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"Fibro-fog has turned my life into a nightmare"
Monday 1 September 2014
Chaddesden mum: 'Fibro-fog' has turned my life into a nightmare
SHE has nearly caused two fires while cooking, gets so exhausted she cannot turn a key in a lock and, some days, forgets her own name.
For Kathleen Carter, it is a far cry from the days when her job kept her busy and active – along with being a mum-of-four.
It was more than a decade ago when she was diagnosed with the condition which "stopped her in her tracks" and turned her life into a "nightmare".
This is because fibromyalgia causes widespread pain, tiredness coupled with difficulty sleeping and memory and concentration problems – known as "fibro-fog".
"It sounds strange but there's been times where I'm about to turn the tap on but I forget what it is that comes out," said Kathleen, 62.
"And, sometimes, I need to look in the mirror because I forget my own name.
"Plus, I no longer cook anymore because the fibro-fog is quite dangerous. It makes me do stupid things or forget silly things.
"On top of that, the fibromyalgia causes pain like you'd never believe – not to mention the fact I've ended up in and out of hospital because of panic attacks. It really turns life into a nightmare."
It is not known exactly what causes fibromyalgia, although experts believe it is linked to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain. They also say it could be down to changes in the way the central nervous system – including the brain, spinal cord and nerves – processes pain messages carried around the body.
But experts say anyone can develop fibromyalgia. It affects about seven times as many women as men and typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50.
And they say it is not clear how many people are affected by the condition, as it is difficult to diagnose with no specific test for it. The symptoms can also be similar to a number of other conditions.
That is why Kathleen, of Field Lane, Chaddesden, said it took some time for doctors to diagnose her 15 years ago.
She said: "It was actually the rheumatologists who spotted the condition – by applying pressure certain points on my body.
"I'd had a lot of symptoms but they were putting it down to lots of different things.
"On the outside, I look fine. But, some days, I can't lift one foot in front of the other – particularly when my symptoms flare up and intensify."
Kathleen said her problems were compounded seven years ago when she was told she had polymyalgia rheumatica. It causes pain, stiffness and inflammation in the muscles around the shoulders, neck and hips.
These conditions sit alongside other health problems which she endures, including high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which sees the airways become narrowed.
Kathleen, a grandmother of 18 and great-grandmother of one, said: "People can get some support for fibromyalgia but my health means I have a bad reaction to a lot of medication.
"This, unfortunately, includes bad responses to lots of painkillers which might have helped me."
Kathleen, who has worked in several jobs, including as a cleaner and a lace mender, said all this means, some days, she find her life "unbearable".
She said: "Fibromyalgia causes fatigue to the point where I sometimes can't put my key in the door and turn it or find the energy to lift my toothbrush.
"But it also causes insomnia so, even though I'm exhausted, I can't actually sleep. If I'm too hot or too cold, I can't tolerate it.
"It's so hard to reconcile because there was a time when I was never in the house and I was constantly working. Now, I can barely get out and about.
"My first great-nephew has recently been born but, because he's in Doncaster, I've not seen him since then.
"And my first great grandchild, Violet Lilly Rose, had just come into the world, which is wonderful. Good things are happening but I just can't make the most of them."
But Kathleen, who takes comfort from researching into her family history, said it was only recently she decided to ask for help.
She said: "I've never wanted to ask anyone for help because people don't really understand.
"But I had to get social services involved because I was even struggling to bathe.
"And, as a result, I've actually just been recommended for physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and help with pain management."
Kathleen said she was also receiving support from Fibromyalgia UK Support – a group on social networking website Facebook which has thousands of members.
She said: "It's wonderful because there are so many like-minded people in the group. They understand and they are gentle – something you don't get with others.
"We are working together to try to raise awareness of fibromyalgia because so many people, including some doctors, don't recognise it or know enough about it.
"More people need to understand what it is, so the signs and symptoms of the condition can be spotted faster and people helped much earlier."
For more information, visit www.fibromyalgiauksupport.co.uk.
[See also: Derby Fibromyalgia Support Group.]
The above originally appeared here.
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