Last Monday, a visit to MY Primary Care Physician left ME feeling frustrated and concerned. Why? When I requested a new Rheumatology referral, he responded,
“If You Find A New Rheumatologist, Do Not Mention You Have Fibromyalgia.”
I was Silenced. What’s a polite way to say, “Doctor, I need a Rheumatologist who wants to treat Fibromyalgia”?
Satisfied with the current Rheumatologist’s treatment for MY Rheumatoid Arthritis; but, I was disappointed with his failure to address MY Fibromyalgia. Even though, I mentioned this on more than one occasion.
I left the Primary Care Physician’s office, without a new referral, unsure of what to do next.
Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia more than sixteen years ago, I was able to get access to quality health care when I lived in Wisconsin. I was blessed with empathetic, compassionate and highly trained health care providers — PCP, Pain Specialist, Rheumatologist, Psychologist, and Physical Therapists. They respected, validated and treated Fibromyalgia. Though I continued to rely on these health providers for more than three years after retiring in Florida, this is no longer practical.
When I reached out for treatment in Florida; two of physicians sent different messages: (1) Ignore the Condition and (2) Hide the Condition.
Are there health care providers who think Fibromyalgia is a “wastebasket syndrome?” Is it possible that they still Believe the Myths and Disregard the Facts as reported on:
Myth: Fibromyalgia is rare.
Fact: Fibromyalgia is one of the most common types of chronic pain disorders. More than 5 million people in the United States have fibromyalgia.
Myth: Doctors diagnose fibromyalgia when they can’t find a “real” diagnosis.
Fact: Fibromyalgia is very much a real condition. In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology developed guidelines for diagnosing fibromyalgia. Today, these guidelines are widely applied. Today there are more than 4,000 published fibromyalgia studies.
Myth: Fibromyalgia is a “woman’s disease.”
Fact: The majority of people with fibromyalgia are women (about 80%). But, remember that fibromyalgia is a common condition. That means many men are diagnosed as well.
Myth: The pain of fibromyalgia is mild.
Fact: Some people only experience mild symptoms, especially when they are being properly treated. For others, the pain can be severe. It can have a significant impact on quality of life.
MYTH: Your Fibro Symptoms Are All in Your Head
FACT: Fibromyalgia is a real medical condition, which includes specific medical criteria for diagnosis.
MYTH: Only Lazy, Inactive People Get Fibromyalgia
Fact: Researchers actually suspect that many people who develop fibromyalgia are driven people, and that the stress of that drive may play a role in wearing away a person’s defenses against fibro symptoms.
MYTH: There Are No Effective Fibro Treatments
Fact: Here’s the good news. As more and more research is being done on fibromyalgia, we’re learning more about it. And that’s helping doctors pinpoint better, more effective fibro treatments. The catch is that what works for one person may not work for another, so you need to work closely with a doctor to refine and modify your fibromyalgia treatment.
The denial of health care for Fibromyalgia is probably not covered under existing anti-discrimination laws. Yet, I felt discriminated against. The same feelings of “unworthiness”, “loss of self esteem”, “powerlessness” and “helplessness”, that I experienced when faced with discriminatory practices in the past because of MY race, age, sex, and/or disability.
Yes, I definitely need health care for both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. Over MY 70+ years, I have learned to pick my battles. Therefore, I decided to focus on the RA treatment. Exacerbated pain levels and joint degeneration leaves ME little choice. For now, I will not “burn bridges” and/or “voice opposition” because of inaccessible health care for Fibro. But, I will re-visit this issue at a later date. Not sure how, but MY voice shall be heard.