December 2006

          Vol. IV, Issue #35

Ribbon          Bergen CFS-FM Support Group Newsletter

Meeting Report


December 17th - We may all have CFS-FM but we know how to have a party.  The sharing table was full of delicious offerings.  If we felt better, we would be able to walk off the extra calories.  A professional caterer could not have organized a nicer variety of offerings. 


Our guest of honor was Anne Gilmartin, who came to celebrate with us at the holiday party.  She did not know that those in attendance were also there to thank her for all she has done for the Bergen CFS-FM group.  As most of you know, Anne stepped down as leader this fall.  We all experience ups and downs with our illness and Anne was in one of her sicker times.  She needed to step back and take care of herself.  Anne was presented with a pendant as a token of everyone’s appreciation.  Seasoned members enjoyed visiting with her, and new members had a chance to meet the person whose name they have heard many times at the meetings. 


2006 has come to the end and we welcome 2007 with renewed hope that CFS will be more widely accepted by the medical community, that researchers will discover a cause and more importantly, appropriate treatment for this illness.  A new name for the illness would also be nice.


CFS Organizations

Bergen Support Group, NJCFSA, CFIDS…are they all the same?  Which should I join?


Sorting through the many groups can be confusing, which is why we occasional re-explain the functions of a few major ones.



Is It Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

It's often difficult to distinguish between fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Are they unrelated, siblings or twins? Researchers and specialists are still trying to determine the answer to this question. Some experts believe they are two completely separate illnesses; others think they are two distinct disorders with many similar symptoms; still others feel they are different facets of the same disorder.

To complicate matters, a significant number of people with FM also have CFS and vise versa. In a September 2002 article in Fibromyalgia AWARE, a publication of the National Fibromyalgia Association, Charles W. Lapp, MD, CFS/FM expert and researcher, states that "about 70 percent of persons with CFS meet criteria for FM and about 70 percent of persons with FM also meet criteria for CFS."

Central Sensitivity Syndromes: Muhammad B. Yunus, MD, a pioneer FM researcher, believes that there is a large group of illnesses with overlapping features that he calls "Central Sensitivity Syndromes." What they all have in common is a sensitization of the central nervous system. Under this broad CSS category, he lists disorders such as FM, CFS, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, TMJ, multiple chemical sensitivities, restless legs syndrome, myofascial pain syndrome, and others. All of these illnesses have some symptoms that overlap one another.

FM and CFS Similarities: Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome share many of the same symptoms, such as: muscle and/or joint pain, debilitating fatigue, headaches, memory loss, difficulty with concentration, forgetfulness, depression, numbness and generalized weakness. Other clinical similarities include:

FM and CFS Differences: The simplest explanation of the difference between FM and CFS is that with FM, pain is the most predominant symptom, while with CFS, extreme fatigue with is most predominant.

Additional distinct differences include:

How Is a Diagnosis Determined?  Because the two illnesses are so similar, frequently the diagnosis you receive will depend upon the doctor you see. A rheumatologist is more likely to give you a fibromyalgia diagnosis, whereas if you consult an infectious disease specialist, you’ll be more apt to receive a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. If your doctor is a general practitioner or a family practice physician, your diagnosis may depend on which illness they are more familiar with.

For the specific diagnostic criteria of each, see:

Lapp, Charles. “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome vs. Fibromyalgia.” Fibromyalgia AWARE. September-December 2002: 72-73.
Yunus, Muhammad. “Central Sensitivity Syndromes: The Concept for Unifying.” Fibromyalgia AWARE. May-August 2002: 41-45.

Updated: November 29, 2006


From our friends at CF Alliance


The CF-Alliance Holiday Smile Event is an international holiday card exchange program for CFS, ME, FM and related illness sufferers and caregivers.


If you would like to mail a card and exchange happy holiday wishes with someone else, please mail or email your name and mailing address to the

Please sign up by December 31, 2006.


*For Details:

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow".


Question from a member


One of our members in the Bergen County area asks: What do all of you do with the old toys that your kids no longer use?  And further, can any of you suggest a way to get these hardly used things to kids who would really use and enjoy them?   I don't want to sound ungrateful but it just doesn't seem right that my little fellow gets way more stuff than he needs when there are so many other kids who probably get very little.   I'm sure all of you have similar feelings on this and I'm trying to figure out a way to avoid this situation in the future.  In the meantime, any suggestions would be really appreciated. 


[Editor’s Note:  If you wish to respond, send a note to me and I will forward it to the member.]


Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for Sunday January 21st at Pascack Valley Hospital from 2-4 PM.  The details of the meeting are not yet confirmed.  We may possibly have the disability speaker who was unable to attend the November meeting.  The topic will be included in the online reminder the week before the meeting.

This newsletter is intended for CFS patients in the area of this support group.  The purpose is to share information and support.  If you have questions about meetings please contact: Pat LaRosa at, Nancy Visocki at, Judy Machacek at or Frank Kawa at 201-768-4111