Fibromyalgia DX: Hysterical Middle Aged Woman’s Syndrome

1996: The end of life as I knew it:. I began experiencing excruciating burning pain in my hands, arms and legs. In 1996 fibromyalgia was not recognized by the medical community as a “real” ailment. Doctors considered it to be a syndrome: unexplainable, unverifiable and in all probability psychosomatic. Their unofficial diagnosis was Hysterical Middle Aged Woman’s Syndrome.

Doctor after doctor, told me, test after test after expensive test came back negative, that nothing was wrong with me and to go home and “Get a life”. Some looked at me knowingly, like we shared a secret “You’re a psychotherapist. You know about psychology” – Wink, Wink. The only reason I winked back was to blink away the tears that were threatening to disrupt the façade that I wasn’t a hysterical middle-aged woman.

I just wanted someone to put a name to what I had. Gynecologists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, neurologists, rheumatologists, environmental specialists, acupuncturists, immunologists, chiropractors, Yup you are reading right! They are ALL in the plural. I didn’t just see one of each. I saw private practitioners, researchers, and heads of hospital departments. I’m sure each of them wrote “HYPOCHONDRIAC” on their charts.

Over a decade later I’m no longer middle-aged or hysterical. Due to medication, I’m doing better. Yet these past two mornings I woke up feeling like a locomotive hit me and the bottoms of my feet on fire even tho the only thing they touched for 7 hours was a sheet. This morning I’m tired. Tired of being tired, However, Max took me for a walk and reminded me that whatever my diagnosis, however I’m feeling – it’s NOT all about me!

This was originally posted on August 12, 2009.  Nothing has changed except for the fact fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue/ME are now recognized as “officially” an illness.  The research has been slow but point to the possibility fiber is a neuro-inflammatory disorder in the brain.  

Those doctors were right after all — it IS all in my head!