Randy Wold, 58, was an auto mechanic, an excellent golfer, and a bowler who never scored below 200. Then, nearly 10 years ago, when he was suffering from intense chronic pain, he received a surprise diagnosis. His doctor told him he had fibromyalgia.
A disorder that causes chronic pain and fatigue, fibromyalgia strikes mostly women. Of the estimated 5 million adults with fibromyalgia in the U.S., as few as 10% are men. For that reason, the popular perception of it as a women’s disease has persisted, even among fellow patients.
“When I first went to a support group meeting, it was all women,” says Wold, who is now on the board of the National Fibromyalgia Association – and the only male board member with the disease. “Some didn’t want me there.”
A neurologist who Wold consulted wouldn’t see him, discounting his diagnosis and accusing him of angling to get disability payments.
“It’s a tough deal for a man to have fibromyalgia,” says Wold, who is no longer able to work and can only occasionally hit the links or the lanes. “One of my best friends doesn’t believe I have it,” he says. “His wife, who is a doctor, told him men can’t get it, that it is in my head. That kind of hurt.”