Spreading awareness of Fibromyalgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Spreading awareness of Fibromyalgia

Albany - Imagine living every day in intense pain. For people with fibromyalgia, that's a reality. The syndrome causes chronic muscle pain and severe fatigue.

A Lee County woman was forced to change her life when she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and now she hopes to change other lives for the better.

Two years ago, 34 year old Dee Peterson was working full-time at a bank when she realized something was very wrong. "It was getting to where I couldn't hand count the money anymore because my hands were so stiff. My shoulder and neck were hurting all the time," said Peterson.

She went from doctor to doctor, undergoing dozens of tests. "We ruled out everything else and came up with the diagnosis of fibromyalgia."

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissue, sleep problems and fatigue. It's linked to a chemical imbalance that causes the brain to almost intensify the feeling of pain.

"The fatigue was unbelievable. The pain in my leg was unbelievable. At the beginning, some days just getting out of the bed and getting dress was all I could accomplish." Peterson was force to quit working. "All of a sudden your life if changed upside down."

Housework or cooking dinner often leave her exhausted for days. For most patients, anti-depressants, muscle relaxers and pain medicine help but not for Peterson. "I had unusual side effects with conventional medicine. So I changed to the alternative side. I use a lot of vitamins and supplements."

Peterson says the hardest part was accepting that she would have fibromyalgia for the rest of her life. To cope, she decided to start a support group. "I thought creating a support could help other people who might be suffering alone in this." The group has grown to more than 60 people who share in the physical and emotional of fibromyalgia.

Dee Peterson was given a scholarship to attend a fibromyalgia conference in California. She hopes to teach her support group what she learns to spread awareness in the community about the fibromyalgia.

posted by kathryn.murchison@walb.com