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Miss La Mesa breaks silence on her Fibromyalgia
Wednesday 18 May 2011
US newspaper La Mesa Patch, which focuses on news from the Californian city of La Mesa, has an article written by Katie Martin, the current winner of the Miss La Mesa competition, about her Fibromyalgia:
Miss La Mesa Breaks Silence on Her Fibromyalgia, Need for Recognition
Katie Martin: “My diagnosis came with great relief, validating the difficulties I had faced over the previous years, and assuring me that I was not alone in this fight.”
To the editor:
As I sit in bed typing this, I can’t help but shift from the discomfort of simply having to sit up. My hips ache from the pressure of my body weight. My fingers begin to lose the dexterity necessary to type. My leg muscles slowly contract into a painful state of tetany, and my mental clarity starts to fade into a haze lacking its usual acuity.
I go through my to-do list for tomorrow with a sense of apprehension—the prospect of having to go to the DMV in the morning fills me with a sense of dread. It is not the monotony of the task that bothers me, but the knowledge that I will not be able to physically stand in line for more than about 10 minutes.
I think about lying down to go to bed, but I know that the second my focus is averted from whatever menial task I am working on, all of my concentration will be consumed by fully recognizing every ache and pain that occupies my body because of the task that has become simply living.
All of this would be understandable if I was, say, in my late 60s. But in reality, I am a 21-year-old student who struggles to simply get out of bed everyday because of a condition called Fibromyalgia.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia shortly after my high school graduation when I was 18 years old. I had spent the previous two years in and out of the hospital, on multiple muscle relaxants and heavy-duty painkillers, occasionally confined to a wheelchair, and generally feeling like I had been hit by a bus on a regular basis.
My diagnosis came with great relief, validating the difficulties I had faced over the previous years, and assuring me that I was not alone in this fight. I learned that Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder with neurological complications that results in an almost constant state of elevated pain despite painful stimuli.
There is no known cure for FM, and a variety of inhibiting symptoms often occur alongside the pain. Despite the lack of scientific understanding of this disorder however, I was hopeful that the future would bring great breakthroughs that could drastically improve my quality of life and the quality of life of others diagnosed with FM.
Naturally, when I was crowned Miss La Mesa in early March of this year, I instantly knew that I wanted to participate in some kind of awareness activity for National Fibromyalgia Day to help bring attention to the silent warriors who fight a battle with Fibromyalgia everyday of their lives.
According to the American College of Rheumatology, between 3 million and 6 million Americans have FM and it’s the second most common musculoskeletal disorder. Because of this, I didn’t stop to consider that there would be no event to participate in. There’s a walk or demonstration for just about everything, right? Southern California is a big region, and if I Googled it long enough, surely something would come up.
You can imagine my frustration and confusion then when my extensive search efforts turned up fruitless. With the exception of a Facebook Event calling for virtual recognition of May 12, National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, there was nothing.
It was not even a blip on the radar. My mind flashed back to my Junior Prom, where I sat on the side of the dance floor in excruciating pain as my friends danced all night. Then to the Emergency Room, as a doctor refused to treat me for an unrelated issue because he didn’t believe in the legitimacy of Fibromyalgia despite clear physiological evidence.
I then imagine myself in the audience of a Los Angeles dance competition in 2006, watching myself collapse onstage midroutine and being carried offstage by my teammates. My life has been turned upside-down because of Fibromyalgia, and my story is not unique. So why is there a virtual silence about this issue?
I can’t answer this question, but I can attempt to address it in what little ways I can. This May 12, I challenge you to break the silence.
While Fibromyalgia may have been nicknamed the “invisible disease,” its effects are not invisible in my life, nor in the lives of the millions of others who are affected by the disorder. I refuse to stay silent about the difficulties I face on a day-to-day basis, and I humbly ask you to do the same.
Whether you are simply learning more about FM through independent research, starting a conversation about its effects with a friend or loved one, or committing to helping to find a cure, please help me to break the silence.
I am confident that someday the great scientists of our day will be able to map the complexities of this illness and chart a course towards a cure. But until then, we need all the help we can get. We must never accept the silence, and instead chug along steadily, step by step, day by day.
Katie Martin, La Mesa
The above, with comments, originally appeared here.
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