Fibro Warrior of the Week (#10)
FWOTW: Chris Freeman
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Mantra: Be strong and courageous do not fear or panic because the Lord is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
It’s amazing that in the face of debilitating chronic pain a person can still get up every day and sacrifice everything to care for others. Our 10th Fibro Warrior needs to change his Twitter handle to @SuperChronicPainDad! After an accident 20 years ago and a botched spinal surgery, Chris finds strength in the Lord, friendship in his Twitter community, and joy in his wife and two young kids. -FD
FD: Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Chris: I was Born In 1966 in Hamilton Ontario. I was a premature baby that did not walk until I was around 4 years old. I was born with Scoliosis, Hyper mobility Syndrome. My Dad was a professional wrestler for 25 years. Both of my parents passed away several years ago. I have been married for 18 years to my best friend, and we have a daughter who is 2 and a son who is 5. We live in Edmonton, where my wife works and I stay at home taking care of the kids. I love every sport – favorites are NFL and NHL. When I get a chance, I love to read.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Chris: In August of 1993 I had a work accident that left me in excruciating pain. In 1994, Doctors decided the best course of action was a spinal fusion on my L5-S1 vertebrae. The fusion broke within a couple of months leaving me to experience more pain than I had before. Over the next couple of years, the pain began to spread throughout my back into my chest and arms.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Chris: In 2005, I was looking for an answer to why the pain was increasing. The specialist I was referred to diagnosed me with fibromyalgia/chronic pain syndrome.
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Chris: I was upset. Not only had a surgeon ruined my spine but the care I received afterwards was horrific. It led to a body riddled with chronic pain. I was depressed because when the Dr. diagnosed me, he then said there was nothing the medical community could do. The positive part of the diagnoses is that I had a name for what was happening inside my body and I could research and learn about.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Chris: My outlook has not really changed. I now have a name to associate with my increased pain. I have learned to pace myself and say no to a lot of things. I have embraced that fact that chronic pain is a part of my life. So much so that I am involved in a great Twitter community. I continue to educate myself and research new methods and alternative ways of dealing with chronic pain.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Chris: Every day is a battle. Everything is difficult. Just getting the kids fed and clothed sends my pain skyrocketing and drains me of what energy I had. Everyday by 10am I worry because I do not know how the rest of the day is going to happen. I live in a world of constant pain and fatigue and my kids see their dad in tears sometimes because of the pain. I have had to learn to pace myself and to not feel so guilty because I am very limited in my activities with my kids. It is at times a brutal existence. Basically, I have learned to rely on the Lord more than ever to be strong and courageous every day.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Chris: There are many things that I cannot do due to Fibromyalgia/Chronicpain. I have not been able to work since the accident in 1993. The pain was too much for me to continue with my master’s degree program. I love to work-out and I am not able to go to the gym any more. I will never be able to run, ski, or play a game of ball with my kids.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Chris: I have taken up Nordic Walking. The walking sticks are great and give me the ability to walk so much farther than I would be able to without them. I tried acupuncture and now I have an acupressure mat that I use every other day.
FD: What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Chris: After the specialist diagnosed me with fibromyalgia/chronic pain syndrome, and indicated that there was nothing more they could do, they had tried all types of medications – narcotics and other drugs and pain therapies such as Botox injections – but to no avail. The General Doctors have tried other anti-depressants but my stomach just could not handle them. In the last few months I have removed myself from all medications. The pain is increased but other side effects are gone.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Chris: Fibromyalgia/chronicpain knows no boundaries. It is just a brutal on my wife who leaves the house every morning knowing her husband is suffering greatly. She works 50+ hours a week and it is hard on her because there is nothing she can do to help cure me. The rest of my family love me but don’t want to hear about my problems. I lost all my friends in the early nineties when my accident happened.
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with fibro?
Chris: The constant fatigue and restless sleep is sometimes worse than battling the pain.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Chris: The one question that brings tears to my eyes. With God’s help and the strength that he gives me, I keep fighting because of my wife and my two kids.
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Chris: Educate yourself. Do not just rely on the medical community. Be open and honest. Learn to say no. Do not feel guilty if you can’t do something. Pace yourself.
FD: Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Chris: I am often in such a fog that my wife has to remind me of what I was doing. On one of the pain medications, we went to a buffet restaurant. I had my plate and my wife left me to get some food but I walked into the middle of the restaurant and stood staring aimlessly until see directed me to our table.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChronicPainDad
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