May 12th - yes, I know that was yesterday - is National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day and World Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. (Have you figured out yet that there’s a reason I post at noon on the fifth day of the week?)
Frankly, Fibro Warriors deserve an entire month of awareness. So, toward that aim, I’m dedicating every essay in May to the Warriors out there.
But today is special.
For the Fibro Warriors of the world: I see you. I understand you. I’m one of you.
Wanted: F*%&ing Malfunction (FM)
Aliases: Fi Bro, Al Odynia, Fuc MiLife, Dys Tesia, PitA, Mac Itstop, Major Payne
Physical Description: Physical is the primary description of FM - a master of the malfunctioning central nervous system. This criminal mastermind orchestrates every unwanted sensation throughout the body, triggered at the most inopportune moments. A creeping burn during the chilling bite of winter. Countless thrusts of invisible needles into the bottom of the foot, palm, underside of the arm. Sudden numbness in the stifling heat of summer.
And the constant presence of stabbing, aching, twisting pain raging throughout the body.
FM rarely relents, scheming throughout countless hours for new ways to inflict untraceable pain. The plotting leaves no room for rest, leading to a waking, walking fatigue that undermines the mind’s ability to string thoughts together. Every minute gets spent scrambling after memory, vocabulary, coherency. Night and day blur as the victim loses everything but a glancing acquaintance with sleep. Any restoration the body and mind may have previously enjoyed evaporates under the constant assault of pain.
Unrelenting, uncontrollable, unanticipated physical and emotional pain.
Wanted for Grand Larceny
FM slides into the victim’s life with the stealth of the world’s top cat burglar. The unwitting victim remains unaware of the fiend’s presence between one moment and the next. Slowly, the mastermind integrates into their daily activities. Simple moments of forgetfulness, twitches of a wrist or ankle, cramps within the abdomen start to compound. Symptoms they once dismissed as inconsequential become impossible to ignore.
Once entrenched within the victim’s body, FM moves into the second phase of their plan. As the individual seeks assistance for the vague and often indefinable signs interfering with their lives, the criminal deploys classic misdirection techniques. Authority figures the victim approaches see no evidence of wrongdoing. And so FM’s hostile takeover becomes complete.
Firmly seated within the nervous system, FM robs the victim of crucial valuables: work, family, friends, life. The ability to run errands, the casual regard for basic chores, the simple task of conversation - everything disappears within the criminal’s grasp. Plans get canceled at the last moment. Disappointment becomes a staple of existence.
There is no way to estimate the cost of these losses.
Last Known Whereabouts
Hangouts: FM thrives within the brain and spinal cord. Authorities speculate the criminal may also inhabit the circulatory system, but uncertainty remains. A master of deception, this criminal continues to evade detection.
Associates: Due to the wide range of hideouts, it’s not unusual to find FM associating with major organ systems. This criminal often generates flares within regions of the body the victim has experienced previous concerns. The ensuing pain leads the individual to suffer blandishments from physicians that the symptoms reside “in their head.”
FM commonly brings depression and anxiety along during its exploits. The influence of these lesser-known criminals does nothing to assist the victim in obtaining assistance.
Report on First Arrest
Arresting Officer: Sir William Gowers
Date of Arrest: 1904
Report: FM inflicted damage as early as the 1820s but escaped identification until Sir Gowers. The criminal’s first alias of Fibrositis was listed on the initial arrest report, and Sir Gowers documented tender points on the victim. This mastermind persisted with the moniker throughout the 20th century, dropping it in favor of FM in 1976 when authorities found a lack of inflammation in victims' bodies. The persistent reports of pain within the musculature prompted the name change.
An official criminal designation by the American Medical Association (AMA) wasn’t made until 1987. Despite the issuance of a warrant, many districts continue to view warnings of FM as skeptical, leaving trails of unhappy and miserable victims.
FM observes no preference for race, age, or gender. The criminal often demonstrates an interest in families, moving from one generation to another. It may take several decades before the pattern is recognized by authorities, allowing irreparable damage to occur.
With no assessable value placed upon missed nights out, failed exams, lost naps, or days spent staring out the window at family members in the pool, some authorities remain reluctant to take action on this criminal’s activities. Victims may find even those at the highest levels unwilling to believe their stories of pain, fatigue, and confusion. It’s not uncommon to receive recommendations for psychological evaluation.
Victims are advised to persist with their reports. When encountering pushback and dismissal, individuals should attempt to find another office to file charges.
The victims of FM have collected and posted an undisclosed reward for any and all information leading to the arrest and prosecution of FM.
If you know of any methods that will lead to a cessation of this criminal’s blatant disregard for human decency, please contact the Fibromylagia Research Group of your choice.