This week I present to you another example proving that Men Get Fibro Too! In today’s installment of Fibro Warrior Wednesday, I’m interviewing Martin Oxby of Inverness, in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland. Martin has been married to his lovely wife Samantha, for over 7 years. They share their house with a tabby at named Charlie (or perhaps he shares the house with them).
Tell us a little more about yourself:
I co-direct a 4-person web design and marketing business called Summit Web Solutions. I enjoy music. I used to play clarinet, but can’t do it much these days either due to tiredness or hand pain. I also do a bit of online gaming. I like trying new beers and whiskys when I have the opportunity.
When were you diagnosed? How old were you at the time?
I was diagnosed with Fibro when I was about 24/25, but looking back we think I had had symptoms since I was 13.
What lead up to your diagnosis?
Oh this was a very long road. Started with neck pain and gradually just spread to my shoulders and head and I was always tired. I have been through so many doctors, a pain management clinic (who basically said they didn’t know why I was in pain and sent me back to my doctors, so they gave up). I have had therapeutic massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, heat packs, ice packs, painkillers, antidepressants and more recently muscle relaxants. Eventually, a specialist at hospital asked if they could test my pressure points for oversensitivity, which the vast majority were, and that led to my diagnosis. A 10+ year long journey which basically started my learning about fibro!
What was your life like at that time?
At the time I was fully employed in my day job, but had my wee web design business on the side. I was married, but we were already trying to manage my pain, which wasn’t as bad back then as it is now.
How did your family initially handle your illness?
My parents freaked out because they consulted the myriad of opinion which is the Internet, and decided it was dreadful and that I would be bedridden overnight and got really worried. (They have calmed down a bit now…). My wife was fantastically supportive. Having the name of the condition meant, instead of it labeling me, was actually the most useful thing, because we could then get on managing it, researching it and getting advice.
The funniest reaction is from my sister, who just thinks I am tired all the time and tell my niece not to yell because Uncle Martin’s “got a headache”. It isn’t always painful in the head but at least a little understanding is better than none!
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of Fibro?
Accepting my limitations. Running my own business, I have to be strict on myself, and sometimes with clients, as to when I should and should not work. I have to get rest, which means getting evenings and weekends off. And evenings and weekends can’t be filled with social stuff either – I need inactivity in order to recuperate and I have to give myself that.
Do you have any other co-existing conditions? If so, what are they and how do they impact your Fibromyalgia?
I have a mild form of depression, partially because Fibro can predispose you to it and partially because being in pain all the time can really get to me, and not being able to think ‘through the fog’ really gets me down. I am on anti-depressants, which ought to have a slight pain-preventative but I am not sure that is the case with me,
What (if anything) have you found/ done that has improved your symptoms?
Ha! Different on different days! I suppose a big one for me is stress reduction. That is partially about work, but also other situations I find stressful need managing or reducing- large social gathering, making decisions where there are too many options (e.g. What do we get my Dad for his birthday?). My other half is fantastic in taking on some of these things for me.
The other thing is sunshine. So we went on a sunny holiday last year. Reduced stress plus sunshine meant I took 1/2 my usual quantity of painkillers. Lastly, I’ve found that reducing ‘unknown factors’ can really help. So knowing what the plans for tomorrow are.
Do these things sound weird? They do to me now I’ve put them down ‘on paper’!
How open are you with friends & family about your illness & symptoms?
I have to be. Otherwise people assume you have the same capacity as a non-ill person. Even if people can’t relate, a bit of understanding goes a long way.
What is the best advice you’ve received regarding Fibromyalgia?
“Find what works for you” – excellent advice because it seems everyone’s experience of Fibro is different so there is also therefore no ‘one size fits all’ solution.
What was the worst advice that you followed?
“Do more exercise” – this puts me in more pain and wipes out my energy. (Exercise might work for you, so this is not to dissuade anyone else from exercising!)
What is your favorite way to cope with your life as a spoonie?
Laying out on the sofa and playing a computer game. Relaxed posture and escape from the demands for life.
What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself since your diagnosis?
Interesting question! I don’t like accepting my own limitations – so I shouldn’t push myself on a ‘good day’ because I could crash and burn by the end, for example. I find my limitations massively frustrating!
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone newly diagnosed with Fibro (or even still seeking a diagnosis)?
Be prepared to try different treatments and for it to take time to find what helps you. I have had to accept ‘Guinea Pig’ status and try things, because until you have tried something you cannot say categorically if it will work for you. Don’t do something you feel strongly against, however. For example, I won’t do Hypnotherapy or Psychotherapy for faith reasons. But I tried acupuncture even though the thought made me shudder! And be patient with yourself. Doing otherwise may increase your pain.
Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
Your Fibro story is unique. Even if your symptoms are like someone else’s, you are unique, your life situation is made up of people who are unique. Don’t undervalue yourself, you are special. But allow yourself to believe that, especially in the really rough days. 🙂
This post is part of the weekly series Fibro Warrior Wednesday, be sure to sign up for my email newsletter to make sure you don’t miss a story. If you would like to share your Fibro story please contact me.
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