Fibromyalgia Turns Body Into Sensitive "Tuning Fork"

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I’ve often said that I’m thankful for fibromyalgia. Learning how to analyze and deal with chronic illness has taught me powerful lessons I wouldn’t have learned any other way. The Fibromyalgia Tuning Fork Analogy is one lesson I share at most speaking engagements.

It’s well-understood that fibromyalgia turns us into hyper-sensitive people. We’re hyper-aware of surrounding smells, sounds, and lights. For example, a perfume advertised to be enticing might smell toxic to us and trigger an all-day migraine. Road repair noise that’s a minor annoyance to the general public might jangle the nerves of fibrofolk so terribly that it causes them to flee. You get the point.

This hyper-sensitivity applies to everything that we ingest internally and experience externally. My body tells me (in not-so-subtle ways) that some foods and chemical additives are not my friends. My body also tells me if a room has been recently painted or re-carpeted. I have my very own toxin radar.

That’s where the Fibromyalgia Tuning Fork Analogy comes in. Have you ever seen a tuning fork? I held a very large one once that made my fillings vibrate when I struck it. If you haven’t shared my tuning fork experience, you can take a look at much smaller ones at sites such as this here and get an idea of what they’re like:

A tuning fork is a precision instrument. It’s carefully crafted, balanced, and mathematically designed to create a perfect pitch. When struck correctly, it rings true. If struck incorrectly (i.e. if it’s not allowed to vibrate freely), the difference is obvious – more clang than ring.

The fibromyalgia body is very much like a precision tuning fork. If you take the time to listen, your body tells you what foods and surroundings ring true for you. This even applies to relationships. Some friends or co-workers make you “ring” in their company — others can cause you to “clang” simply by entering the room.

Taking the time to listen is another one of the beneficial lessons that fibromyalgia has taught me. I’m automatically hyper-sensitive, but I’ve learned to become hyper-aware. I now pay attention to the seemingly inconsequential things. How does my body feel when I eat a particular food or take a certain supplement? How do I feel when I’m not drinking enough water? How do I feel when I exercise, and what does it feel like before I do too much? These are great lessons that can only be learned through personal observation, persistence, and hyper-awareness.

Over time, I’ve developed a healthy respect for my personal toxin radar. I make it a point to pay attention to what my body is telling me. Have you ever thought of your body as a precision instrument? This is one analogy, I suspect, that rings true for you, too!

Susan Ingebretson is a writer, speaker and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia Research and Education Center at California State University, Fullerton. Her book, FibroWHYalgia, (, 2010) details her own journey from illness to wellness. Ingebretson’s writing has appeared in the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) online and print magazine, FibromyalgiaAWARE. Susan is also featured in the NFA’s Public Service Announcement, The Science Behind Fibromyalgia.