Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Princess and the Pea had Fibromyalgia

'The Princess and the Pea' is a fairy tale first published in Danish by Hans Christian Andersen in 1835.
A young prince comes of age, and wants to find a suitable wife. She must be of royal blood, and therefore of great sensitivity. One stormy night a girl seeks shelter in their castle, stating she is a princess. The prince's mother, the queen, sets up a scheme to test if the girl is of appropriate delicacy and sensitivity. She stacks up a pile of twenty mattresses and twenty feather-beds, and underneath, places a single pea. The girl must spend a night on this stack of mattresses. Most young ladies would sleep soundly, never knowing that there was a pea underneath the bottom mattress, put there to test their suitability for marriage to the young prince. Only someone of extreme sensitivity, like a princess, would be aware of it. The princess shows up at breakfast the next morning groggy and in pain from her ordeal trying to sleep on such an uncomfortable bed. (Sounds a lot like how I show up at breakfast every day.)
I believe this to be the first, and possibly the most accurate test for Fibromyalgia. Think about it. Fibromyalgia is defined by our over-sensitivity to tactile stimuli. Who but a person with Fibromyalgia would be able to detect such a slight alteration? And who but a person with Fibromyalgia would have their sleep so easily disrupted? This princess exhibits all the classic Fibromyalgia symptoms: overly sensitive skin, poor sleep, pain throughout her body, and even Fibrofog.
The prince is delighted that he at last has found a suitable bride. (Apparently, personality was not of any consequence.) The story ends with the young couple getting married, and the pea was put on display at the royal Museum. Being married to a prince could be a good gig for someone with Fibromyalgia. There are servants to wait on her hand and foot, she does not need to do anything she does not want to do. Her time is free for her to rest, and to do her physical therapy exercises to help her recover from the night she spent on the pea-altered pile of mattresses.


  1. I'm happy to find I'm not the only one who sees this. I, too, have Fibro. Had it since birth. I've identified with this princess since I was a little kid.

  2. This is a great writing. I liked the ending of that, because I feel I would benefit from an arrangement like that. :)

    1. Thanks :-) I agree- It would be nice to have someone around to do all the unsavory tasks. But there is also something to be said for keeping busy and having purpose in life. Finding the right balance (and being able to afford it) would be ideal.