The Fibromyalgia Spectrum

Recently I posed a question in Fibromyalgia Support Group, our support site on Facebook. I am looking for more information about this Fibro-monster, but not what I can pull up in a quick Google search or another strange set of statistics gathered from who knows where. I want real honest to goodness patient based information from the patients I interact with every day. The real people that have this illness. For there has got to be some commonality among us! So I asked, inquiring minds wanting to know, if you were in a happy time in your life when you first got sick with Fibromyalgia, or were you super stressed and unhappy or things were not going all that well? I got a good cross section of responses, I would say about 70 by the time it was lost in the feed. And I did get some sort of a clearer understanding about how this illness strikes us differently.

See way back when I was on Prednisone to treat strokes I quickly realized one of the amazingly good benefits of that crazy-lady inducing drug was I felt no pain! It was a cruel joke, for Fibromyalgia was all but gone, but living life on steroids was not exactly my cup of tea either. I noticed some people did not have the same anti-inflammatory response to the drug that I did, though. Now Fibromyalgia is not supposed to be an inflammation-based condition. There is no actual damage to our ligaments, tendons and muscles, right? It just feels like it? So I asked, and the response seemed to be split.* About half the people experienced total pain relief on high-dose steroids and about half did not experience any at all. Well that seemed pretty big to me and I decided there were two types of Fibromyalgia, at least. Inflammation based and non-inflammation based. For it only seemed the rational conclusion. I got a similar response about that happiness question.* There were plenty of folks that were happy in life when Fibro fanny-smacked them off their feet. They mostly seemed to be able to pinpoint an accident or illness with a definitive start date they never recovered from.

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But for those that could not say, for example, “I was very happy but in June of 1992 I slipped and fell and have never recovered,” it was not nearly as clear cut. I read a lot of, “It kind of snuck up on me” and “I think I have always had it” type of answers from the folks that were indeed stressed out and unhappy, generally speaking, when they got their Fibro fanny-smack. I was one of them myself. I have always been a hyper-vigilant little birdie, the dominant personality type that gets Fibromyalgia. When I got sick I had a very stressful job which I was eating, sleeping and breathing. Then I went through a sort of “hell week” and it just got worse from there. So my rational conclusion was that there was an emotional link the unhappy patients recognized but the happy patients with sudden onset did not experience as significant. Again, just a sweeping generalization, and I am sure all of this has been explored by doctors and scientists with more brains in their left pinkie than I had at the height of my cranial development. But now I feel I have witnessed two very distinct and opposing symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Either inflamed or not, and either unhappy or not. Of course the biggest question in the room is why some folks get it and others do not, given the exact same set of circumstances? Maybe that is where the genetic component comes in, which would make it three distinct types, or a strange mash up of a few at a time in each person? Who knows! But maybe if they split up the patient population based only on the experience of specific symptoms, they may realize we are as different as we are alike, and actually get somewhere with that research. But with my luck I would be the one to have the type that does not come with a cure. Touche my friends, touche.

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The Fibromyalgia Spectrum

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