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How do you manage your pain without being cranky with your spouse?

I've had 2 lumbar surgeries and will be having a 3rd in the near future. I'm in pain 80% of the time and it's starting to take its toll on my marriage. I've done the PT,injections,and pain meds. Is there anything that any of you have found that helps your mood and keeps your from being cranky all the time? My wife thinks I should see a shrink but I'm skeptical that they will beable to help at all.

So lets hear it, how do you manage your chronic pain when meds etc dont seem to work.


  • Love and marriage is the saying? I would get out as much as possible. As much as it hurt I'd rather leave to avoid argument ormaking eeveryone miserable. Don't take me too serious tho I'm divorced now. And I really don't know what would really work. Just somethings that just take their toll and there's nothing we can really do. I wish you the best of luck. Let me know if you got suggestions. Current relationship could use some suggestions
  • Chronic pain is just one more burden to add to the marriage cart. Unfortunately, it is doubly burdensome. It is one of those "issues" between mates that can be an irritant, BUT, it also causes frustration in your spouse because (he/she) can't do anything about it and they also agonize over/with/because of your pain. Spouses don't want to see their spouse in pain.

    I have found distance/separation/isolation to be beneficial. If my wife does not see or hear me in pain, then life is better.

    Honesty is also a good foundation. For example, I will respond honestly to any inquiry regarding my current pain level. If I can't participate, then I honestly say so. If I am willing to participate and accept the risk of increased pain, then I will honestly say so. My goal is for "life" to continue as best/positively as it can in spite of me. I disdain sympathizers and DO NOT want anyone to pity me.

    I am not trying to be Pollyannish about this. Spine pain hurts and debilitates. I just don't won't to be the party pooper. So, I try be as honest as I can and seek other means of contributing to the betterment of the family and the community.

  • gaj399ggaj399 Posts: 270
    edited 11/25/2012 - 1:00 PM
    When my wife and I started down this horrible pain journey, we wrote our wedding vows on paper, each of us, we knew that it was going to be a long difficult journey with very few roses to smell along the way. When things get touchy and the argument brews, we head for separate rooms and read what we wrote on that paper. We vowed to love and cherish each other till death do us part. I'm sure she's had to read her's a lot more than me, she's had to put up with me in pain, but I try to not take my pain out on her, I know if she was able to cure my ailments she would do it now, but this is the hand we have been dealt.

    In the day we live in now, people separate and divorce at the drop of a hat. Marriage needs to be worked on, it doesn't just come up roses without some care and love to make it grow.

    Sorry if this is a bit sappy, but, we have been married 18 years and 7+ have been years that I have lived in pain. As far as I can tell our marriage is still on solid ground, so we must be doing something right.
  • Thanks for the responses everyone. I think in my case it makes things a little more difficult because we are newly weds. I don't realize that I'm being snippy in my responses to her questions, physically I'm not in the "mood" as much as newly weds should be which really bothers her because she thinks I dont find her attractive anymore etc.
  • Tison1200:

    I have been married to the same patient and caring woman for 40 years and one day (24 November 1972). Your situation is totally different than mine, thus a different perspective exists. Maybe some of the young bucks on this forum can provide advice.

    However, even though I have bruises on the side of my head where I have been dinged for not remembering/anticipating/understanding a situation, I have learned that good communication is critical for a successful relationship. Dr. Phil would be proud of me!

    Good luck my friend.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,045
    so, I figured the best way would be to create a separate thread to provide some details, or more to the point my insight.
    Here is something to read and think about:
    Spineys and Relationships
    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
  • Been married 28 years and on and off the last 27 have been dealing with chronic pain. Hubby does feel bad that he can't help me and does hate seeing me in pain. It makes me feel worse when he or the kids ask how my pain is and I lose it because I don't want to talk about it. My solution was to put a dry-erase board on refrig. and write a general number 1-10 of what my pain level is that day and they can see when they come in from work or I will just text it to them. Now they don't have to ask and risk getting head knocked off...lol. If I want to talk about it they will listen but now don't feel like they have to walk on eggshells anymore. Has really worked well for us. I try to come to ya'll more and hope you don't get tired of me :)

  • i've been married 25 years and half of that with chronic pain and 4 fusions, the last was in May. for the most part my wife is pretty understanding but on occasion she flies off the handle not me. i am pretty easy going, she is the one who gets her pants in a bunch. when she yells, i just ignore her. if i feel like crap i tell her. i am pretty silent, i just lie on the couch and if her and my son want to go to a movie and i don't feel like it, i just tell her. the issue that bothers me is not being grumpy but the lack of sex and a sex drive. i have not erections or no desire at all. i have tried meds etc but nothing works. i think that a fusio n i had 5 years ago put a cramp into my style. there are lots of nerves around the area of a fusion and they try to watch but sometimes, nada. she does not complain as of now and i ususally sleep on the couch. i don;t think she is seeing someone else but i think she has come to grips with the lack of motion in the ocean. i could be wrong but we have discussed it. i keep on trying to see a dr to see if we can do something else like an implant which really drives my wife up the wall if i mention i was going to get one. maybe over christmas vacation i will see one. i have seen a urologist about this but all he does is throw viagra my way which does not work.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I will say that is one rough topic.. I know how it "should" work, but it doesn't for me. Me and mine are best friends deep down, but man he can scream, yell, he gets so mad because I can't play anymore. I can't be spontanious, he constantly says, I can't believe our life has come to this - drugs, drugs, and doctors... I can't help it, and have resigned to let him rant and rave. When it's good - its amazing, when it's bad, nobody better throw a 357 in the mix cuz it's gonna get used by one of us! I do know that were the roles reversed, I would never, ever say the ignorant, hurtful, rude things that he does. I would never treat him or anyone like that. But, I also must remember, he is the one that goes out at 6 a.m. and feeds my horse (whom he despises) and the other animals because I hurt too much to do it. He is the one that has to go haul hay for my horse, even so he'd just as soon I have him put down because we both know I'll never ride him again and he is a very expensive financial burden - but I have had more awesome times on that horse than anything I have ever done in my life. I am so blessed to have had him and been able to take him to the mountains every weekend, just he and I and go for hours! There is truly nothing finer in life in my mind. It pisses me off he tells me I should have him put down because he is expensive to keep around and i won't do it. But, he does make sure he's always got food, takes care of fencing that Blitz dicks with and rips up, and all the other BS that comes with animals. He fixed the barn to make sure it wouldn't cave in on him, which cost thousands because the jackass kept rubbing his butt against the block wall till it broke off the foundation. He does the things that are necessary, and at times can be a very nice man. I tell him, he can be my saving grace, and my worst nightmare all wrapped into one. I know it is ALL because of my physical condition. I get mad enough at myself when I can't do it - I don't need him barking his BS too. I don't know what the answer is, I guess you just have to find a way to get along the best you can. I do know that treating others as you wish to be treated is helpful. Hard at times, but a good idea nonetheless. When you start losing parts of yourself over it however - it's time to draw the line. Then of course their are finances that play into it all. I used to be the one bringing in the big bucks, now I'm lucky to get 6 hours in a day, have burned all my leave - I used to have oodles, so its' me depending on his income. That really sucks. Without him I wouldn't be able to keep my horse or other things so I have often pondered that too when things are really bad, do I want to put the horse down, pack up my shit, leave my house I've worked so hard for, the property, the toys, and get an appt in town, or am I gonna just suck it up till it gets better and deal with it? When you'all figure out the answers, please let me know!
  • kamgramkkamgram Posts: 483
    edited 11/28/2012 - 6:58 PM
    Oh Mouse, I went back and read my first post and realized that it did not represent how we got to the point of me writing it down and my family knowing when to leave me alone. I can tell you with my husband that it was so bad that I packed a bag and went and stayed with my brother and sister-in-law for a week. He was angry when he woud have to get up at 7am for work but forgets the yrs. I got up at 3:30 and would work 16 hrs. to help out our family. He does not have to do laundry or cook dinner or even bring wood in because either I or father-in-law or son does it now so he doesnt have to. I was so tired of listening to him curse because he was tired and didnt want to go to work but had to. When I had my fill i packed my bag and told him dont go to work, quit and sit home on your butt...I dont care anymore and left. I did not answer his calls. I would not allow the kids to tell him where I was...our kids are adults...I didnt speak to him and finally at the end of a week my daughter called and said he was crying and begging me to come home. Things have been very good since. Like I came home to a different man:) I hope things work out for you. im not saying this will work for you but I really could not live like that anymore.

  • try4smilettry4smile Posts: 33
    edited 11/29/2012 - 10:46 AM
    the idea of dry erase board! Forewarned it forarmed..lol Is it normal for anyone in pain for you too not even describe it anymore if someone would ask because that in itself is exhausting emotionally? I guess I just get so pissed at myself sometimes cause if I get something done, it would be done already. I get mad at myself because I can't do what I want to do, be it chore or hobby! Sometimes I am in agony and sit there trying to participate anyway. I can only fake a smile so long before I've had it. Anyone else ever feel that way?
    Herniated disc C5 C-6, DDD, Fibromyalgia, Nerve damage both arms, Disc Decompression, SCS 2010, Si joint pain, many epidurals, mri's, trigger point injections. Nerve conduction tests, RFA 11/28/12, RLS
  • Our biggest issue is our bed is to hard for me and I wake up in the middle of the night with a horrible back ache and end up sleeping the rest of the night on the recliner. I've started sleeping in our spare bedroom (full size bed) which has a little softer bed where I can roll around as much as I need too without worrying about waking her up. Being newly weds this pisses her off that I wont sleep with her. I've tried to explain my reasoning but she doesnt seem to understand. We had also planned on having children which I want to put off for a little bit until I can hopefully get my pain/back under control and hopefully get back to working my normal hours and pay off some debt. This also bothers her, I always get the guilt trip that I don't love her anymore and I dont find her attractive etc etc etc. I really wish there was a way to make them see or understand what we are going through. She is my best friend and I love her to death but I can't always show her or make her believe this anymore.

    If I our rolls were reversed I'm sure I would feel the same way as she does. Whoever said marriage takes work isnt lying!
  • kamgramkkamgram Posts: 483
    edited 11/29/2012 - 3:49 PM
    Hi Anelson, I feel bad now that I see how some look at my husband. He has always worked through our whole marriage sometimes 2 jobs when I was home with children. He has always been the provider for our family and does a good job. Things changed when he had his by-pass surgery in Feb. 2011. His personality changed and he was in a deep depression, afraid that he would die. he had sudden cardiac arrest and son performed CPR while camping one weekend. They both suffer from PTSS after this but son's is worse. Husband went from taking no medications at all to finding out that he was diabetic, out of control cholesterol and high blood pressure. He also suffered a seizure and could not drive for3 months even though EEG was normal. This is second grand mal seizure he has suffered in 20 yrs. He was put on high dose of Lamictal which made him a mad man that I was terrified of. Now he takes Gabapentin, Nucynta, Metoprolol, Simvastatin, Xanax, Metformin, Aspirin...It has been overwhelming for the whole family as he was only 50 when all this happened. I just wanted to make sure you understood the circumstances of why this all happened. We are both dealing with pain issues now and it is very hard and frustrating but we will make it. I would never start over with a new one after almost 30 yrs...that would be an impossible job...lol

  • No worries, I didn't take it that way just didn't want anyone to think bad about him. He is a good man and has been through alot...
  • People who do not have chronic pain don't understand or know what it is like. It's a lonely place to be but it's our lot. My wife doesn't understand. I still work full time even though I'm in a lot of pain. I don't have a choice. But once you have what we have it's a game changer and your spouse will either support you or choose not to. It's up to them. You might do counseling together. I have heard this works very well.
  • This was good to read! My husband and I have been married for 5 years. I'm 28 and he's 31. He's a Japanese male and I'm a Caucasian female, which has made marriage a bit difficult as he comes from a misogynist culture, and I'm a very independent woman. Also, I have a doctorate degree, and this made him feel a bit threatened. But in a way my chronic pain has made me less perfect, and I think that has helped our marriage. He realizes how hard I worked for my degree and how much he doesn't want to be me. We both agree it sucks to be me XD I have recurrent Achille's tendonitis, torn both hip labrums, and have degenerative disc disease (bulging discs in neck and back). I'm just that lucky ;) On the other hand I'm six feet tall, very thin, pretty, smart, kind, funny, and empathetic. This is why he married me, but marriage is kind of a gamble. I was healthy for the first year of our marriage, and then everything got bad quick. It started with a ballet injury, but then everything else was a mixture of bad luck and bad genetics. I'm a very emotional person, so I nearly relapsed back into anorexia and became depressed. I could no longer dance and withdrew from my friends. I don't tend to get angry from the pain. Instead I get really tearful, which I guess isn't much better? Lucky for me I found writing and fanfiction. That helped open up a new world for me where I could connect with other gamer girls that were introverts and loved writing and reading. Well, I could talk about that for hours XD Anyway, back to my marriage. . .

    I have been couch-bound for three out of the last 4 years due to my severe hip pain. It's been very hard on us financially as I wasn't able to work as soon as I graduated school, and I have $140,000 in student loans. That was accumulated over 9 years of college, mind you. It was my hip pain that was stopping me, not my spine. I just had surgery on my hip, so I'm hoping I can work in a few months. The neck pain has gotten worse though :( I had a cortisone shot about 1.5 years ago, and I need another! I also want kids, but it's very difficult as I'm taking pain medicine, and I want to be off of most of it by the time I get pregnant. The biggest issue for him is the financial strain. He's also been upset because there have been times I couldn't even do the chores, so he had to work and do the chores. It made him grumpy. Right now I'm on crutches for 8 weeks, which is about 4 more weeks, so he had to cancel his trip to Japan to see his family. It was his choice not mine. I was the one encouraging him to go, but he said he couldn't leave me at home on crutches. . . *sigh* Sometimes I want to talk about the pain, and other times I don't. We can't go anywhere as I rarely feel well enough to leave the house. It gets to him a lot more than it does me. I told him he can go by himself if he wants. It wouldn't bother me. He wants to travel the world, and I can't sit for longer than an hour without severe hip and back pain. I have hope for the future though! I'm getting my hip issues fixed, so I'm going to start working on my neck and spine issues.

    And yeah, our sex life has become rather minimal. It got to a point where he was so scared of hurting me. . . When both of your hips are in severe pain it's difficult to have sex, even on a good day. When they wanted to do a spot check pregnancy test before my hip surgery I laughed. My husband and I hadn't had sex since my the hospital did my last blood test/pregnancy test over a month ago. I don't believe in immaculate conception XD I tried to explain this to her, but she made me do the test anyway. My poor husband was in the room with me, super embarrassed XD

    My own mother has suffered from chronic pain from the ages of 12 to present, so my dad married into it. Although you would never know. My mom is the sort that hides her pain and doesn't like to talk about it. When it gets really bad you'll see her start shaking, and it just breaks my heart :( She's had multiple back surgeries, and they've helped her a lot, but it seems like once something gets fixed another thing gets broken. She and my dad have gotten into lots of fights as my dad has a short temper and tends to explode rather easily. Although I don't think her pain has been the source of much of it. She doesn't have much disability as she still works full time, but they had to get a maid to clean the house. My mom's own mother (my grandma) suffered from chronic pain and several auto-immune diseases, and she let it consume her. So my mom made a decision that she wouldn't let that happen to her. She's an extremely strong-willed woman, and I think she's very strong. She's definitely an inspiration to me :)
  • Tison - you may want to take your wife up on her suggestion of therapy - NOT just for you, however - for the two of you. Sometimes, hearing from a third party the same things you've been saying could be taken completely differently - and can be heard in a way that she cannot hear them now. See if you can find a therapist who deals with pain (maybe your doctor knows of someone s/he can recommend) and maybe it would be worth a shot. It's not necessarily just one visit, but it also doesn't have to be indefinite. And, you might get something out of learning how to deal with those moments that are particularly trying rather than keeping everything bottled up inside - or attacking when the pain becomes too much.

    Are you showing her how much you are attracted to her and value her and appreciate her - even if it cannot be sexually right now? Meaning, can you have some flowers ordered (or if you can get out, get some) or something that she appreciates that can show her you are thinking of her and do appreciate her? It doesn't need to be expensive. If she mentions a book or a show or some music that she likes - when she comes home at the end of the day, can you record it for her or have the music playing?

    Does she like to take a hot bath? If so, can you run the bath for her and put in some bath salts she likes or light a candle and pour her a glass of wine (if she likes that) or something that would make her know that you are paying attention to her?

    If you are able to make her her favorite meal (without messing up your body too much), do that. Or, if you are in too much pain to do that, is there a restaurant that she really likes - order her favorite meal and have it delivered and set it all up for when she gets home.

    There are so many LITTLE things you can do to help bring you closer. She needs to see some action in addition to the words.

    Regarding the bed - can you get a foam topper for just your side of the bed? Maybe making it a little less hard will make the difference for you. It might not solve it completely, but there are things you might be able to try with that.

    I truly suspect that if you can do some little things, she will see that you are trying to work on the relationship aspect of this rather than it all coming from her - with her having to wait - until - until who knows when? Being in pain sucks, no question. There are small ways you can demonstrate that you love her, value her and appreciate her. Her face will light up. Her heart will melt. And, don't do this just once. These are nice things to do anyway and things that get lost in the day-to-day survival, but especially now, while she is feeling unloved and unappreciated, try doing something every few days, or weekly or every other week - so that she sees that you are engaged with her and that it is not all about your pain.

    And yes, the therapy will help the two of you navigate this. Even suggesting that the two of you go together, depending on who she is, can show her that you want to address this. Blowing her off about that is another sign to her that you just don't care (from her perspective), most likely.

    Just some thoughts. I hope they help.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • i was devastated when we divorced .she was unable to cope with a young husband in pain .so she found someone else .i was destroyed .i had just lost my job{due to ill health] i have just lost my grandad to cancer and after working like a dog on my home and just getting it lovely i had a car crash and lost the lot .it was also christmas .so for 4 months i lived with my gran again .during this time i met my 2nd wife and thankfully 16 years latter we are still together .she has been fantastic with me she has been to all my hospital appointments with me she has gone out in all weather to get my pain killers she does 90% of everything and still treats me like a king .despite my illness.don't get me wrong its not all been a bed of roses,but what we do now is this ,,,if she want to go to a wedding or another social function she will {without me } as she knows i would not be able to attend .we live together but have separate lives .its not as bad as it sounds she knows that i can't do things even the weekly shopping trip i can't do anymore so unless i am feeling well enough to go out for two hours .i will stay at home and she will do the shop.if she want to visit her mum off she goes same with taking the dog to the park ..we used to do all these thing together but now i am unable to do to do normal stuff ,,there may be a day where i can manage a short walk with the dog or even a shop but its very rare,,,but its not a problem ..we just cope ..i would love to be able to do normal stuff again but it's not going to happen ....my back is getting worse .and there's nothing i or anyone else can do ..i never thought a bad back could cause so much pain and heart ache.someone said you have not had pain unless you have suffered with chronic back pain ....the back pain that we suffer with must not be confused with normal back ache that goes away in a few days with a few OTC meds.....i wish they would call our back pain something different ,because other people look at you like you are weak of a lay about when you tell them you have back pain ..that's why you don't work .or something like ..if they suffered what we suffered with they would soon change there opinion about true back pain .when you think about it many of us are on the same drugs as cancer patients .they don't give out those kind of drugs for nothing do they ..
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
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