Chris is a minority in the world of Fibro; he is one of the few men who diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. He has turned this disability into an opportunity to be a great stay-at-home dad taking care of his two young children. He shares his story in this week’s Fibromyalgia interview.
When were you diagnosed? How old were you at the time?
I was diagnosed 2004/2005 while under the care of a pain specialist. I was 39 years old.
What lead up to your diagnosis?
I had an accident at work that left me in incredible pain. A Dr. decided I needed a spinal fusion to stop my pain. I had the operation in June 1994 but the fuse broke and I was left in more pain than before the surgery. The pain continued to get worse as time moved on. I was born premature and I didn’t walk till I was close to 4. I’ve always had back problems. I was diagnosed with the scoliosis when I was a kid. I tried to get help but because of my scoliosis Drs were unwilling to try and fix the broken fuse. Once I moved to Alberta, I had an appointment with a pain specialist. I was hoping he would be able to cure me but he diagnosed me with chronicpain/ Fibromyalgia.
Were you married when you initially had the accident?
No we were engaged. The pastor asked my wife if she was sure she wanted to marry me. He said Chris is going to have lifelong medical problems.
Were you working at the time?
No, I have been unable to work since my accident at work in August 1993.
What was your family life like?
At the time of my diagnoses there was just my wife and I. I was already dealing with pain & off of work for 12 years.
How did your family initially handle your illness?
Right from the beginning my fiancé (now my wife) stuck beside me. She has been a God sent and wanted to do anything to help. She realized before I that I would have a lifetime of chronic pain. It took me a long time before I was willing to concede to that thought. My wife has been my rock through this chronic pain journey.
How has your family/ work situation changed since Fibromyalgia entered your life?
There has been a dramatic change. We now have two children. My boy is almost six and my girl just turned 3. They pray for me – which is so awesome. They run and get my cane to help me out. I am blessed for sure. My wife works full time and I am a proud stay at home dad.
Do You feel you get more negativity for your disability or because you are a stay-at-home dad?
I feel that as more dads stay home to raise their children it is becoming more accepted. I get people commending me now for staying home and raising my kids. Not so with my disability. Unless you live with an invisible illness people just can’t believe why I am always fatigued and constantly in pain. I have wasted too much energy and time trying to explain to people why I live in chronic pain, just for it to fall on deaf ears. So I get much more negativity with my disability.
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of Fibro?
Being a stay at home parent is very challenging. When you add chronic pain and fatigue to taking care of two young kids, it is very brutal. I wish I could be more active for my kids. It kills me that I can’t play like a normal dad with my kids.
Do you have any other co-existing conditions? If so, what are they and how do they impact your Fibromyalgia?
Besides my broken fuse in my Lumbar spine, I have scoliosis that makes the back pain worse. I do get migraine headaches. I have diverticulosis which does flare up. I also have hyper-mobility, which hurts some of my joints, and arthritis in my thoracic spine.
What (if anything) have you found/ done that has improved your symptoms?
Exercise, heated throws & blankets are awesome. TheraTherm moist heat pad is expensive but it sends heat deep into the muscles. It is worth every penny. If you need one, a Leki walking stick is the best adjustable cane.
What is the best advice you’ve received regarding Fibromyalgia?
To not be so hard on myself. It’s ok if things don’t get done & to take care of me so I can take care of my kids.
What was the worst advice that you followed?
Taking the advice of only one Dr. before agreeing to a spinal fusion.
What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself since your diagnosis?
My faith in God can never be shaken.
You can get to know Chris better on Twitter @ChronicPainDadThis post is part of the weekly Fibro Warrior Wednesday series. Don’t miss an interview, sign up for my email newsletter. If you’d like to share your story, I invite you to contact me.
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