I’m so pleased to say that we’re back with another MSW Interview. Today we are learning about men with Fibromyalgia with Marco Mizrahi, a long-time friend of mine, fellow world traveler, and fibro warrior. This is my first interview on this site for men with fibromyalgia, and I’m excited to get started.
I’d also like to let my readers know that there are many men with fibromyalgia who are fighting and they rarely get the visibility or assistance that they need. At the end of this article, you’ll find a list of support groups for men with fibromyalgia.
MSW: Hi Marco! Thanks for being with us today. Having known you personally now for over a decade, I’d say I know you pretty well. But my readers are new to your advocacy work. Let’s start with a short introduction. Can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
MM: Hello, my name is Marco Mizrahi and I am global citizen (Born in Venezuela, grew up in US, worked in China, live in Spain). I am an English Teacher and currently back in school to become a Public Servant here in Spain.
I’m not sure what I will do as a public servant, but I want to apply for posts that will allow me help people better their lives, like using my language and international skills to help immigrants integrated into Spanish society.
MSW: Would you mind telling us a bit about your health journey?
MM: I live with four friends, lady A, Lady D, Lady F and Mr. CI.
I was first diagnosed with Asthma, Depression and fibromyalgia in 2003. I had an arrhythmia in 2012, and in 2019 my cardiac sufficiency plummeted.
Today, my heart is healthier but fibromyalgia has gotten worse and worse since 2015. While I have to deal with four chronic illnesses, I also have a chronic desire to get better and have a normal life within my own limitations and not that of others.
MSW: How have your experiences with fibromyalgia affected you on a personal level?
MM: At first, I didn’t pay attention to it, one Tylenol and I was fine, then 2, then 3…then spending all my days off in bed. Eventually, I had to leave China and my amazing students to seek better treatment here in Spain. Dr. G has been a god-send. He saw me as a chronic patient, not a fat patient.
Currently, I am homebound, for now, since 2019, but the goal is to get an office job as public servant. So, one could say that my invisible illnesses have made me change careers. My mom always said that out of every bad situation, something good will come of it.
MSW: What are some things that you’d love people to know about men with fibromyalgia?
MM: Guys will be guys and especially in societies where “men don’t cry” or if you show fear or pain and then told to “act like a man”. That’s pure narrow-mindedness.
People with Fibromyalgia – men with fibromyalgia – are in pain constantly! There are many things that can trigger it and there are more than 200 symptoms. If you see your father, brother, or son feeling back pain constantly, it’s time to see a doctor and have serious conversation.
When you hear animals galloping, it’s not always horses, sometimes are zebras. (I’m quoting Dr. Mike from Youtube talking about rare or misdiagnosed illnesses).
MSW: Could you tell us a little about what you’re working on at the moment?
MM: Writing is a passion of mine, so I want to write about Fibromyalgia. I’ve published my first article on LinkedIn. You can read it here if you wish: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/chronically-working-marco-mizrahi/
It’s about how to cope with work and Fibromyalgia, but eventually I will start writing about how I can help to empower men to speak up in my future articles.
MSW: I can’t wait to read it! Are you involved with any community outreach programs? If yes, could you tell us a little more about your work with them?
MM: Not at the moment, due to the pandemic, but I have been doing research about associations in Spain that I would like to contact once we are back to normal.
MSW: What are some coping techniques that you use to help with your day-to-day life? How do you find comfort for yourself on hard days?
MM: I spend most of my time in front of a laptop reading and taking notes. I use magnesium oil if my neck starts to hurt and try to walk around the apartment every hour to stretch and relax. The rest of the day I rest, sit on my comfy sofa, with cushions supporting my back, and watch TV.
If I need to clean or cook, I rest before and after. If the pain gets too intense, I stop.
I had a really bad flare in the summer so now I am taking muscle-relaxers daily, and valium in low dosages before going to bed to avoid pain while sleeping. I try not to lay down during the day if I’m depressed as I could end up in bed for days.
I try not to watch things that would stress me, I re-watch shows and movies over and over, it has a calming effect on me. The thing that brings me the most comfort apart from my awesome friends and family is Eurovision. I spend copious amounts of time on FB, YT following the word’s largest and longest running music competition.
MSW: Do you have any favorite blogs or online resources that you want readers to know about?
MM: It’s neither a blog or online, it’s a couple of books, Viktor Frankel Man’s Search for Meaning and The Little Prince.
Frankel taught me that no matter how much of our humanity we think we’ve lost (pain, being unable to breathe or walk will do that to you) the meaning of who you are is still there, and you can always bounce back.
The Little Prince because it taught me at an early age that adults are stubborn and people are different, the world is a wonderful place, and I am so lucky to be here, that I will fight and do as much as I can for as long as I can.
MSW: I love Man’s Search for Meaning and related to it the same way that you did. What a great suggestion!
What are some words of encouragement or tips that you like to offer to others for their own journey with chronic illness?
MM: The journey starts with you, plan your day around you feeling well not the illnesses, they are not going anywhere, but they can’t keep you from going as far as you can go and as soon you think you reached the limit, keep pushing, there is always something better.
Thank you so much for joining us today, Marco. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. Take good care, Marco! I’m so grateful to count you as a friend and fellow warrior.
RESOURCES FOR MEN WITH FIBROMYALGIA:
- Men with Fibromyalgia Facebook Group
- Creaky Joints: Fibromyalgia in Men: Important Facts About an Overlooked and Misunderstood Condition
- How the Stigma of Fibromyalgia in Men is Making An Impact
- US Health News: Fibromyalgia in Men
Finally, Marco was kind enough to mention this news which has just been announced in the past few weeks.
Israel to Recognize Fibromyalgia as a Disability – Fibromyalgia to be recognized as a disability for first time in Israel. Fibromyalgia patients will will be able to claim up to 40 percent of a full disability allowance. The move makes Israel one of the first countries in the world to do so for fibromyalgia patients.
No matter your sex or gender, if you’re experiencing chronic pain or other symptoms that could be connected with fibromyalgia, you should talk with your doctor. There are treatments available and you may be able to achieve a much higher quality of life with some concerted effort. Plus, it’s smart to find out what’s going on, rather than just trying to “man up” and get on with it. “We should try to not stigmatize people with fibromyalgia just because you can’t measure what they’re complaining of,” Trock says. Even though blood work and X-rays may not show anything abnormal, people with fibromyalgia are “not malingering or complaining. They’re really suffering and they need some attention.”https://health.usnews.com/conditions/fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia-in-men
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