25 January, 2008

Conservative Gays Say the DARNDEST Things!

Dear Andrew Sullivan,

You may be a queen, but that doesn't make you Queen of the Feminists.

Warmest regards,

EDIT: Dana Goldstein has more.

20 January, 2008

Open Call For Submissions!

Crossposted like hell. Mainly, though, I'm posting it again here for the benefit of those who read my blog, but may not have seen it yet. And if anyone wants to link the blog, please leave a comment either here or at the blog with your blog or site, and I will be sure to link back. Questions? Email me by clicking the "Contact" link at top left, or leave a comment to this post.


The new Faces of Fibro blog has been created, in part, to combat the backlash from recent U.S. print media articles that question the very existence of this condition. I hope to create an archive of the stories, images and experiences of people with fibromyalgia.

Here are some very general submission guidelines:

I want to hear about your experiences with this illness, in 500-900 words. Here are some sample topics to get you thinking (and writing):

--How/when were you first diagnosed?
--What has been the biggest challenge so far in dealing with your condition?
--What have your experiences with telling other people that you have this condition been like?
--Do you believe that there is a stereotype of people with chronic health conditions? If so, how do you personally fit or not fit this stereotype?

These are just sample topics. You can write about any aspect of fibro and your experiences with it, really.

Please email your submissions to faces.of.fibro AT gmail dot com. You may submit under a pseudonym, but use an actual name, please. Pending approval, I will have your submissions up on the blog in as timely a manner as possible. If you want to include a picture of yourself, it is welcome and encouraged. (Max of 350 X 500 pixels, please.) If you have a website or blog that you would like to be linked after your piece, or biographical details that you would like to include at the bottom of your piece, please send either of those with your submission as well.

I look forward to reading your responses!

16 January, 2008

HAY GUYZ, Guess What's Back en vogue?

Being an asshole for the express purpose of getting more hits on your blog! YES!

Memo to people who think they know everything: YOU. DO. NOT. I don't have Restless Leg Syndrome, but do I say that it's not a "real" illness? No. Because people's experiences--bodily and otherwise--are different. Just because you've been blessed with perfect health, or that the maladies that you've experienced aren't met with outright mockery, quit-whining-and-pull yourself-up-by-your bootstraps-rhetoric, or disbelief doesn't mean that all of us have been so lucky.

I didn't think I'd be using the "dumbass" tag quite so much, but there it is.

People With Fibromyalgia: I Need Your Input!

Since the does-fibro-exist-or-not debate seems to be back en vogue, I'm thinking of starting a blog or website with the images and stories of people with this condition, just to show the world that we're not all middle-aged white women, as the recent NYT article seemed to imply. Also, I've heard from several people that the (fairly) new Lyrica ad is a tad troubling, as it portrays people with fibro as "victims." Y/N?

I could use your thoughts/input/suggestions. Also, if any of you bloggers with fibro want to help me run this thing, that would be awesome.

EDIT: I did it anyway. Submissions are needed! :D

14 January, 2008

I Don't Need Another Reason to Dislike the New York Times, But Here's One More!

Dear Mainstream Media,

When you care to shine your lovely spotlight on chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, please employ journalistic discretion in order to make sure you're not doing it wrong, unlike the New York Times.

Let's go through this article line-by-blame-y-line!

But other doctors — including the one who wrote the 1990 paper that defined fibromyalgia but who has since changed his mind — say that the disease does not exist and that Lyrica and the other drugs will be taken by millions of people who do not need them.

OH MY GOD, EVERYBODY PANIC. Certainly, diseases can be misdiagnosed. Does this mean that everyone who's been diagnosed with fibromyalgia has been misdiagnosed? No.

As diagnosed, fibromyalgia primarily affects middle-aged women and is characterized by chronic, widespread pain of unknown origin.

Damn those uppity women and their bitching! Hey, NYT, you forgot to mention fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, difficulty sleeping...et cetera. You've got to be able to do better than this horseshit that you call "reporting." Oh, you can't? :(

Those figures are sharply disputed by those doctors who do not consider fibromyalgia a medically recognizable illness and who say that diagnosing the condition actually worsens suffering by causing patients to obsess over aches that other people simply tolerate.

HAY GUYS WE'RE SUCH REBELS IN TEH MEDICAL COMMUNITY CUZ WE SAY FIBRO DUZN'T XIST. UR PAIN IS NOT REAL SO QUIT UR BITCHING, K THX. Also, take note of the special, piping-hot side of crispy "othering" present in this excerpt! Mmmmm-mmm, good!

And drug companies are aggressively pursuing fibromyalgia treatments, seeing the potential for a major new market.

Not this "all drug companies are EVIL!!!11" stuff again. Also, just because they're marketing to me doesn't mean I'm automatically going to switch to their new meds immediately and without planning or consideration. As GOB Bluth might say, "Come ON."

Ms. Matallana said she had suffered from fibromyalgia since 1993. At one point, the pain kept her bedridden for two years, she said.

I like how they only interview one person with the condition, and one doctor who "believes" that it exists. Also, note the "she said." Not "she experienced pain," but "she said."

But doctors who are skeptical of fibromyalgia say vague complaints of chronic pain do not add up to a disease.

Yes, because the described experiences of thousands of people with this condition are all "vague." These "debunkers" need to get a copy of Elaine Scarry's The Body in Pain and read it, stat.

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia itself worsens the condition by encouraging people to think of themselves as sick and catalog their pain, said Dr. Nortin Hadler, a rheumatologist and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina who has written extensively about fibromyalgia.

Oh, really? I actually felt quite a bit *better* when I got a diagnosis after almost a year of not knowing what the hell was the matter with me, and going to doctor after doctor--none of whom could figure it out. For those of you who have never experienced serious pain, "cataloging" it can help people deal with and manage it. This is not the same thing as your life revolving around your pain.


“These people live under a cloud,” he [Dr. Hadler] said. “And the more they seem to be around the medical establishment, the sicker they get.”

No, this doesn't sound like the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as "yuppie flu" debunkers AT ALL. And Dr. Hadler, I suggest YOU try living with an illness that makes you feel like you're either being crushed by a giant hand or too tired to stand. Take your pick.

Most people “manage to get through life with some vicissitudes, but we adapt,” said Dr. George Ehrlich, a rheumatologist and an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “People with fibromyalgia do not adapt.”

Awesome! I was wondering when our old friend, "If You Do Not Live JUST LIKE ME, There is Something Wrong With You" bias was going to show up! People who say this sort of thing never seem to take into account that different people adapt in different ways, OMG. And hey, Dr. Erlich? I have fibromyalgia, and I think I have managed to "adapt" to things just fine. Let me give you a few examples from my own life: I go to school full-time, have a job as a writing tutor, am on the Dean's List [at a school that has made the U.S. News & World Report list of top public universities in the U.S., no less], am currently working on an honors thesis which examines, among other things, media "othering" and bias, AND I HAVE FIBROMYALGIA. HOLY SHIT! I'M, LIKE, A STATISTICAL IMPROBABILITY! TEE HEE!

There's another page to the article, but it mostly covers the theme of "DRUG COMPANIES ARE TRYING TO PREY ON PEOPLE WHO THINK THEY HAVE THIS ILLNESS THAT ACTUALLY MIGHT NOT EXIST."

This article stands as incredible proof of the sometimes "hidden" bias of the supposed bastions of our democracy, the mainstream press. Yes, I know this makes me sound like some sort of tinfoil-outfitted conspiracy nut, but if you just take the time to look, I'm pretty sure this sort of biased language pops up in all kinds of articles about various health conditions--including other invisible illnesses, and everyone's favorite scapegoat, the obesity "crisis."

So, MSM, please take this as a cautionary warning. The NYT, in this article, went about portraying fibromyalgia as the distinct medical domain of whiners, potentially drugged-out misdiagnosees, and uppitee wimmins. For your sanity, and the sanity of those who are affected by invisible chronic conditions, please approach this topic with some degree of sensitivity and neutrality.


EDITRON 5000! Lindsay has more.