"He Can't Handle My Illness"
Her Turn"Our Marriage is a Shell"
"I haven't been well for a long time, and I get the feeling that Adam just doesn't care," says Rachel, 33, is stay-at-home mom. "Our once-great marriage is just a shell.
"It's been this way ever since I got sick. About three years ago, my fingers began to ache and swell up. Then the discomfort spread to my hands and shoulders, and I started to feel tired all the time. I bounced from one specialist to another, undergoing test after test. No one had answers. While researching my symptoms on the Internet, I finally found an article on fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder affecting the musculoskeletal system. The disorder, which is often misdiagnosed, can trigger a number of symptoms -- many of which hit home for me. Though fibromyalgia is controversial and not all doctors believe it is a real disorder, I finally found a specialist who does.
"Some days, every muscle in my body hurts; other days, I just feel a sharp jab in the back. More constant are the insomnia and headaches. I have no energy for 8-year-old Brandon or 6-year-old Brett when they come home from school, and I feel guilty for pacifying Jake, our 2-year-old, with videos when I'm too tired to play with him. Simply getting through the day is hard.
"Because certain antidepressants in low doses can control pain, my doctor prescribed one for me. He also encouraged me to exercise in order to stimulate endorphins, the brain's natural pain relievers. I admit I haven't been very good about that. And even though doctors tell me that fibromyalgia won't disable me completely, I'm still terrified that it will. I keep checking the Internet for new information.
"Last week, as I put Jake in his car seat, pain shot through my wrists and arms. I panicked -- I had this image of me incapacitated in a wheelchair and unable to mother my children. But when I told Adam what happened, he didn't seem concerned; he just mumbled a word or two and then changed the subject. Once in a while, he'll offer to give me a massage, but it's such a halfhearted shoulder rub that it's hardly worth the bother. The only time he takes any real interest in me is when he wants to have sex, which hardly puts me in the mood.