Fibro Warrior of the Week (#43)
Location: Hanson, Massachusetts, USA
Twitter: Fibro News
Mantra: Being Irish, I have an abiding sense of tragedy which sustains me through temporary periods of joy.—
Hailing from South Boston, our 43rd Fibro Warrior of the Week tells it like it is! Bob “Doc” Smith was shocked to find out he had a “woman’s disease”, one that few people even wanted to acknowledge. Find out how this colorful commentator and father of four keeps a positive attitude and why he can’t get a PG rating…
FD: : Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Bob: I was born and raised in South Boston, Massachusetts, a very Irish section of Boston. Southie was a good place to grow up, it is a peninsular so we had a lot of beach, but the water was dirty and polluted; we swam all summer regardless. There was little violence and as a youth I was able to go anywhere without worry. Of course, these were the days that the Bulger Brothers ran Southie… I got married at the tender age of eighteen, my wife pregnant, so I dropped out of school and went to work fixing cars. I earned enough for a three room flat and was happy. On Father’s Day, we awoke to find our son dead from SIDS. My own Dad was one of the reporting police to the 911 call, it was horrifying all around.
We moved around a bit after that and ended up in Dorchester, Massachusetts. After two and a half years, we had our first daughter. Later we added another son and then twins, one boy one girl. The first year of each of them were spent with us staying awake watching over them, afraid it may happen again.
We finally ended up in Hanson, a small town near Plymouth which is where we raised our family of four children, a dog, a cat plus numerous fish, rabbits, turtles, etc. I ran my business and lived fairly happily for twenty-three years. I had left mechanics and entered the office machine sales and repair business. We did alright up until ten years ago when everything started to change. We became a throwaway society.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Bob: At fifty years old, my lovely wife insisted that I get a primary care doctor and a physical. She said I was complaining too much about my arm pain and I was kicking the blankets all night. I did have a lot of pain in my extremities and joints, was getting tired a lot and kinda extra cranky, but I didn’t take any pills and otherwise felt ok. Besides I figured age was catching up, what’s a little pain!.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Bob: In the fall of 2002.
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Bob: I could not believe it. Nice having an answer, but come on… a women’s disease! One with no cure, poor prognosis, multiple medication failures. I was sent into an emotional downward spiral. This was a disease that you did not want to tell others that you had, they would not believe it was a disease anyway. I Looked fine!
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Bob: Contact with others, some of them men, helped me to understand what I was dealing with and that I was not alone in this. I now take each day as it comes, some better than others, some worse, but I do not give in to the “poor me!” or “why me?” syndromes. It can always be worse.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Bob: Fibro itself does not change my days too much, my other conditions and medications affect me more. Fact is I think Fibro is almost in remission other than skin sensitivity.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Bob: Tough question… is it Fibro, the meds or other conditions? I am going to say nothing but cuddling.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Bob: Spending time on forums full of women in a platonic situation, LOL.
FD: : What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Bob: I lucked out having an up-to-date, well read, open-minded primary care physician, one that will even read information that I bring in. Then came the line of idiots who claimed to be professionals. I even saw the premier Fibro Doctor at a famous Boston Hospital who should have been retired years ago; he was suffering from more Fibro Fog than I was. Between him and a neuro-orthopedic surgeon, they almost killed me with medications. A neurological event triggered by the medications left me laying spasmodically on the floor. Eight years later, I still twitch like Michael J. Fox on occasion.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Bob: What friends? A man cannot tell this to another man, who knew? Although after I had a c2-c5 neck fusion and a coronary bypass, some could now understand my having pain and being tired… “Poor Bob has a bad heart, Poor Bob had his neck broken, that hurts.” My wife has it the hardest. We liked to cuddle. Too sensitive for that now unless I medicate; if I medicate, then it’s only a cuddle. She forgets and thinks it’s me not wanting her and in a way she is right as I have little desire (no testosterone either.)
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Bob: Trying to keep my mind in working order, live like I am normal.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Bob: Every story I read, every news program I see showing the heroics of others. Not the firemen or first responders, but the mother of three who is out of work trying to provide for her babies, the soldiers who return from duty missing arms, legs, etc., making their way to new lives. I am only a sufferer of an undeclared disease, who am I to complain?
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Bob You are your best advocate! You know your body better than any physician! Keep a journal of every visit, test and medication, tract them for results. Doctors don’t pay attention and will try the same meds you had reactions to before. You need to keep the record. Do not be afraid to speak up, but also don’t be pig headed, listen to your doctor. Fibro affects people differently; medications affect people differently so while listening to other people’s stories about the meds, workouts, natural herbs that worked for them, they may not work for you. Always remember that tomorrow is a new day and a good chance to have a better day… maybe a walk in the sunshine!
FD: Do you have a funny fibro story you can share?
Bob: Sorry not PG rated. (HA, HA!—FD)
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