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Trying to make my wife understand pain

I was hoping to gain some insight on how to deal with a family member or spouse that is tired of me being in pain.
I've had back problems most of my adult life. Resulting in fusions of S1-L5, L4-5, and a replacement disc at the L2-3 level. That was back in 2009. I was never really cured after surgery. The pain never went away. At most I was able to walk upright instead of crooked. The Doctors all said I 'm fine. Back in jan of 2012, the pain management doctor told me he was out of ways to treat me. So I stopped going to him and decided to not do anything but deal with my pain and depression.
Two days ago, I hurt myself again. Can't sleep, can't sit, stand or walk without pain. My wife isn't very sympathetic. Trying to get to the doctors but they can't squeeze me in until January. She wants me to suck it up and go back to work. Said she's been dealing with this since we got married and she's tired of it. I'm a 49 year electrician with three kids who someday would like to go to college. I'm so torn between thinking that am I being selfish in trying to not be a cripple and take care of myself. I stopped taking all pain killers because I didn't want my kids to think I was addicted. The upper levels are starting to go bad based on a recent X-ray. T12-L1 are already developing a boney bridge. I just need to know if anyone else had or has a similar problem. Sorry for being long winded.


  • lstellerllsteller Posts: 1,428
    edited 12/14/2012 - 7:12 AM
    We have the problem of trying to communicate about the pain. Unless someone has experienced the severe pain of spinal problems, they will most likely never understand. At the top of this forum, you will see a post that says "Letter to Normals from someone with spine pain" (or something to that effect). It might be a good starting point.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,338
    edited 12/14/2012 - 12:57 PM
    and i have also had a fusion ALIF last dec {i have also had 2 previous operations on my spine and countless painful procedures] i am unable to work due to continued pain and other problems from the surgeries.i divorced my first wife after 12 years as she could not cope with me as an ill person .so i know what you are going through .i am now remarried [16 years} to a medical person .and she looks after me and treats me like a person not like a disease ! .some people can't cope with illness .my first wife was a perfect example .as for work sparking is hard work as you know .if you are going back please be very careful..there is no way i could deal with coils of SWA or pyro or even climb a ladder .coping with a partner who cannot understand your pain is like talking to a wall..and even other spine people wont feel exactly what you feel ..i know i don't deal with pain well i need massive amounts of narcotics just to get through the day my sleep is disturbed every night its like some one sticking a red hot poker in my lower back and twisting its hell . i have suffered with severe pain for 16 years the last 6 have been a constant i9/10 every day .good luck my friend
    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
  • Well its sad when family dont understand for sure, Wife of all people should understand as she sees you each day and she should know you cant fake this shit, When pain controls dailey life its hard enough to deal wirh it on its own as i know myself from the time of my 1 st surgery in 2004 artificial discreplacement l4l5 life never been the same,

    You being married with kids is harder to deal with it if wife dont get it , I am single but in a relationship for 12 years and so if my significant other did not get it i at least have the option to tell her to hit the road if it was as you say !

    For the most part she understands so we manage somehow !

    I have a good friend in your situation with his wife having issues understanding his neck and then back surgery finaly did him in also and him not being able to work causes stress on there relationship as they ended up going to councling which i think helped her be more aware of his medical condition that nobody asked for and she has the burden to take it just as serious as you do,

    For beter or for worse as you both mentioned it during the wedding and not understanding this when now its for the worse i feel is a cop out for any woman to be so selfish not to understand,

    I myself was forced to put some of my family aside when i realised they dont get it and there negative attitude brought nothing but negative in to my life and i could not have that in my life while me dealing with my issues !

    Your wife needs to stop thinking only of herself as this is a family issue where 1 needs positive suport !
    I would simply ask her if she got hit by a car and and was forced to live in a wheel chair how would she feel if you said you were tierd of it and she needs to suck it up and go back to work !

    Sometimes people need a reality check and realise life is not always perfect and 1 partners struggle becomes both partners chalange in life ! 1 should never put guilt on the other and should always ask themself what if the table was turned,

    I know i would stand behind my partner no mater what injury they sustained and give my all to help and show emotional suport and i would expect the same in return ! If a person is only there for me when things are good and not when things are bad then i personaly dont need them in my life at all ,

    I sugest you have wife get more involved in your medical care and she might have to learn more of these spine conditions which you might want to even have her read some posts here and we have members that would be happy to give her suport and help her have a beter understanding of she and you are not alone in this kind of hardship !

    Good luck hope this helps,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Thank you so much for everyone's kind words. I know I'm not alone in the struggles that we all must face. She is a good women, wife , and mother. We together had to face early on with our third child who had to undergo a liver transplant when he was only one. He's now ten and doing well. But since then she likes to put out there that if my son can indure that type of pain so can I. Lord knows I'm trying. This is truly a painful ailment. If I could stop working today I would. I really do feel trapped. Trapped between being a dad, provider, husband, etc. Once again thanks for the kind words they really do help.
  • lstellerllsteller Posts: 1,428
    edited 12/15/2012 - 11:59 AM
    between the pain caused by surgery to one's innards and to spine pain. In my life, I've had a couple of ankle surgeries, a hysterectomy, both rotator cuffs repaired. That pain heals -- it goes away. Maybe in the dead of winter, you get a small itch on one of your scars. Of course, I know transplants mean you have to take anti-rejection meds, etc., for the rest of your life, but I doubt that the pain is everlasting like it is from having your spine welded together. Let's face it, the spine is where all the nerve roots extend from, so sensation traveling that path comes from all over the body and extends to every part of the body. No comparison to surgery on internal organs in my opinion.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Tricky problem but common.
    I'd say that your whole family is suffering from your problem. They are all victims too.
    Your wife may feel unfairly burdened by doing more than her fair share of family things; you might try to see it from her point of view.

    There can be no agreement unless both parties understand the other's situation.

    I often wonder how I'd cope if my wife was in constant pain or very ill, and I had to pick up the traces. Not so sure I'd be good at that!

    Why not take pain killers and see if that helps you become easier to live with?
    Addiction, I believe, comes about when you take drugs for mood enhancing, not to counteract pain. There is no psychological benefit if the drug just reduces pain.

    Discuss this with your doctor.

    I think you owe it to your family to go onto a pain reduction regimen. That should make you less ill and easier to live with.

    I've had chronic pain for a long time, and only mention it when it's stopping me doing something or is really bad.
    But it was only when my wife had a bad muscle spasm, like I used to get, that she fully understood what the sort of pain I had was like.

    So your wife also may not have experience of strong pain, and how would you explain it?
    It's a hard problem to deal with, but I think that your wife's position must be understood too.
  • DNiceDDNice Posts: 1,962
    edited 12/15/2012 - 3:56 PM
    Some words of help....I understand your wife's frustration. Why? Because you cannot 'see' pain.
    But it doesn't mean you are not in pain. It also doesn't mean it isn't something to listen to...seriously. If she has been dealing with it that long, perhaps you both need new ways to cope and communicate with each other.

    As for the PM doctor being out of options on treating you, I think they typically say that when they do not want to waste any of your money b/c sometimes...you do just have to work on the PT exercises and pain management on your own but sounds like you could still use some support.

    Both you and your wife. Did you ask your wife why she is tired of 'dealing with it'? Does she feel the stress of caring for the family? Perhaps she is trying to take on more so you don't have to and keeping it bottled up. I would suggest that you tell her you know it is not easy for her and that you want to suck it up but are in pain. Ask her what you can do to have her understand that you are not faking and that you want to work but struggle to find a balance between 'sucking it up' and not making it worse. Not sure your relationship but sounds like it's the first cry for help from her to say, "we need to figure out how to get a better balance".

    Back pain sucks because people just do not get it. Not sure any of this helps but wanted you to know that I hope for the best for your reduced pain and for you and your wife (and kids) to find a balance where the pain is not always in the forefront of your family and marriage.
  • I think you just hit the nail on the head with the last post. She's been running the household for a very long time. And I know she's getting frustrated. Being in construction isn't an easy job for a person with the back pain I've had over the years. I do what I can do to bring home a paycheck to provide the necessities my wife and kids have become accustomed to. The stress of working long hours. Bending, lifting, twisting my body so I can keep myself employed is really taking its toll. I just wish there was some way I can get thru to her that when my body needs a break to recharge and decrease the amount of pain that's tearing thru my spine. It's time for me to stop. No matter how big of a $ I bring home. The last time I went to a pm doctor. He flat out told me he didn't know what else to do for me except putting a scs implant. Of which I am very Leary about. To tell you the truth it scares me to death.
  • alexhurtingaalexhurting Posts: 1,991
    edited 12/17/2012 - 3:43 AM
    Dude, i worked construction my whole life , I think thats what landed me of back problems way too early in my life,
    My back issue goes back 20 years already ! Finaly after just 1 back surgery in 2004 i realized i could not do the jobs,

    I am suprized you even went back to construction work with the multiple levels you had done , Here is the bottom line !
    Staying in the same line of work you did before the surgery might not be posible !

    Scs aint going stop the other levels going out doing that kind of work when other levels might go out without even working,

    I had the scs implanted and its not doing all that much at all, Not like i had the scs put in and jumped up and said joe toss me that 10 foot 2x8 ! But Alex you sure you dont need help with that ? No No Relax Joe ! I have a SCS . Hell hand me 2 of those , I can crank up my scs and maybe even carry 3 ,

    Sorry to hear your kid needed liver transplant such a young age, Glad he is doing good and wish him the best,
    My dad had his liver transplant just as he turned 65 years old at the mayo ,
    Its of course a big surgery and long recovery and seen him suffer a lot more before his surgery as liver was causing problems,

    But once he recovered he was doing good ! Thats the diference , Spine is diferent if stress from surgery is causing further damage a person can push and fight through the pain all they want ,you can push untill you are totaly criple and in a wheel chair, This is why often people have to make a life change meaning changing jobs which involve less labor type of work because spine is now not the same !

    Taking pain medication none of us want but hell , Its simply a way of life now same as after a transplant of life long medicarions,
    If a person can do without pain meds and manage there pain thats great !
    But nobody can look down on a person who takes pain medication when they have a chronic condition,

    That would be like me saying to my dad ! Hey dad you dont need all those meds after your liver transplant you already healed, Screw the dr , He dont know what he is talking about making you take those meds !
    How stupid would that sound ! Ok wait i take that back, dad did ask me once why he needs all those meds, It was easier to just agree with him Yes dad he just wants your money , Yep the doctor makes money on each pill you take ! Now shutup and take it before i call the doctor and they will want there liver back !
    That shut him up,

    Ok now where was i in my post ? Oh ye, You had multiple level spine surgery ! I am not sure how old you are if its posible for you still to change the line of work you are in or you an old timer as myself me now being 52.
    But if you been an electricion for all those years and simply cant do that line of work no longer,
    I would explain to the wife , Listen honey ! I been pulling wire before christ was born , I been zapped by electrical lines more times then i can count ,
    Remember i touched a 220 volt high power line on your 30 th birthday just to show you how much i love you !

    Well now its time you take up pole dancing because we need the extra money honey before i end up in a wheel chair,

    Try that see how well that works out ! Let us know , If you go off the grid and we dont hear from you is there anyone you like us to call ? Besides the wife of course !

    Best wishes !
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • I really DO feel for you! My hub is a A #1 jack but about my spine injury!

    I own a commercial cleaning biz, which is where I was injured at. The day of my injury (I fell) I told him I could not feel my legs like before & what I did feel was horrible pain. His response was "I am NOT doing all this Fing work myself, so figure it out".

    His attitude from day 1 has been like this. I will drag all the groceries into the house right past him laying on the couch and he won't offer to help and has a total hisss fit if I ask.

    Maybe I should not chime in here but from my experiences it comes down to this - she goes with you to a Dr appt and gets educated on your injury and changes her attitude towards your pain or she just chooses not to. Then the decisions from there are up to you.

    I finally decided to quit working full time (I still do smaller jobs even though I am not suppose to) and am in training for a new career. BUT life/marriage here is still horrible as of his attitude.

    What would she do if you quit working? Does she work? Can she pick up the $$ slack?

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • There is a past issue of Time magainze that is devoted to Chronic Pain. I looked it up on the time site and the articles are spread out but I beleive it was a March 2011 issuse. I gave this to my brother and to a few freinds to read just one or two short articles. You could see the light bulb go on above there head. The base link is below


    Hope this helps
  • sjoboyssjoboy Posts: 25
    edited 12/22/2012 - 6:14 AM
    Please don't stop taking your meds solely because your kids might think you're addicted. You (we) have a medical condition and as, for example, diabetics need insulin chronic pain sufferers need pain control medication. There are no virtuous drugs and sinful drugs. Just drugs that address different conditions.
  • dont stop the pain meds. a very intellegent doctor once told me that as long as ur taking specifically for pain u shouldnt have an addiction problem and try 2 only take when its so severe u can not move. an open dialoge with ur children about the danger of abusing drugs and why u take them will go a long way in helping them understand why and when u have 2 take them. and as far as the wife, maybe counceling for her would help so she can deal with the frustrations that i feel all men go thru in trying 2 support their families. if i was a single male of legal age and realized that now i not only had 2 take care and support myself and possibly a family i'd sit down andd cry. i'm a single mother of 1 and 51 years of age. i've wished that there was someone at any given time 2 support and take care of me but after 2 times down the isle i still was the 1 taking care of myself. if talking 2 some one doesnt help her understand herself and ur pain better ( i hate 2 say this) but i'd consider endnig it cause the added stress isnt making ur pain or her frustration any better. and if all else fails tell her 2 blame god for he alone has made us and it's not ur fault that u hurt. maybe that comment alone will give her something 2 think about.
  • I really liked Alex's last post and found it hilarious. However, what DNice said as every ring of truth I could find. I've just had my 3rd spine surgery (2 lumbar, 1 was this one, 1 cervical) and my husband is actually cleaning the kitchen right now. He's my nurse and plays the part well. That's easy - I just had surgery and have a huge bandage and a lot of post-op do-nots, pills, health aids, walker, and obvious pain. Your situation isn't quite as easy or obvious and it's understandabe that it would become frustrating on a few levels and you and your wife need to work that out. Kind of like ordering pan pizza when one of you wants thin crust and one wants hand tossed - compromise.

    My hubby's been supportive inbetween the surgeries as well. I also have a demanding physical job and walk my dog every night (well before the surgery), but came home in pain to decide how easy dinner was going to be to make - frozen pizza? Am I having a good day and have enough energy to cook the whole thing while he does nothing? Shall we tag-team something simple? Or are you cooking? But I also notice that when we're getting ready for bed and I'm sitting on the edge of the bed with my back to him, he sometimes just reaches out and rubs his finger down my scar(s). I know what he's thinking and it's in his mind almost all the time.

    Yes, he gets very tired of it but like you, I tend to overdo. And when I do too much and hurt too bad, he know whether by instinct or my telling him and we slow down what's done the rest of the night. Who cares about the floors. If we need to do something, it's faster with two.

    So basically, I'm just taking the generalities of DNice's post and adding some particular solutions that might help. I hope it does, it's so difficult with our spines and the unseen "beast" that you wish could poke it's little hand out and pinch the person next to you to give them just a little bit of the pain you feel daily.

    Keep us posted, we're vested in this with ya.
  • You guys are a great help. It's comforting to know that I'm not alone with this burden, and talking or writing about it helps. Update on my situation: still in pain and trying to to find a new doctor to help me with that. Problems with my family life are still there. But like my pain, it gets better then it rears its ugly head. My wife loves me and I know that with all my heart. Does she understand, sometimes yes and sometimes no. Like one of the earlier posts its hard to understand something that can't be seen. And all our conditions can't be seen. But just because it not seen doesn't mean it's not there.
    I've been out of work for a week, with one more week to go. Trying to rest up enough to go back after the holidays. With that being said my wife thinks I love being home. Sitting around not doing anything. I'm doing what I can to help around the house but I know it's not enough in her eyes. So I have a little peek into my future if I was going to go on SSI. I don't think we'd make it. I just hope a new doctor will help me get me back on my feet to help me get back to some sort of a normal life.
  • When you boil it all down, that really is the goal - to try to get back to a normal life. Normal for you may be new like changing jobs. Maybe take these two weeks and try to find something that's easier on your body.

    My hubby wants me to take the 6 weeks I'm off and try to find a home-based job, but I carry all the benefits so I have to be particular. Luckily I'm a graphic designer by trade and can even clean up photos for online mags or catalogs, if I can find something like that. He knows that going back to lifting boxes will either speed up another surgery or simply kill me.

    The unseen - that is the thing. Nobody can see our pain but, Lord we know, it's there. Even on a good day, one wrong twist or movement and you're screaming out in pain. Of course just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there. But if you know in your heart that she loves you and takes your vows seriously, you can work it out. I was telling my hubby about you last night and he said the same thing he always says: "I took my vows seriously - in sickness and in health - an we have had a lot of years of health, having fun golfing, lots of activity, and then this started and I'm a slug. But we had the "health" part for many more years than the illness part.

    I don't think anyone really wants to WORK, per se, but healthy people would like to not work but do something else like housework, keeping things cleaner than you can otherwise, volunteer or even just have a job that's not so darned difficult.

    I'm hoping you can find that doctor too, that will take a vested interest in you and your situation.They're out there - my surgeon and I are always working around the monetary, work and play aspects of my illness like teaching me a new golf swing during PT after my last surgery so I could continue to play. It worked for a year. So we'll do it again this go around and I'll be golfing this summer with another new swing.

    Have you and your wife sat down and had a heart-to-heart about this? Has she been to the doctor with you so she can hear it from the horse's mouth exactly what you're going through? That's helped a lot of people. When they hear it from the doctor, they begin to understand and even feel a bit guilty for not understanding that seeing isn't necessarily believing.

    Hang in there is all I can say. I'm thinking of you and wish you the best with everything - the doc, your wife, etc.
  • Well it went better than expected. Had a visit with my pm dr this morning, and my wife went with me. He gave us two options.
    1) another surgery with only a 20 % chance that it will see the pain.
    2) do the spinal cord stimulator trial
    Both of these pretty much will put me on social security/disability, due to my line of work. I think having my wife hear that straight from the doctors mouth instead of mine made her realize that pain isn't a joke. It's very real. First thing she said was "I guess it's time for you to be mr mom" thanks again for all your responses. It's nice to know people care for others even if they've never met, but share a common bond. God bless and have a very happy healthy pain free new year :)
  • Sorry for the medical update :( Happy your wife seems to be "getting it" :)

    Please come back as you can & keep us updated how you are doing.
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Its really very pathetic if your family doesn't understand the pain and its very much painful if your life partner is unable to understand the trauma you are going through. I think its have been very long time that you are through this agony. I wonder one day will arrive when she understands this and also may be you will be relieved from this pain.
  • Believe me. It's gotten a lot better. All it took was bringing her to the last doctor visit. When the pain management doctor referred me to seek another surgeon, a little light went off in her. It's like night and day. Couldn't be happier to have her on my side again.
  • Well if you do end up being mr mom , Us guys can start up a club exchanging fashion tips, Kitchen aprons for man with pictures of chain saws, car parts, guns, trucks, monster tire apron for man !

    Honey does this apron make my ass look big !

    I been doing all the housework for a good while now due to not being able to work , It gets old but someone has to do it,
    A mr moms job is never done ! My gf never takes me anywhere ! I think i am starting to have menopause !
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Thanks, buddy, I know that when I see you post, no matter what kind of day I'm having, I'll end up with a smile reading your post, even if for only a little while. :-)

    jdglen, hooooooray! Sometimes that's all it takes is one trip to the doc before the non-spineys understand how serious this all really is. I'm glad yours happened so easily - that means that there really is love there. Some people can take their significant other to 15 appointments and they still don't get it. So count your blessings. I'm very happy for you. :-)

  • MsHumptyDumptyMMsHumptyDumpty Posts: 1,567
    edited 01/16/2013 - 1:24 PM
    If I could do a jig for you I would ;) But seriously I am very happy for both of you and your kids that she gets it :)
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Me to. Life can be good. Even with pain.
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