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How do I best help a man who suffers from fibromyalgia?
6 Replies
learning2help - October 25

I am seeking guidance in how I can best help a man suffering from fibromyalgia that I deeply care for. At times I feel I offer too much help. Can someone offer me three or four main concepts to keep in mind?
Another hurdle for me to conquer is the incredibly overwhelming feeling that I can't help him feel better. The pain and suffering he endures is heart wrenching. How do I take care of my emotional pain?
Is there someone out there that can help me with these struggles?

 

Fantod - October 26

Tough question. First of all, you can not do everything for this gentleman. He already feels robbed of his identity. He needs to figure out his limits and learn to ask for help. You can tell him that all he has to do is ask. Waiting on him will only make things worse especially for a man. They have that fragile male ego that needs to be able to stand to one degree or another on its own two feet.

You can not save him from this syndrome. It has done and is doing its work. If he is a good patient and follows his doctor's orders to the letter than there is not much else to be done. If he is not getting proper care than he needs to decide what to do about it. He is, afterall, a grown man.

Your emotional pain is nothing that should be laid at his door step. Obviously you care for this person. Perhaps you should consider seeing a professional to sort out what is actually going on with this dynamic under all of the layers. There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting someone you love to feel better. But, (and I could be wrong) I sense that there may be some deeper issues here.
Take care.

 

houtxgaly - November 3

I can relate to how you are feeling. My husband has Fibro and I have tried to help him also but unsuccessful. I massage him but sometimes it hurts too much. I feel helpless at times. The best thing is to just be there for him and support him by listening to his feelings. Also, try to get his mind off the pain by distracting him by doing activities. Make him feel wanted/needed.

 

learning2help - November 7

Thank you for your thoughts. I have been gathering everything I can.

 

solanadelfina - November 8

You're a wonderful person to stand by this man and want to help him. That's not always the case.

There's something very important to keep in mind- those we love may not always be able to help us lessen the physical pain, but that does not mean that they don't make us feel better! Just knowing that someone is there for us gives us strength to help handle things.

Sometimes, all we want is a hug, to physically feel that someone is there for us. Somedays it's a kind word, or letting us be the strong shoulder for someone else to cry on. That can make us feel important. Communication and listening are how you'll know what to do. Since people can't see how we feel inside, we need to keep the communication open on our end, too.

I have my days when I'm hurting so much or I'm angry from something that I just want some alone time to recharge my batteries. We sometimes try to put on a brave face for the loved ones around us, to make it easier, and that can take effort. If this man occasionally needs that, too, this could be why. It doesn't mean we're angry at anyone, it's just that our physical sensitivities are all we can handle at the moment. Trust us, when it's gone down and we come out again, we'll feel better for it.

I agree with houtxgaly that other activities and getting the mind on something else helps. Is there a hobby that you two can enjoy together? Reading, or movies, or cooking, or anything like that? Sometimes going out can be a little hard on us, so special nights at home can be nice.

Every day is different, and sometimes we can do things and sometimes we can't. It's nice when people offer help, and we can always say no if we feel it's something we can handle.

 

learning2help - November 11

Your explanation of how you feel and what you do to deal with your pain is a mirror to the man I referred to in my post. Your reference to recharging batteries and putting on a brave face is something I’m learning to be more in tuned to when spending time with him. Thankfully we have an honest relationship and he can tell me where he is in regard to his pain level. For the person who is trying to support a person with fibromyalgia I find that communication is very important if not the key factor. I greatly appreciate when he can tell me that he is at a low energy point. From there I have something to work with.
Your reassuring words confirming the importance of finding different ways to share quiet time together are greatly appreciated. Neither of us are high maintenance in the area of entertainment and we currently find great comfort in reading, watching movies and cooking.
Thank you and may you be blessed with rest and comfort for the days to come.

 

kariered - December 31

Hi,

My fiance has had FMS now for 2 1/2 years. At first, before he was diagnosed and right after, it was extremely hard! It is very hard for a grown man to admit he is in pain, and it is even harder for people to actually believe him.

Four concepts to keep in mind when dealing with this (in my opinion and experience) are:

1. FIGHT OFF ISOLATION!! Go to Al-Anon. Al-Anon is a program for family and friends of people who suffer from addictions and illnesses. Your friend may not be addicted to anything or be mentally ill, but FMS is a legitimate illness that is not going to just go away. Al-Anon helps with the emotional side. Going to meetings will give you the skills you in order to determine if and when you are helping him too much (enabling) and to judge when he could use more/less help. It is possible to enable someone with FMS or any illness. Al-Anon will also help you learn to accept his illness and still be able to go on with your life and do things with or without him. Too bad there isn't much in the way of support groups for female sig. others of FMSers (at least not in my area), but Al-Anon has really helped me tremendously!

2. Try to distract him from his physical pain when it is acceptable and possible. To do this you can suggest doing various things with him like watching a funny movie, reading a joke book, etc. I'm sure you can think of things for this area. This somewhat goes with #1. Both of you will feel less isolated by doing these things.

3. Read up on FMS. Do this in your spare time. This really helped me and my fiance. In addition to proper medical treatment there are various nontraditional ways to keep symptoms at bay. Don't dismiss anything (I read a book on chronic pain that talked about methadone being a great painkiller and it doesn't get you "high" like the regular pain pills). There are tons of books out there on FMS! A good one that sticks out in my mind (and I've read quite a few) is the book "Fibromyalgia An Essential Guide for Patients and Their Families" by Daniel J. Wallace, MD and Janice Brock Wallace. If you are friendly with any of his family, try to find out any family medical history you can from them. Chances are someone else has this or has experienced a co-occurring condition and may provide some answers.

4. Remember that unfortunately not everyone will understand and/or be supportive. This can be heart wrenching and contributes to the isolation. You cannot force anyone to believe/think/do anything (I learned this from Al-Anon). All you can do is try to educate them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. We have even encountered doctors who were extremely non-supportive! You and him must simply stay away from anyone who is non-supportive--friend, family or doctor. You can spend all your time trying to get them to accept it, but if they truly don't, it is something they cannot hide in the long run. Just don't go around them. It is sad and unfortunate, but staying around these people will make the sad and unfortunate feelings even more devastating and can be possibly life threatening down the road. Trust me!

All these things helped me and my fiance tremendously. Good luck to you and him.

 

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