Bringing information & encouragement to fight RA
rawarrior Chronic pain can do that to us. Accepting our limitations is difficult but necessary for happiness and survival.
I’m thinking it’s representative of the entire gender and their approach to health care — men tend to ignore symptoms and “tough it out” because that’s what a man is supposed to do. So they ignore early symptoms until it’s unbearable, and by that time they of course have more damage and a more entrenched disease situation.
And then, “as men”, they’re supposed to suffer in silence, being strong and impervious to pain, work through it, all that utter bullcrap. So they may not take their analgesics as they should. Because that’s seen as “weak”.
Not to mention men tend to be in more physically demanding employment than women, where the heavy-duty pain relievers we have to have could cause issues with using heavy machinery, or cause them to fail a pee test, so they don’t take them.
Then with no one to talk to or vent about it (because men aren’t supposed to have problems they need to talk about), their pain, confusion, misery, fear, and loneliness comes out as an attack on the wife (verbal).
It’s bad enough being a woman with RA — I’d hate to be a MAN with RA.
Lorri has hit the nail on the head! We men have been raised to “tough it out”. A man should not be defined by his physical abilities but many of us were raised with that as an integral part of our identity. Men also have the greater tendancy to be hyper-competitive. As RA starts to take away our ability to be competitive, to show off for our mates, it feels like it is stealing our masculinity! My head swells when I can impress my wife and I hear her say, “thats no boy, that’s a man!” Now RA is taking that away much too young. Our egos may be huge but they are often very fragile!
Instead of wife I should have said “attack on their loved ones.”
After living with RA for well over 30 years, I find this study to be down right disturbing. I have been told by health care providers that RA does not cause pain, love that one! As a woman, it is considered catastrophizing when we say we hurt or are unable to do things, while for men, it would be considered real and in need of support, just saying it looks like more gender inequality. We all need support and recognition of disease impact!
I agree wholeheartedly!!
I couldn’t agree more, Elizabeth.
I don’t know how much you can conclude from a study with just 30 participants – that’s a small group, of which you pointed out 5 out of 8 that said “it gets me down every single day” were male.
I’d be interested in knowing more about these participants – their socioeconomic group, yrs of education, length of time they’ve had RA, marital status, access to healthcare. I think those characteristics would play a role in how someone manages a chronic disease.
It’s hard for anyone with a chronic disease to openly talk about how it’s affecting them without worrying if they are perceived as a whiner or malingerer – why RA support forums/groups are so important. Most of the RA groups are predominantly women cuz RA affects women more than men, but on the RA forums I’ve been on, the men seem to have no problem writing about their feelings and challenges. The anonymity of an online support group might contribute to that openness.
Knowing a man who suffered for years, my fiancé passed at a very young age 51 from “complications of RA” RA lung, it was the most disturbing thing I’d ever seen, I had to literally watch him die as Dr’s tried to figure out what to do. He didn’t take his meds like he should have, I believe because then he would have admitted their was a problem. And unfortunately he turned to alcohol and that of course just made it worse for him. Then I was diagnosed oddly with severe RA and several other auto immune issues. Man or woman he robs you of your life and leaves you feeling violated
***that’s supposed to be it robs not he robs you of your life**
Living with and coping with this disease isn’t easy for anyone, regardless of gender. At 34 years old, after 7 years of misdiagnosis, I have been diagnosed with severe RA and then came the medications. As a welder, it gets in my way constantly. Most days I can shrug it off, having been dealing with the pain for years already, but I certainly have my ‘poor me’ and ‘why me’ days, as I have to imagine we all do. The side effects of the medications don’t help much either. I have to hope that as time wears on, my depressed and angry days will get fewer and farther between rather than the other way around, but I also know I have a lot of work to do to make it happen. Very glad I found this site. I don’t feel nearly as alone as I did.
Kelly, Thanks for continuing to draw attention to the fact that RA is not just a disease that women fight. There are men in the battle as well!
And Joie, in spite of stereotypes, some of us men are able to share feelings and challenges!
Andrew – I agree! I’ve been on several online RA forums for 5 years now, and there have been men on them openly talking about their life w/RA. A support group with a diverse group of participants – men and women — has more to offer, is more interesting – we can all learn from and support each other.
The findings of this study of 30 participants however, were that men w/RA don’t get the support they need and that “support that is acceptable to their masculine identifies” needs to be considered. I think such men should consider online support groups. The anonymity of online forums – away from the eyes/ears of family, friends, employers, co-workers – makes them a safe place for not only men w/RA, to open up and write about their feelings and fears, but also women – and thus find needed understanding and support to face the daily challenges of a chronic disease.
Bill wrote men have been raised to “tough it out” – you could say that’s a stereotype too – I know several women who’ve lived with RA a long time, had major joint damage requiring surgeries, and despite all the challenges of a chronic disease still have a good outlook on life – they are tough cookies too!
As a man, firstly I would never refer to “The Wife!”
I have pain every day and I resent the fact that it “steals” a portion of my 100% happyness. A good day with no pain is a distant memory for me now. A good day with pain is my reality.I resent the pain part being there as it steals a bit of my 100% but I accept it, C’est la vie! No, it doesnt get me down, every day.
I would agree that the fatigue is the worst part (for me). To be beaten by something that has no tangiable attributes that you can touch or control is hard to take regardless of gender. Its like “going under” a general anaesthetic and its the fatigue that debilitates, cuts me off from friends, going out and accessing my “support network.” Theres also a stigma with fatigue that is different to pain. Fatigue is often interpretted as lazy, tired, careless and again, not easy to live with, regardless of gender. I never get asked “and how is your fatigue?” But I might get asked “And how’s the pain?” Its not a respected symptom! What I would say is, I have met some amazing fellow sufferers – I wouldnt have met them unless I suffered too. These friendships give me great hope and help in part to overcome the dark times we all get whether with RA or not. We’re all in it together…I think!
thanks for sharing your amazing comments Cal. Very well said. I hope we both find something that will bring a break to this pain & send this thief packing.
Ive had RA for at least six years. Im here to say that no one understands what we go through. The pain and fatigue are there every day. A good day is far and few between. Im trying to get disability now and now Im on my second try. No one at work understood and talked behind my back. My poor wife takes care of everything. We have a two year old who is my world. I feel horrible that I cant play with her the way she needs.
Having finally be diagnosed with RA about 5 years ago I fine the fatique the worst. Today I came home and slept for 4 hours. I really had no choice. The swelling in my hands forced me into retirement and friends just can’t understand it. I look normal but I’m not.
Men are regarded differently in all areas of life and RA is just one of them. I have been a single woman for almost 20 years. I essentially was the man, even when I was married. It was common for me to work two jobs in order to meet obligations, even when I was married. I married a man who wanted to be a “stay at home dad” no matter how much it required me to work. Whatever. I’ve always been a work horse, and never gotten the kudos for being the “man”. In nursing, male nurses are treated differently; not only by physicians and patients, but also other nurses. I have always heard that when men get RA it’s much worse. I wondered about this. It has nothing to do with how the RA affects the man. I believe it has to do with support and expectations. Men are supposed to be strong, and when they are reduced by the RA, it is perceived by others as “such a blow” because men are accustomed to “being the man”. Maybe it’s because jobs for men are often more physically demanding and women’s work is considered to be more sedentary; such as a secretary. Even while doing the same job, men in nursing are always mistaken for doctors, and patients will often refer to male nurses as the “doctor”. I am a nurse, and it is very physically demanding. I am female and now my disease is really making my job more difficult and at times, impossible. My rheumatologist (who is really a great doctor) asked me on my last visit “What about your boyfriend? Can he help you so that you can reduce your hours?” It is always assumed that someone will come to our (women’s) rescue, even when the world doesn’t roll like that any more. For the first time in my life I think I have penis envy. Men and women will always be treated differently in all areas of life. To assume that RA is worse for a man is just another kick in the teeth. RA is horrible for all. People are just more understanding of a man; even if the man is fortunate enough to have an understanding and nurturing female in their life to help them cope. Women are seen as the weaker sex. I feel a double whammy with the RA. Not only are women viewed as the weaker and less respected sex, they are viewed negatively by physicians, as a whole. Take a look at this blog http://predatort.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-hate-nurses.html written by a resident about nurses. The comments made in this blog, though they are mostly derogatory comments about nurses and the unhealthy environment in the medical community, really frighten me. There were over 200 posts supporting the author on why doctors hate nurses, so this is not an isolated case. I have worked in nursing for over 20 years, and I have witnessed it. We, men and women, but mostly women, (maybe because a guy is more likely to punch their lights out) are at the mercy of these people making these horrible comments. It’s scary that these people have the ability to affect the lives of patients. These people are writing in your permanent medical record, and future health care providers are swayed by their words. These people affect how we live and unfortunately how we die. I don’t think these crazy folk have the right to judge the way my disease affects my life or my coping skills.
My husband was diagnosed 7 years ago and put on steroids and 6 other drugs. It is hardest on him (he’s 58), but I got to tell you it’s hard for me and our teenage son, too. If you could tell your loved ones one thing, what would it be? How can we help? Thank you.
Really need to find some web sites for men.
I known that I am a burden on my wife.
I cannot not hold a job anymore,too painful and tired all the time.
terrible feeling when you are 59 years old.
The only time I leave the house is to go to the doctor.
When I finally do some work around the house,I can hardly walk for two days.
Im in the same boat you are and Im 38. My RA doc is the worst. Im affraid to switch because Im in the middle of dealing with SSD and I dont know if it will look bad and if they will still want to do my paper work.
At your age be real careful with the ssd.
I just got approved.
Hire an advisor,like Allsup.
They know how to help you.
Ive decided to look for a new doctor. Is there a good place to look at for reviews. I do not want to waist my time with another bad doctor.
I’m still the only twentysomething man I’ve ever seen at my rheumatologist’s office, but these comments at least show me that I’m not alone as a man with RA.
This disease is hard for everyone, men ands women. I toughed it out for years because I was afraid that if something was really wrong, my wife would consider me weak and leave me. After several years, the pain and fatigue became overwhelming and I went to urgent care. I was right about my wife and the day I told her my diagnosis, she was gone with her new man. And she took my child. She tried to take everything from me but my stepkids stopped her. I doubt my story is unique. It isnt fun to suffer in silence for fear of losing everything. But I have stories of love and support too, particularly about my friends and my stepkids. Its neither all good or bad, it is life and you learn to forge ahead. Men and women alike. Best to all.
As a mid 40′s male that was diagnosed with RA this year, this article articulates my fears.
The overwhelming fatigue I have has redefined my opinion of myself. I’m no longer the man I was. I can already see the changes in the way my wife perceives me as well. I feel that, even though I realize it’s out of my control, that I have disappointed my wife and children.
I know this isn’t a male only problem, but it sure impacts how I feel about myself as a male.
I identify with this article. When asked by my counselor to describe how I feel about having RA, I responded that it feels like my body is betraying me; it’s like a mutiny. I have worked my entire adult life and still do. I am fortunate that I am self-employed and have a lot of control over my schedule – this means I also work evenings and weekends because rest becomes necessary during the work day. If I had to be an employed person with a “real” job, it would be impossible – so I am very fortunate in that regard. My house and yard are not as well tended as I would like. My social life is lacking but I do have family and friends. I have always been a physically active person, when feeling well I like to run, hike, play tennis, ski, white water raft, swim, and exercise in general. During a flare, it is a struggle to do a ten minute floor work out three days a week. It’s hard to reconcile it all but maybe finally being diagnosed and receiving treatment will help.
Also, I have to say that the fatigue is the worst part. I have a high pain threshold and while it knocks me off my feet at times, the fatigue is my worst symptom.
It’s good to see I’m not alone in this fatigue part. I’ve been diagnosed about 6 months and did not expect the tiredness.
I imagine pain is pain and women definitely can stand up to it, maybe better than men. I work a fairly physically demanding job, have helped neighbors mow their yard, cut trees that have fallen, and get asked to lift and move and replace things at work a lot. I think that expectation, that you will do those things is more associated with men, maybe a pressure that women don’t feel as keenly.
As others have said, you still look pretty much the same, so others sometime assume you have gotten lazy or just don’t care to help them. I also am on call at my job to do emergency work, it’s kind of hard to tell a dispatcher to call someone else as I don’t feel good.
I could go on but, but this seems like enough. I am pleased to find your website and appreciate all you are doing.
Yes I have to agree the fatigue is the worst. What makes it even worse is the ignorance of fellow workers…..I have tried to explain to a few, but they never really “get it”. Sometimes I hit “the wall”, and am literally falling into my keyboard at work. I have been reduced to a job inside, sitting down, and dealing with the general public’s, questions about banking issues. (The stories I could tell!) I would rather do something else of course but physically unable.
I do some some website work for folks and dabble in some website affiliate work. I would like to pursue…but health benefits at work to awesome to drop currently.
I am very blessed to have a loving wife who seems to understand, and to have a good job.
One thing about work is they do honor my FMLA days….however my earned sick leave, vacation leave sometimes is depleted…..So now I have chronic disease, and take vacations with out pay…. However as I said I am grateful to be working!
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