How do you handle people hugging and shaking your hand?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by EllenComstock, Sep 20, 2005.

  1. EllenComstock

    EllenComstock New Member

    Hi, Everyone:

    This is a topic I don't recall seeing here before. I still work part-time (mornings) and we have a guest speaker here on campus today. She just came into the office where I work and shook (I should say squeezed!) my already sore hand. Now it is really hurting!

    I am Catholic and we have a "sign of peace" during the mass where everyone shakes eachother's hands. I have tried to work around this by going to masses that are less crowded. I sit up in the balcony where there are fewer people. I also bring cushions to church since the pews are too hard for me to sit on. I think the pillows give some people a clue (but not all!) that something is wrong with me.

    How does everyone else handle hugs and hands shakes? I don't want to seem unfriendly, but I don't need more pain inflicted on me either. Should I just say I have arthritis (since so many people don't know what FMS is?) I know this doesn't do anything for our cause, but most people don't want a long story about your health before shaking your hand.

  2. Suzan

    Suzan New Member

    I am not sure what you should respond as I have had the same thing happen to me and fumbled my way thru it. Often I just put up with the pain.My husbands family hugs...and even though they all know about me..and at least outwardly acknowledge that this is real for me...Still they hug and do other things, like tap me in the side of the arm when a joke is funny...that really can hurt! Even me wincing in pain hasn't gotten anyof them to remember!
    I think I would be likely in a group of strangers to say that I had arthritus...or something recognizable...just to get myself thru the situation( like a church moment) But to those closer to me...I guess you just have to speak up! Even at work...when meeting someone, you need to find a comfortable phrase when some one extends their hand to you to get you out of something that will be painful.
    Always try to remember...we can't help being sick...we also can't control what others think when we say we are sick!
  3. nanswajo

    nanswajo New Member

    Hi Ellen,

    I know what you mean.

    I have noticed how much it hurts when someone shakes my hand. I've been caught off guard and just about fallen to my knees a few times with the hand shakes from some men. I didn't want to hurt their feelings so I pretended everything was OK even though I wanted to go "AAAh!", but that's me.

    I also need to know what to do, so I'll be watching for others ideas.

  4. EllenComstock

    EllenComstock New Member

    After I posted this, I talked to one of our professors at work who understands FMS. He knows of a woman who has the same problem. When someone wants to shake her hand, she reaches out with both hands (putting the person's hand between hers) and shakes hands with people that way. This way they are unable to squeeze her hand. I thought it was a good suggestion.

    I don't have people wanting to hug me too often (most people that would hug me understand they need to do it gently), but I guess I will need to say something to others. Maybe just say I have chronic pain or arthritis. If I say FMS, they might not know what that means so they won't understand I am talking about pain. Like someone here said, if it's a stranger or someone you don't know well, you don't need to get into a lengthy medical history. If it's someone closer and they ask, you can go into more detail.

    Thanks again.

  5. achy

    achy New Member

    The double handed take the other persons hand in BOTH works. do U avoid the one that sneaks up behind you and PATS you on the back!! ARGH

  6. Dee50

    Dee50 New Member

    I found that when I stopped shaking hands (about 2 1/2 years ago) folks generally thought "she is a germ freak" and thats fine.
  7. LollieBoo

    LollieBoo New Member

    Hi, I understand your dilemna... we don't want to make others uncomfortable, nor do we want to increase our own discomfort, either. Often, in situations where there is not enough time for an explanation (They are already "coming in for the kill"), I will place my hand on their shoulder and pat it and smile. That leaves my hand unavailable for shaking and puts me too far away for a hug. Although... there are days when raising my arms so high is not very comfortable, either...

    It is very considerate for you to be concerned for other's feelings, as well as your own comfort. But in the end, if someone is briefly uncomfortable one time, that is a small price to pay for their future caution with your comfort.

    Take care and God Bless,
  8. jana15

    jana15 New Member

    I've seriously considered wearing a pair of boxing gloves outside the house and then people can squeeze to their hearts content!

    Ellen this probably won't work for church - wishing everyone peace and shaking their hands with a boxing glove (lol)
    so maybe the idea of a badge will do the trick

    cheers Jana
  9. EllenComstock

    EllenComstock New Member

    the boxing glove suggestion, but I don't want people to think I want to pick a fight with them! You are right-this definitely won't work for church. This did give me a good laugh though-thanks! My husband suggested getting a brace for my arm-the kind for carpal tunnel.

  10. ChattyCathy

    ChattyCathy New Member

    I have the same problem in Church - I just look, smile, nod and say "Peace be with You" - and I DO NOT EXTEND MY HAND

    In other situations - I find that the double hand shake works get..

    A major problem that I have found though is at my support group...they do the circle prayer at the end....not only do we hold hands but they raise them in the air...I have spoken to the leader but then she tells me just don't DO IT...I usually just find an excuse and leave a few minutes early
  11. Mareeok

    Mareeok New Member

    ...shake. That's a great idea. I usually will smile as I'm reaching for a person's hand and add a little grimace. I whisper, "Thank you. Pain," as I glance down at our hands. When I see a hug coming I whisper, "Hug soft". People seem to respect the whisper and I don't have to give an explination right then and there. The people who are genuinly concerned will come to me later and ask the reason.
    I need hugs because of a bad background. There is one friend I have who knows my 'whole story' and when we see each other we have to hug. But since she knows me so well she always asks, "Big hug or little", before hand.

    Heart hugs,
  12. NyroFan

    NyroFan New Member

    I probably would just shake their hands or accept the hugs.
    I can think of a million different things that bring me pain and sometimes I need that human touch.
  13. daylilyfan

    daylilyfan New Member

    hugs have always hurt me.

    I was thought of as very odd at one place I worked cause one man would go around massaging womens shoulders. He would get to me and I would cringe and beg for him not to touch me... sometimes he would anyway, and I would yelp and he would laugh, thinking I was kidding. I was not. The last place I worked, there was a big bear of a man who was very friendly. He would hug women and some of the men, and lift them right off their feet. He was perhaps 6 feet 7 and 350 lbs. He did that to me once. I must turned white, it hurt so bad. I got him alone later that night, and talked to him quietly, and lied. I told him I had severe arthritis in my neck from an old injury, and hugging caused me a lot of pain. He was so apologetic!

    When I was married, my ex would come up to hug and I would tighten up. He always thought I was frigid. I have just met him again after 12 years apart, and explained what fibro is and he was amazed. He said he always thought I was making up an excuse to push him away.

    I HATE to be hugged. I have not found a way around it, other than when I go to family things, I manage to have my arms full of stuff till after hugs are done. That way I don't get hugged, or only get a one armed hug as people don't want to crush the stuff I am holding.
  14. jana15

    jana15 New Member

    I can relate to your aversion to being picked up. This has been a problem for me most of my life.

    I am only little (5'2") and weigh around 8 stone something (not good with metric conversions) and alot of people think that because there's not too much of me then the have automatic permission to lift me up into the air. I can't tell you how excrucuiating and scarey this is.

    Fortunately I've learned to read their body language and know when someone is going to turn a hug into a lift and I literally drop to the floor in a squat position so there's nothing to grab. From that position I (as politely as possible) remind them I am an adult and picking me up without permission is a form of abuse and not the type of behaviour/lack of respect one adult shows towards another adult!

    Cheers Jana
  15. Juloo

    Juloo Member

    I work in a male-dominated profession. Fortunately, not a lot of hugging here, but there have been handshakes on the verge of bone-shattering...and that would have probably made my 6'-4" husband wince. I have no clue what these guys are trying to prove.

    My biggest problem is CFS, so FM pain is a much lighter variable. I've found that even when I tell people what they shouldn't do, they still do it anyway. One time I got a tetnus shot -- they always give me a huge 'egg' at the injection site -- and it hurt like someone had taken a baseball bat to my arm. Immediately after, my husband and I were visiting my mother-in-law. She's a hugger and squeezer by nature. I explained the situation and asked her not to touch my upper left arm. Wouldn't you know that less than 5 minutes later she walked over and squeezed ONLY my upper left arm really hard. I just about hit the ceiling!

    As to the other post -- I'm 5'-9", but I still have people that think it's fun to pick me up and squeeze me. One guy actually squeezed the air out of my lungs...and he was honestly just trying to be friendly. Who needs enemies!
  16. Jgavi

    Jgavi New Member

    I dont know why your post struck me but i needed the laugh- i know it wasnt suppose to be funny but thanks i needed that post!

    the thing is i HATE people touching me or even getting close to me...always had before i got sick... so when someone trys to hug, shake i pull back and say "sorry my dr said i cant touch people for awhile"

    it works great because it scares people and they tell others and than word gets around and soon nobody will try it!

    if they ask why...i say "not sure, still cant figure it out but dr says no touchy"
  17. Bruin63

    Bruin63 Member

    I have had Neck surgery, and also CT surgery on my right hand, that didn't help., I also had Rotator cuff surgery, so the last thing I want is to be touched.

    I don't shake hands, as a rule, but if I do, I extend the Left hand, and it's amazing that most people will do that Double hand thing, and very gently too.
    I'm going to remember that one, next time. ;o)

    I also can't have anyone Hug me, because of the way a Lot of Folks, grab you around the shoulders/neck, and then squeeze you, (hope I described that right).
    I have had C-7 surgery, and the disc' C6-3 are collapsing and I do the "Football Stance", lol, where you stick your arm out to Block someone coming in for the Hug.

    Trouble is, I do miss, being able to Hug, because I am a Hugger, I miss that Human touch.

    With my Family, I do the Hugging, they all know to be gentle with me.

    Gentle Hug's,
  18. EllenComstock

    EllenComstock New Member

    I couldn't believe all the responses when I came into work this morning. I guess I am not the only one with this problem. People can certainly be insensitive. It made me fume to read your stories of asking people not to hug or shake your hand because of pain and they do it anyway!

    Fortunately, I don't have a big problem with people hugging (I don't go to that many family parties anymore-I have some huggy relatives), but the hand shaking is definitely a problem at work and church, especially. I've decided to try the putting the person's hand between both of mine and see how that goes.

    Thanks for all the suggestions and stories.


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