The Long Search for Fibromyalgia Support

September 23, 2009
The New York Times
Anne Underwood

In March 2009, after four years of suffering, Judy finally found a new doctor who could name her ailment: fibromyalgia.

If there is a circle of purgatory that Dante forgot, it might be the one reserved for fibromyalgia sufferers. The problem isn’t just pervasive pain. It’s the challenge of having a condition that is not well understood. It doesn’t help that there is no objective medical test to confirm it — no blood test, no cheek swab, no X-ray — just a patient’s subjective reports. Nor does it help that there is no cure. Many physicians don’t want to be bothered with incurable patients.

If doctors don’t sympathize, why would friends? How do you explain to people that you have no broken bones or burns or even infections, yet your body hurts all over? You look fine, yet beg off work and social engagements. Are you a malingerer? Are you just trying to claim disability? Are you simply crazy? And why don’t you get better? More…