What it’s like to be a man who can’t even pick up their child without aching for days

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I’ve just turned 23 years old this September, but I feel I have the body of an 80 year old.

Simple tasks like walking the shop, taking a shower and even holding my baby some days can take all of my strength. I would do anything to feel normal.

Fibromyalgia. Ever heard of it? The first time I was told about it I hadn’t. For quite a few years I was finding simple tasks quite tough, but I put it down to having Crohn’s disease.

However, mentioning it to my nurse, she didn’t think it was related – so I made an appointment to see a doctor and after a few tests and prods I was told I had fibromyalgia. First thing I did? Google.

Fibromyalgia is a long term condition that causes pain all over the body. It causes increased sensitivity to pain, extreme fatigue, muscle stiffness and problems with sleep, memory and concentration.

Taking a shower literally burns and scolds my skin on a bad day. It feels like I’m being stung by hundreds of wasps. I constantly feel my shoes are like four times too small. I can pick up a carrier bag with the lightest of things inside, yet within a few minutes my shoulders, arms and fingers can feel like they aren’t there anymore.

I can’t even jump my child in the air nor chase him around the park without then needing a 24 hour sleep.

Though I sometimes have periods where I feel okay, they are very limited.

Just brushing my teeth can ache my arms enough to refrain me from being able to hold or lift anything for the rest of the day.

I was put on a drug called Tramadol in the hope my symptoms of pain improve.  These helped for a week, but I then developed side effects. I would lie awake in bed like I had fleas all over me.

I’d wake up in the morning feeling like I’d been beaten up over and over. Once, I went into town with my partner for some lunch and collapsed on the floor. The side effects just weren’t worth the hassle.

I hate sympathy from people so the last thing I ask for is help. All I want is understanding.

I couldn’t ask for a better partner. She has never judged me for any of my illnesses, and she has always stuck by me – even though I must annoy the hell out of her at times.

To be able to feel normal isn’t something I expect any time soon, I’ve learned to accept this is my life now.

With an illness like fibromyalgia, I feel it is best coped with by being able to laugh about it, and to keep a smile on your face.

Yes, my body feels older than it should, but fibro is a part of me and I probably wouldn’t be as interesting as I am if I didn’t have it – so it isn’t all that bad.

Words by Brandon Waterton

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