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Friends who don't understand

happyHBmomhhappyHBmom Posts: 2,070
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Matters of the Heart
I have a group of friends- 3 girlfriends, their husbands are friends with my husband, and their kids are friends with my kids. It's like family, we've been friends for 13 years.

This year has been particularly bad for me health-wise, and one of my friends just doesn't deal well with weakness. She has been kind of mean about it. I'm just at a lost as to how to deal with it.

Admittedly I'm not always myself lately, but this is hardly my choice. I wish I could turn off the cranky switch. But instead of being understanding, she's being really short tempered about it, bringing me to tears more than once.

I wish I could say the other friends are circling the wagons and protecting me, but they kind of look up in the air and do their best not to get involved.

And that leaves me friendless when I need my friends the most. It's breaking my heart :(


  • That's just terrible. Is it because she can't understand and thinks you are looking for attention or is she just an attack type person who looks for weakness?

    If she's the first type then you need to find a way to show her what you are dealing with. Just like a spouse who can't understand until you take them to the doctor with you. Since nothing else is helping sit her down and tell her you need her help. Show her your mri reports and all the meds you take.

    If she is the second kind then you need to tell her what you feel. Again show her what is going on and tell her this isnt your choice.

    Either way I think you need to confront her. Only you know if you do it with the other two present or solo. But you need to put the cards on the table and make it clear that you need her support now more than ever.

    I have a sister like that. She knows better than anyone what is wrong and tells me that my doctors are not good enough. She's done this to me all my life on everything. I see her as little as possible and those visits are very short.

    It would be terrible if your relationship with this friend ended like this. Remember you can't pick your relatives but you can pick your friends. You have nothing to lose by confronting her. My guess is there will be some tears but the relationship will be stronger for it.
  • I wish I had some grand advice to give you, but I don't, BUT I can agree with Kris in your needing to confront her. She may or may not be aware that she's doing it. If it's done in the presence of your other girlfriends they too will see that they are not being good friends to you now by not speaking up.

    I've pretty much lost contact with all of friends outside of Facebook. Because of my pain issues and now this most recent surgery, I rarely get out. The only places I go are to WalMart and to bring my children to school when I'm able to drive. I also now have a huge problem with my speech because of Topamax so I don't really feel comfortable around a lot of people. I think that has been the hardest adjustment because I was so very outgoing before. Oh how I hate that word "BEFORE". My life before, my life after...ugh!

    I truly hope that you can resolve this with your friend because it sounds like a good group of people with everyone being friends; wives, husbands, and children. It would be such a shame for your friendship to suffer because of something you have no control over. Let's just hope she can see and understand that too.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    But you WILL find out no one will understand. Unless they've walked a mile in your shoes. It's just not possible. Fortunately the people here HAVE walked in your shoes. I wish I could find the thread "A letter to normals" for you. Maybe someone here can???
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    I did find it! Type "A letter to normals" into the blue search box at the top of the page.
    Good luck, Jim :)))
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • Hello,
    The best help I received was from select practitioners who with the right emphasis and skills had all the empathy needed, to be supportive even without any pain experience. We all place expectation on others to do as we thinks would be reasonable and some fall short in providing any adequate help.

    To some extent our friends do not know what to say or do and we are not always best placed to give of our best, so that communication and implicit support is not given on the basis that they may do or say the wrong thing. It is sometimes necessary to still be giving when in need ourselves, as Jim said, they do not have the experience that we initially expect them to have, we are perhaps obliged to educate those we wish to be more receptive to our condition and how difficult living this life can be, it is a balance of disclosure from ourselves that is then reciprocated, not that we always get what we give.

    It is sometime like meeting another CP patients and not saying what they would like us to say, we are not mind readers and as Roet suggests “people are never thinking what we think they are” perhaps if we think better of ourselves those none supportive comments that we all get and are part of the inexperienced or unknowing, would be less invasive or hurtful.

    The actions of others rarely meet our expectation and it is not for us to reduce them, only express what support is required and how best others can be supportive. I know from experience that carers have a letter to CP patients also and we have to take some responsibility however small in creating that two-way communication. It will always be the case that some do not understand however much guidance and creative help we give them and that is a fact of life. Every incapacity has this break down in communication and I know when my own sister was terminally ill I found it difficulty to say and do the right thing every time.

    It is and will continue to be problematic in trying to change people from the misconception about pain that they have, and continuing beyond reasonableness in trying does say more about us, as the recipient than the giver, I had childhood friends that were unable or unwilling to adapt and our path together have grown apart, I do not judge them for not knowing, in my healthy persona I too may have been less empathetic than I should have been, we should not think less of people who we ourselves once represented, hindsight and experience are wonderful things.

    Even though those relationships may have gone I attempt to be progressive and surround myself with positive individuals, would I be as supportive if my own personal circumstance did not involve pain, who knows. Most of that interaction is not done with any malice, only lack of knowledge if they knew how it may make us really feel then perhaps things may be different. Even our loved ones find helping an issues and they are on our side, what can we do to make what we need more available.

    Take care and be kind to yourself.


  • I here you as its happened to me..Some people thought it was a cry for attention from me, until they saw with their own eyes my Drs reports and scans..2004 was the year my back problems started and in that year I lost my Dad to cancer, found out I had a secondary cancer in my breast and to top it all off, I was made redundant from work!!!

    I soon found out who my true friends where and they are still around today..

    For heavens sake, Ive survived cancer and made it thru my treatment on my own as I hadnt met my lovely hubby then and my Mum was overseas at the time and I didnt want her to know..

    People handle many things in different ways and not always the way we hope..They mean well but dont know how to go about it..Speak with her and find out why she reacted like she did as she may not be aware of her behaviour

    You will always find support here on this site and someone always to talk to..

    Take care and let us know how you get on...
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    Over time, you will discover that Nobody understands your situation. In the beginning, sure they may sympathize with you, feel sorry for you, but after a while, many start to resent and even get mad at you because of your spinal problems.

    Those that do understand are those that have already walked in your shoes. Truthfully that is really the best way for anybody to understand what various spinal conditions can do to a person both physically and emotionally.
    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
  • As Jim and Ron so aptly stated, unless they can experience "spinal pain", they won't get it not matter what. I've tried to describe by "You've hit your funny bone right? Imagine even half of that pain every day and night through your arms/legs. How would you deal with that?" They get it, but don't!!!

    The closest ones that sort of 'get it'...and I mean sort of. Are those who threw their backs out or cranked their necks so bad that they hit the Chiropractor. They *might* sort of empathize then, but ....as was stated, even then, they really don't and won't fully understand sadly....:(

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Might be like trying to explain to a man what childbirth feels like!
    I have had many bad pain experiences over the years, often being unable to move from whatever position I was in when the pain hit.
    I was in the shower on one occasion and it took me 30 mins or so just to turn the water off.
    A short while ago my wife suffered a similar back spasm with extreme pain, and said that until then she had had no idea what I had been suffering.
    So your friends and family will be the same, and not much you can do about that.
    I'd suggest this approach-it might just work.
    Write down what you would really like to say to anyone who you feel is being unkind and unfair to you.
    Put it in simple point form, then get them alone,ask if you can share it with them, and then read it out.
    After that, ask them if they understand what you have said.
    Tell them how it makes you feel when they downplay your feelings.
    You might say:
    I have a problem with my xxxxxx which means that I am in a lot of pain all of the time/ sometimes.
    When I am in a bad way I am unable to communicate well or join in to conversations. I am not being rude, I just can't do it, but I still want to be with you.
    I value your friendship as it helps me cope with the pain.I might not appear to be happy to be with you, but I am.

    Something along those lines.
    You have to make it very clear as they probably have absolutely no concept of your position.
  • You know, it's interesting, I herniated about 9 years ago and it was very painful, but this entire experience has taken pain up onto another level entirely from the "not being able to move" back spasm. It's just chronic, always there back pain that never goes away. It gets a little better or a little worse, but it never really goes away.

    I followed your guys' advice and took my x-rays to a get together. Not sure if it helped, but we'll see.

  • Sorry that ur friend is treating u that way. I know that when Im in a lot of pain I retreat away from my friends as its hard enough dealing with pain never mind dealing with someone elses attitude or problems. But I can emphatise and I think most of the comments on here are better then mine. I wouldnt tolerate someone kicking me when I was already so down. But one day she may need you the way you need her and then she may understad a bit more. This site is great place for support and advice. I think you deserve kindness and respect as none of us on here had a choice and we all deal with it day by day the best we can. Im sure as you are having problems it has probably made u more emphathetic to others which may help you make new friends with similar problems. Good luck!!
  • Did she have someone in her life who had a health issue that yours is reminding her of? Sorry, typical social worker here and Im just thinking that she may be upset that this is happening to someone who is so close to her, and she doesn't know how to express her feelings. So, instead, she's masking her pain w/ anger and is unsure as to how to really tell you about whats going on.
    I may be totally off base, but I agree that you do need to confront her and see what she has to say. It may not be that shes upset with you - but that she feels helpless and not in control. That can come across as anger w/ certain types of people...... She may also not know what to do to help, and it leaves her reaally frustrated - even if its only a shoulder to lean on or an ear to vent to, at times. Talk to her, thats the only way that you'll really know why she acting this way.
  • Barb, thanks, I was just thinking I should update!

    I took the advice of some here and shared more about how bad things were, and even took my x-rays in. I think it did help.

    Not everybody handles illness well, that's just a fact of life. I really don't wish to lose my friends over it.

    I think also I needed to let them be more involved in my back issues, rather than trying to hide them. For example, when I was on the medication roundabout and having mood swings, it would have been so much easier to deal with if I'd been more open about it. So, I need to not try to be my old self, but accept this new self and let my friends and loved ones in.

    So, to wind things up, I talked things out with my friend and things are much better now.
  • What a great outcome, a win-win as they say.
    Naturally it will wear off so you will have to keep an eye on things and give a gentle reminder when needed.
    A light hearted manner would be good.

    Now, back pain.
    By stipulating only x-rays to identify the problem, you are inadvertently overlooking one of the main causes of pain-muscles.
    That is also typical of GPs too.

    Spinal problems and muscle problems, both of which can cause pain, are inseparable and you really have to consider both if you want to sort it all out.
    A good physio is what you need. Even try a couple, to get varied opinions.

    I have has enormous success recently in getting rid of my chronic muscle pain problem, and it required no drugs, surgery, x-rays, MRI-just strong doses of magnesium chloride (I drink it) and Vitamin D.
    Both are well know to ease sore muscles, and the magnesium is also known to improve mood and reduce depression.
    Have a read-up about both and then give them a go.
    I can thoroughly recommend them.
    I've been pain free for 3 months now just from taking these items.
    The idea came from my daughter, not somebody in the medical field that I see.
  • Peter, if you read my medical history, I have a collapsed burst fracture of the L2 vertebrae. I just got back from having an MRI and CAT scan done in preparation for surgery- they will compare to last year's MRI to see how badly my lumbar spine has changed.

    Not a job for physio and magnesium, but thanks for the thought :)

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