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Essential Factors for Relating Fibromyalgia Symptoms

By Celeste Cooper

Those of us who live with fibromyalgia (FM) have experienced a battery of tests, often only to be told they are negative. Because of this, we may dismiss new symptoms as more of the same. But, could our complacency prevent us from sharing important information?

When Knowing Isn’t Enough

A light bulb is flickering, but we ignore it. That is, we ignore it until it burns out. Then we are left wandering around in the dark, stubbing our toe, and reprimanding ourselves for not taking action sooner. Do we deny the inevitable when our body is trying to warn us? Do we:

Denial is currency. For instance, it can provide us time needed to process information, allowing us to minimize stress until we can take a rational approach. But when we ignore our symptoms for too long, denial loses its currency. The light bulb goes out, and we are left with a source of great anguish and urgency.

So what is the best approach to denial?

We know acceptance is important to moving out of a stuck position. But acceptance is not the same as complacency, so how do we prevent complacency from transitioning to urgency?

Symptoms as Indicators

Consider this example. You know your friend has FM, which in her case is accompanied by a condition that causes a sudden drop in blood pressure, called neurally mediated hypotension. You know she has periodic migraines too. Suddenly, she passes out, and you lurch into action. You try to arouse her. You want to know she will be okay.

What you don’t know is that for the past two weeks, she has had a different kind of headache and intermittent facial drooping. If you had known, you would have encouraged her to get help immediately, because you know it could indicate something very serious. You understand your friend has been in denial. This is why acknowledging new or worsening symptoms isn’t enough. We must relate them.

Relating Symptoms to Our Healthcare Provider

We now know from the example that a clear history is imperative. Following are questions to ask yourself about new or worsening symptoms.

Note: Under the right circumstances, taking pictures may be helpful, not only for your provider, but for you too. Photographs can chronicle your general appearance, appearance of an affected area, and things like how long it takes a wound to heal.

Other considerations

Because FM can be accompanied by some unusual symptoms, please follow the American Heart Association guidelines for heart attack and stroke and seek immediate medical attention if:

Pay Attention to Detail

While the above are examples, they are not all inclusive. Hopefully this helps you understand what, when, why, and how we should pay attention to the many ways our body shares important information. Anything different is important. Don’t let denial lead to complacency when your light bulb is flickering. Our healthcare providers need the details so they can collect the necessary information for making the right diagnosis.

“Symptoms are in reality nothing but a cry from suffering organs.”
~ Jean-Martin Charcot
Celeste Cooper, RN, is a frequent contributor to ProHealth.  She is an advocate, writer and published author, and a person living with chronic pain. Celeste is lead author of Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain and Broken Body, Wounded Spirit, and Balancing the See Saw of Chronic Pain (a four book series). She spends her time enjoying her family and the rewards she receives from interacting with nature through her writing and photography. You can learn more about Celeste’s writing, advocacy work, helpful tips, and social network connections at CelesteCooper.com [1].