News

Living with fibromyalgia pain

Coleen Flynn, of South Grafton, says anyone wanting information on a new fibromyalgia support group can phone her on 6643 4050, or just show up to a meeting.
Coleen Flynn, of South Grafton, says anyone wanting information on a new fibromyalgia support group can phone her on 6643 4050, or just show up to a meeting. Adam Hourigan

COLEEN Flynn will never have a pain-free day in the rest of her life.

The 73-year-old South Grafton resident has a mystery condition called fibromyalgia, which afflicts otherwise healthy people with severe pain and other unpleasant symptoms.

On Friday the news of a seminar for fibromyalgia sufferers attracted about 200 people from the Mid North Coast, Northern Rivers and Tablelands and south-east Queensland to the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club.

As Ms Flynn noted in her welcoming address, many of those people came out of desperation after years of enduring the disease without anyone understanding what was happening to them.

"A lot of people have told me the best thing about the seminar was looking around them and seeing 200 people just like them," she said.

"They suddenly knew they weren't alone and that made them feel better.

"We had about 60 phone calls from people who would have liked to come but they were either not well enough or the distance was too great."

Ms Flynn said people with fibromyalgia could not expect to recover.

"You have to accept that is how you are and learn to get on with your life," she said.

The symptoms don't stop at pain, with chronic fatigue, hot and cold flushes and tingling sensations adding to the misery.

Medical studies have not cracked the code of what causes the disease, but the finger seems to be pointing towards stress as a major contributor.

Coleen's story supports this hypothesis.

"When I was six years old my dad was killed in a tragic accident," she said in her address to the seminar.

"From a warm, comfortable family with lots of love, I was sent to a convent for 12 months, then to live with an aunt for another 12 months - very traumatic times.

"At eight years old I had my first fibromyalgia attack. Of course it wasn't called fibromyalgia then."

Coleen said every stressful event in her life, including a desperately ill child and the death of a husband due to a lightning strike, resulted in an attack.

"I would go to my doctor, physio, chiropractor, acupuncturist or naturopath and they would bring it under control," she said.

"Then I would get on with my life, happy and busy until the next upset."

But in the mid-1990s a diagnosis with cancer that resulted in a double mastectomy brought on pain all over her body that became unbearable.

"The soles of my feet burn, the skin on top stings and my heels feel like they are being cut with a razor blade," she said.

"The pain is in my face; my eye sockets and cheekbones and jawbones throb. My ribs are almost unbearable to touch.

"I have trouble with water splashing on me and I am very sensitive to the slightest breeze and strong sunlight.

"A change in the weather can increase my pain."

Three-and-a-half years searching for an answer led her to Dr Hanish Bagga at the Mid North Coast Arthritis Clinic, who was finally able to come up with a diagnosis: fibromyalgia.

"I was so excited it had a name," she said.

"He said other people had it. I was not alone. I was beside myself I was so excited."

She said the treatment she received dropped her level of pain from around nine to a five or six.

"It was because of my desperation to find others with fibromy- algia that Dr Bagga suggested we start our support group," Ms Flynn said.

The Clarence Valley Fibromyalgia Support Group has about 12 regular members.

It meets on the third Wednesday of each month between 9am-noon at Aruma, 175 Queen St, Grafton.

Topics:  fibromyalgia, health, pain, symptoms



Youth speak out online to start mental health conversation

SHARING STORY: Connor Tarrant is trying to help promote mental healthfor young people.

Connor Tarrant wants to help others by sharing his story online

Luke Douglas ends record-breaking NRL career

Titans player Luke Douglas takes the ball forward during the round 14 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Canterbury Bulldogs at CBus Stadium on the Gold Coast, Sunday, June 14, 2015. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Prop forward set to make switch to St Helens

Get ready to rock out in the clover at Pillar Valley

The Ninth Chapter will head to Pillar Valley on Sunday to join the local talent lining up for Rocktober in the Clover.

Get ready to Rocktober in the Clover on Sunday

Local Partners

Get ready to rock out in the clover at Pillar Valley

The Ninth Chapter will head to Pillar Valley on Sunday to join the local talent lining up for Rocktober in the Clover.

Get ready to Rocktober in the Clover on Sunday

Kim Kardashian West wants restraining order against prankster

She was attacked by Vitalii Sediuk for the second time in two years

Caravana Sun and friends set to shine at Yamba

GROOVE: Caravana Sun are set to rock Yamba Golf Club on Friday, September 30 along with friends Nocturnal Tapes and Nick & Sam.

Caravana Sun and friends set to shine at Yamba

Cliff Richard to release 101st album

Sir Cliff Richard's album cover

Sir Cliff Richard is to release his 101st album

Justice Crew: Grafton to host one of only seven shows

Pop sensations Justice Crew are heading to the Clarence next on Thursday, October 6 o perform their new show It's What We Do.

Justice Crew brings new show to Saraton Theatre

Clarence Valley property prices go through the roof

Buyers are hungry to sink their teeth into the Clarence Valley

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

NEW HOME: Agents to the rescue for family of nine

RELIEF: Tanya Cone (middle) with her kids and McKimm's Real Estate property managers Regan Firth and Nadine Greenhalgh who helped find her family a home.

DEX article prompts property managers to help family find new home

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction