When Kids Have Symptoms of Fibromyalgia or ME/CFS

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It's horrible when anyone develops fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, but it always breaks my heart to hear about it in a child. Having to grow up with the limitations imposed by these conditions, and to deal with disbelief in people around you ... I just don't have words for it.

It can be hard to take kids seriously sometimes. They get hurt all the time and make a huge deal out of tiny things.

I've seen my own kids go from hobbling around and asking if they can use crutches to running and jumping in about 20 minutes.

But the sad fact is, our kids are at high risk for developing fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, simply because we're their parents. Knowing that can make us paranoid. After all, when illness is at the center of your life, it's easy to see it everywhere. That means we have to walk the fine line between under-reacting and over-reacting to our kids' aches and ailments.

For a parent who's not familiar with these conditions, I imagine it would be even harder to believe the child who says they're having symptoms of these conditions, especially in the face of doctors who say nothing is wrong. That's why this comment, left by a reader who doesn't have one of these illnesses, really struck me:

"My 11 year old son was not believed when we started our journey in search of a diagnosis. I was told that he simply had a social issue and wanted to avoid school and that he suffered from a simple and common case of 'post viral' syndrome and constipation. Well, there is nothing common or simple about his disease which has plagued him for more than one year and has prevented him from going to school. His huge smile is dim now but thankfully his enthusiasm for life is still here. He believes, thanks to the doctors, that he will be well by the eighteen month marker but my own investigation finds that statistically this may not happen. I have had to fight with the school system and ALL of the doctors to pursue the best things for my son. If it weren't for my own medical background and love for my child I know that I would have believed all of the cold doctors and simply would have pushed my son to go back to school. I have not wavered in my belief in my son and I am so very glad!!" ~Guest

To that mother, my hat is off to you, and I know someday your son will recognize the positive role your understanding and faith in him played.

I'm having to watch my own 11-year-old son deal with health issues that are all too familiar. His allergies got a lot worse this year and he now has asthma. He's also getting migraines, along with body aches.

His episodes don't last long and he seems to be responding well to some of the same supplements that work for me. Having traced my own health issues back to events that transpired starting when I was 10, this scares me more than I can express.

I have to remind myself that his prognosis, simply because of his age and the era he's growing up in, is far better than mine. The fact that I've improved tremendously, mostly by treating myself, is also a plus for him. But with every fiber of my being, I want him to be forever ignorant of what it's really like to live with this. If I can help keep his problems from becoming severe, it'll be worth every moment I've spent in pain.

We have a long way to go in our understanding of these illnesses in kids. Here's what we do know:

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