fibromyalgia and all the symptoms of Chronic Fagtigue Syndrome.
I could benefit from another two hour visit with Dr. Winfield. He did mention that me doing things like taking trips to the mountains, along with a few other activities I shared with him that I enjoy doing, would be good for fibromyalgia.
Update on August, 27, 2010 —
Please see the comments on this post for several excellent links (from George) for recent new findings/ research about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Thank you George.