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#211844 - 07/04/11 02:25 AM Educating my family and friends .. . ideas?
funchefchick Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 05/02/09
Posts: 72
Loc: Newcastle, WA
Hello folks - I have been lurking for a while now, and I need some help!

I'm a former athlete with Spondylitis, in my early 40s. Dx'd about 3 years ago and all the pieces finall fell into place about pain, fatigue, fevers, etc.

For whatever reason my parents - and some friends and other relatives - do not want to believe that I have this disease. I truly believe it is because they wish for me to be healthy and fit like I used to be so that I could be pain-free and have a rich and full life without all of the (extensive!) medications. What this means is that when I say I am 'not well today' or that I have more severe pain than usual they always ask why? I find myself repeating the same answers over and over again.

Or when I say we should move my disabled parking placard from my car to whichever car we are taking for the day, my dad asks if that is legal and do we really need to? Um. YES, and YES.

Does anyone know if there is a "So your loved one has A.S.; here is what you might experience" type of brochure or document out in the 'web ? I would be happy to help collaborate on one, if not. It is exhausting having to constantly re-explain - and justify - why pain limits my choices in my daily life.

I have sent "The Spoon Theory" around and posted it to my Facebook page and still ... I have to ask people to walk slower, or decline full-day hikes with friends.

What have people found to be successful in really explaining what Spondylitis is like, and how to reset people's expectations about what you are capable of on any given day?

Thanks!
_________________________
FunChefChick and Pooch



Diagnosed undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy and Fibromyalgia Spring 2009.
Taking: Mobic (NSAID), Lyrica, Cimzia, Morphine Sulfate, Soma, Morphine IR.
Tried: MTX, Humira, Savella, Cymbalta, Enbrel
Had been employed full-time in the tech sector for 25 years; went on permanent disability leave starting April 2013.

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#211855 - 07/04/11 07:01 AM Re: Educating my family and friends .. . ideas? [Re: funchefchick]
nisey Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 10/30/08
Posts: 1425
Loc: PA
There are brochures offered on the site here. They are under resources. Not sure whether any of them will "fit" what you want. I have found that some family members and friends just can't deal with the fact I have an incurable disease. Many have never been able to accept it. It's hard because we look "fine" to everyone else! I hope you find something that helps. If you do, please come on and tell us about it. I would love for others to understand!

Blessings,
Nisey
_________________________
It is what it is!

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#211874 - 07/04/11 08:12 AM Re: Educating my family and friends .. . ideas? [Re: nisey]
sequoia
Unregistered


hey, fun..why don't you contact the director, laurie savage, and tell her about your idea for a brochure like you have described.

she and the rest of the staff are extremely helpful, and i agree, the pamphlets they do have here that nisey mentioned are EXCELLENT for discussing our disease. i don't think they really help explaining it to others. i think the first set is free. go out to the resources section. then contact the office. they might really appreciate a draft of a pamphlet or small book like you discuss.

good luck, sequoia

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#211880 - 07/04/11 08:40 AM Re: Educating my family and friends .. . ideas? [Re: ]
JenInCincy Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 13279
Loc: Cincinnati, OH
Sounds to me like your family and friends are certainly intelligent enough to understand.... as Nisey said, and you theorized too - often people just don't want to believe it's true. I don't think you need to do more work at helping people understand what spondylitis is like. You just have to keep giving the same explanations over and over till they get tired of it and accept it. You can also try the more confrontational "what about this don't you understand? do you think I'm making stuff up?" That way, people can see how their being in denial doesn't help you - it hurts.

Sorry you're dealing with so much frustration from your support circle.
_________________________
Jen, 42, happy partner of James and Moma to Evan, 14, & Lucy, 12.5 (Crohn's dx @ age 3; on Remicade since April 2010.) I take piroxicam, Flexeril, & Nucynta ER nightly. 3 anti-TNFs didn't pan out for me.

"Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance." -- Hippocrates

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#211892 - 07/04/11 10:35 AM Re: Educating my family and friends .. . ideas? [Re: JenInCincy]
Nan Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 01/08/11
Posts: 13
Loc: Boise
Reading this made me tear up. It is such an invisible disease. And based on what I read from you all on these forums, I have it easy. I've also come to believe that many suffer from other "invisible" diseases or conditions.

My loving and caring husband asks me "How are you? How did you sleep? Does your back hurt?" When I am thorough in my response I would say: "My back always hurts, my hips ache and keep me awake, I get cramps in my legs when I stretch, my hands ache, the pain is moving to my ribcage, and I woke up every hour or so...." When I am not so thorough, I say, "About the same."

I went to a "bootcamp" workout to support a friend who'd invested in it. She repeatedly told the "instructor" I couldn't do such and such a move "because of her back." Truth: I couldn't or wouldn't do many of the activities because of my aching hands, hips, knees, and on and on. It's not just my back, I said under my breath. And I DID want to be able to walk the next day. So I modified.

I am a writer and editor. This gives me an idea to use my skills to write something to help our friends and family members understand what we go through -- on every level.

I don't jump on here often enough. Perhaps because it overwhelmes me how rampant this disease it and how many suffer. So many young people are suffering (I am 57 years young), including my best friend's 18-year-old daughter. Why?

Happy independence day to all! Count your blessings. When I do, it helps.


Edited by Nan (07/04/11 10:36 AM)
_________________________
Undifferentiated Spondylarthropathy
...with hope and gratitude for a supportive spouse.

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#211900 - 07/04/11 11:34 AM Re: Educating my family and friends .. . ideas? [Re: Nan]
nisey Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 10/30/08
Posts: 1425
Loc: PA
That sounds like a wonderful idea Nan! We could really use something like that! We need people with that kind of creative talent to get our message out there and help people understand!
I agree. I count my blessings often. Otherwise it would seem pretty pointless to go on. I am 41 with a good husband, two children that I homeschool, two dogs who have me at their beck and call, etc.... Life is what you make it. We've been dealt some bad cards but we need to play them.

Happy Indepenence Day to you too!
Nisey
_________________________
It is what it is!

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#211940 - 07/05/11 07:23 AM Re: Educating my family and friends .. . ideas? [Re: nisey]
iviary Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 11/29/10
Posts: 2008
Loc: North Texas
Something I've found helpful was writing a piece for the "Hope & Apples" AS Awareness Project. It took some guts, but I shared it on facebook and got some very empathetic appropriate responses, and more understanding from friends and family who didn't really get what was going on. I think Hope & Apples is great because it's a large collection of patients' stories, so readers can get a good look at the spectrum of experiences with this disease, without directing them to this forum where we say things we may not want friends/family to read.

http://www.hopeandapples.com/?page_id=956

There's my story. There was a large drive to get lots of entries during Spondylitis awareness month, but they're accepting submissions at any time. You might think about trying it. smile
_________________________
Mary, 25, happily married pro photographer, momma to 2 great danes.
Dx: Psoriatic Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Psoriasis, Sjogren's, IBS, Hiatal Hernia, & possible Endometriosis.
Meds: Stelara, Methotrexate, Relafen, Omeprazole, Lyrica, Tizanidine, Voltaren Gel, Tramadol

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#220690 - 11/02/11 09:44 PM Re: Educating my family and friends .. . ideas? [Re: iviary]
Squeezie Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 10/26/09
Posts: 4
Loc: Nebraska
Nan, if you do get something written up for a brochure, I would happy to donate my skills as a graphic designer to create the brochure. I could create it as a PDF file that everyone could just print on their own ink jet as needed. smile I'm having the same issues getting my husband and family to understand. He seems to think I'm just being lazy on the days that I'm very fatigued or in a lot of pain. I just had a conversation with him, trying to get his input on whether or not to make the move from Mobic to Humira. I really wanted his opinion and he just starting cracking jokes. Ugh! Even my parents don't seem to really understand AS and I never know how just to explain it. A brochure aimed at family and friends would be perfect!
_________________________
Dx with AS in 2009 after 15 plus years of symptoms ranging from debilitating pain in hip, neck and back, iritis and psoriasis

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#221790 - 11/20/11 06:29 AM Re: Educating my family and friends .. . ideas? [Re: funchefchick]
Miel Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 2
I am so relieved to find this post. I'm having "The Talk" again with my brother in a couple hours and was frantically searching the web to find something to help me get through this. I was diagnosed 11 years ago and at first my brother and I had this talk every other week or so, but gradually it's gotten less frequent, until now it's about every 18 months. If I bring it up - if, for example, I say, "I'm having a bad health day and can't do that today." - he either responds with angry silence or a change of topic. He used to ask what was wrong, but the answer always angered him and he has stopped doing even that. So it's partly my fault that I've let him get away with avoiding the topic.

But recently, he sent me an ultimatum. Either I shape up and start acting like I did 11 years ago, or he will no longer be supportive of me (His "support" is very minimal, consisting mainly of bringing a pizza over once a month or so). I wrote back that as long as he refused to acknowledge my illness, none of my motives or behavior will make sense to him. He wrote back that he does acknowledge the disease, but he doesn't understand why I can't do all the things I did before I got sick; I just have to put up with the pain and buckle down and do it.

He's also done and said several things that indicate he wishes I would die.

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#221803 - 11/20/11 02:03 PM Re: Educating my family and friends .. . ideas? [Re: Miel]
WhiteCell Offline
Registered Visitor

Registered: 05/31/10
Posts: 1259
I think that some information sheets on AS easily found on the web would educate and serve him well.

I think that your last statement about him wanting you to die, should be appropriately handled with a licensed therapist as it is alarming to a reasonable person.
_________________________
Ank Spon since 18 years old began as Reiter's Syndrome. Diagnosed with Ank Spon 2001, Remicade since 2002 - 5mg/kg every 7 weeks. 8 hour Tylenol and hot tubs for pain.

Severe Right Eye Glaucoma- Trabeculectomy/lens replacement 2006. DSAEK Cornea Transplant 2009. Ahmed Shunt 6/2016. DSAEK November 2016.

Supra Ventricular Tachycardia. 2004. Cured by RF ablation 2006. Cardizem 240 CD.

ICU and ER; R.N. San Diego ~Grasp The Challenge and Succeed~

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