Dear Annie: Husband's latest mysterious illness has his wife wondering if it'll be psychological
Dear Annie, Im having a hard time dealing with he situation I can no longer handle. My husband has a long history of falling ill with mysterious illnesses that doctors treat as minor everyday problems, but which inevitably result in his being unable to function. He isn't able to work, do chores, attend family events, or care for our kid. Its most likely to occur when a commitment is coming up, such as the holidays, completing responsibilities, or experiencing chronic pain from stage 4 endometriosis.
Weve adjusted our lives to accommodate this. First, he was a contract worker rather than waking up every day to work; then, as s/he became oblivious to his parents' demands. Its been tough to carry so much weight, but hell be a lovely, funny, caring, and patient person overall. And when hes well, things are wonderful.
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 had basically checked out. During my recuperation, I had to arrange for my young son to stay with my parents for six weeks because I could not trust my husband to look after us both. During a very difficult recovery, I almost exclusively cared for myself.
After that, my mother-in-law approached me because she believed his health problems were more psychological than physical. I reaffirmed my belief, and we began thinking about an intervention.
Cue major mystery health issue -- one so severe that hes basically bedridden and cant even eat and perform basic functions through the constant use of various medical marijuana medications. This is such a serious event that doctors have spent the last several months examining him for dozens of very serious conditions. Its been harrowing and exhausting.
The doctors believe he has a minor illness causing incredibly bad pain, but cant seem to find remission or treatment for it. We're all concerned that at least some of his doctors do not take him seriously anymore. I know from my own medical experience that doctors may reduce chronic pain, but you must be a strong and persistent self-advocate or you will not receive effective treatment.
Ive been pushing for a diagnosis and symptomatic treatment. Its hard to tell whether or not I should request a psychological evaluation rather of pushing so hard for undergoing invasive treatment.
Im utterly and essentially 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 affecting my own health in severe ways, and my career is in free fall. I dont trust my decision-making on this. -- Burnt Out -- I'm too emotionally and physically exhausted. --
Dear Burnt Out, if our bodies can be compared to cars, yours is on its last legs. You'll need to inject a bit of premium gas into your car.
Ask yourself, what type of emotional and physical help might relieve some of the pressure, and then act on that. Chronic pain results from unresolved anger, which is sometimes the cause. The MindBody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing The Pain by Dr. John Sarno is a book I would highly recommend for both of you.
If your husband isn't interested, give it to you as a gift. Be self-sufficient, at least until you feel full and can figure out how to proceed. Even if his physical pain is caused by the mind, he is clearly in emotional distress and needs assistance. I also believe that the constant consumption of marijuana is the worst possible solution for him.
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