“Fibromyalgia Syndrome”

Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Not disease. not illness, but SYNDROME. With such an ambiguous name for such a rare occurring issue, it’s no wonder that this medical condition is misunderstood in the American culture. From my understanding in this weeks materials, Fibromyalgia is a medical condition in  which the patient suffers from chronic muscular pain. The symptoms one can experience from this condition are of a very wide variety and can differ from person to person. The pain can include anything from joint pain, sore muscles, and stiff limbs, to nauseating migraines and irritable bowel syndrome.

Unfortunately this medical condition is not always recognized by all as a serious ailment. Because the symptoms are not PHYSICALLY visible, it makes it hard to “believe” in this condition from an outsiders perspective. From a bio medical perspective its also very difficult to prescribe medication specifically FOR Fibromyalgia seeing as how the symptoms and ailments are of such a vast variety and can really be linked to any disease or illness. Therefore, it is no surprise that as a culture we are likely to reject is as an actual illness or disease. In the study done in the Social Science and Medicine article, it was found that women were very contradicting when expressing this illness they possessed. They had a tendency to describe themselves as strong individuals who could handle this issue, yet also played the role of the sick victim which society did not take seriously. Through the narratives of these women it became obvious that their stories reflected “how we have learned to talk about illness from institutional stories that provide a model of how illness should be described in our culture.” In other words, due to the negative connotation brought about my fibromyalgia, people are hesitant to talk to people about this illness. More importantly, the study showed that the women were very wary of seeming like they were complaining or whining. They didn’t their pain to be cast aside, using the excuse of their “femininity” or the social stigma of fibromyalgia against them.

In my opinion, more than half the process of healing an illness is the MENTALITY of it. If the patient and those surrounding him/her are constantly viewing the situation with a negative attitude, then there is no way the patient will ever be fully recovered. Even in the placebo video in lecture it was mentioned that those who took placebo drugs for a long time even experienced severe withdrawals once taken off the “medication.” This shows that one’s mentality has a very strong influence on the effects of a drug or treatment on the body. I know I personally have tried to take on a more positive outlook on life and it has definitely worked for me. Ridding your mind of negative thoughts and emotions will in turn have a more positive outcome for you overall, as I’ve come to learn from my experiences recently. This then applies to Fibromyalgia patients as well. If they see that their illness has such a negative social stigma, they may even begin to doubt themselves and never get the help they require. Therefore, by doubting their pain or disease we are increasing it.

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  1. Paige Smith says:

    I experienced Fibromyalgia through the eyes of my 11th grade English teacher. When she told us that she had Fibromyalgia and what she experienced, I thought it was a disease because I had never heard of it before. Sometimes she would be in severe pain and other days the pain would be so severe that she would have to miss school. It wasn’t until this unit that I realized that diagnosing someone with Fibromyalgia is slightly more complicated and that most medical professionals do not consider it to be a disease or even illness. Since I was not familiar with this particular condition, I had no cultural perceptions of how this condition was received. I knew that it was rare but I did not understand just how rare it was. From a biomedical aspect, I thought that it was easily treated via prescribed medicine but not that I understand that the symptoms could be indicative of another disease or illness. The inability to believe that this condition is an illness could stem from the idea that illness or disease must have visible symptoms in order for a person’s sickness to be validated. This could be because of society hinting that a person is pretending to be ill in order to receive attention. Regardless of whether a person is really sick in medical terms, their experience is important and should be taken seriously.

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