Fibromyalgia (pronounced fie-bro-my-AL-ja) is a complex chronic pain illness that challenges patients and health care professionals alike. It is estimated that fibromyalgia (FM) affects 8-10 million women, men, and children in the U.S alone. The pain of FM knows no boundaries causing excruciating pain to any or all parts of the body. Overlapping symptoms that accompany the pain include: extreme fatigue, distinct sleep abnormalities, cognitive problems(inability to think and speak clearly, memory loss, brain fog, etc) irritable bowel, restless legs, migraine headaches, neurological symptoms, anxiety and environmental sensitivities. 90 percent of those aflicted with FM are women, 10 percent are men. Fibromyalgia has actually been around since ancient biblical times, but it hasn't been until the past decade where it has received so much attention and diagnosis. 
     Although fibromyalia is not contagious, the cause that activates fibromyalga within a person can be anything from a thyroid condition, an auto accident, or some type of trauma or emotional stress. There is often a compromised immune system, hormonal imbalance, and even a possible enzyme deficiency. Because the stomach and intestines are made up of muscles, fibromyalgia affects the entire digestive tract. (The members in my fibromyalgia support group in Santa Monica all have stomach problems).
    Almost all people with Fibromyalgia are "overachievers"...They have marched forward and forward until their bodies just collapsed. Some have even claimed to be healed of Fibromyalgia by living up in the mountains for a half a year, away from the hectic pace of human beings.(Sounds good to me!)
   One of my doctors believes that the fibromyalgia I have to battle with daily is a result of a thyroid problem. Thyroid problems are in my "family tree" and amazingly, my brother Jack who lives on the other side of the country, has fibromyalgia as well. We correspond and share with each other what works and what doesn't.
    The bizare side of having fibromyalgia is that "you don't look sick". People have great difficulty believing the pain and suffering one goes through daily, simply because they can not see what is happening on the inside.
     As most of you know, my profession as a school teacher (for 10 years) came to an end due to having fibromyalgia. I just no longer had the  energy to work 10 hours a day non-stop. I had to go on early retirement which then gave me the opportunity to live in Los Angeles and pursue a part-time acting career. Whether a task is big or small, I just try to do my best, one day at a time. As one person put it, "Any day above ground, is a good day".