Groups work for recognition of chronic immune disorders
May/June 1997

Chronic immunological and neurological diseases are among the fastest growing health concerns in the world today. Four of the largest are the overlapping conditions known as fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), multiple chemical sensitivities syndrome (MCSS) and Persian Gulf syndrome (PGS). These illnesses are often characterized by overwhelming fatigue, severe muscle pain, concentration problems, sleep disorders, headaches, allergic symptoms, and numerous other problems that usually last a lifetime.

In order to shed light on this growing health threat, May 12 of each year has been designated as International Awareness Day. May 12 was chosen to memorialize the birth date of Florence Nightingale, the English army nurse who inspired the founding of the International Red Cross. Nightingale contracted a painful, energy-sapping illness in her mid-thirties. She lived out the latter half of the life struggling with symptoms reminiscent of FMS, CFS, MCSS and PGS. Nightingale never gave up hope and neither should you.

Despite her illness, Nightingale managed to found the first school of nursing. Now at the end of this century, we have tens of thousands of veterans of the Persian Gulf War who have an illness, PGS, which mimics FMS, CFS and MCSS. It is fitting that the "lady with the lamp" now shines a ray of hope and inspiration to peope with these related disorders throughout the world.

Join RESCIND (Repeal Existing Stereotypes about Chronic Immunological Diseases), Fibromyalgia Network, and other organizations in their efforts to vocalize their concerns about inadequate treatments and lack of research. You can help millions of patients with FMS, CFS, MCSS, and PGS to strive for a better life ahead.

Gainesville resident Olivia Stryker writes: "Like hundreds of thousands of Americans, I am disabled and housebound with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). CFIDS is a devastating illness that affects the brain, immune system, and endocrine system. The cause is unknown, and there is no cure.

"Once a productive citizen, I have been unable to work for 5 1/2 years. My symptoms include: cognitive and neurological problems, impaired memory and concentration, vision disturbances, muscle and joint pain, fever, severe headaches, dizziness and balance problems, chemical intolerance, numb extremities, and fatigue.

"Please support legislation to increase attention to, and funds for, CFIDS research and study by national public health agencies, specifically:

1) National Institutes of Health (NIH) support for CFIDS research;

2) Social Security disability benefits for persons with CFIDS;

3) NIH grants for biomedical research on CFIDS; and

4) Centers for Disease Control surveillance projects about CFIDS."

For more information, write Fibromyalgia Network, P.O. Box 31750, Tucson AZ 87571. (800) 853-2929

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