Have you ever had someone ask, “Fibro what?” when you told them what you have? Most people have never heard of it and for sure have no idea what it is. How on earth are we to help them understand? What is fibromyalgia?
The word “fibromyalgia” comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek terms for muscle (myo) and pain (algia), according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Although it differs from arthritis, it is considered a rheumatic condition, which is why most people are diagnosed by a rheumatologist. That might be a good way to describe what you have: constant pain in the tissues and muscles but not in the joints.
Educating others is the only way to ensure that our illness will get the proper exposure and medical attention that it deserves. Post occasionally about your struggles on social media, not in a complaining way, just in a more informative way. Hopefully, that will encourage some dialogue and get people asking you questions.
Help people to relate it to everyday life. For example, if someone’s ever been in an accident they’ll remember how the next day everything hurt, even parts of their body they never pay much attention to. That’s kind of what our pain feels like every day — sometimes worse and sometimes not so bad.
Another example would be reminding them how incredibly achy and painful they feel when they have the flu. Let them know that’s how we always feel. Even though they know that in a week or so they’ll feel better, it never goes away for us. If we can help them relate our symptoms to an everyday occurrence for normal people, I think it will go a long way to helping them to better understand fibromyalgia.
My immediate family gets it for the most part, and my husband truly gets it. But friends and acquaintances don’t, really. They still say things like they hope I’m better now, or mention how their boyfriend’s sister’s teacher had this and they’re doing fine now. Sheesh. Do you have people in your life who understand — at least as well as they can when they’re not chronically ill?
How do you explain FM to people you know? Do they look at you like you’re from another planet? As always, I look forward to hearing from you!
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.