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Fibromyalgia support group to form at McConnell

MCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- In 1996, I had an accident that left me with unusual symptoms: extreme fatigue, headaches, body aches, joint pain, sleeping problems as well as many others. None of these symptoms had I ever experienced before. I was struggling just to get out of bed. My body hurt so much that even the simplest of tasks had become challenging. I was even falling asleep in the middle of the day. For someone who had always been active and energetic, this seemed unreal and was very frightening.

At that time, I had been seeing the same physician for several years. He saw the rapid decline in my health and the way my symptoms were robbing me of my day-to-day life. After many months, he dropped the most unusual medical term I had ever heard: Fibromyalgia.

"What?" I thought, "What is that?"

The term Fibromyalgia is a combination of Latin roots "fibro" meaning connective tissue fibers; "my" meaning muscle; "al" meaning pain; and "gia" meaning a condition of. Because we have so many muscles, different people have different symptoms. One person may experience pain primarily in their shoulder, while another person feels the bulk of the pain in their back. Many have widespread pain throughout their entire body. Other symptoms, like mine, could also be present.

The real kick for me came when I asked the doctor about when the symptoms should subside. "When will I feel better?" That was my bottom line.

Fibromyalgia is not a temporary illness; it does not pass like the common cold. You have to find a way to manage your symptoms and do what works best for you. The shot of reality came for me. I admit that I spent some time wondering why and how this could happen to me. Through trial and error I have made my own way and found out what works for me to reduce the pain of my symptoms.

This condition was first described in 1816 by William Balfour, a surgeon at the University of Edinburgh. According to the book, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A Survival Manual, in 1987 the American Medical Association recognized Fibromyalgia as a true illness and a major cause of disability. It is believed that the symptoms of this condition may be triggered by trauma, stress, or a possible virus. For many years, people were often made to believe that the symptoms were all in their head, however many medical communities now recognize this as a real physical condition.

I do not have all the answers about Fibromyalgia, but I do believe that a group of people with the same diagnosis will be able to help each other by sharing information and ideas. A Fibromyalgia support group is forming on McConnell. If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with this condition, please join us. The group will meet Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Health and Wellness Center. For more information, or to reserve a seat, contact Jenny Thompson at (316)685-0426.