Healthy Marriage Despite the Added Challenge of Fibromyalgia

 

"How do you and your partner manage to make your marriage work?"

 

This is a very difficult question to get answers to, especially with the divorce rate as high as it is. Add to that the challenges of FM, and it’s even tougher to get answers.

 

My husband Lot and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary this August. We have known each other since junior high school and I was always secretly "in love" with him. During high school, Lot got a mutual friend of ours pregnant. He married her and even after the sad fact of losing two children, they ended up having one child together and a marriage that—in her mind—was over. She left him and took their daughter. On a dare, he entered a drawing at the local Harley shop and won a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle! One day while on a ride through Griffith Park, a car made a quick left turn right in front of him. This caused him to first hit the car and then to be completely tossed over the car. In that accident, he broke his leg in four places and tore his AC (shoulder) ligament. He also broke a manhole cover with the impact of his head. He has titanium rods from his hip to his ankle and the doctor told him that it would be years before he would ever ride a motorcycle again. Lot borrowed a motorcycle from a friend and on the date of his sixth month check up, he surprised his doctor by riding that bike to the appointment. While he may have felt that he was healed, in reality it was only the beginning of a life filled with physical pain and symptoms that, for years, were misdiagnosed and mistreated. My husband suffers from fibromyalgia.

 

It took nearly ten years for us to find each other again but in 1996, after he moved me up to Santa Barbara to continue college, he was surprised to find me back home after a few months. I was the victim of crimes that were so brutal I really couldn’t speak about them for a few years. I was beaten in the head so severely that I developed aphasia, or the lack of the ability to put a name to an object—but only in English. I could speak Spanish fluently with no problem—except that no one in my house could speak Spanish! I also developed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety, depression and a long list of physical problems that couldn’t be detected by the usual methods of diagnosis. My illnesses perplexed the doctors I saw at the free clinics and they often told me that I was a hypochondriac and a drug addict. I suffer from fibromyalgia.

 

Anyone who suffers from fibromyalgia can tell you that it wreaks havoc in your life. Things you used to do easily become a challenge. First you can’t believe how much you’re hurting. Then you start having problems remembering if you’ve done something, like go to the doctor. The little things will push everyone, even family members away from you, believe me. My husband is a very patient man. I am not patient at all. Lot will take his time to do something right the first time. I will rush through it just to get it done.

 

How do we manage to make our marriage work?

 

After almost ten years, I suppose the best answer I can give you is that we love each other—unconditionally. One picks up where the other leaves off. We take turns sleeping so that one of us is always awake with our two sons. We know that if one of us is down, the other must work double time. I’m fortunate that Lot is a much stronger person than I am. He does the physically difficult things and I do the mentally difficult things. We work together. We talk things out. We share our hopes, plans and dreams. "We" is the key word. When you’re married, there is very little time for "I" or "me" anymore. When both live with physical disabilities, the only way your marriage will survive is continuously be respectful of one another. Lot and I respect and love one another—unconditionally.

 

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