At the age of 71, Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman was in a car accident that left his left hand paralyzed and triggered nerve damage. "It's the fibromyalgia," he told Esquire magazine about the pain in his arm. "Up and down the arm. That's where it gets so bad. Excruciating."
He says he takes fibromyalgia in stride. "There is a point to changes like these. I have to move on to other things, to other conceptions of myself. I still work. And I can be pretty happy just walking the land."
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In 2003, singer Sinead O'Connor left her singing career, telling Dublin's Hot Press it was because of family needs and the growing fatigue of her debilitating disease, fibromyalgia. She returned to singing in 2005.
"Fibromyalgia is not curable. But it's manageable," O'Connor told the magazine. "I have a high pain threshold, so that helps -- it's the tiredness part that I have difficulty with. You get to know your patterns and limits, though, so you can work and plan around it. It is made worse, obviously, by stress. So you have to try to keep life quiet and peaceful."
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Actress and comedian Janeane Garofalo makes fun of her fibromyalgia as part of her comedy. Prescribed an antidepressant to treat the condition, she quips at many of her live shows, "I had no idea I was chronically dissatisfied."
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Before her death in 2017, Rosie Hamlin, the lead singer of Rosie and the Originals, was outspoken about her struggles with fibromyalgia and the years it took her to "rethink" her life. "I spent six months to a year pacing at night and just crying because of the extreme burning," she told Fibromyalgia Aware magazine in 2004. "The burning was so bad that I put my arm in the freezer and I'd do that for 15, 20 minutes. Then I'd grab a bag of ice, put it on my head, on my face, on my hip, on my legs -- whenever the pain moved towould just be such extreme burning. The concentration was equally bad. I was afraid to talk to anybody on the phone. I couldn't carry on a coherent conversation a lot of the time."
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British model Jo Guest went through a lot of medical exams over many months before she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. "At first I thought it was just a virus, but it just wouldn't stop. I was getting up and being sick all morning and having to spend the afternoon in bed," she told ITV's This Morning Show. "When you come out of hospital and you're told everything's normal, you should be happy but I don't want to be told everything's normal -- I just want to be told what's wrong with me."
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Actress A.J. Langer got into acting because she was in too much pain to do the sports she loved as a young tomboy. Even though her mother had been diagnosed with the condition, Langer told Lifescript doctors never considered fibromyalgia as a medical possibility.
"Doctors used to think the pain was all in my head. At one visit, I heard a doctor tell my mother I was faking it. My symptoms got the best of me (at age 21), and I was laid up for about a year with pain, fevers and stomach troubles. That's when I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia."
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Most famous for her role as Erin Walton in the TV series "The Waltons," actress Mary McDonough struggled with pain after a 1990 car accident before finally being told she might have lupus and one or two of its cousins in the rheumatoid family.
"I developed ulcers, lumps in my back and legs, and began losing my hair. I developed fibromyalgia and Sjögren's syndrome, a condition that causes dry eyes and mouth, " she told Lifescript. "I felt like a failure. My husband and I separated after seven years of marriage, and then got divorced."
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Author Frances Winfield Bremer has suffered from fibromyalgia most of her adult life. As wife to Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, the former administrator for Iraq, she and her husband have been outspoken advocates for the condition, speaking out around the world. In 2007, she was designated as a spokeswoman for the National Fibromyalgia Association.