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A woman came into my office for a consultation yesterday and she had diagnosed herself as having Fibromyalgia. The fact is that she was correct, but this is how she told her story.
About 5 years ago, she started experiencing a lot of pain throughout her body, for no apparent reason. She saw her family doctor, who insisted that she must have pulled some muscles when doing her housework, even though she insisted that she had done nothing unusual. She was given a prescription for muscle relaxers and told to take over the counter Advil, as needed. The only problem was that her pain continued and started to worsen. She returned to her doctor, who, begrudgingly, decided to run some laboratory tests, which came back negative and again he insisted that there was nothing wrong with her. However, he explained that if the pain was real (he actually said real), he would send her to a physical therapist for 6 weeks at 3 times per week. One session was enough to convince her that PT was not an answer as her pain became much worse that evening. She also started developing headaches, insomnia, fatigued; the typical fibromyalgia symptoms.
This is when her story really began. She went from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist. Was tested for every illness from M.S. to Lupus, to R.A. She had horrible pain in a toothy yet the dentist could not find anything wrong. She begged him to look again, but he refused. She tried a chiropractor, but one visit caused a major flare, she tried acupuncture, but no results. By this time, her fibromyalgia was in full force. The pain had worsened and kept moving around she was developing all types of G.I. symptoms, say a gastroenterologist, an endocrinologist, a Rheumatologist and many other practitioners. She was finally referred for a psychiatric evaluation and the diagnosis was depression and she was then referred her to a psychologist for counseling.
There are many excellent psychologists practicing, but this one was a dud. Keep in mind that by this time, the woman had read about fibromyalgia and was convinced that this was what she was suffering from. The psychologist (who apparently had a large ego), insisted that there was no such thing as fibromyalgia and that all the symptoms were directly related to her busy lifestyle. The only problem was that her lifestyle was not that busy. Sure, she had two young children, but she was a “stay at home mother”. After three months of weekly therapy, the psychologist insisted that the woman was not trying hard enough (whatever that meant), and threatened to release her. The patient, however, had other thoughts on the matter and never returned to see the psychologist.
This entire story occurred over a five year period and the woman was desperate. She had heard about me from another patient I had seen years ago and came, with her husband to my office to speak to me. It was very obvious, within 5 minutes of talk, that this woman had fibromyalgia. I verified what she suspected (actually there was no question about it), and you could see the flood of relief affect this woman and her husband. Treatment will start in 2 weeks, but my questions are:
1 Why did it take 5 years for a definitive diagnosis, especially when she had the classic signs and the class prior history of trauma?
2 Why did she go from doctor to doctor, from specialist to specialist, from alternative provider to alternative provider, yet nobody could see something which was so obvious?
3 Why did some of the providers, including the psychologist insist that fibromyalgia did not exist?
4 Why was she offered every drug on the market including narcotics, especially if so many of these providers thought that this whole illness was psychosomatic?
Does this scenario sound familiar? It should as I hear it almost every day and almost word for word. Next blog, let’s look at some of the answers to these questions.