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You can't teach someone empathy! Can you?

sagehenssagehen Posts: 221
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Matters of the Heart
Good morning all,
Just got the confirmation on another lumbar fusion yesterday.And possibly a cervical too. Drove myself 340 miles to and from the NS, got home ,(exhausted and in pain)to have my husband meet me at the door,and say "well what did he say?" in an attacking tone of voice. When I told him " he said the same thing as my PM Dr, I need another fusion." My husband's response was "what? NO you can't do that, you'll have to do something else!" I didn't even have my shoes off and already was getting the third degree. I was so tired I just said "Do you just want to argue or do you want to know how I feel?" That was the end of the conversation. Thing is, that I know had anybody else have told him they were looking at surgery,his response would have been completely different. I am so very tired emotionally and physically. I'm not just looking at a fusion, but at having to quit working as well. I just went back to work last October after not working for 4 years (had several surgeries during that period) A little support,a kind word,maybe even a show of concern, I really don't think that's asking for too much. So here I am,married for 31 frickin years and still alone! And so it goes..... thanks for the venting...Sagehen


  • I am so sorry to hear you have to deal with this at home on top of the bad news about a fusion being needed.

    I can't help but think, "has he always been such a jerk"!!!
    That really has to hurt, to be in pain and then be alone in it doubles up on everything.

    I have two sons, 18 and 16, they are worlds apart in empathy. The 18 year old is great, I have slowly beat the 16 year old into submission. No, I have not hit him, but rather used hurting words back at him when he has used them on me. It took a while of me saying the same snide remarks back to him, slowly he is getting it.
    I do not think he is mean, rather he is young and does not really think before he spits words out. My goal is to get him to think before he blurts out " Oh, it does not hurt that much, its just is not as good as you want it to be"... I repeated that line back to him for about a week straight. He finally asked how long I was going to say it. I told him, "When you realize you don't know how much I hurt and stop saying things to belittle me". He has not been nearly so quick to repeat the experience.

    Perhaps this will work on your husband? Have you asked him why he is mad at you about something you have no control over?

    Here's hoping you get the support you need, and soon!
  • Our spouses can say hurtful things without even realizing they are hurting us. This could be one of those times.

    Could it be that he is scared for you and doesn't want to see you go through the suffering through another surgery? That fear came out in a very rude way when you told him what the doctor said. I know my husband was totally against me having another surgery, and hurt my feelings multiple times over it. It wasn't until I sat down with him, myself crying, and explained the reasons why there were no other options that he finally started to understand. Still he wasn't happy about it, but eventually he did support me in the decision and was by my side taking care of me afterwards. Our men just want to help us, fix whatever is wrong, and when they can't it scares them. He has seen you go through your previous surgery and doesn't want you to have to do that again. At least that is how it was in my case.

    Sit down and have a heart to heart with him. Both of you do the talking, not just one. Ask your doctor to call him and explain the situation and why you need surgery, why there are no other options at this point. Get him involved with the decision making and hopefully he will warm up to the idea and be there to support him.

    That or hit him over the head with a frying pain and knock some sense in him... (I'm kidding)

    Good luck.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • sagehen, I feel for you! My hubby had a hard time understanding--although he wasn't verbal he would just ignore it. Until he pulled a muscle in his low back. Since then he has done such a turnaround. Now with my kiddos it's very different. I have seven left at home, about half of them can understand, the rest--well mommy's not bleeding. If they can't see it or haven't experience it, it makes it difficult. My surgeon actually wants to talk to my family before my surgery, we have an appointment this Thursday. I think that will help them greatly. Perhaps writing hubby a note and giving him this website to watch the videos might help him? Hubby said that as long as he thought I was okay he didn't have to be scared--maybe your hubby is more worried than what he lets on. Sometimes they are in denial. I'm going to pray for you. Being in chronic pain and not having emotional support is the worst. I'm here for you. PM me anytime.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    sometimes your hurt the ones you love more than others.
    Part of that has to deal with our spouses and loved ones we tend to think with our hearts, with others, its more the mind.
    That doesnt make any excuses at all.
    I've had this conversation a day or so ago, almost the same scenario, since it is very common.

    Part of it is fear, you know what you are dealing with, you understand the pain, the limitations, but you are still afraid of what it means down the road and how much is it going to stop you.

    Your spouse on the other side, sees and feels and hears what you are going through, but can really never experience it.
    So they can be in fear of many things. Fear that they cant do anything to help you and feel helpless, that can take a person to their knees. Fear that because of your problems, additional burdens and strains will be placed on him, not just for now, but for how long?
    Its never an easy situation.
    I do know that to get through any spinal problem (and for that fact any surgerical procedure), you need to have a spouse of signigicant other who is willing to be there for you, give up of themselves, to see what they can do to help, and that may mean just not saying a word.
    Good luck
    No one needs the additional stress of relationships on top of medical problems
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I wish what you have all said were true. But,in this case I don't think it is.Having had 31 years of dealing with this individual,I know his track record.I don't unerstand his behavior.I used to want to,I believed that if I knew why he did the things he did I would feel better.I spent alot of time trying to figure it out.I considered his upbringing,his relationship with his family and friends etc....to finally arrive at this conclusion,everybody has had hard times,and it doesn't give you the right to treat others badly. My husband is selfish. He has an insatiable need to be the center of attention.He even went to the Dr and asked him to order an MRI for his back,after I had my fusion last May.Once he had the order he never went to actually get the MRI.I had a shoulder surgery in 2005,my husband continually told me,well so did I,(he had shoulder surgery in 1979) he's like a child vying for attention.He had a prescription for an anti-inflammatory because he had sore knee,he carried the information paper ( you know ,the one that tells you what the medication is for,side effects etc...)with him from room to room for days.He had a cold,a miserable one,he was talking to his dad that had just been diagnosed with terminal colin and liver cancer,and the conversation was dominated by how bad his cold was. That was one I was disgusted by. So you see,when he has that degree of selfishness compounded with lack of empathy, I am sure my pain and misery doesn't even make the list.Actions speak louder than words.And lack of action speaks even louder. I'm still in this relationship because I am economically dependant.I have a 6 year old,and as much as I hate to admit it, I have to stay. I need the insurance. I also think after 31 years I deserve to live in my nice home,and and so does my daughter.When I adopted her,it wasn't to raise her in a single parent household.So as long as I can come here and vent,I can handle it. So thanks for your feedback, really. You will continue to hear from me,as long as you will listen. Thanks everyone Sagehen
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    always feel welcomed here. We will always try to make someone's dark days into good days
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • It makes me very sad to see someone have to live with the lack of support and encouragement that they need. I've been blessed with a fantastic support group - hubby, friends, family - so I know how important that is.

    Anyone who has been a member on SH for any length of time can tell you that there are plenty of people who walk in your shoes every day, some worse than others. But every one of them can also tell you that being a member here and having the support of others that share your pain, physical or emotional, is a blessing.

    So please know that we're glad to have you here as part of our Spine-Health family.

  • people are either asses or they are not asses
  • I'm sorry about this and right now, you have to take care of yourself. Your husband seems to be a touch narcissistic in my opinion because of the examples you have written about. It is frustrating when you need compassion from someone who is too busy being wrapped up within themselves. They want every situation to be about them and there's no room for nobody else. Forgive me if I'm off base here. Anyway, WE care about you and know that you need all the love and support right now. This is serious surgery you're going to have and you need your husband to be on the same page as you and LISTEN to what you're saying and PAY ATTENTION to how you're feeling. Would he listen if you sat him down and told him, this is about ME now and I need your help? I hope so. Sometimes you have to be blunt to get attention. Well, I hope it works out between you and that he will be the loving, supportive husband he should be to you. Take care
  • I have to say, Always remember, there are more of us than him!

    We understand. completly. All of it.


  • I think the members here have helped us ALL through many of the tough times.

    sagehen, have you gone for any counselling at all? Silly question, but would your hubby go with you? I'm assuming not, by the sound of it.

    I've had rough times with my husband (we've been married 30 years), but he always comes around. I've had him attend doctor's appointments with me because of his concerns about my health issues, the meds I'm on, etc., and that usually changes his attitude once he can ask questions and get answers. What I've discovered is that he feels completely helpless and can't "fix" this thing called chronic pain.

    Take care of YOU and do whatever it takes to get well; I know how stressful it is to deal with others and their opinions when you're in this position. It is not an easy task.

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