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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 2/22/2008 3:46 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi. This is new to me but I figured I'd give it a shot. I am trying to make a last ditch effort to save my relationship with someone who has suffered from chronic pain due to disc disease for the past few years. I have found myself looking at this man lately and wondering where he went. Since he developed this pain he has become isolated from me, his family and friends. He tells me I am cold, unfeeling and unsupportive of him. However, I have tried to be there for him but I do have to take care of everything because he cant. He has had minimally invasive surgery down in Florida which he says had made matters worse. He is obsessed with the anger he feels for the doctor and the only activity he partakes in is sitting on the computer hours on end researching CURES. He will not talk to me about anything because he says I couldnt possibly understand. We barely speak anymore and I really am ready to ask him to leave because I cannot stand the solitude anymore. Now, I know this sounds like a pity party for me but what I am really looking for is a way to break through to him to let him know I do care, I just dont understand. Can anyone out there who is going through what he is enlighten me?!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 2/22/2008 4:14 PM (GMT -6)   
First, I'd suggest you read a lot of posts on this board to understand what it's like to be a chronic pain patient. It changes every aspect of your life, including relationships. There are stages many of us go through which are normal - stages of acceptance of the changes, limitation, etc. that we either make peace with or we don't. I'm still in the process of doing that for myself. Anger is part of that. So is some obsession with finding a cure, because who knows, you might just find something. SOME people do, but many of us will never improve physically. My suggestion would be to find a counselor who deals with chronic pain and even if you can't get your husband to go, go for yourself, especially if it's been a worthwhile relationship before your husband's pain started. That would give you some support, along with the knowledge of what happens with chronic pain. Since I am alone, I would so value having a partner who hung in there with me; your husband doesn't see right now how lucky he may be to have your support. But he may not be ready to. Keep learning, and get some help and support for yourself before making a rash move. Maybe it will still come down to your leaving eventually, especially if your husband stays angry and isolated, but at least you'll understand why he's changed, and why you're leaving.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 2/22/2008 4:19 PM (GMT -6)   
p.s. I referred to him as your husband. This may have been an incorrect assumption on my part. My apologies. But your comment about wondering "where he went"....I have to tell you I wonder where I went, too. By that I mean I am not the same person I used to be. And I don't even know myself what kind of person I'm going to become. All I'd love to have is my life back before bad injury changed everything, but there's no way to make that happen. That's where the anger and search for cures comes in. He'd probably love to return to the man you once knew, too.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 649
   Posted 2/22/2008 5:09 PM (GMT -6)   
Right now, yes - you do have to do everything. He isn't mentally capable of more right now because he's angry at the world for what has happened to him. There is no telling when, or if, he'll realize he may just have to find a way to live with pain. It's a really rough proposition for anyone, and people in a relationship with a pain patient suffer just as badly as you now know.

For his part, he needs to pull his head out of the computer and start seeing a pain doctor AND a pain psychologist. From what you've written about him, I'm certain he'll really resist the shrink idea. All I can say is that I felt the same way, and only started therapy to appease my pain doc. As it turned out, my shrink has done more to help me deal with my life with pain than any other doctor. My therapy has resulted in a much better relationship with my husband, family and friends. He has a choice. He can sit there in front of the computer and rot or find a way to move on in life - with the pain. Everyone here has had to do the same thing, and we haven't died from pain - much as we thought we would in the beginning.

Maybe it IS ultimatum time for you. You're the only person who really knows. What would it take for you to stay with him? Whatever changes you want to see are going to take weeks to months to occur, and that's only if he's on board with dealing with his situation realistically. Yeah, there may be some miracle cure out there for him, but it's obviously going to take time and effort to discover. He needs to deal with the Now, Today - not the future. Yes, he needs help to get him out of that chair, and the first step is getting him to make that step himself. I just don't know what you can say to get him to see the truth.
Living in the Republic of Texas minus a gallbladder, a couple of cervical discs, appendix, uterus, and 18" of colon; but still alive and living with my husband, 2 dogs, 1 cockatiel, 1 quaker parrot and 2 gold fish. 

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 2/22/2008 8:09 PM (GMT -6)   
I want to thank all of you for taking the time to respond. It has enabled me to see that he and I are not alone. I will take all of your advice to heart and see what can be done. A little more history might help too. The man we are talking about is only 35 years old. We had a son together 3 years ago but never married, We do live together with my 2 older children (teens). They see this situation as I am being walked on because he doesnt help with anything around the house (even things that would cause him no pain) he never goes anywhere with me and at this point we rarely even speak. I do love this man and only want the best for him. I have tried eveything I can think of to let him know I am there for him but he basically just wants to be left alone. He is worried that if he has more surgery (contemplating a fusion) he will be forced to leave his job. He claims the only pleasure in his life comes from his son. I have tried to bring him to a therapist but after one session he refused to return. I've asked him to try an anti-depressant and he refuses claiming that a pill wont fix his back and neck. I love the suggestion of a pain psychologist, I didn't even know they existed, so I will be looking into that and see if he will go. Just being able to vent to people who are going through what he is going through and to get positive feedback is encouraging. I'd hate to leave him to fight this himself but his depression has affected everyone in the household and something will have to give eventually, for my childrens sake. Thank you again for responding and offering advice.

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 138
   Posted 2/23/2008 3:45 AM (GMT -6)   

Outside,first let me commend you on your initiative and taking matters into your own hands by coming here and obviously you did some searching and found this place because you arent ready to throw the towel in on him yet. Over the years I have seen many a caregivers,S.O's,spouses,kids,etc.come looking for ways to help and simply survive living with a CPer. You have made the right first step by trying to get an understanding of what it is like for us on a day to day basis if it is possible.

I was in the medical field for many years prior to becoming a CPer and even I had NO idea what this road would be like so your name outsidelookin in was a idea choice I might add.

Our first instinct is anger then blame and self pity, I came around to calling it the "why me" syndrome and it is by far one of the hardest steps to master in this life of ours and sadly alot of us never get it down well and most of us will revert back to it time and again in the life.

The best advice I can give you is patience sweety,lots of room for him to come to terms with this maybe never sending chapter in his life. In the meantime dont lose yourself in his coming to terms,stay active,take care of yourself and take time for yourself always letting him know your there if he needs to talk or rant and many times it may be just that.

We try not to whine and not to show how much pain we are really in and in that process of learning to hide those feelings we also hide all others.

He needs to stay as active as he can without hurting himself so make small tasks for him to take care of so he doesnt lose his meaning in life so often we withdraw into ourselves that we feel worthless and of no use to anyone simply because we cant carry on as we were so we tend not to do anything. Dont let him go thru those doors if you can prevent it. Make sure he realizes the tasks he is being given are important and that you "need" for him to take care of those things for you so you have time to take care of other things.

He can do lots of things like the banking,bill pay,ordering things needed,telephone calls,etc, all things that will help you and make him feel he is still a vital part of the two of you.

Most important keep coming here or somehwere and asking the questions in your mind,vent if the need is there and someone here will always be here to lend a hand if we can do nothing more then listen.

Good luck to you both.

2 knee replacements & a hip.
spondylosis at L-4,5 & S1
arthritis,sciatica all that being a CPer entails!
If you stumble make it part of the dance!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 2/23/2008 1:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Just a question - is he still working a full time job, or even part time? If so, that may be about all he can handle with ongoing pain. He's young, and I don't know what's causing his pain (the doctors may not always know; spines are very complicated) so I don't know what his chances are of gaining relief via surgery or other procedures. He does need to look to learn and find out all he can because the longer it goes on, the worse things can get. If you're near a major university center they may have a Spine Center or Pain Clinic you could both consult. I know it's hard hearing our complaints, but if you can really listen to him describe what his pain is like, you may get some idea what he has to manage in the course of a day. IF he's working a full time job, he may not even have energy left for even small tasks. Have you gone with him to his doctor appointments so you can begin to understand his diagnosis and prognosis? That also might be helpful, but as you'll see from reading this board, doctors don't have all the answers either. I myself just went through a minimally invasive fusion last September, and things are no better - if anything, I have more back pain than I had before the surgery. Yet even my relatives think I'm doing "well" because I can walk and drive. What they don't see is that I can't do any of these things for long; even sitting causes pain. There are a lot of losses for both us chronic pain patients and our families. It is truly sad.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 495
   Posted 2/23/2008 3:28 PM (GMT -6)   
Outside - I want to let you know it speaks worlds about you that you are looking to attempt to see what he deals with. No one out there can say they know exactly how he feels, but a great deal of the people here can relate.

I was 20 years old when I woke up one morning in pain - to find out I'd ruptured two discs in my spine. This was less than a week after my husband and I eloped. My world got turned upside down and I had no say in the matter.

I am incredibly luck that my husband of 7 years is incredibly supportive, even when I don't want him to be. I bought a really cheap book for valentines day, and wrote in it so many reasons I love him. One of the big ones in there, that put tears in his eyes were the various pages that basically said I love him because he helps me... "when I need it, or ask"..."and sometimes when I don't want it"..."or when I don't know I need it"..."or I wont admit I need it"..."and even if I fight him to NOT help me".

The big thing with whats going on with this guy is that he's still angry over his pain. It's a very hard thing to learn to accept. No one here asked to feel this pain we live with each and every day. Until you can manage to realize that it's not going anywhere, and you have to live with it, rather than fight against it, it's just that much harder on you. I won't lie, I do have times when I'm just downright angry and really tired of the pain. BUT I've learned to accept that I'm luck it's me - not my family, friends, or loved ones. I'd rather suffer this than have anyone else I know suffer it.

If your significant other is not on a depressant then he needs to consider it. His isolation is NOT a good thing. He may be putting up walls around him, because he doesn't think you're going to accept him because he can't accept himself. I still have moments when I'm wondering how it is that my husband accepts me broken pieces and all. There have been times when I wished that he would leave, so that I don't have to feel bad that I'm "broken".

As far as him sitting on the computer for hours - wow - that's one that is just making things worse. If I spend very much time at all on the computer I end up in even more pain. It makes it harder to sleep, harder to move, and I feel it for days. He's not helping himself by sitting on the computer all day. He NEEDS to find a way to get his muscles moving and stretched, or everything is going to slowly start hurting more. Even if it's just gentle stretching. If he has degenerative disc disease, he NEEDS to build up the muscles in his spine. Making our backs stronger is so important.

To give you the best "understanding" I can as far as chronic pain. I don't know what the worse pain you've ever felt is... so for example think about a really bad headache. When normal people have a headache they complain about it, take some medication, maybe go in and get migraine medications, and it goes away. Imagine having that headache for every moment of every single day. It's just there. Imagine the headache getting worse at random times. Imagine that your trying to read, and it just starts throbbing, you have to put the book away, even if you don't want to because it's too painful to read. Then you rest to let the headache ease up, and it doesn't, it get's worse. You want to head to the store, but your headache is pounding so badly that every single step makes it throb, and you can't drive there because it would hurt to much. After about the first month you've complained about the headache, people are tired of hearing about it. You now have no one to talk to, because they only half listen now, your trapped by this pain, and have no where to let it go. OR you don't want to talk about it, because you'd rather pretend it's not there. You keep trying to do the things you could before, and you can't. You fight as hard as you can, and it's still there. You go to all sorts of doctors, they all promise miracle's, and yet it's still there. You've taken everything you can and it's not going anywhere. You try to watch a movie and your head starts pounding, even watching the movie makes your head hurt. You can't sit, you can't walk, you can't run, you can't lay down, it all hurts. No matter how fast your run, this headache is right there, stabbing you with pain, you can't get rid of it. Then all the sudden you get something - who knows what it was, and for one small moment in time, you don't hurt as much. Your body relaxes, you get a second of relief, and then it's back, full strength. BUT instead of it slowly getting worse it's slamming you worse than ever, and your body had finally relaxed.

I wish I had another way to explain it to you, but it's so hard to understand, your significant other is right, when you've never dealt with it. People break an arm, they hurt and live with a cast for a few months, and then it's gone. Chronic pain is like having a shadow beating you up every second you exist. It's so easy to build up walls, because we don't even want to accept ourselves sometimes. It's easy to block people out, because we are ready to have them walk away. We don't want to put up with us, why would they?

I wish you the best - just trying to understand is a great thing.

Maybe sit down and talk with this guy, tell him you'll never understand if he keeps pushing you away. Let him know that you love him as he is, broken pieces and all. Possibly send him here to look around. I know the people here are incredible. I may never meet any of them face to face, but they understand what I've been through better than my husband, or family. I can come here and vent things that I would never vent elsewhere. Healingwell is here for the times I've fallen flat on my face, and the times when I'm cheering a great day.

"When we come to the edge of the light we know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, of one thing we can be sure; either God will provide something solid to stand on... or we will be taught to fly.'"

"Cause when push comes to shove You taste what you're made of, You might bend, till you break Cause its all you can take; On your knees you look up Decide you've had enough, You get mad you get strong Wipe your hands shake it off, Then you Stand" From "Stand" by Rascal Flatts
Dx.: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Ulcerlative Colitis, Chronic Inflammation of the Colon, Ruptured & Fused L4-L5-S1 w/pinched nerves, Degenerative Disc Disease, Chronic Costochondritis, Back Muscle Spasms, Asthma, Benign Tremmors (hands)

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16592
   Posted 2/27/2008 5:52 PM (GMT -6)   

You are to be commended for your efforts in trying to understand and help with the situation you are living in. But, I will say this, you can lead a horse to the water, but you can't make him drink. I am not going to repeat what the other CP'ers have written, but I will tell you he could also be silently grieving for his old self. I can only assume that prior to all of this he was active outgoing person. My physochologist explained to me some the feelings I was experiencing once I got past the denial stage. We grieve because our worlds are turned upside down, we are unable to do so many things that we no longer can, we feel worthless, we go thru the why me stage, we end up with so much anger. Between seeing her and being put on an antidepressant, my life became much better in terms of how I saw things and how I felt about myself. 

He is so wrapped up in himself that he cannot see what he is doing to you and the children. Without some type of physchological intervention I don't see your situation improving for you because he is so hell bent for the path he is on. I mean if the 2 of you had a good relationship prior to this, I am not understanding him turning on you. I think this is something being overlooked here on the forum.

Personally, I would have to set him down and tell him exactly how I felt, how its affecting the family, how he has shut everyone out and its the very people that want to him him in any way. I would make it clear that yes he does a problem and everyone is willing to help in some way but he cannot just turn on his family any longer the way he has without repercussions he may not like. Somehow, he needs to be shocked out of where he is now. Three years is a long time to have to sit by and watch what you have. Truthfully, I think the longer he sits and stews in his pot the worse he is going to get without some form of dire intervention. Its all his way and has been far too long.

You are right in how this has not only affected him, but you, your children, its not healthy. Your children are already sick of it and you don't need them acting out because of him, sorry, I am being honest, but he is not the only person involved here. You must think of yourself and your children.     

Until this man decides he needs to get help and be a willing participant, I do not see your situation getting better, not after this amt of time. I doubt very seriously he will find his cure on the internet either. How can he sit with a bad back for hours is beyond me. Sitting is one of the worst things we can do because it puts so much pressure on the spine.

Please do come here and let us know how things are. We will be here for you any time....Susie

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