Support sought for constant dull aching pain of fibromyalgia

Disorder often accompanied by fatigue, sleep and memory issues

Rick Stiebel

News staff

Lisa Hansen is searching for strength in numbers and peer support in a battle with fibromyalgia.

According to the world-famous Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculo-skeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that the disorder amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way the brain processes pain signals. Symptoms sometimes begin following physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress.

For Hansen, a Highlands resident who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia five years ago, a seven-month period of work-related stress six years ago proved to be the trigger. “I got a virus that left me almost bedridden for four months,” said Hansen, a support worker for parents of children with mental health issues for 17 years. “I’ve dealt with more than my share of health issues, but always managed to fight back.” That included treatment for scoliosis in her teens, which required her wearing a back brace for two years. Fibromyalgia, however, is a constant struggle, robbing her of energy, a feeling exacerbated by a constant, dull, aching pain.

RELATED: B.C. aims to implement provincial pain strategy: patients’ advocate

One of the frustrations related to fibromyalgia is that it is difficult to diagnose, Hansen said. There are no blood tests, and it can sometimes be related to other conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. It also tends to run in families, and there may be certain genetic mutations that make people more susceptible to developing the disorder. She tried acupuncture, massage and chiropractors for four or five months, without much success or relief.

Hansen finally found out she had the disorder through a process of elimination that included consultations with a host of specialists. “My doctor explained that there are quite a few Olympic athletes who deal with fibromyalgia, and only a few people go into remission. I feel like I’m a strong person and I’ll beat this but five years later, there’s no end in sight.”

ALSO READ: Half of pediatricians surveyed say their young patients have used cannabis

That’s part of the motivation driving Hansen’s efforts to launch a peer support group in the Victoria area for people dealing with the disorder. “I was in a peer support group for parents dealing with children’s mental health issues for many years,” she explained. “I know how isolated and lonely people dealing with that can feel. There are similarities because fibromyalgia is an invisible disease as well. There used to be a peer support group in Victoria for a number of years, but it closed down. I know that organizing a group like that takes a lot of work and people burn out. My goal is to start a group and ideally get enough people involved so that we can share the workload and not put all of the burden on one person.”

Hansen knows what a difference support from others can make. Her sister, Lori Ash-Root and her son, Ryland, recently took part in the Lake to Lake Walk and Marathon and chose fibromyalgia as their charity of choice. They raised $300, which they donated to MEFM Society of BC, which supports people dealing with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

“It reinforced for me that there are people out there who are managing their symptoms and dealing with the same issues you are. I’ve seen the benefits of peer support first hand.”

To contact Hansen on joining a peer support group, email daaeash@shaw.ca. Check out mefm.bc.ca for more information on Fybromyalgia.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Sooke and T’Sou’ke Nation receive financial boost for projects

Provincial, federal governments invest millions towards Greater Victoria infrastructure

Rapid bus system could increase frequency, reliability in Greater Victoria

BC Transit studies methods for improving major routes in Capital Region

Victoria man collects 28 bags of trash along two-kilometre stretch of highway

20-year-old spent 12 hours collecting garbage near Thetis Lake

It’s showtime: Victoria theatre reopens with new COVID-19 protocols

Capitol 6 theatre and SilverCity Victoria have reopened with limited seating

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Two injured hikers airlifted from North Vancouver Island Park

Campbell River and Comox Search and Rescue hoist team rescued the injured from Cape Scott Provincial Park

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Most Read