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A Question for the Fellas!

Jul 29, 2015 3:23 PM

Ok, so this is something I've been pondering for a while now.

I'm a 33 year old woman and have Rheumatoid Arthritis; diagnosed 6.5 years ago. It's safe to say it's completely ruined my entire life as I'm sure is the case with most of us here.

At times when I'm unable to work because of it or need to ask strangers for help lifting something or a coworker to friggin staple something for me it crosses my mind how these situations would suck so much more if I was a dude. Meaning, most men are raised to be strong, the provider and not really to show emotions and society as a whole adds to that stigma big time. It took me a couple years to be comfortable asking people for help but in the end I decided my pride isn't worth the pain, but I'm assuming it must be much harder for some (not all) men to ask for help.

Now I'm not trying to crap on us ladies saying we have it easy cause we for sure have it worse in other ways but I think the men win this round.

I'd love to hear opinions, stories, heartbreaks whatever you're willing to share. And maybe I don't know what I'm talking about, I want to hear that too....then I can stop feeling sorry for my chronic brethren 😉

Jul 29, 2015 7:12 PM

My dad would never ask for help. My brother asks for help most of the time. My hubby will not unless I make him. I've had major coworkers who did ask for help. Sort ofmixed. 🙏🌼

Jul 29, 2015 9:55 PM

I think it depends on how you were raised. In my home growing up you were not to ask for help, you were not to look as if you needed help, and you were not allowed to cry. Needing help in any form was considered a weakness and weaknesses are to be exploited apparently.

So I have issues with asking for help, I won't go to the doctor until it's really bad, I can't bring myself to go to therapy yet, and I hold things in and get mad instead of crying. For me it isn't a pride thing, it's a judgment and ridicule and not being worthy thing.

To me going to physical therapy and massage are big breakthroughs in the asking for help department. Hiring cleaners was my boyfriends idea and even though we really need that help it bothers me. I feel like I have to explain that we are both ill every time they show up so that we don't look lazy, I have to keep reminding myself that they don't care as long as I pay them.

Jul 30, 2015 3:32 PM

I'm a girl, but people sometimes doubt it because of my hair. Had a guy come up to me when I was rehearsing a script, and interrogate me about my hair and gender. It was creepy. ... .sorry, oof topic I hate asking for help! Even when I required a wheelchair, I could only really bring myself to ask for help from people I knew. Luckily some people were willing to help even if I'm extremely socially awkward...I once got to join a writing class for a day while my dance class went on a field trip. Luckily, a stranger was willing to push me around. I'm guessing it just depends on the person.

Jul 30, 2015 4:11 PM

I'm a 31 year old man. I was in the army for 5 years. Jumped out of planes, did all kinds of bad a** stuff. Came home, got married to my sweetheart, I now have 3 kids (2 girls and a boy) and am hoping for another. I have RA. It sucks.

My joint deterioration isn't as bad as others I've seen. I walk around like Frankenstien sometimes, or find myself unable to sit comfortably for longer stretches of time. But, the worst is the pain. Lots of pain. Boring, stabbing, toxic pain in my joints that won't let up for anything. It gets in the way of life.

I'm honest about it when I have to be. I hide it, or run away from it by being as busy as I can, when I can. I mostly talk to my wife about it; if I need to talk. Sometimes I just tell her, "Babe, I'm sorry. I'm crabby and it's been a rough day. Tell me what you need help with around the house right now, so I can get it done, and then go to bed."

She's understanding. She knows that sometimes I need to just grin and bear it, and she lets me. Sometimes she rubs my wrists and elbows for me as we fall asleep. She reminds me if I've had too much to drink on a high pain day. She loves me.

It's hard to be laid low. Especially as a big strong dude. I'm 6'4" and weigh 240lbs, I've done cage fighting and all kinds of crazy cool physical stuff. A bit ago, I took a marathon runner out on a backpacking trip and almost made him cry. Well, he's too manly to cry; but he puked blood at the end of the day.

It sucks not being able to do that stuff anymore.

But, there are a ton of things that I can still do. I can ride a bike. I can swim. Jogging went out ages ago. I can't wrestle with dudes my size, buy my kids love to wrestle and have pillow fights. I appreciate the good days more, and try to treat the pain as an old friend that helps to remind me of what is important.

Without this persistent pain, I don't think I would be so purposeful about my family. I don't think I would be as vulnerable with my wife. I don't think I would be so prayerful with God, or contemplate much about the mystery of His will. Without pain I would never look inside myself and determine what is important.

Pain sucks. That's why they call it pain. But I think the manly response to being so humbled by something deep in my body (I seriously think my doctor doesn't believe I'm in such pain, but just want pills) is to remember that strength is a commodity that comes and goes, and it is important to use it well when you have it. It is also important to be strong in other ways when you don't have it.

Jul 30, 2015 9:24 PM

Well said coffeethug, thank you for sharing.
What meds you on? I've finally found relief with a methotrexate/Remicade combo. Biologics are my best friend right now, that's for fucking sure. I'm like a new person; I've even been able to start running again.

Jul 31, 2015 12:53 AM

I've got really poopy insurance, so I've had to start small. I'm on gabapentin and celebrex. I'm hoping to move to biologics by fall.

Jul 31, 2015 12:59 AM

This is a very interesting question and topic, as it affects me often. I am half Mexican, half German. My dad who is Mexican has a strong work ethic and taught us to be be strong workers and to help others. My mother was a taker for the last part of her life in part because of her disability which I didn't mind, but she took advantage of people. She would ask them to do outrageous things even when it came to money. I resented that. It affected me, to the point that I didn't allow myself to be the receiver in friendships on big matters such as money or help on big projects without paying my friends. I never wanted to take advantage of them. I was extreme. I just didn't want to be like my mom. But my mom was also hospitable which I did learn and cherish from her. I don't want you to think I hated her.

So when it comes to asking for help, I often hurt myself doing it. For the most part my 22 year old son helps. He is a great helper but that even makes me feel bad. Just this evening we went to a hotel and I try to still do things. I am 45 and I hurt all over. But like all men who are disabled, we don't want to be seen as weak. We still try to do what we can. But my son told me to stay out of the way tonight while he unpacks the cart. There was some heavy things but I was trying to help with a lot of the lighter things. I told him that it may be harder to do what he needs to do if I am slowing him down but maybe he can find a kinder way to say it because I still like to help. It made me very sad. But on the other hand, he was reacting on his deep sense of loyalty and protection when he was doing that. He just wasn't using a filter. My son is loyal to a fault. Too much that he is holding up his life and I hate it. But I can't make him go on with his. I tell him we will be fine. The past couple weeks, I had done the most I have been able to do in a long time. I have made dinner three times. I enjoy cooking for people and especially my family. They use to love when I would cook for them. They missed it. So I did it. I just had to hide the excruciating pain that it caused me. I had to tell them I wasn't quite hungry yet when I was done but the reason was the pain was so bad in my arms, I just didn't want to hold a fork.

Oh, and I don't know if you all come across this. But have you ever come across people who think you are fortunate that you have disability and don't have to work. Not so much because you have a disability but because you don't have to work. Maybe that is me being sensitive but I swear I feel I come across people like this. And I feel they are saying I am fortunate to be in that group. I feel like yelling then and telling them I would like to work every day of the week. That I miss work so much. That it was part of my identity. Part of my upbringing. My dad told me from an early age, whether you work for ten cents or a hundred dollars an hour, how hard you work represents what type of person you are. So it has always been a part of me. It was a serious loss, like a death to me. I have social security disability and a disability insurance through work. But I don't feel like the bread winner. Even though I am the provider for the family. I didn't earn it because it is way past any money I paid into the government. So it is not something I used my hands and mind to earn. I am getting paid because I can't. And lately, people are wanting to say my mind is not doing well. They just don't understand what I am going through. Well, enough ranting. This is my novel. I hope it helps give some insight on our perspective. At least it is mine.

Jul 31, 2015 9:53 AM

CT, I really hope you get to; it's a complete game changer. I don't know where you live but I'm a bit worried for you if you have bad insurance...they're soooo expensive! Living in Canada I was assessed and the gov pays 90% then the drug company pays the rest so I really got lucky because for my dose it would be almost $3000 for every infusion and I'm on a 6week cycle. And my dose isn't that high.

I'm glad you all are comfortable enough to share and take part in my question. Profiler, I know what you mean about people being idiots about not working. When I was switching my meds last I was basically not on anything so I was close to not being able to get out of bed. I was working maybe 10 hours a week and even that was hard. One of those days a coworker said to me "it must be nice to have a little vacation from work". Me being me, didn't let it slide and replied with "yeah excruciating pain is a great vacation; I would have much rather been at work"
People just don't understand how hurtful they can be sometimes but on the other hand Ive probably done a similar thing to someone else at one point. For the most part I try to be upfront with the douchebaggery of others. They'll never learn if we don't correct them.

Jul 31, 2015 5:20 PM

I'm a 34 yo male whom is running a family business of wholesale foods and alcohol. My dad had built the business through many years of sweat and blood. He is very traditional and expects 110% of me and my siblings. A very hard man to please and will definitely let you know.

Early stages when I was struck with severe lower back pain when I was 30, I was constantly complained about by my father. My sister would often accuse me of living the life of being lazy as I wasn't consistently going to work. My friends showed empathy but later showed signs of being annoyed as I had to restrict my social life so I was made redundant by them. I took my life because I was in so much pain and the vibe everybody has given me was just too much to handle. At this stage I hid my pain and pretty much from everybody. I had refused to ask for help, it was as if I was asking for more sympathy and a another reason to live a lazy life as thought by others. Also was seen as a drug addict most time, sigh.

Luckily I have a beautiful supporting wife who had given me 2 beautiful girls. A very supportive mother whom had being by my side through my hellish life I had from the start. She was by my side day and night after my foolish attempt, asking me to wake up (after popping enough drugs to put me out 3-4 days). From the support I have from my wife and my own mother, it was enough for me to stand back on my own two feet now and run a somewhat successful business.

I still struggle with doing a lot of my daily tasks, even getting out of bed can be quite a chore at times. I've tried to educate the people around me of what's it's like to be in pain on a daily basis. I know have support from my employees, my family, and some of my closest friend. I'm never afraid to say no anymore and everybody else respects what I can or can't do.

Bottom line, I hope all the males out there, young or old, can put their pride one side and really make the effort to help people around you to understand what it's like to be constantly in pain, so they can always try to be in your shoes even though they may not get it. Also most importantly, be thankful to those whom had or tried to burden your pain with you. Without support, you can only go a mile, with support, the sky is your limit. Don't let your life be such a drag, and don't drag others with you down a steep cliff.

Jul 31, 2015 10:07 PM

One thing I try to do Octobot, is educate as many people as I can. I may not readily accept their help without paying them for it. That is my problem to work on. It is my defect. Seeing my mother take advantage of others and take their money and use it for pleasure and give credit to herself for being able to pay a bill when it is real. It just affected me. But educating people on what it is like to be in pain, I feel that is my responsibility. I feel like I am not doing it for myself but doing it for their future loved ones and their friends when it happens to them. I guess they count me as their friend to. I am very articulate with them if I want to be and I can describe to them what it feels like to hurt all the time. How it feels to be isolated from people because you don't get out most of the time. How different pains come and go. How different things affect pain. They tend to give me sympathy. I tell them that I really don't want that. That I just want them to understand what my life is like because I would like to spend more time with them. Most of the time, I can tell them that I love them and miss them and appreciate when they stop by or text me. I encourage them to video chat with me. I tell them that would make me happy. That I need interaction and that I use to thrive on it. That I use to be a funny person who was the center of attention, making people laugh and giving directions on how we were going to enjoy ourselves. I tell them I miss that and I miss my life. Most of all, I tell them I miss work so much. That my identity was tied up in my work. That it gave me great joy to be a hard worker and recognized as such by my employers. I tell people what my hopes and dreams were because I was young and just starting my career. I could have gone to school. Then I tell them the date my life changed and how old I was. That I was only 24. Then I tell them they need to live their lives more fuller because they never know when that chance may end for them to do that or when their may be severe limitations to doing that. I explain the science of pain to them. How we only have so many pain receptors. So the brain can only take so many signals. And how you can have pain all over but if you are having intense number 8 or 9 pain, you in your arm like I am, you may not feel your back pain. That is currently the situation I am in. But the pain medicine doesn't work on arm pain.. So I educate them on the physical, social, and psychological aspects of pain so they can have knowledge, live life more fuller, and express empathy to family, friends, and strangers.

Aug 01, 2015 1:27 AM

Profiler, I can't say I understand what you had went through, but I understand the part about asking for help and having a way to pay them back. I don't take favours mostly, every time I get help, I would always try to repay double the effort they've put in for me. Sadly, their efforts means I really have to pay 4 times more due to my condition.

I enjoy a open understand relationship with my peers. Educating one can mean the difference, if later they suffer pain as I have or met someone whom had chronic pain. I must say though, there aren't many out there whom lives a normally life would really care about what we have to say, causing some of us to be over protective of our illness. It's a cruel world in reality, only those whom stay by your side after a series of hardship are your only true friends. The rest really wouldn't care less.

Aug 02, 2015 3:26 AM

I am a Jehovah' s Witness. In our congregations, we are taught to be kind and loving. I know others are taught too. But they really live it. I must say the world has become hard for everyone to live so people that would once make frequent trips to the house don't get a. Chance to do that. But for the most part, I feel their care and empathy when I am around them.. They want to talk more about my health then I want to. They are checking if I am going to be alright because I have given them some scares before. I know they care.

Aug 02, 2015 5:47 AM

Well I've been raised to when needed only to ask for help when I need to but have learned after being injured for almost 20 plus years and wanting to get stuff done I only ask for help any more and I'll would wait for days and then say f it then do it my self so I don't ask any more I just do it my self of ask my niece for help she will come fast

Aug 04, 2015 10:43 PM

SS, I'm worried too. But worry is one thing I don't indulge in much. Just take it as it comes.

Aug 04, 2015 10:56 PM

Wise words my friend :)

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