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Even Invisible Illnesses Deserve To Be Recognised
Monday 29 April 2019
Even invisible illnesses deserve to be recognised
Fibromyalgia sufferers want the State to recognise the many costs associated with it
Recently, I was listening to Adrienne Dempsey and Marrisa Appel on the Ray D’Arcy Show discussing fibromyalgia. It is a chronic pain illness characterised by widespread muscle pain, sleep disturbances and profound fatigue. The women were advocating that fibromyalgia be added to the HSE’s list of long-term illnesses that are eligible for free medication.
Good luck with that, I thought. The long-term illness list has not changed since the 1970s and many common debilitating illnesses are not included, such as severe asthma, rheumatoid arthritis or endometriosis.
Fibromyalgia is a much less known illness and until relatively recently, was often written off as a hypochondriac woman’s disease because it afflicts far more women than men.
Dr Irene Tracey, nicknamed the “Queen of Pain” for her Oxford research on the neuroscience of pain, has a useful analogy. She says we may all be predisposed to suffer pain to different degrees, but for chronic pain patients, including fibromyalgia sufferers, it is as if the volume knob of pain were turned all the way up and jammed there permanently.
Many people have asked me to write about fibromyalgia over the years but I never have until now, partly because I am lucky enough to have a mild form of the illness. I am also atypical in never having encountered scepticism or difficulty in securing a diagnosis.
I got diagnosed by accident in the early 2000s. I was in A&E for something unrelated and two very young doctors got alarmed at the degree of tenderness I reported when they prodded my stomach.
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