Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues (Mayo Clinic). Personally, I have heard of this illness but never really knew exactly what it was. I think this is one of the main reasons that it is misunderstood in our culture because if you’ve never experienced it or been informed about it you don’t really know what it is. This gives your mind a chance to wonder and make up possible scenarios of what it is or what it is like, which continues the misunderstanding of the illness. After reading Fibromyalgia+ The type “A” Personaility… I received a first hand experience of what the illness was all about. In the article, the author explains her struggles with the illness in order to help people understand how real it is. She goes into elaborate detail of her symptoms, pain, and out of control issues of the illness. She states, “When people don’t understand how I can be so sick, but look so “normal” it makes me sad…..it frustrates me…..it makes me cry. I wish everyone could understand that FMS is a real illness that makes the sufferer miserable” (BlogHer). I think culturally, this is another reason this illness is misunderstood because the person affected by it can look “normal”. In American culture we tend to judge people based on their looks, gestures, manerisms etc. This is what creates the misunderstanding of the illness. We judge a person with FMS because they look normal and create this idea that they are making their pain up. When in reality, deep inside they are suffering. This influences illness experience because the person suffering, such as the author, gets exhausted because people don’t believe in their pain due to the fact that they “look normal”. Doctors don’t know the exact cause of FMS. This can create a recipe of frustration and difficulties for persons affected because there is no answer. In regards to biomedicine, doctors attempt to analyze the illness experience presented to them by the sufferer. This influences the illness experience because the sufferers have to explain something that is pretty impossible to explain to doctors who are supposed to help them, give them hope, and find them cures. It can leave a patient hopeful. The sufferers of the disease try and explain their pain based on a universal pain scale. However, because the illness is so abnormal it is hard to describe to a doctor on a pain scale exactly what they’re feeling. This could influence the illness experience by leaving the patients frustrated trying to explain something so complex.
Due to the fact that fibromyalgia is not completely understood culturally or biomedically, this can influence management and treatment of the condition in multiple ways. As we saw in the article, the author explains her condition in a fed up type of manner. She explains that managing her illness is not the easiest and it gets frustrating, sad, and hard at times because people just don’t understand or believe her suffering. When someone doesn’t understand what you’re going through it can make management of your illness difficult. In some patients it may make them feel as if they are “crazy” because no one will believe them. As for treatments, the people suffering with fibromyalgia probably feel like guinea pigs at times. Biomedicine doctors are researching cures and causes on the illness. However, they do this through using their patients as their testers for new drugs, shots, etc that may treat the illness.
The connection between belief and healing is quite apparent. As we saw in the video “cracking the code” with the example of the placebo knee surgeries. Both men that underwent the placebo knee surgeries are doing better and can now walk (which they couldn’t do before without pain and canes). The connection here between belief and healing is if you trick your mind into believing you will get better, you will get better, and heal. Finally, both men were proof of the placebo affect. Each believed the surgery would help them, even though they did not know they weren’t getting real surgery, but it didn’t matter. As long as the men believed the surgery would work, they would both heal.
Mayo Clinic. “Fibromyalgia.” Definition. Accessed July 22, 2014. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/basics/definition/con-20019243.
BlogHer. “Fibromyalgia+ The Type “A” Personality= Chaos, Frustration and Near Insanity!.” BlogHer Editors. Accessed July 22, 2014. http://www.blogher.com/fibromyalgia-type-personality-chaos-frustration-and-near-insanity?page=full
Nicholas Humphrey. “Placebo: Cracking the Code”. YouTube video, 52:38. November 5, 2011. Accessed July 22, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvbQnMvhQFw