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The crippling illness that GPs refuse to diagnose
Thursday 10 September 2009
When Maria Roberts began to experience sharp pains in her fingers, she assumed it was repetitive strain injury.
As well as working at her day job with a publisher, the single mother was trying to make a career as a writer and spent her spare time writing - typically working at her computer keyboard from 5am to well into the early hours of the next day. ‘I was proud that I was working so hard, but I had no idea I would pay such a high price for it,’ she says.
Then one evening, in spring 2006, as she checked a manuscript, Maria suddenly found herself unable to turn the pages. ‘I had sharp shooting pains in my hands, but I thought everything would be fine if I rested them.’
Overnight, Maria’s condition worsened. ‘It felt as if the blood in my hands was poisoned with burning acid. Within a week, the pain spread to my arms and legs. It was like a nightmare. I couldn’t sleep because of the pain and even a short walk was agony. I was only 28, but I felt like an old woman.’
She went to see her GP. ‘He prodded me in various places, asking how painful they were. When he pressed the base of my neck, I nearly jumped out of my seat with the pain. He also took blood tests to rule out conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
‘The final diagnosis was fibromyalgia. He said it was a chronic pain condition that would never go away, but I could learn to manage.’
She was prescribed strong painkillers and amitriptyline, an anti-depressant that can be used for sleeping problems.
‘I was distraught,’ she says. ‘I didn’t want to be ill for the rest of my life. And what would happen to my dream of becoming an author if I couldn’t use a keyboard?’
The full article, with many comments from readers, can be found here.
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