Lately I have been thinking that some days fibromyalgia can feel like carrying a 200 lb. backpack—but with this illness the backpack is invisible. So employers, family, and doctors can’t always understand or see the burden. But truly just being able to take a step carrying a backpack that heavy is an accomplishment. And know that there is a community of millions of others with fibromyalgia who do see the invisible backpack you carry.
We have to support each other. That is why I donate 1% of profits from Frida Botanicals to The Support Fibromyalgia Network, an amazing non-profit organization doing important political activism on our behalf. The good news is that advocacy and lobbying efforts are working, and the healthcare system is slowly shifting to recognize the invisible backpack. In 2015 when the new diagnostic coding system called ICD-10 was put into place, for the first time fibromyalgia had its own code, finally legitimized as a distinct entity. We must stand up together and be seen to ensure further progress in fibromyalgia care.
Attitudes are slowly changing. I see it every day in doctors that reach out to me because they want to understand and learn how to treat fibromyalgia more effectively. Several primary care clinics have invited me to educate their doctors about fibromyalgia. While working in a teaching clinic with residents fresh out of medical school it was really refreshing to see the difference in how young doctors think about fibromyalgia. But there is still work to be done. My state of Oregon remains the only U.S. state whose Medicaid coverage does not include treatment for fibromyalgia, and politic shifts around using opiates for chronic pain may make access to pain relief harder for many patients.
So many of my patients impress me with their guts and courage: The single mom taking care of three kids while carrying the fibro backpack. Combat veterans struggling for the V.A. to acknowledge and treat their illness. Every patient that has ever had to try to educate a doctor that doesn’t “believe” in fibromyalgia. One way to express our internal strength is by calling ourselves fibromyalgia warriors. But I prefer Fibro Fierce, learn why in my video below.
Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter who struggled with life-long chronic paint was carried to her last art gallery showing on her bed. She is my hero because she was one Fibro Fierce woman. Stay Fierce everyone.