The 3 years following the birth of my twins, D & E, proved a very tough time for my wife, M and I.
We already had a 19 month-old daughter, C, who needed attention and time, commodities in short supply when you’re trying to get twins sleeping and feeding in some sort of routine. At daycare, C continuously challenged her immune system, and March 2007 saw her spiking high fevers for 21 days. When C became sick, our hearts would sink, as it would mean 4-5 weeks of ill health migrating through our family of 5.
My wife coped somehow. Breastfed. Nursed. Consoled. Survived.
I am sure I was depressed during this time.
The lack of sleep, the anxiety felt after finishing a day of dealing with my patients’ problems only to return to the chaos and crying at home, and the profound lack of enjoyment due to the perpetual tiredness, meant that I was not a happy camper.
During this period, both M and I developed aches and pains “everywhere”.
As a rheumatologist, I treat a condition called fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is typically associated with widespread pain, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbance and usually, a background of social and psychological stress. In this condition, there are a number of tender points described around the body, and this feature is used in helping classify or diagnose this disease. Both M and I had most of these tender points.
In our situation, we did realise the cause. A very rough time in our lives causing a degree of reactive depression, sleep deprivation and complete lack of exercise.
In our situation, things improved. The twins became easier to cope with when they turned 3. C’s immune system became less excitable, and we eventually managed to find a wonderful nanny.
It is easy to see how people without a medical background, can become focussed on these symptoms, becoming progressively more worried and anxious. In some cases, the despair and discomfort can spiral to become a much more deep-seated and difficult problem to treat, especially in situations where there is unrelenting social, financial or emotional pressures.
These patients, some of who end up being diagnosed as having fibromyalgia need a lot of support and understanding.
The twins (boy and girl) turn 5 in March. D & E are quite cute and affectionate at the moment, and life is much better.
Are any of you parents having a similar experience?
Dr Irwin Lim is a rheumatologist and a director of BJC Health. BJC Health provides coordinated, comprehensive, and colocated multidisciplinary care to achieve effective solutions for patients. We call this model of care, Connected Care. Our clinics are located in Parramatta, Chatswood and Brookvale. Contact us.
This blog focuses on musculoskeletal disease, healthcare in general, and our Connected Care philosophy. Read More.
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