Monday, June 21, 2010

A Spouse's View of Fibromyalgia - Part 4 of Our 10 Yr Anniv Series

Continued from yesterday...

All this leads up to where we’re currently at, which is dealing with fibromyalgia…by exercising. It sounds like a strange concept: use your muscles so your muscles and nerves don’t freak out all the time? You might even think that the exercising may actually increase the fibro pain. So far, the results (from what I gather from Rochelle) is that fibro flares become less frequent when she exercises often. Once she stops exercising for a week or two, the fibro kicks in again and it becomes tough to live with again.

Knowing all this, how has fibromyalgia changed my life? It’s…complicated. On the one hand, I feel as though I’ve had to love my wife more by taking care of her when she’s in so much pain she can’t move, especially when guests are arriving in a few days and the house is a mess. Fortunately, my parents raised me to take on chores at an early age…so chores aren’t a big deal. Doing the overwhelming majority of the chores is a different subject. The load was squarely on my shoulders. After Rochelle would apologize for her not being able to help out as much, I’d just say that when I was older, our roles would reverse.

Doing things is what comes naturally to me…and that might be a generalization of most men. We hear that something is wrong (a light bulb is out, the pilot light is out on the water heater, a spider jumped out at someone, etc) we want to fix it. The same is true when our wives have a problem: our natural tendency is to want to fix it. “Forget the explanation of how/why something happened…how can I fix it?” Imagine my world…hearing/seeing my wife in pain and not be able to fix her. Sure I can make her more comfortable…get a heating pad, do the chores for her, make breakfast/lunch/dinner, make her some cocoa, turn up/down the temperature, etc…but these won’t fix her. It’s a battle that continues to this day…one I’m not sure will ever completely end. But this is the lot that has been given to us. We try to make the best of it, but it’s a day-by-day, hour-by-hour struggle.

I've sometimes felt that I'm experiencing 'sympathy pains', even though that's a term that's typically talked about when someone is pregnant. However, that idea gets shot down. I sometimes battle with the notion of telling Rochelle of the pain that I have, because it can be seen as a comparison to her fibro pain. This comparison often causes friction between us, so I internally debate it before speaking. My biggest concern is that the pain I'm feeling could escalate into something more severe that I couldn't verbally tell Rochelle or any EMTs (if it got to that point) what's wrong with me.

I’m reminded of the Spoon theory that Rochelle blogged about a while back. It’s a very accurate description of what fibro does to someone. Sometimes, she wakes up in the morning and has 20 spoons…other times it’s only 1. We have noticed that adrenaline can delay the fibro pain (somehow adding spoons to her day), but once the adrenaline kicks off, the pain comes back (usually with a vengeance). Unfortunately, there are days that Rochelle will use her spoons on other activities (work, friends, family) and I get the leftovers, if there’s anything left at all. It’s tough to not feel jealous.

I’ve tossed around the idea that Rochelle should join a support group of some type. This idea hasn’t gone over very well, but I do think that her blog has been very therapeutic for her…to express what she’s feeling & to receive encouragement from others. To a certain extent, I think that spouses of someone with fibromyalgia should have their own support group. Why? Because the spouse is typically the one that gives support (emotional or physical) & encouragement to the one with fibro. I've found it hard to give encouragement, knowing that no matter how much Rochelle can endure the will more than likely never go away. At least when you're encouraging someone through weight loss, you can typically see results...not so much with fibro. How does one encourage someone to not give up, knowing full well that they will never succeed?

So the question that must be on everyone's mind is this: Would I have still married Rochelle had I known that Rochelle would get fibromyalgia? The answer is Yes. Obviously, there was no way of knowing that Rochelle would get fibromyalgia when we were courting or when we got married. Although the ideal situation is to not have this disabling situation, we've come to grips that this is our trial. We have been chosen to live with and deal with the pain that fibro causes so that others may see God glorified. He's the one that gives us our daily strength to press on. And press on we will...until He takes it away or until He comes back again.


Carol said...

Tim, you did an awesome job. Rochelle, I would like to get your permission to share this writing from Tim at my local support group. It won't be until fall (no meeting in July & Aug). Let me know, please.


Vikki G said...

you have articulated what my husband Tom feels when I have a flare. I have lupus, fibro and you can imagine what he has gone through~ last year I was hospitalized with a blood clot in my lung and almost died. It is only our faith in God that has sustained us..that is not to say that we haven't had our difficulties...these conditions can put unbelievably strain on marriages. I know that sometimes I need space and sometimes he does and during those times we can regroup and focus on gaining some strength. You will make it through just knowing that you are in it together. Be encouraged sounds like you both are committed and doing everything you possibly can.

DebV said...

Have enjoyed your point of view. I wonder if my husband would write his point of view of us living with FM. I think I will ask. Thanks Tim

Lynda Young said...

This is beautiful to read. Rochelle - regardless of the fibro - is a very lucky lady.

Auntie Bee said...

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