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Fathers Day: The fibromyalgia impact on me as a father

A Father's Day Blog

Becoming a father has been the single most challenging, motivating, empowering and rewarding role I have ever and probably ever will have. I mention this because I am going to take you through a short timeline on my explaining of this. Around 6 years ago my life changed, I was faced with a traumatic event that had eventually led to my diagnoses of Fibromyalgia. 

This diagnosis changed my life, forcing me to give up my degree, give up my sporting activities and competing, along with loosing huge bulks of my friendship groups. Throughout all of this I was lucky to have such a supportive and understanding family/ partner who has helped me through so much.

I can remember still the thoughts I had when we found out we was going to be having a baby, I could not see myself in the picture, I had so many worries about being a parent that I would not be able to do much at all.

Then, just a week before our Son Noah's birth, I found myself hospitalised for 5 nights, with a condition that was amplified by my Fibromyalgia. During this time, I had what would be one of the most important discussions of my life with a consultant. My pathway to a better self, a self that I could also see being a strong part of our family unit, over time. 

So, I started my multi-disciplinary approach, involving pain management programmes, some mental health programmes, ramping up my campaign efforts, volunteering through my personalised social prescribing pathway and journey through inclusion sport, physical activity and coaching / extending the power of being active to others. 

I used the birth of my Son, as my beacon of hope and motivation to pursue a dream of having a better quality of life, one I am still chasing to this day. In the early stages, I was in rebuild mode, because I was massively deconditioned, I could barely even hold my Son and if I did it was only for a limited time. I focused on this, I challenged myself to learn to fight this and build a physical and most importantly mental resilience on a daily bases to learn and push myself to make some sort of improvements. When I talk about improvements, I don’t mean overnight improvements I mean long standing improvements that take time, dedication and commitment to the pathway, through thick and thin and challenging times. A goal I set myself early on in fatherhood, was one day, I will have our Son all day with me, from morning to night, something that would be challenging for me because there was always elements throughout the days I will need help with as pacing and building on my pacing has also been key. For the first time, in nearly 4 years, one week ago, I had my Son from morning till night, I made our food, took him out (with help and support from family) and did the bedtime routine.

When my partner (Ellie) came home that evening, she made me realise that I had achieved the goal I set years ago, she said, Billy you have done it! I remember giving her a big cuddle, and took myself on a little reflecting local walk and stretch that evening, where I found a spot to just simply sit and cry with joy, but also sadness in a way of realising it has taken me nearly 4 years just to build up for this. Being on this journey also makes me recognise that I must maintain, pace, rebuild and adapt constantly. Over the last year I have been unemployed, which has seen me take a strong role as a father to our Son, particularly linking my own pathway of managing, coping and moving forward positively to our pathway. This has seen us take on many challenges together, but also given Noah an opportunity to learn my pacing and be right there with me to also help motivate me to keep on going, to stay true to the pathway and not give up. This was not just a time for my development but also Noah's so I channelled what I knew best to help the both of us, to help build a bond we never got to build due to my health and life.

It’s safe to say, without my Son and Partner, I probably would have given up years ago, their support and motivation has been my beacon, it continues to guide me to strive for betterness. They remind me each and every day I am not alone...

Finally, I would like to conclude on something that has been a beacon for us all, something that has played a role over the past few years and adapted and now complimented the bond I have now with my Son. In the early stages of my pathway change, I engaged in a series of events linked my disability and inclusion sport Essex All Together ambassador role. This was taking part in the Superhero Series, where just as a baby, my Son and partner first came to support me. This has now moulded into something very special that we are channelling together and this next year will see more challenges faced together, but upon reflecting, I know we can do it, we just have to adapt and continue on the path we are on and adventure our community dressed as superheroes, supporting our NHS and community along the way.

While I am stepping into further uncharted territories, I am hopeful of finding work to provide better security and stability for my family, but my ultimate goal stays the same, to continue to strive for a better quality of life for us all. 

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