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Well, I knew it might happen: I stopped writing for a bit. Winter hits and I hit the couch.

While I am going to work to get back to writing here frequently, right now I need to share news with you all.

Last week, the Associated Press ran an article about Fibromyalgia suggesting that it was possible not really a disease and just pushed by drug companies to make money As someone with a journalism degree, I was appalled that the AP would let something like this get out — the tone is that Fibromyalgia isn’t real and that drug companies are faking it. To try and “balance” the piece, the author quotes a drug manufactuer VP to say FM is real. Why he didn’t call one of the thousands of doctors who treats Fibro patients or the College of Rheumatology, I just don’t know.

As a Fibromyalgia patient, I’m hurt. The article is setting us back. With this story running in newspapers across the U.S. it’s hard to take back the false information.

The National Fibromyalgia Association is trying though. Read their reaction, as well as other FM community members, here.

Neurontin making a comeback? Kind of. GlaxoSmithKline is on the cusp of beginning a Phase III clinical trial of a “novel prodrug of gabapentin” (brand name: Neurontin) for the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome and related sleep disturbances. While not every Fibromyalgia sufferer experiences RLS, it’s a common component of the syndrome.

Neurontin was highly prescribed seven to 10 years ago, off label. Then it came out the company marketing it had been lying to doctors about the drug’s off label uses. However, some doctors still prescribe the medicine for FM. In 2007, Pfizer released Lyrica, which is structurally related to Neurontin and is FDA-approved for the treatment of Fibromyalgia.

While Fibromyalgia patients all have at least 11 trigger points of centralized pain, body aches and stiffness, we all experience symptoms to varying degrees. Some can be predisposed to anxiety, IBS or migraines. (The latter used to be a significant challenge for me, but I learned to keep it at bay via Biofeedback.) So, it’s not too surprising to hear that researchers are looking to define the subgroups within Fibromyalgia.

To begin to determine classification criteria, researchers are using the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire. The short quiz asks about daily tasks inhibited by FM and levels of pain, fatigue and stiffness.

Thus far, two groups have been identified:

Type I: Lowest levels of depression, anxiety and morning tiredness
Type II: Elevated levels of pain, fatigue, morning tiredness, stiffness, anxiety and depression

Though, I wonder about the overall effectiveness of the questionnaire. I have really progressed in coping with my FM in the 10 years I’ve had the condition; yet, according to the test I’m well into the “severe” section. That said, in the last few months I have definitely been a part of the Type II subgroup – especially the pain levels and stiffness.

Has anyone else tried this questionnaire? How accurate did you think your results were?

It should be noted, others have been attempting to identify Fibro subgroups for a few years now by testing pressure-pain thresholds and genetics.

Is Cypress just grabbing at this tree?

Is Cypress just grabbing at this tree?

Looks like we may have a third option for “official” Fibromyalgia drugs. A San Diego-based biotech company, Cypress Bioscience, and its lab partner Forest Laboratories put milnacipran up for FDA approval, and expect to get a green light by the end of the month.

Milnacipran has been used outside the United States to treat depression. That lineage comes as no surprise, especially as the second drug approved for Fibro treatment was Lilly’s depression medication Cymbalta.

Cypress says its drug works by blocking serotonin and norepinephrine, both pain- and mood-related chemicals in the brain. However, the numbers from its clinical trial on the drug cause some doubt. In the study, 25 percent of respondents said they felt their pain level had “much” or “very much” improved, compared to 13 percent on the placebo.

Perhaps the FDA will ask Cypress to do more extensive studies. I like the fact that more companies are looking into the causes of our condition and ways to alleviate symptoms, but I feel like this company is just trying to grasp at the money tree from a group of desperate people.

When you wake with stiffness in the morning and Fibro fog clouds your mind, it can be easy to forget you’re not alone. I read a poem posted over at Gather.com, and this writer’s simple words may reflect some of your daily struggle.

Here’s the first few lines:

I wake up to feel the pain,

It’s presence numbs my brain.

For this pain seething and pure,

The experts have no cure.

I hope to see more poems, stories and writing online from real Fibro sufferers like Christine K., who wrote the aforementioned piece. If you have poems you would like to share with others, e-mail me at fibrospot@gmail.com, and I will post them on FibroSpot.

Supplements, anyone?

Supplements, anyone?

I have continued to experience improvement of my Fibromyalgia symptoms from increasing my Vitamin D levels. I’ve heard of a few others who have gone the same route and experienced relief. However, I came across this item today suggesting that taking a combination of Vitamin D, fish oil and magnesium works well.

Has anyone tried this?

Considering the noticeable difference from just the Vitamin D, I wouldn’t be surprised if modifying levels of other vitamins and proteins helped as well. Personally, I’m going to hold off on trying this one until I talk it over with my doctor.

(I purposely didn’t include the dosage amounts here, because I have no idea if it’s legit. The original item includes this, but I recommend talking it over with your doctor.)

From the second Lyrica commerical -- the only one with someone who doesn't look like my grandma. (Not everyone with FM has grey hair!)

The Lyrica commercials help promote Fibromyalgia awareness. But the second spot is the only one featuring someone who doesn't look like my grandma.

When commercials for the Fibromyalgia drug Lyrica started airing on network television, my friends and coworkers started saying, “Hey, I saw a thing about that condition you have.” At first that doesn’t sound like much, but when people can’t see your illness and dismiss it as hypochondria, simple things like this help.

There are even some doctors who don’t “believe in” Fibromyalgia. (I still don’t understand this.) The press that has come as a result of the Lyrica launch and marketing has really helped the FM community. I was pleased to read last week that Pfizer, the manufacturer of Lyrica, is going to devote marketing dollars to promoting Fibromyalgia’s legitimacy. The more people who have heard of our condition, the easier it is for us to be open about our issues and needs.