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Nurses' Nest

Ivano Vailati, R.N. is a nurse (and fibromyalgia patient) who lives in Milan, Italy. Working with English to Italian and Italian to English translators, the webmaster has edited his article. Ivano will be writing additional articles for nurses in the weeks to come.

Management and nursing of patients with fibromyalgia

Dear colleagues,

The important thing to remember about patients with FMS or CFS is the disorder is very complex and these patients are chronically ill with a true disability and suffering that often is not believed by their physicians, family or friends. The compassion and understanding that you provide is of the utmost importance to these patients.

The pain that the patient suffers is similar to a rheumatoid arthritis-like pain with neurological involvement and is very difficult for the patients to cope. Most patients have some degree of pain every day and it can range from 1 to 10! They also suffer with fatigue. It is important that you understand this disease is real and not a psychiatric disorder. Although depression is nearly always present, it is the result of continuous pain, fatigue and muscle spasms that these patients experience. These patients do not complain merely to get your attention -- they are desperately seeking something to lessen the unbearable pain. Without a proper diagnosis, patients may go from one doctor to another looking for help. If you learn how to recognize this disease, you may be able to help the patient get to the appropriate physician for treatment. You, as a nurse, can play a critical role in getting these patients the help they need and deserve.

For the patients who often deal with this disorder by themselves, they are alone with their suffering and depression. They live with these elements day after day and year after year without refreshing sleep and awaken tired each morning with muscle stiffness. If patients with FMS and CFS could wear a T-Shirt to describe what they feel, it would be a white T-Shirt with PAIN written on the front and FATIGUE written on the back with a background of flowers in order to indicate the continuous condition of suffering but not malignancy. Often, these patients are made to feel that they are exaggerating their disease because it is not terminal like cancer or AIDS. However, they suffer as much or more than patients with terminal illness. Although FMS is not a terminal illness, it claims the lives of several patients each year who commit suicide. Every disease and every patient deserves respect.

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