Fibromyalgia: Tips for Daily Living

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Millions of Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. On March 9 Lynne Matallana, president of the National Fibromyalgia Association, joined us to share her tips for day-to-day living with fibromyalgia.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, Lynne. Thank you for joining us today.

MATALLANA:
Thank you very much for having me.

MEMBER QUESTION:
How do you get someone to understand fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS)?

MEMBER:
Sometimes I'd like to make someone who doesn't believe it exists to live in my body for 30 minutes. They would change their mind in a hurry.

MATALLANA:
I think there are some people that you will be able to help with understanding fibromyalgia through the process of communicating with them and providing them with print materials that can give credibility to the illness. It's important for us as patients with fibromyalgia to be honest with people about the experience that we are having. In other words, not to become complainers, but to communicate specifically how we are feeling and how it is affecting our life. There are some excellent articles that a patient can share with family members, friends and colleagues, on our web site, which is www.fmaware.org.

MODERATOR:
Lynne, when you were diagnosed, what was you reaction? Did you know much about fibromyalgia (FM)?

MATALLANA:
It took over three years for me to be correctly diagnosed. I was treated for lupus for almost a year. And when I was given the fibromyalgia diagnosis, I knew virtually nothing about the illness. The good news was that now I knew what the problem was and I had a doctor who was willing to work with me to help educate me about the illness. I felt that it was very important for me to learn as much as I could, but back in 1995 there was very little information available. Fortunately now, when someone receives a fibromyalgia diagnosis, there are more avenues for information and more places you can get support.

"Patience is sometimes difficult and it can be frustrating when you can't do something, but sometimes we can find things that can replace those activities and fit into the restrictions we have because of our health."

MEMBER QUESTION:
How do you adjust to decreased abilities to do your job and get people to understand that you have to decrease your activity sometimes?

MATALLANA:
The first thing I think is important is that we understand that we may have to decrease our activities, but that doesn't mean that has to be the case forever. If you look at what level of functionality you have right now and adjust your life and your work schedule, in the future you may find that you will be able to add some of those activities which you had to give up for awhile back into your life.

I spent over two years in bed not able to work or even get up and function; today I am able to handle a full-time job and I've even gotten back into some of the sports activities that I used to enjoy. It's taken six years to be able to work up to that, but it's important that we always focus on the future and how things can improve.

Patience is sometimes difficult and it can be frustrating when you can't do something, but sometimes we can find things that can replace those activities and fit into the restrictions we have because of our health. For example, I used to really enjoy dancing, and I found it was too fatiguing and caused me too much pain. I replaced that activity with doing water aerobics and found that I could enjoy that just as much as I had enjoyed being a dancer.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Do you exercise regularly?