About a month ago, my sister called me to tell me that her doctor finally had a diagnosis for her. It was Fibromyalgia Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It has been nearly two years since my diagnosis after nearly ten years of looking for answers. As for my sister, she, too, has had symptoms that go as far back as her teen years. She turned 30 this year and for the last two years since I was diagnosed, I have encouraged her to push for answers as she has spent quite some time searching for answers as well.
When she called to tell me earlier in the month, she told me she was relieved that her illness finally had a name and that she was glad that she was not alone when it came to this diagnosis. I mourned her diagnosis from the day I found out that it was officially confirmed. I think so many of us hate our own diagnosis or diagnoses, but we are relieved that we are the ones suffering and not those we love. While I suspected for some time that she, too, had FMS, it never really sunk in until she told me that it was confirmed. The more I mourned her diagnosis, the more I wanted it not to be true.
The fact is that fibromyalgia does run in families and it is not usual for two or more siblings to have FMS. One study found that the risk of having FMS was 8.5 times higher among family members of a person with the condition than among family members with someone has rheumatoid arthritis. Further, research shows that there is a genetic factor linked to FMS. In addition, some evidence suggests that FMS is more common among persons who carry certain gene characteristics. It is also very common in women and affects up to 5 percent of the population.
My sister is relieved to have a diagnosis especially one that she knows won’t alter her life too much. I was lacking in the knowledge about fibromyalgia when I was diagnosed but she is lucky because she knows that FMS is not something to be afraid of. She also knows that it can be managed with diet, exercise and if, necessary, medication. I guess I am mourning her diagnosis because I was confused when I received mine. Perhaps, she, too, is confused, but having someone else who knows and who understands makes all the difference in the world.
Sue was one of the few people who believed me when I said that I was hurting. She also came to my aid when I had my worst flare up after giving birth. I didn’t know that she understand from firsthand experience and perhaps, that is what I am sad about the most. I didn’t and couldn’t ever imagine someone I loved and cared about hurting in the way that I do.