Understanding How Fibromyalgia Affects Your Family


We Are Not the Only Ones Suffering

How Fibromyalgia Affects Your FamilyCounselor Eric Patterson and fibro sufferer Adriel Maldonaldo discuss how fibromyalgia affects your family.

Some medical conditions are simple: they have a mild set of symptoms that can be treated easily with good results, have a limited influence on the life of the sufferer, and are one-dimensional.

Other medical conditions are more complex: they have a severe set of symptoms that lack a strong and reliable treatment plan and cross the line from physical to mental and last for an extended duration. These medical conditions are multidimensional as they impose their will on all areas of your life.

In the case of a chronic medical condition like fibromyalgia, you are not the only one who feels the impact. This condition has the ability to wreck havoc on a broader audience, including your family.

Adriel’s Take on Family and Fibro

When you are suffering, when you are in pain, when you walk around dealing with fibromyalgia fatigue all the time, it is very easy to get wrapped up in yourself and your own suffering. It is easy to center your thinking on how your life has been affected by fibromyalgia — this is completely normal human behavior. But I feel it is important to remember that we are not the only ones who are suffering.

Our family and loved ones are also very much affected by this terrible illness. They often have to make sacrifices to help us, and they suffer because we suffer. It would be unhealthy for our relationships with them to become consumed with our own suffering, and not recognize theirs.

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Watching a loved one in pain and suffering is not easy — it can cause intense emotional pain. It can also be a lonely life for them; they may give up opportunities to spend time with other people in order to be with us. They may not feel they can be open with us about their own problems because we have so many of our own.

They may have to make financial sacrifices to help and support us. Many fibromyalgia sufferers are unable to work much or at all. Doctor visits, medications and other medical expenses add up very quickly. This leaves a heavy burden on the shoulder of the person who is providing for the family. Family members may have to miss work to take us to and from the doctor, or simply to take care of us when we are unable to care for ourselves.

They may risk their own health focusing all of their time and attention on our health issues and not taking proper care of themselves. They may not go to the doctor when they need to, whether it be because of the time it takes or because of the expense, choosing to put those resources into our health rather than their own.

I could go on all day talking about the effects that I believe fibromyalgia has had on my family, but I thought it would be best to instead, ask them to share their insights with you. I posed a couple of thought-provoking questions to my husband and mother. I gave them both plenty of time to mull the questions over before getting their answers. This is what they had to say.

I asked my husband Jorge:

How has having a wife with fibromyalgia affected your life?

“Well, I think the biggest thing would be that we don’t do as much as before. We stay at home more and are limited in where we can go and how long we can spend at certain places. We don’t spend time with our friends and family as much as we would like to.”

Do you ever wonder how life would be different if your wife did not have fibromyalgia?

“Not directly. But when you see couples doing stuff together, you can’t help but wonder.”

My questions to my mother, Cathy, were basically the same.

How has having a daughter with fibromyalgia affected your life?

“The main way I have been affected is to feel great pain at seeing my daughter suffer. It’s difficult knowing she spends so much time in pain, not to mention all the other symptoms she deals with physically, mentally, emotionally, all the doctors visits, medications, side effects, other people’s reactions, or lack thereof, etc. It’s difficult knowing every day is a struggle. It breaks my heart.

Next page: more from Adriel’s mother and how fibro affects children.

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