She puts a face on fibromyalgia sufferers

An Inverness woman hopes others with the disease will help raise awareness among state legislators.

By Times Staff Writer
Published September 10, 2005

INVERNESS - Fibromyalgia is a disease of soft, fibrous body tissues - muscles, ligaments and tendons - that often leaves victims fatigued and pained. There is no cure, and the cause remains unknown.

It affects millions of Americans and is particularly evident in women. Gina Musick, 82, of Inverness, is one of them. She was diagnosed 20 years ago. She manages the pain as best she can with the limited resources she can find, she said.

She is frustrated by what she says is the lack of knowledge of the condition in the local medical community. A few years ago, she wrote a letter to the editor to bring this perceived shortcoming to the public's attention. She received 60 calls from fellow sufferers.

Soon after, she attended a town meeting of elected officials in an attempt to bring their attention to fibromyalgia. She and others needed local doctors and caregivers who were trained in the treatments, she said. And they needed research.

But since the meeting, there has been little change in the availability of local assistance; her pain and frustration have grown together. She wonders if her diagnosis was even correct. She wishes legislators were interested enough to fund research.

"I decided that I was going to make another try for getting some help for us," Musick said this week.

People keep calling her for help, and she finds herself in the position of a public voice. "I'm a spokesperson because nobody else is doing it." she said. "It fell into my lap."

She wants the people who have been calling her, ranging in age from about 17 to 86, to help her become a louder voice. She would like them to join her at a gathering of state legislators scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 20 in the Citrus County Commission chambers at the courthouse, 10 N Apopka Ave, Inverness. She expects Sens. Nancy Argenziano and Mike Fasano and Rep. Charles Dean to be there.

Musick has been allotted five minutes to speak. "I see something that's wrong," she said. "We need research so we know what it is that's causing this."

She'd like as many fibromyalgia sufferers as possible to show up. "What I'm trying to do is get a show of hands," she said.