Tom Hennessey, President of RECIND, gave birth to Awareness Day in 1992. May 12th was chosen to honor the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the English army nurse who was a pioneer of the Red Cross movement. Nightingale, virtually bedridden with an illness resembling Fibromyalgia/CFS, went on to inspiring accomplishments which included helping establish the first Visiting Nurse Association and a school that became a model for modern nurses training.
If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and are trying to learn all you can about the condition, you will probably come across several myths and misconceptions.
The top misconception is that fibromyalgia isn’t a real medical problem or that it is “all in your head.” It’s sometimes thought of as a “garbage-can” diagnosis; if doctors can’t find anything else wrong, they diagnose you with fibromyalgia. However, a fibromyalgia diagnosis does require that you meet specific criteria, including widespread pain in all four quadrants of your body for at least three months and painful tender points in at least 11 of 18 specific areas of the body.
The widespread muscle pain and tender points are often accompanied by numerous other health issues such as insomnia, fatigue, problems concentrating and remembering, headaches, muscle weakness, constipation and/or diarrhea, numbness, tingling sensations, dizziness, nervousness, depression, anxiety, and dry mouth. Most fibromyalgia sufferers do not have all of these issues; however, these are some of the most common.
There’s still a lot that’s unknown about fibromyalgia, but researchers have learned more about it in just the past few years. In people who have fibromyalgia, the brain and spinal cord process pain signals differently; they react more strongly to touch and pressure, with a heightened sensitivity to pain. It is a real physiological problem.
People tend to think that there is a pill or surgery for every medical problem. You go to the doctor, expecting he or she will fix whatever’s wrong with you. It’s frustrating to people with fibromyalgia because the traditional treatment approach usually isn’t effective long term. And it’s also frustrating to healthcare providers because they want to help people. But there’s no easy fix. It takes lifestyle changes and small steps toward achieving wellness. Healing is a process.
Now days, more people understand that fibromyalgia is real, often because they know someone who has it – perhaps a friend or relative. Healthcare providers are seeing that people who have fibromyalgia can improve their quality of life with lifestyle changes.
One of the most difficult aspects of having fibromyalgia is that most of the symptoms are invisible, which makes it hard for others to understand what the illness is really like. This also makes it difficult for a patient to explain what they are going through. That’s why Awareness Day is so important.
When people learn they have fibromyalgia, they often go through the stages of grief and loss – including anger and denial. They realize there are limits to what medical technology can do. There’s no magic pill that can fix this. If people with fibromyalgia believe there is no help for them, they’re going to stay stuck. However, there really are treatments that can help.
Fibromyalgia Awareness Day activities are held worldwide in an effort to bring awareness to this illness, helping patients and organizations to educate the general public, healthcare professionals, government officials, and legislative bodies. The Fibromyalgia Coalition International (FCI) is one of the leading organizations calling for increased recognition and treatment of root causes of fibromyalgia instead of just treating symptoms.
The FCI’s annual Fibromyalgia Awareness conference “Freedom from Fibromyalgia” on May 5, 2012, will feature presentations by leading medical professionals. Fibromyalgia patients and healthcare providers will discover products and services, as well as treatment options for underlying causes and contributing conditions.
For further information, click “Events/Conference” at the top of the page.