As I sit here with a wet, gooey feeling on my mid-back from my pain patch, I started thinking about my personal facebook profile picture. It's one of the "May 12 Fibromyalgia Awareness" photos that go around. Maybe I'm just grumpy tonight from being so tired (I couldn't fall asleep Friday night until after 7am Saturday morning). Maybe it's because my arms, neck, and shoulders are aching just with minor typing tonight.
Probably Possibly all of the above, but regardless it struck a nerve gave me pause for thought. We're supposed to create enough awareness yeah, because that's a real possibility to do any good or bring about changes by making people "aware" one day out of the year?
I'm sorry, but it kind of makes me want to scream
and cry, and kick, and throw myself on the ground in true temper tantrum fashion when I sit and really think about that tonight. Before starting this post, even though I knew the answer, I still went to page after page googling "what is" ....Fibromyalgia, Lupus, RA, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Osteo Arthritis, CFS/ME, etc. Why would I do this besides being completely crazy? Just to look at what I already know. "Although there is no cure at this time ....."
No cure "at this time". Does that mean that there will be a cure in the future? Will it be during my lifetime? Well, I'll tell you my honest opinion. Although I'm hopeful, realistically I really don't think there will be a cure in my lifetime. I'm praying that a cure will be found during my daughter's lifetime. The reason I'm not hopeful, is because there isn't enough advocacy. There isn't enough awareness. If you've been around my blog for awhile, you know that one of my key phrases is "without education there won't be change".
What do I mean by change? You could say that I mean it in the same way as awareness. My entire mission statement for The Fibro Frog could be summed up by the words on one of the awareness photos I made up. You'll see it below:
I just think it's so silly to expect people, as in a lot of people, to become aware of how painful, debilitating, and real these conditions are by having separate one day awareness dates throughout the year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 2011, there's 311, 591,917 people in the United States. Out of over 3 hundred MILLION people approximately 6 million people have Fibromyalgia, and all of the chronic pain illnesses together tally around 116 million people, that still leaves 195,591,917 people who doesn't have a clue what it really feels like to live with an illness that causes chronic pain. You'll find the census bureau information that I used for this post, by clicking HERE. That still leaves one heck of a lot of people that doesn't
have any clue in the world how miserable our lives truly are have any idea how hard our day to day lives really are.
195,591,917 people that by no fault of their own, just can't grasp the type of pain we live with. 195,591,917 people that are still left to believe that the pain is "all in our heads", or that "Gee, my back, feet, and legs hurt after work so I do know what these people are going through and it isn't that bad. They're obviously attention seekers". We can't be mad at people for thinking these things. As angry as I start to feel every time I read or hear of someone saying that Fibromyalgia isn't real, I have to calm myself down because it isn't there fault. They truly have no idea of the scope of pain and fatigue that we endure every single day of our lives. That's my fault. Our fault.
Some of you are probably starting to get
completely a little miffed at me right now for putting the blame on us, aren't you. Seriously though, unless we can make these people understand, they will never know what a day in our lives is truly like. How do we do that? By educating them. By talking to them. By showing them proof from studies that these illnesses are real. By giving them analogies of things that they can relate to. For instance, using the analogy of when they've had the flu. That really is one of the truest analogies out there.
How can you start educating people? Simply post the truth about how you feel on your face book page. By writing and sending a bulk email with info, examples, study and research links in it. By spreading the message about my "Living With Chronic Pain - A Patient's View" seminar. By talking to your community leaders, pastors, lawmakers, doctors, clinics, college campuses about booking my seminar. If people doesn't understand what it's truly like to live like this, then it's up to us to help them to understand. If we ever hope to have a cure found (for whatever chronic pain/fatigue illness you may have), it's going to take pressure from multiple people to demand further research. I go over the statistics of how much government money goes towards research for us, compared to the amount of government money that goes towards research other illnesses. Now, I'm not being crass or cold hearted. I've had people I love dearly that's passed away due to some of these other illnesses, but the distortion in the amount of research funds for these other illnesses, compared to what we get for fibromyalgia, was staggering to me. I had someone say to me once "Well at least you won't die from what you have, like a person with cancer might". Again, I'm not crass or cold hearted, I'm just throwing my honest opinion out there. I'd much rather be diagnosed with some sort of heart condition, because they have treatments that can be tried ...medicine, surgeries, etc. that can possibly lead to the person being cured. I've long and hard with this next one, and I still feel the same way; I'd rather be diagnosed with cancer. Again, there's treatments and therapies and surgeries that can be tried an a lot of the time the person is cured. Yes, a person goes through pain, tremendous pain, and sickness with cancer treatment. Still though, they have the hope that they'll achieve remission and be cured someday. Did you know that in most of the auto-immune illnesses, a lot of people take some of the very same immune suppressants that is given to people with cancer? It's true. Yet even though they take meds and have infusions of the same meds cancer patients have, they don't have any hope that they'll be cured. They live with the knowledge that they're going to live in perpetual pain every single day of their lives until they die. Not only the pain, but the fatigue, the headaches, the nausea and sickness and depression that are co-morbidities of Fibro, or Lupus, or RA, etc. Co-morbidities such as ulcerative colitis, IBS, chrones disease, migraines, and on and on and on. Real conditions that hurt. Real conditions that make you sick. Again, for me, I'd much rather have a diagnosis of something that could be fatal because not only is there hope of being cured, but regardless, I'd know one way or another that my pain would come to an end. On days where my pain is incredibly bad and I've been stuck in a flare for days or weeks, I sit and think about it and I'd rather know I was going to die, then to know that I have somewhere around 40 more years to live in pain, sickness, and agony. It feels as if I've been sentenced to a life of living in a slow, perpetual hell.
The only hope I have; the only hope we have, is that we bring about awareness to enough people that understands what a crap sandwich we've been dealt in our lives. Enough people that's willing to help us advocate and put pressure on lawmakers and congressmen to push for more funding for more research. I really hope that none of my opinions in this post have offended anyone as that wasn't my intent. The statements and opinions that I've expressed are solely mine. Because I feel this way, doesn't mean that someone else with the same condition as I have, feels this way too. As my last blog post talked about though, the number one cause of death for people with fibromyalgia, is suicide. It's just so daunting knowing that you don't even have a chance to be healthy again. Knowing that you'll spend every day of the rest of your life sick, hurting, and depressed. I've always been honest with all of you on this blog, and I always will be. Some people may find that honesty offensive, and I realize this, but that's who I am. If I give people nothing else, I at least give them my honest thoughts and opinions. All of this to say please, please don't just try to bring awareness about on May 12th of every year. Advocate for awareness every day of every year.