How Fibro Affects Relationships by Tabitha McKendry

I have always said that having children affects your relationship one of two ways. It either brings you closer together…or tears you totally apart. I find the same is true for chronic pain/Fibromyalgia. It can bring you closer to your partner, or be the big wrecking ball to your relationship. Let me give you a little background on my marriage so you know where I am coming from. I have known my husband, Matt, since we were in the same first grade class. (I still get a kick out of calling him my husband after all these years) I couldn’t stand him back then, he was the “bad” boy of the school and I was the “good” girl. His constant interruptions in class annoyed me to no end. He was so loud and irritating and I was the exact opposite, sometimes so quiet that my teachers have no memory of every having me in their classes! Then in 9th grade, his family started attending the same church that my family had attended for years. I remember watching him walk in and rolling my eyes, thinking, “Great, not him!” I didn’t talk to him at all…till one day I was standing by his locker in school talking to a friend of mine that was also friends with him. Matt & I didn’t talk to each other, but I felt this weird ZING run through me like a lightning bolt. I looked at this boy that I have known all of my life and couldn’t stand…..and BOOM, I fell head over heels for him! Out of nowhere! I was so confused, but I went to my next class and told one of my friends that I just talked to the boy that I am going to marry. She scoffed at me, I was only in 9th grade after all, but I was dead serious. So I made it a point to become friends with him and we became very close friends very quickly. He wasn’t one to trust anyone, he had a very hard life growing up, but somehow I got past his defenses. We even went to the big Freshman dance together, the Freshman Farewell. Long story short, we stayed friends all through high school and talked on the phone every night for hours. I finally told him I was in love with him…and was met with total silence which crushed me. He didn’t believe in love, he said. It isn’t real. I finally decided to give up and just stay friends. Then at a graduation party that my best friend had, something amazing happened. He put his arms around me and we took a walk together, holding hands and I got up the courage to kiss him. We started dating that night, June 16, 1996. It only took four years of me chasing him to get him to give in, but he finally did. We moved in together rather quickly and got married Feb 20, 1999. In 2002, our son, Brendin, was born. In 2004, our daughter, Devin, followed. I always had medical problems, he got used to the IBS, constant UTI’s, the constant ovary pain from polycystic ovarian syndrome, but I wasn’t quite as bad back then as I am now. I actually led quite a full life. In 2008, I decided to have gastric bypass surgery. He didn’t want me to, he was scared that something would happen to me, but he supported me because that is what he does. He supports every decision that I make and vice versa. I lost weight VERY rapidly, I ended in hospital quite a few times that first year and also had to have a hysterectomy because losing so much weight so quickly caused my tendons to stretch that held my uterus and caused uterine prolapse. Also that was the year I was finally diagnosed with fibro because in the two years before that, I was in constant pain. I would describe it as feeling as if my skin was turned inside out and everything that touched me hurt. I was happy to have a name for my illness but the meds they prescribed didn’t help. It became a constant circle of hell. I tried new meds constantly and none of them worked. I went from being very affectionate and ‘touchy feely’ to not wanting to be touched at all because it hurt. I started to become very claustrophobic, anyone sitting too near to me drove me insane and made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. We went through a very hard time, but Matt stood by me. We tell each other everything and there isn’t very much we don’t know about each other so I had him as my rock and he understood. He still does. Then, out of the blue, I began having gran mal seizures. I had my first one in front of him and the kids. He is assistant chief for our local fire department, so he has seen some horrible things, but nothing ever shook him to the core like that did. He thought I was having a stroke. When I came to, I didn’t know him and was scared to death of him and tried to kick him in the jaw. It took me quite awhile to recognize anyone. Hospital didn’t know what caused it and seizure medicine never helped. It has been over two years and I still have gran mal seizures out of nowhere. I no longer drive because of it. Every single gran mal that I have erases more of my memories of my past and changes me a little. Lately, I have been a very hard person to live with. Between the pain, the fibro fog, the insomnia, the fear, the guilt of not being who I used to be and the anger of having my life taken away from me, I can be a downright mean, nasty person. And who do I take it out on? My husband of course because he is there and he is the only one that sees what I am going through. I don’t mean to be the way I am to him. I hurt him so badly sometimes, saying horrible things that I don’t mean. I don’t even recognize myself when I am like that and I want to stop what I am saying and apologize, but I just can’t seem to stop myself. Why am I like this to him? He loves me more than anything on earth, he is an awesome father and my very best friend. He won’t let anyone disrespect me or hurt me, especially our kids. He takes my side even when I am dead wrong. I see the hurt in his eyes when I act the way that I do. It’s not his fault that I am miserable, he does everything he can for me. He works long hours everyday to provide for us because I can’t work and the guilt of that gets to me too because I feel like I’m a lazy bum that sits around and does nothing, especially when I hurt too much to clean the house or cook dinner. I feel like I’m worthless. And then I turn inward and don’t want to talk about it, effectively blocking our communication that is the foundation of our marriage. I need to step back and look at his side. He lost something too, he lost the wife that he once had before my illness, he lost the freedoms that we had to just pick up and go places because alot of times I hurt too bad. But he hardly ever criticizes. Alot of times he takes the kids and goes places that he needs to go because I can’t get off of the couch. He comes home to a messy house and eats hot pockets for dinner when the fibro demons win and I can’t move without tears and doesn’t complain. Alot of men wouldn’t take the stuff he does from their wives and still hang around, let alone stay in love like he does. I owe him so much. I still look into his eyes and get butterflies in my stomach and when we hold hands, I still feel the zing after 20 years of being in love with him. That’s a miracle unto itself. Does anyone else have these problems? How has fibro and chronic pain affected your relationships? Please comment and let me know that I’m not alone in this

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6 comments

  1. This is a beautiful testimony to what real love is. It’s not about perfectly coiffed couples sipping wine on the beaches of Cancun (although it would be nice). It’s about the way the loyalty and the devotion that he shows, to both you and your children. It’s about seeing you at your worst and never thinking less. And, after 20 years, it’s about those butterflies that you still get, because he was the one, is the one, and will always be .. .”the one.” I just love this. Last night, out of the blue, I turned to my husband and said “I know that you go through changes, too. I know that I’m not the same person that I once was, that the house isn’t as neat as it used to be and that it’s not easy to accept those changes.” I just wanted him to know that I DO think about the ways in which MY limitations have affected him and that I appreciate his unfaltering love. In a world where we hear so much about relationships that fail, it’s delightful to hear how your love is standing the tests of time and illness… You should let him read this. He’ll be flattered.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! You’re 100% right, it is all about the devotion and love that is still there after so incredibly long. He has seen me at my bottom of the barrel worst, he has had to bath me and carry me from bathroom to bedroom and back. The last gran mal I had, he broke his toe and the railing on our stairs from running so fast to get to me, he fell on the stairs and hurt himself, but didn’t realize it until after I was alert and semi back to normal. He has carried me while I was in the middle of a seizure when I was twitching and stiff as a board and could barely get me into the car. He has literally cleaned me up when my IBS was out of control but I didn’t have the strength to lift my arms. Yet he is still attracted to me. His eyes still get that glow when he looks at me and I can see the love in his gaze. He has always called me ‘beautiful’ that’s one of his nicknames for me. And he actually means it and sometimes I can’t understand how he can think that, especially when I can’t comb my hair or put on makeup and I haven’t slept for days and look like something out of a bad zombie movie. I have also had to get my teeth pulled and barely have any left, so I am always covering my mouth when I talk to people until I get my new teeth and I’m very self conscious about it. But he doesn’t seem to see that. He always tells me that he wants to be the old couple sitting on the porch hand in hand that everyone envies for being together so long and still being so in love. He is THE ONE, THE ONLY ONE. I honestly don’t even notice other men, not in that way anyway. No one could ever compare to him. I am going to let him read it. Sometimes I can’t put how I feel into words when we are talking. I’m so happy that you also have a husband that is there for you and understands and stands by you. You are right, so many relationships fail. It’s the ones that stand the test of time like this that are amazing. I am truly blessed.

  2. There have been studies into how chronic pain changes the way the brain works; your seizures are possibly from the changes in the brain from the pain, and may even be residual effects of the medications you have tried that have not helped.

    Believe it or not, meditation helps with such issues; you my want to consider meditation and some simple yoga stretches to help out.

    My husband is also like yours; he’s THE ONE; he has seen me through so much, including a life altering accident that has left me permanently disabled…and the days when I am stressed out to the max and am just in a really pissy mood because I am so tired of the pain and being worn out and fatigued…I have to work to keep my blood sugar up because I am on thyroid medication that will make my hypo glycemic if I don’t eat..on the other hand, I need to lose weight, so yeah, it gets interesting….yet through it all, he’s there, steady as a rock…of course, I am also here for him..steady as a rock, too…as much as I can be…I’m incredibly lucky, and I know it….*S*

  3. Hearing all you have been through makes me sad thinking of all you have lost. Your husband is an incredible person to stick with you through all this. My hubby is supportive of me too. Sometimes I don’t think so but Sunday he walked me up to the altar to be prayer for for healing and he just cried and cried. It made me understand how this DD affects everyone around me too. Fibro does suck, by the way.

    1. Kim, that makes sense, that pain changes how your brain works. The seizures still baffle me sometimes, especially since they just came out of nowhere! I was in mid sentence, talking to my husband and he said I got quiet so he turned around to look and my eyes were rolled back into my head and my hands curled up against my chest and I just started seizing. There was no warning, nothing. Luckily, I was laying on the couch when it happened cause I have had a few since then that I have been standing and fell straight over like a tree. I’m so glad that you and sonyaluvsjesus have great supportive husbands also. That really makes a difference when dealing with hell, knowing you are not all alone. It’s hard to step back and think of the people in our lives that are fighting our battles with us. Pain is all consuming and I think it makes us concentrate totally on its affect on us (WHICH IS NORMAL, mind you, seeing as how it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to think about anything other than the pain when it’s eating us alive) but sometimes we forget to take a second to think about how it affects those that love us. I try hard not to take my husband for granted, but sometimes, especially in the throws of a flare up, I realize that I do take him for granted. And take everything out on him, which is totally not fair seeing as how he does everything he can to make my life easier. Things have been better the past few days, I have made a concentrated effort to be a better person to him. I wrote him a long letter, asking that he bear with me and apologizing for how I have been. It really made a difference, opening the line of communication back up between us.

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