Fibromyalgia
and "You look fine", and why that is a lie
The face of Fibromyalgia
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We with FM, often hear this, "you look fine" and what they mean by that, is that you look healthy. Now, I question this whole idea. I recall seeing one of the first commercials for Fibromyalgia drugs on TV. Where they used a real live family to present it. And the woman was saying, while I may look normal ... so on and so on. However, I recall how she looked ! She had to be a real person with FM, as to my eyes, she did not look fine, at all !

I recall seeing her sitting there, with her family all around and I will be blunt and say that she looked like eight miles of bad road. In other words, she looked like one of us. Now since then, I notice that they have stopped doing that. They are all actors now for the
commercials, who do look perfectly normal.( No major surprise, since they are healthy people )

I guess they realized that showing what one of us really looks like, was not a good poster child for their newest drugs. But I kept asking myself, are they all blind ? Does no one but me see this woman and see the same suffering individual, as I do ?

I have a mirror and I still have eyes to see with ( even if some days they don't work very well ) and I can see that I do not look fine, at all. In fact, some days I look like dead warmed over. My skin, my hair, the look in my eyes, the set of my body, how I move, none of it, is "normal" or looks at all fine, by any reasonable definition of the word. Which by the way is a noun, that with regard to ones health means "
Being in a state of satisfactory health"

Well, we are most certainly not in a satisfactory state of health, so why does everyone, from our Doctors, to our families try and tell us, that we look fine ? In the case of our doctors, is it just that we do not show the typical signs of "illness" ? What are they anyway ?

Well, unless you are looking for the visible signs of a given disease, don't bother trying to look them up, as you will not find them as a general item. To find them for FM, the visible signs anyway, I had to look all over the place.

And perhaps that is the problem. That doctors do not yet understand, the "face" of Fibromyalgia. Most of us know it quite well, we see it every time we look in the mirror, every time we look at our skin, nails or hair. In fact, we can just about pinpoint another FMer, just based on how they look or move. But I guess our Doctors are blind to this, at least for now.

Our families can be cut a little slack on this, as these changes did not happen over night. What they see, has happened as a gradual change in how we look to their eyes, which might appear "normal." Unless of course they think back to how we looked, before FM hit. Then they might realize, just how much has changed.

For example: When I was younger, I was blessed with a face that made people think I was much younger than I really was. Even at past 40, I had a hard time making people believe it, they had me pegged for my 30's, at most.

In less than 10 years, that is totally in reverse, I am 56 as of this writing and even my doctor made the mistake of thinking I was much older, just based on how I look. I could tell people I was 65 or older, and they would believe me. Hell, I would believe me ! I have two sisters, both older than myself and I look older than both of them. I look, in point of fact, almost as old as my Mother.  (Update: I am 62 now, and I do look as old as my 80+ year old mother, we could be twins)

Now a bit of that, is the fact that I let my hair go gray ( something neither of my sisters will do, as they dye their hair, like it was a religious obligation ) but I honestly think, that even if I did dye it again, it would make little difference, in how I look. In fact, I think it would be worse, as it would be totaly fake looking.

But, hair color not withstanding, it is how we all look in general, like men and women who have aged, almost overnight it seems and we always look tired. Well, no surprise there, we usually are !

So what does the "face" of Fibromyalgia, look like ?

Now, just taking the signs that you can see, with your own eyes, or hear as the case maybe, ( which by the way means, so can anyone else hear or see them ) without going into the reasons why we have them, those visible signs,  look like so:
  • Rashes, with no identifiable allergen
  • Hives, for no reason
  • Red blotches, without having Lupus
  • Tiny bumps or blisters on the skin
  • Eczema = a group of medical conditions that cause the skin to become inflamed or irritated
  • Seborrhoeic dermatitis = an inflammatory skin disorder affecting the scalp, face, and trunk, presents with scaly, flaky, itchy, red skin
  • Psoriasis  = chronic skin condition, causes skin cells to grow too quickly. Symptoms include thick white, silvery, or red patches of skin, inflammation, and flaking skin. 
  • Neurodermatitis =  is a skin condition characterized by chronic itching or scaling, the skin can take on a leather like look
  • Mottled skin:  Uneven complexion, gray looking skin, premature wrinkling of the skin
  • Tissue overgrowth ( ingrown hairs, heavy and splitting cuticles, splits along the edges of the hands, fingers, heels, feet and toes)
  • Liver spots Although liver spots are generally harmless, there is a danger that they can give rise to melanomas
  • Keratois = Actinic keratoses are precancerous lesions on the skin, marked by an overgrowth of layers of horny skin. They look like a barnacle, they often itch and will bleed if ripped off, and they are very visible.
  • Nails that are brittle, ridged, have moons, are thin and often easily broken
  • Hair often falls out prematurely or sheds excessively
  • Hair that is either excessively dry or oily
  • Chronic split ends on the hair
  • Hair that fails to grow, or grows slowly when cut
  • Reddening of the eyes
  • Frequent crusts at the corners of the eyes
  • Drooping of the eyelids
  • Fatty deposits on the eyelids
  • Pale eye lids
  • Facial tics
  • Tremor or trembling, especially purpose tremor = meaning when you go to do something, your hand shakes
  • Chronic Flu like signs, cough, nasal problems, hoarse voice, without having an infection
  • Staggering gait
  • Difficultly rising or sitting down
  • Frequent falls or trips
  • Slumped posture
  • Excess belly fat
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Aphthous ulcers (canker sores)  
  • Difficulty moving the mouth to speak 
  • Slowed speech 
  • Stuttering; stammering, or slurred speech
  • Forgotten or confused words
  • Colorless lips
  • Shortness of breath
  • Handwriting difficulties
  • We drop things, often
  • Constant shifts in position
  • Sudden napping
  • Are easily confused
  • Abnormal sleeping patterns
Now, there is more, but I think I have made it clear that anyone, from our Doctors on down, who are paying the least bit of attention to what is in front of their face, can see with their own eyes, that NO, we do not look fine... thank you very much !

Now, the reasons for all of the above are many, that are covered in the other articles, (on site link), but I just wanted to take a moment and ask the world in general, how can you NOT see all of this ? How can you look at us and say, we look normal ? That we look fine ? Well if all of the above, is "fine"  then I think a goodly portion of the people out there who say such a thing, have a very warped definition of the word.