A Mayo Clinic website defines fibromyalgia as a chronic condition “characterized by widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points–places on your body where slight pressure causes pain.” Other symptoms can include fatigue, sleep disturbances, heightened sensitivity, and headaches. Researchers don’t know the cause or the cure, and the condition is more common in women than men.
Forty-year-old Sandy McKenzie reads this column in the Cambridge Star (Minnesota). She said, in a telephone interview, ‘I have a lot of fibromyalgia symptoms. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, in any sense, but I do have flu-like aches throughout my body, sometimes extreme. The pain never completely goes away. I have muscle spasms, nausea, fatigue, and sensitivity to sunlight and noise.’
She also mentioned having memory and cognitive skill loss, which people with fibromyalgia often refer to as ‘fibro fog.’ Gradually increasing since high school, her symptoms began rapidly accelerating the last three years to the point of now being ‘pretty severe.’
‘I don’t know if I can count the number of doctors I’ve gone to,’ she said. ‘When I go to my clinic, my records are thick as a phone book because of the many tests I’ve taken. All that, and I was told by one doctor the pain is only in my head. Most doctors I see believe I really am suffering these things, except they don’t know what to do about it. I’ve been looking all around the state for a doctor.’
She said doctors were unable to find anything wrong. In 2006, finally, a rheumatologist diagnosed her with fibromyalgia, though she has her doubts.
‘My husband is still hoping to find an answer to it,’ she said, referring to a possible cure. ‘I have a hard time going out in public because of the pain and sensitivities, and when I do go out I usually need a few days to recover afterwards. I can’t get off the couch then for a couple days.’
To cope, she spends a great deal of time looking for a doctor, and searching the Internet for anything at all that will help her feel better. She has joined various web groups made up of people that share her symptoms, and from them learns new information and ideas.
She advised people in similar situations to ‘never give up.’