Dealing with Family

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 12/28/2009 7:48 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm not sure whether anyone can relate to this issue, but I'm crossing my fingers because it's driving me nuts.

I have been doing better ever since I got my home traction unit (yea!). I did have those awful headaches for a while, but my PM finally wrote me for a few doses of Torodol & they went away. There wasn't any good reason for me getting the headache -- it just came on out of the blue while I was sitting at my desk. My PM said that maybe with the less pain in my low back my posture changed (for the better, but still, apparently it put more stress on my neck at first).

So I've been more active, been doing much better at work & have cut back a LOT on how many doses of pain meds I'm taking per day. My PM cleared me to go on vacation with my family & participate in some physical activities that I have been training for over the past 2 months but prior to that it has been some time since I've done much due to the pain.

But a lot of good it did. My friends & co-workers have been great about it, but my family treats me like I am a sick animal. They talk about me behind my back. Make decisions about what activities I can & cannot participate in. Argue with me. Argue with my doctor. I have asked very little of them when I had all the back pain, so it's not as if they actually ever had to make those kinds of decisions. It seems like they just want me to be miserable & sedentary for the rest of my life so they can all feel better about themselves. Other than my dad, the rest of the family is not especially fit & active so it's not as if physically there is a huge difference. But I do have my limitations. And I know that; it just makes me crazy when they treat me like I cannot think for myself or make rational decisions.

They actually told me they don't feel like I am capable of making decisions about my health. It drives me crazy. It was one thing for them to argue that (which they did & lost) when I was barely able to get out of bed. It still irritated me, but at least I could feel like some people are just dumb. Like the idiot sales clerk who shouted at me while ringing up my sale because he thought that since I was hunched over that meant I was half-deaf. But now that I am at work every day, do core strengthening exercises at least 6 days a week twice a day & have been going for short walks at lunchtime even though it's bitterly cold outside, I really don't understand why things can't go at least partially back to "normal". I feel like a total outcast from my family.

If I have to just avoid them, I guess that's what I'll have to do. I'm definitely not willing to put up with them bickering about me while I'm sitting there in front of them. But if anyone has any ideas about how to start to change how they see me to better align with current reality, I would really appreciate it.


Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 3193
   Posted 12/28/2009 8:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Frances...

I mainly wanted to say that I am so glad to hear that you are feeling better. I know how much you were suffering w/ those I'm so glad those are better.... and that you've been able to increase your activities... and lower your pain meds... etc. I'm so happy for you!!

I am sorry for the fact that your family, though, is treating you like that. I'm sure it does drive you crazy! It would drive me crazy, that's for sure...! What type of "communicating" relationship do you have w/ them? What I'm saying is....could you sit down w/ them and say something along the lines as - "I appreciate you all for being there for me during all of this... I am doing much better... Even my doctor has cleared me to increase my activities, etc. However, I don't know if it's out of concern or whatever...but I feel like everyone is talking about me, and trying to make decisions for me. I'm really the one that knows my body, knows my limitations, etc. So, I really would like us to all to try to go back to normal...and have you all treat me not as a "sick" person"... Could you talk to them and let them know how you feel? If so, that would be my best advice is just to put it out there and let them know how you are feeling. Do you think they would listen??

Maybe they just need to see you more, and see the things that you are now capable of doing.... to see that you ARE getting better.

Frances, I feel your frustration... and hope some others have some better words of wisdom. I really hope you can figure out this situation, so that you can be around your family and so that you don't feel like an outcast from your family...that's the worst feeling, I know. But I am super happy to hear how much better you are doing! I really am!!

Pain Issues: Cervical/Thoracic back pain; migraines; carpal tunnel syndrome; widespread joint/muscle pain, nerve pain in hands/arms/feet; I also have Dysautonomia/POTS; CFS/Fibromyalgia; Severe Hypertension; Hypothyroidism; Hypoadrenalism; Mixed (Obstructive/Central) Sleep Apnea - on Auto BiPap; Depression/Anxiety; etc etc

Meds: MS Contin; Dilaudid; Actiq; Soma ; Neurontin; Atenolol; Midodrine; Phenergan/Zofran/Reglan; Effexor; Synthroid; Prednisone; and on the list goes...

Future Plans: Intrathecal Pain Pump; already completed trial; awaiting my decision for implantation

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 12/28/2009 8:42 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the kind words. I did try to talk to them yesterday & for a little bit today. But they are just not willing to hear anything. The craziest thing is that sometimes even while I'm trying to explain things to them, they behave like I'm not there & start arguing with each other about whose job it is to convince me that I can't do anything.

I tried explaining about my PM clearing me, but they just dismissed him & said that he obviously didn't know that I am still taking some pain meds. I have no idea where they got such a crazy concept from. He just wrote me a new script less than a week ago, so he knows exactly what I am on. I tried explaining that the order for recovery is increasing activity level first & then as I grow stronger I will be able to cut back further on my pain meds, knowing that at times I will need to take an extra dose or two to compensate for increased pain. They first told me I didn't know anything & then started arguing with each other about who was the smartest person in the family -- it degenerated a while to topics totally unrelated to my health but found it's way back to that topic after several minutes.

My youngest sibling is pretty cool about things as long as I am reassuring that things will be okay. My oldest sibling is just a jerk so I don't worry too much there. But my parents are just a tough case. They don't really even listen to me when I talk. They just talk around me, over me, about me -- it seriously feels like they think I am brain damaged.

I know they've never been supportive of me having surgeries or being on medication. My dad thinks that exercise can cure everything (apparently, including severe birth defects where your skull doesn't grow to the proper size). My mom alternates between thinking that rest can cure anything to thinking that working until 11PM, going to expensive spas & spending as much money as possible at the mall will cure all ails. I personally hate being on medication (is there anyone who likes taking meds?). I hope someday I will not need any, but that's not terribly realistic. Even though I have a strong family history of cirrhosis, I take the medicine because it means I am not stuck in bed all day. All of the indicators show that I am healthier on pain meds than off them.

But it seems that I can't really reason with my parents. They have this crazy idea stuck in their head that I am incapable of doing anything. My dad did throw it out there (though I'm not sure he'd even keep to it) that if I could keep up with him & complete the 90 minute workouts twice a day that he does, then I could maybe do one or two activities with him after 12 months of "proving" myself. That is ridiculous. I'm not even convinced that 3 hours of exercise 6-7 days a week is especially healthy. His bp is through the roof. Sed rate is very high. I think his body never gets a chance to rest. And I'm not willing to put myself through that just to be able to be included in some activities (and I still was told that it would be at least another year beyond that before I would be allowed to participate in family functions).

So it's just dumb. I didn't put up with all the pain, misery & rough days building up strength to be left behind. The crummiest thing is that I turned down a chance to go skating with friends for the first time in 2 years in order to go on the "vacation" with my family where I was forced to sit in a hotel room all day & think about how horrible the past few years have been. So depressing. :(

what to do? what to do?

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 12/28/2009 8:55 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm so glad your feeling better too..woohoo, good on getting the exercises in, I do my recumbent bicycle 3 to 4 times a week and it helps..Try not to let your family get to you cause if they think they are they'll continue, maybe if you ignored your parents altogether and go somewhere without your family knowing, just a suggestion...I have yet to meet someone who does have problems with their family, would be nice to meet that person someday..but for now lots of soft hugz and please know that we care about you...
* Asthma, Allergies, Osteoarthritis, Spinal Stenosis, Degenative Disc (Lower Lumbar S1-L3 and Cervical C5,C6, C8 and T1), Fibromyalgia, Gerd,
Enlarged Pituitary Gland, Sjogren's, Ocular Migraines, mild carpel tunnel, ect.... "Would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...


Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 3193
   Posted 12/28/2009 9:13 PM (GMT -6)   

Yeah...for some reason I had a feeling they were like a few family members that I have..... that you try to say something to, but they don't hear you!! Drives me crazy!

I'm sorry you had a lousy vacation. Maybe that's what they need to see... is you just choosing to do things w/ your friends - and maybe you can just start telling them all of the things you are doing, how much better you are feeling, etc. Maybe it will just take them time to see that you really "are" better. Not saying that this is the way is should be... but maybe that's what it will take for them.

You talk about your parents not listening to you. Have they always been that way.... or has it just been since you've been sick?

I've been through lots of ups/downs w/ family over the years, mostly my parents (as I'm an only child)... Everyone does have their opinion as to what is best, don't they?? It can be VERY frustrating, I know.

All I can say is just focus on the positives - mainly, you feeling so much better... and, I'm really hoping...over time...things will fall into place on w/ your family. But I agree with you have nothing to prove to anyone, including your father. Whatever you ARE doing is working...because you are feeling better.

Like I said, Frances, I'm sorry you are dealing w/ all these frustrations...but sure am glad you are feeling better.

Pain Issues: Cervical/Thoracic back pain; migraines; carpal tunnel syndrome; widespread joint/muscle pain, nerve pain in hands/arms/feet; I also have Dysautonomia/POTS; CFS/Fibromyalgia; Severe Hypertension; Hypothyroidism; Hypoadrenalism; Mixed (Obstructive/Central) Sleep Apnea - on Auto BiPap; Depression/Anxiety; etc etc

Meds: MS Contin; Dilaudid; Actiq; Soma ; Neurontin; Atenolol; Midodrine; Phenergan/Zofran/Reglan; Effexor; Synthroid; Prednisone; and on the list goes...

Future Plans: Intrathecal Pain Pump; already completed trial; awaiting my decision for implantation

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 12/28/2009 11:11 PM (GMT -6)   
They never listened when I was young. They didn't listen to my sister either. My PM says that is probably part of the reason for some of the issues I have -- cracked vertebrae & such. All they wanted to due then was pretend that everything was just peachy.

Once I was an adult things got a little better. But the main thing is just to try to keep activity levels up so that we don't have to talk to each other. So when I'm not allowed to participate in the activities things just are miserable. When I'm in town, I can just ditch them & go on with my life. A few Easters ago they decided that I wasn't well enough to host Easter brunch. Of course, they decided this 36 hours before the event & I already had bought all the food & rearranged my schedule & everything. So I decided the heck with them, went out and found 8 total strangers to invite over for roast lamb & all the fixings. So it ended up with a happy ending after all. In a sick twist of fate, the rest of my family all ended up getting sick & had to cancel their alternative plans for Easter. So I was the only one who got to enjoy it. :)

I know it's wrong to feel some satisfaction from that, but honestly I hate being treated like the family pet. They all say they love me & I don't dispute that, but their love is like the kind of love you have for a dog or gerbil. They want to take care of me; they want me to be obedient to whatever they decide I should be doing; they expect me to love them regardless of how poorly they treat me. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but it would be nice to at least be treated the same as my siblings. If they have an issue with me, why not at least talk to me about it rather than going behind my back & then trying to force the group decision on me?

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 3193
   Posted 12/28/2009 11:37 PM (GMT -6)   

I do wish I had more words of wisdom for you... I had lots of issues w/ my own parents.... I am worlds different from them, and as I mentioned, an only child - so it was all ME. I'm now 36 years old... and it took over 34 years for our relationship to fall into a comfortable spot. I didn't think it would ever happen to tell you the truth. I went to counseling over this issue and everything. Finally, I had to come to the realization that my relationship w/ them was NEVER going to be what I wanted it to be. Never. They were never going to be close to what I wanted them to be. I didn't want to accept this... and fought it for many years. But, as I've gotten older, you do gain more insight into things... and I've come to just accept this as life. The funny thing is that once I did accept it... things have gotten easier between us. I don't walk away hurt over things as much anymore; it still occasionally happens, but no where as much as before.

I'm not saying that you have to accept being treated this way, Frances. Not by any means. I think you should definitely have boundaries of what you will accept as "acceptable" behavior. If those boundaries are crossed, you'll have to figure out what that means for you (does it mean you avoid them... or don't see them as much ... or whatever). But, I guess what I'm saying is that, even if you do set those boundaries and such... your parents may never really change how they are. On the otherhand, they may see just how serious you are about not being treated this way...and do something about it. Obviously, that would be the ideal solution!

You deserve much better than this, and I do hope you stand up for yourself. The whole family thing isn't easy, I know. As I now have my own children, I pray that I can try to remember all these things, and do things differently w/ them!

I'm rambling now, so I'll go for now. But my thoughts are with you!!

Pain Issues: Cervical/Thoracic back pain; migraines; carpal tunnel syndrome; widespread joint/muscle pain, nerve pain in hands/arms/feet; I also have Dysautonomia/POTS; CFS/Fibromyalgia; Severe Hypertension; Hypothyroidism; Hypoadrenalism; Mixed (Obstructive/Central) Sleep Apnea - on Auto BiPap; Depression/Anxiety; etc etc

Meds: MS Contin; Dilaudid; Actiq; Soma ; Neurontin; Atenolol; Midodrine; Phenergan/Zofran/Reglan; Effexor; Synthroid; Prednisone; and on the list goes...

Future Plans: Intrathecal Pain Pump; already completed trial; awaiting my decision for implantation

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16776
   Posted 12/29/2009 12:09 AM (GMT -6)   
wink Hi Frances,
Wow, I am really surprised that you went with them knowing how they all reacted. Thats sounds so stressful, vacations are to be fun and stress free. I imagine you felt like you needed a real vacation after being subjected to that crap. How can you have fun with people bickering or better yet as you said talking about you as if you were not there, gggrr.
I have a brother that is just nuts as far as I am concerned. He thinks exercise cures everything and I mean everything. I stopped discussing health issues with him many years ago. Sounds like you need to do the same. Like you have said here before they just don't want to get it. I am afraid I tend to shy away from people like that, I have no tolerance for that kind of ignorance. I am afraid from what you have shared before here about your family, they have never been supportive of you and from the sounds of things that has not changed and most likely never will not after all of this time.   I would think long and hard before ever going anywhere with them again.
I am just so excited for you to have got where you are now. I remember all to well the hell you have gone thru. All I can say is keep on doing whatever it is you are doing. Obviously something is working for you and thats wonderful. As for the family I am of no help there because how I may handle my family is not how someone else may want to do theirs, lol.

crohns disease dx 2002 & small bowel resection, still looking for remission whatever that is, chronic pain 22 yrs, added ulcerative colitis 6-05 to the mix, high blood pressure 28 yrs, aortic heart valve insuffiency, depression, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis lumbar spine, scoliosis lumbar spine, peripheral neuropathy hands & feet, COPD & on oxygen therapy, lupus & psoriasis and psoratic arthritis. Several other health issues just not enough room to list it all. Too many surgeries to list and too many medications to list. Currently on 17 different daily medications. Intrathecal pain pump implanted June 05.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 12/29/2009 12:35 AM (GMT -6)   
I really should have known better. We talked about what the activities would be before the trip. My sister loaned me an old ski jacket of hers & the rest of them knew I went out & bought a new hat & special socks for the trip. They all talked about it as if I were going to be participating with them. Then later I find out from them that they just did that because they knew I wouldn't have come if they had been honest with me about what they thought. hmmm, do you think?

They wanted to know why I was so angry. I said it wasn't even so much that I was angry about them saying those things (they're entitled to their opinion) but that I wished they said those things before I planned to take 2 unpaid days off work, turn down plans with friends, buy stuff for the trip (it wasn't much, but I don't have a lot of money right now so it was a lot to me), etc.

I had it out with my mom a few years back & was better off for it. I started just hanging up the phone on them, changing locks (b/c my mom esp. would come over in the middle of the day uninvited while I was at work & rearrange all my cabinets, closets, drawers, etc.), and mostly avoiding them unless it was for a 4-hour time period of less. and no more than 4 hours total in a week, so if it were 2 hours on a Wednesday, then it had to be less than 2 hours on the weekend. no back to back days. Things were better like that, but I thought that since on this vacation I wouldn't have to be talking much since there were so many activities planned (& I do mostly like visiting with my sister) that things would be cool. Yeah, I was definitely wrong.

At least on the plus side I didn't go & do anything crazy this time like stop taking my pain meds. And I left early to try to cut off the negative impact of being around them. Honestly, I'd rather do just about anything that sit & listen to them bicker & complain for part of the time & berate or belittle me the rest. I keep hoping that one of these days I will meet a nice guy & get married and be able to start a family of my own (preferably one that is less violent & argumentative than my current one), but I guess that must be further down the road.

keep the faith
Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 91
   Posted 12/29/2009 10:46 AM (GMT -6)   
I am usually on the Arthritis site but read here constantly because of pain (of course0
I just had to respond because of my story.
My parents are dead now. But years ago my mother developed bipolar issues and accused me of many things, theft, etc. Called me constantly many times a day. My dad and brother knew she had problems but would attack me when she complained to him as if everything were true
It broke my heart and I tried harder to be a dutiful daughter.  Didn't work.  Weeks/ months  would go by that she would not speak to me.
I shared this with a friend and she suggested a psychiatrist she respected.
It was wonderful! As a professional I was able to accept advice from him that I wouldn't have accepted from a friend .
He told me not to be so readily accessable to them. Do not answer the phone let it go to voicemail. And return the phone call when I was good and ready. Limit physical time.
The biggie though was that he gave me permission to go through the motions of being family but that I should look for another mother and family for emotional health.
 i did that and it saved my life. It took awhile to do this but as I told him it was fun to look at others and think of the qualities I needed and could they give these to me.
I think you have done some remarkably good things, door locks etc. but  if it were me I would never invite them to a meal again and never go on a trip with them. I have meals and trips with my other mother and family. ( they know by the way) Once on Mother's Day my other mother called and said Happy Mothers Day from your other mother

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2009
Total Posts : 29
   Posted 12/29/2009 11:23 AM (GMT -6)   
Family can be a blessing and a curse. Ugh. My wife is very supportive, but the rest of the family just provides stress.

Do what is best and healthy for you. Just keep in mind your own well being. And don't let family get in the way of you getting better, or feeling better. I hope things work out for you.

Keep the faith: Good to see you found a good resolution to your situation!
Diabetes: 25 units of Lantus insulin, 1500mg of metformin
Neuropathy: 300mg of Lyrica, 100mg of Tramadol 3x a day, Norco 30mg 3x a day, or as needed for the pain.
Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) and Arrhythmia: 50mg of Metoprolol 2x a day.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Lomotil and Promethazine as needed.
High Blood pressure: Metoprolol and 100mg of Cozaar
High Cholesterol: 40mg of Pravachol

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 3089
   Posted 12/29/2009 12:58 PM (GMT -6)   
(((((((((((((Frances))))))))))))))). What's that they say? You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family?! Your family is probably trying to be supportive in their own way/protect you from further harm, but it just doesn't come across that way. I think all of us deal with this type of situation to a point. It's hard when you know that they are just trying to be helpful, but instead they are hurting you. Have you ever tried sitting the family down & talking to them about your condition, your (real) limitations, and how all their babying makes you feel? It won't be an easy thing to do, but it might help. They need to know that just because you are in pain, doesn't mean that you aren't functional & can't think for yourself! How often I wish that I could make everyone understand. Life would be so much easier that way.

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