Fibro Warrior of the Week (#38)
Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Mantra: It is often the strength displayed by the weakest of us that is most admired by others. You have something to offer this world. And there are people needing it. Find that “something” and give it as freely and often as you can. Your happiness lies within.
Joshua David writes a column about Fibromyalgia from a man’s point of view and hopes to one day publish a novel. As our 38th Fibromyalgia Warrior of the Week, Joshua provides essential perspective about what the condition does to active people. A former distance runner and avid sportsman, he found the adjustment to Fibromyalgia difficult. However, his fighting spirit and research teamed with a supportive family, the memory of a beloved aunt, and his dog—and cat!— keep him going. Now, if you could just help him find his cell phone. And his iPad…
FD: : Tell us a bit about yourself – Where were you born, where do you live now, family, interests, etc.
Joshua: I was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, and was raised in the same general area. I’m married to a beautiful, caring wife. She means the world to me. We have a cat named Maya and a dog named Buddy. Buddy can be seen on my Facebook page. He is a Pit Bull. We got him to be advocates for the breed. Pit Bulls are dogs just like every other dog. Any dog that is not raised properly or that is abused or neglected can be dangerous. In my opinion, Pit Bulls are the best, most well-rounded dogs around. Once I had to stop working the solitude drove me nuts. Buddy is my company, my friend.
FD: When did you first suspect that something wasn’t right? What happened?
Joshua: I had an anxiety attack that turned into something worse. I could feel my “emotional,” “mental,” and “physical” self separating. Almost as if the threads that tie me all together were coming unraveled. There was actually a physical sensation of becoming unraveled. I started crying for no reason and could not control it. I ducked down in the corner and was unable to move, even though I was telling myself to move. I was afraid I was never going to be the same again. Afterwards a doctor told me it sounded like a mild nervous breakdown. The very next day, I woke up a Fibro sufferer.
FD: When were you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia?
Joshua: Late 2005. I was 26 years old.
FD: When you received your diagnosis, how did it affect you?
Joshua: It was especially life changing for me because before this happened I was a distance runner, exercise junkie…a very healthy and driven individual. When I woke up the day after the “attack,” I felt like I was hit by a train. It never went away. Running ceased to be a possibility, in fact all exercises that I previously enjoyed eventually became phased out. Being male, the inability to play sports, compete in physical activities, and support my family was hard on my fragile male ego.
FD: Since then, how has your outlook on life changed?
Joshua: I’ve had to learn new coping techniques. One of the most helpful things I’ve done is seek help from a therapist. Once I sold my business I was crushed. Fighting for disability benefits, surviving on a single income, living in a home that we bought cheaply to “fix up”, but with no energy to do so… I was spiraling downward in a bad way. It took some humility, but seeking help from a therapist you can build a relationship with has helped me in every avenue of life, especially my thought processes.
FD: How does Fibro affect your day-to-day life?
Joshua In the last few years I’ve also started having seizures which have further complicated my circumstances. So often I can’t drive. It takes me a solid two hours each morning to become awake and mobile. Not knowing what kind of day I will wake up to makes scheduling impossible. However, the fatigue is by far the most aggravating symptom from which I suffer. I could go through life enduring the pain and fighting the mental battles, but the all encompassing fatigue prevents me from doing even the simplest of tasks such as getting the mail or climbing a set of stairs.
FD: What can’t you do anymore because of Fibro?
Joshua: I am no longer the socialite and extrovert I once was. I just don’t have the energy. Sometimes even idle chit-chat in social situations is overwhelming. I have had to learn to build a new life around my limitations. Running, swimming, late nights, hiking, and hard labor—actions by which I defined my manhood previously—are gone. A total “re-write” was necessary.
FD: Name something you do now that you never would have imagined happening before your diagnosis.
Joshua: Writing. I have spent a number of years building a portfolio to become a freelance writer. As a matter of fact, I write a column for FibroModem‘s quarterly E-zine. It is compiled by your Fibro Warrior of the Week #4, Simone (small world!) I enjoy writing about matters which interest me, as well as improving my writing skills. I hope to someday publish a novel.
FD: : What has been your experience with seeking medical treatment for Fibro?
Joshua: I sought second, third, fourth, fifth and more “opinions”. Finally a doctor famous in the field assured me that I need not search anymore for the source of my symptoms, that I indeed have Fibromyalgia. That in itself was somewhat of a relief. I have tried almost every medication under the sun, every SSRI, SNRI…any and all medications that could possibly be used for Fibromyalgia I have been on at one point or another. The ones I have found help me the most are Dopamine-affecting meds. Wellbutrin, Provigil, etc. Because of the seizures, I can no longer be on Wellbutrin, but I’m still allowed Provigil which keeps my state of mind more upbeat. I was on opiate therapy for two years. But as for permanent therapy, it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t handle it. Oxycontin makes me feel like Superman and the more Oxycontin, the more “super” I become. I couldn’t self-regulate it. So I have been off of pain meds for a couple of years, hoping for something new to come along. Until then, I cope as best I can with Kratom. If anyone has any questions about it they can’t find answers to online, feel free to email me. It’s not a total solution, but it does help.
FD: How has Fibro affected your relationships, friends, family, partners?
Joshua: I keep in contact with friends mostly through email now. My late nights socializing are gone. My family has become tighter, though. As I often depend on people for rides when I have no license, I see them more often. My parents are very encouraging. I love them very much. I also see my brother-in-law— whom I’ve known since I can remember— quite often and that always raises my spirits. And my wife is my rock. We have been through so much together, and she has had to make so many adjustments to accommodate me. But her commitment has never wavered; her attitude about my limitations is always positive. If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t keep it all together.
FD: What is the biggest challenge you face living with Fibro?
Joshua: Fighting for over two years to get disability in America. Eventually I won my case. But as I mentioned earlier, what bothers me the most is the fatigue. It is all encompassing; a mental, physical, emotional fatigue. It’s something that a normal person could never fathom. There are days in which it is all I can do to move from one room to another. Dragging that fatigue along with the rest of life’s necessities that simply cannot be put-off makes being present for those I’m with difficult. That’s something I’m working on now.
FD: What inspires you to keep on fighting?
Joshua: I had an aunt named Robyn whom I loved very much. She was born with Cystic Fibrosis. When she was born, she was given about nineteen years to live. She made it well beyond that. And while her life was limited, painful and “unfair,” I never heard her complain or be anything but positive. She died bravely at twenty-nine and I still think about people like her… my grandfather, my mother; people who have endured so much more than I have and yet they keep going. How could I do any less?
FD: What advice do you have for other people who are living with Fibro?
Joshua Research and try alternative therapies. Find supportive doctors. I think help from a therapist would be useful to all of us no matter to what extent we have been affected. Read my column in Fibromodem.com’s quarterly E-zine! That last one may seem like a joke, but Simone is compiling a great quarterly “pick-me-up” that all can benefit from. Follow, share, friend, tweet— I’m always up for building our community.
FD: Do you have a funny Fibro story you can share?
Joshua: Fibro-Fog is always amusing. If I can’t find my cell phone, I know I need to check the fridge. I put things away in the wrong places, forget engagements, get woken up in the morning by my rides to a doctor appointment that I had totally forgotten about. Were it not for my iPad, my dog, and my family, I would be wandering the streets like a burnt out vagabond. Come to think of it…what day is tomorrow? And what am I supposed to be doing again? Where is my iPad…?
Follow Joshua on Twitter: @claythrow1
Friend Joshua on Facebook: Joshua David
Check out Josh’s column: Living Well with Fibromyalgia E-Zine: And He Said…
Send Joshua an email (He’d love to hear from you!): email@example.com
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