My fibro isn’t Lady Gaga’s fibro

Lady Gaga has fibromyalgia. I’m sorry for her. Having fibro sucks.

And apparently people are now talking about fibromyalgia. This is GREAT. A lot of people, doctors included, don’t think fibro is a real thing. They think it’s all in the mind or some bullshit like that. It’s not. Functional MRIs can now show us that fibromyalgia is a real thing. In case you don’t believe¬†Lady Gaga, here are 15 other celebrities who have it.

What concerns me about Lady Gaga sharing her experience is that people are going to hold her up as the model for fibromyalgia, and compare the rest of us to her.

It’s not fair to say, “Well, Lady Gaga swings from a trapeze while singing during her shows and she does shows all the time. Why can’t you come to a party?”

That’s not how chronic illness works.

First of all, fibromyalgia is characterized by three main things: widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and localized tenderness. How strong each of these is and how often they affect someone depends on the individual. There are an estimated 5 million people with fibromyalgia, so you’re basically looking at 5 million different cases with different symptoms.

Second, a lot of people with fibromyalgia have other chronic health issues. That’s right. As if having fibromyalgia wasn’t crappy enough, we get hit with more. Take me, for example. I have lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (which may be an expression of the lupus), anxiety, depression, Type 2 diabetes, IBS, and chronic back/leg pain (after a spinal fusion that went kind of wrong). All of these affect my “activities of daily living.” So even if fibro isn’t kicking my ass on a given day, something else probably is.

Third, medical things aside, we’re all VERY different people. We have different expectations for ourselves, different lifestyles, and different life situations. Lady Gaga and Morgan Freeman and whichever other celebrity has fibro are all in a completely different place financially than I am. They may have help to do things that I don’t have – someone to clean their house, someone to do their hair, someone to drive them places. Us normal fibro sufferers have to weigh the costs of our actions against our plans for the day and week. If I know that I have to do laundry, wash dishes, and vacuum, I know that I’m not doing much else that day. Those individually cause pain. Together they’re a nightmare.

So yay, fibromyalgia is getting some attention. I just hope that people do research on it and don’t just assume that it’s the same for all of us. Because it’s not.