Some people believe that fibromyalgia is not real. Those people have likely not suffered through a day of the pain I face. To experience the pain I feel I would suggest hitting yourself over the head with a bat, getting a sunburn and not sleeping for a night. It was suggested that I have fibromyalgia, but to me maybe I do maybe I don’t. But without a doubt I do have fatigue and pain.
Here’s where the problem lies. Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion. There are few concrete ways (besides tender points) to test for fibromyalgia. You exclude all the illnesses that are similar to fibromyalgia and then you arrive at fibromyaglia. But what illnesses are similar to fibromyalgia and should be tested. There is no agreed upon set of illnesses a doctor should test. So because it is like this – doctors can cop out at any point and simply say, “You have fibromyalgia.”
Here are all the illnesses that can mimic fibro:
Rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, hypothyroidism, cervical and lower back degenerative diseases, Lyme disease chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disorders, depression, HIV infection, Sjogren’s Syndrome, temporomandibular joint dysfunction syndrome (TMJ), epicondylitis, myofascial pain syndrome, fibrositis syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Gulf War Syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, and reflex sympathetic dystrophy
I sometimes wonder if my doctors have just pushed me aside. My doctor says I have mild fibromyalgia because I don’t respond to all the trigger points. Then why is it debilitating?
Another problem with the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is the symptoms are very vague widespread pain, fatigue, weakness, memory loss. There are so many illnesses that can be related to that. One that seems to mimic some of these symptoms is sleep apnea (which I have) In fact 44% of men with fibro have sleep apnea – so which is causing the symptoms and do they have fibro at all.
Fibro is also a frustrating diagnosis because of how people including doctors react to it. Once you get a diagnosis many doctors like to throw every physical ailment under your diagnosis. My toe itches. It’s fibro. I think I broke my leg. It’s fibro. I think I’m growing mold on my butt. It’s fibro.
Also you don’t look sick so friends and family think you look fine and well. They don’t understand why you aren’t working.
They aren’t understanding why you can’t go out on a Friday night. They don’t understand why you can’t go hiking with them. Though this seems to be with any chronic illness.