Dear Annie: After dealing with my husband's issues for years, I'm feeling burned out
Dear Annie, Im coping with a situation I cant handle anymore. My husband has a long history of falling ill with seemingly unrelated illnesses that doctors treat as minor everyday problems but which inevitably result in him being unable to function. He is not able to work, perform chores, attend family functions, or care for our child. Its most likely to occur when a commitment is imminent, such as the holidays, oblivion to meet remuneration deadlines, or recurring pain from stage 4 endometriosis.
Weve adjusted our lives to accommodate this. First, he was a contract worker instead of waking up 9-5; then, as sat-at'-home dad. Its been a bit of coping mechanism to have to carry all the weight, but hell be able to remain sociable, funny, caring, and supportive throughout. And when hes well, things are fantastic.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, things reached a halt. I needed emergency surgery, and within minutes of hearing that a date was set, he announced if i had gotten ill and went to check me out. I had to ask my young son to stay with my parents for six weeks while I was recuperating because I couldn't trust my husband to look after us both. During a very difficult recovery, my care almost entirely for myself took utmost effort.
My mother-in-law approached me after this because she believed his health problems were more psychological than physical. I agreed, and we started thinking about an intervention.
Cue major mystery health issue -- one so severe that hes basically bedridden and can only eat and perform basic functions through the constant consumption of various medical marijuana strains. This is a so severe that doctors have spent the last several months testing him for dozens of potentially fatal conditions. Its been an experience that has been both terrifying and exhausting.
The doctors believe he has a minor illness causing hefty pain, but cannot seem to find underlying causes or treatments. We're all guessing that at least some of his doctors no longer take him seriously. I know from my own medical experience that doctors can reduce chronic pain, but you must be a strong and persistent self-advocate or you will not get effective treatment.
Ive been putting forth a diagnosis and treatment plan. Its hard to tell if I should be asking for a psychological evaluation rather than pushing for an effective treatment plan.
Im utterly and completely exhausted from working full-time, caring for our son when hes not in school, handling both of our medical issues, and the general day-to-day tasks. Its a major threat to my own health and my career, and itll take fewer and pricier years to get through. I dont trust my decision-making in this respect. Im too emotional and tired. -- Burnt Out
Dear Burnt Out: If our bodies can be compared to car engines, yours is running on empty. You'll need to inject some premium gas into your engine.
Ask yourself, what type of emotional and physical assistance would relieve some of the stress, and then act on that. Chronic pain may result from unresolved anger, and sometimes it's caused by unrest. Dr. John Sarnos The MindBody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing The Pain is a book that Id highly recommend to you both.
If your husband isn't interested, give it to yourself as a gift. Be selfish, at least until you feel full and know how to proceed. Even if his physical pain is caused by the mind, he is in emotional distress and needs assistance. I also believe that the constant intake of marijuana is the best solution for him.
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