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Ready to leave my husband...

MaraisMMarais Posts: 11
edited 04/03/2013 - 1:31 PM in Depression and Coping
Hello. I have posted elsewhere on these boards about my husband's condition with very few responses. Hopefully somewhere here can advise me.

We are both 64, married 41 years, very happy, both retired two years ago...all was going great until he herniated a disc at L2-L3 18 months ago. He had decompression surgery one year ago (doctor said it went perfectly and the nerve, though "beat up", sprung right back) and was left with a weak left quad muscle, which in turn caused osteoarthritis in his knee. He's had several rounds of physical therapy, faithfully does home exercises and uses a Kneehab electrical stimulator daily. According to him, there is never any improvement. Never a hopeful word. Since this injury, he has been a totally different person: depressed, anxious about going anywhere, feels worthless, reluctant to see doctors, etc.

It is not a pain issue. He can walk without a cane, manages to go up and down stairs. He just cannot deal with the "weak feeling in his quad" and the pulling feeling in his knee. He is negative, negative, negative. We go nowhere and he starts every day with the same almost angry-looking face. He constantly laments that this ever happened to him. According to him, we (my son and I) don't understand how this has impacted his life.

He saw his surgeon a week ago. His surgeon watched him walk and was very pleased with his progress and says my husband must give the recovery another year. He recommended counseling because my husband has not accepted any loss of mobility. He has started seeing his third psychologist. The first two he only saw twice. This one he will stay with longer...I will insist on that. (We don't want to resort to anti-depressants because of side effects.)

I cry on a regular basis because I have a very small suppport group and I have lost my best friend. Although I may sound like a whiner, it's very hard to live this way and listen to all this 24/7 for eighteen months. I have lost hope because my husband gives no hope. I am so angry with him for being so self-absorbed, selfish, and ungrateful...the doctors have told him that most of their other patients would change places with him in a heartbeat as I'm sure many of those reading this post would. I am so angry...if I had a place to go, I would go there with one suitcase, tonight. I don't drive but I don't care..I live near the airport. Some day I'm going to do it. I can't take much more.

Thanks for listening.


  • I would not venture to judge dear lady.
    However PLEASE get some counciling for YOURSELF as well.

    You may be in a cycle that feeds off itself, at the very least you may find help with your feelings twords him.

    You may not owe it to him but you owe it to yourself to let go of the resentment and anger :)

    Jester in Ja's court :)
  • I agree...YOU need therapy as well and then you both need couples therapy. It is very hard to deal with a chronic, life changing injury/illness as a patient AND caregiver. Find a psychologist that deals with chronic pain.
    DDD 2 level ALIF L3-L5 in 2007. 4/11/13 posterior fusion w/decompression on L5-S1.
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 04/03/2013 - 3:28 PM
    One of the things that therapy may help YOU with (if you go it alone) or help you BOTH with is how to manage all of this.

    If you are home with him 24/7 - then YOU need to shift. If he cannot manage to do that, that does not mean you have to stop living.

    If your husband wants to stay home and feel sorry for himself, YOU can find or figure out interests that YOU may have - and go do them. Trust me on this - if he sees you starting to go out and enjoy your life rather than sitting home with him listening to his woes - it might snap him out of it. He will likely be angry at first, then go for pity - and then realize HE has to start shifting because you're not waiting for him. If you don't have hobbies or interests because they are all about being a "couple" - it's time to find some that are about YOU! Art? Lectures? Museums? Cards? Go volunteer someplace - a kids group, read books to kids at a local bookstore, at a hospital - whatever it is that makes you feel GOOD and PRODUCTIVE and taps into the spirit within you that is currently being snuffed out!

    My Mom joined a seniors organization where they take day trips or weekend trips - and have daily activities -- although she doesn't go to everything - and she has made some friends. Suddenly, my dad became interested. Imagine that. He was being left at the sidelines and started to realize that she was not going to sit around wasting whatever life she has left letting her own life slip by if my dad was going to live his own pity party.

    Get yourself to a therapist or if there is a "support group" or group therapy - which may even be better for you because it sounds like you are pretty isolated. It sounds like you might need to make some new friends and if your husband cannot shift from his depression and pity party (sorry for being harsh, but the guy sounds like he is doing remarkably well) - at least YOU will have started building a support system that you may currently be lacking.

    It's harsh and hard - but you both sound like you're in a rut - the difference is that YOU want to change it.
    More power to you for coming to this forum and telling us what's going on. NEXT, the ball is in your court. Don't use not driving as an excuse to stop you. Don't let anything get in your way. You've been supportive for 18 months and probably a heck of a lot longer. Now, it's YOUR TURN! :)

    I was just thinking of Valerie Harper (from the show Rhoda) who was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and has only a few months to live -- she has been interviewed a lot recently -- her attitude is remarkable -- to not let one day go by where she is not in the moment and enjoying the moments that she has left. She acknowledges that she has "moments" of sadness, but won't let what is happening steal these precious experiences because of a pain or otherwise.

    You can do this.

    Let us know what you do!

    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
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    edited 04/03/2013 - 4:55 PM
    I've read your thread and all the poss that followed. I have to agree with everyone else.
    Living in relationships in which one of the couple has spinal/chronic pain is very difficult.

    One expresses that they are hurting and it is difficult to continue with the normal day to day activities. The other, feels somewhat cheated, because they are now somewhat robbed of what they had before.The rhe activities, the fun and much more

    Its very difficult for both parties in a relationship. Though the problems and feelings come from different angles.

    You both need to understand each other, diig deep into each one's feelings, your hopes, your fears, what makes you happy, what makes you sad or angry.

    Communications is the KEY, It needs to be effective and truthful two way communications. With that you can probably conquer any obstacle. Without that, even getting to the next day is difficult.
    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
  • So many people think that managing our pain is our main problem but they are so wrong. We face another problem that can be just as debilitating and it's called - "adjustment to injury"...

    In our hearts and minds we are still the same person that we used to be and still think we should be able to do everything that we used to do before "this" happened to us. The problem is that every day we get up and face the reality that nothing is the same anymore. People tell us that life can be great again - we just have to adjust our future view a little. We grieve the loss of the future that we wanted but can't quite figure out how to find a future that is good enough to make us let go of the one we no longer have.

    I am one of those who struggle with this on a daily basis. I was so stuck in how this was affecting me that I didn't stop and look around to see who else this was affecting. It's only in the last couple of weeks that I realised how much this was hurting my husband. You see, he too is grieving the loss of the future. We had planned to travel and do lots of things that involved walking. He is also struggling with how helpless he feels in the present. He hates that he can't make it better for me and he hates watching me struggle with so much.

    In your case - the roles mat be reversed but they are just as difficult. Your husband may seem fine considering what he has been through but he is obviously still struggling. It's also obvious that you still love him - you just don't love the situation you are both in.

    Seek some counselling as well so that you can learn to cope with your own grief. In doing this you will not only help yourself but you will also help him. You will help him by encouraging him to stay in counselling and you will help him because you will gain more patience as your own load is lifted.

    This is not my first experience with adjustment and grief. We lost our 14 year old son in an accident 16 years ago and although no life has been lost this time the process seems to be the same. We got through that and we didn't loose each other in the process so I know we can get through this. I also know that the two of you can get through it. You may have to go through a bit of a rough journey for a little while but it will be worth it when you get to the other side.
  • MaraisMMarais Posts: 11
    edited 04/04/2013 - 12:41 PM
    Thank you to all who responded. I was able to find something positive and helpful in each response. Thank you for sharing your personal stories.

    I know that I will need counseling. I fully expect my husband's doctor to ask me to attend some sessions. When my husband told him about some of the things I've been saying the doctor already said, "So your wife is angry?"

    On a brighter note, I am in the process of studying for my learner's permit and hope to obtain my driver's license before the summer is out. I volunteer at the school where I taught and plan to increase that time during the upcoming school year.

    I'm glad I posted because everyone who responded validated my feelings. I'm not a terrrible person to have reached the end of my rope after 18 months. When I mention how I feel to people without these issues, all the sympathy goes to my husband: it's terrible to not be able to get around, he's been through a lot, etc., etc. Not one word about what it must be like to live with this. I then think, "Well, I guess it's me. Soldier on forever."

    Francine, thank you for the excellent advice and for saying that it sounds as though he is doing remarkably well. He is!

    And Cheryl, you sound very wise. Your response was as astute as any therapist could offer. Thank you.

    Posting here and your responses have lifted my spirits. (I actually felt better as soon as I posted.) Best wishes to you all for recovery in the days to come.
  • So happy for you!
    I find the best way to dispell icky things is get them out and expose them to light :)

    As a man who is disabled at the age of 45. Iknow how bad MY pain is but what is sometimes worse is watching my WIFE watch me suffer. That MAY be a reason he does not want to try. I make no excuses just offering a little understanding.

    I know first hand from watching my Mom go down this path that seeing someone you LOVE suffer is sometimes WORSE than being the one in pain.

    Lastly, and I know this can be hard. If you can ENCOURAGE him. Tell ( or better yet talk WITH him ) him about the things you want to do with him ( be realsitc) and TOGETHER try and set some realistic (small) goals.
    I know for me NOTHING get me moving better that a goal and the loving encouragement of my wife :)
    Jester in Ja's court :)
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 04/06/2013 - 9:39 AM
    Marais --

    I bet nothing will make you feel less trapped than have the CHOICE to drive or not. How wonderful that you are being so proactive.

    I suspect if you keep moving forward as you are it will all work out. And the freedom you will feel! LOOK OUT world! :)

    I am just totally impressed that you are getting your License!

    Good luck!
    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
  • HesterHHester Posts: 90
    edited 04/06/2013 - 6:51 AM
    I have had many debilitating conditions. The back issue might be the deal breaker. I can attest to the fact that through it all, my husband may have suffered even more than me. He was the one left to cook, clean, pay the bills, take care of the pets, run all errands and take care of me. I agree with everyone in this post that counseling might help. You both need to find a new normal. Depression is very real for you both. I know I have sat and cried over everything we have lost. You two have been together a long time and, with any luck, will get through this as well. Critical injuries do take a long time to heal.
    Age 55
    Herniated L4-5 1992
    DDD diagnosed
    Hysterectomy 2005
    Steven Johnsons Syndrome 2008-09
    Gastroparesis 2009-10
    Right ankle and toe reconstruction 2012
    ACDF C6-7 surgery March 2013
    Stroke? Cancer? MS? Who knows! in inferior cerebellum 2013
  • GirlSoBadGGirlSoBad Posts: 24
    edited 04/06/2013 - 10:30 AM
    For better or worse - in sickness and in health!!! Amen!
  • Kort JesterKKort Jester Posts: 18
    edited 04/07/2013 - 3:05 PM
    lest ye be judged.

    Even the Bible gives aceptable reasons for divorce.
    Jester in Ja's court :)
  • No, I wasn't thinking divorce. More like a week away to rest my head...a week away from the gloom and doom. Maybe I would come back refreshed.

    I, too, have thought of "for better for worse" quite often. It is what it is. He's been a wonderful husband and father for 40 years...I'm just a little weary right now.

    It would be so great if my husband saw one sign that that quad muscle is ennervated again...both his surgeon and his physical therapist said the muscle was "firing." We're not too sure what that means. Does anyone know how we will know if the nerve is "coming back?" That would be a real turning point for us.

    Thanks everybody.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    I've said this before and I'll say it again. Those of us in chronic pain need to take in account the effect this has on the people
    and family members around us. One does not have to look too far to see how much worse it could be and how fortunate we
    are and to be thankful for what we do have. We all have times of depression and get down but sometimes we need to step back and look from the outside to realize what really is important. Hopefully your husband will see that you are far more important than the little discomfort he is going through. Sorry if I sound abrasive to some but I'm not sugar coating this, we just have to suck it up at times, and be positive.
    Take care,
  • CherylCCCherylC Posts: 185
    edited 04/09/2013 - 1:21 AM
    I have nerve damage at both L4 and L5 on the left side as a result of my first surgery. After 1 1/2 years I am happy to report that some of the muscles controlled by L5 are starting to fire. L4 however looks to be permanently damaged.

    When a muscle is firing it means that there is a signal getting through from the nerve. This is a good sign but it still means there is a long way to go. I know that I face a lot of physical therapy to get the muscle to do what I want it to. The muscles have been dormant for so long that they have forgotten what they are supposed to do.

    One of the things that the PT had me do was concentrate really hard on trying to move a particular muscle. It did actually move but not quite when or how I was expecting it to. I also couldn't get it to move every time I tried. Funny thing - I actually don't know how I made it move so replicating the event tends to be a bit "hit and miss". I am excited though because there is hope that there will be improvement.

    Living with parts of your body that don't move or feel the way they should is a very frustrating experience. You are constantly reminded that you are a bit broken.

    Not sure if any of this is useful but thought I would throw it in the anyway :)
  • Cheryl, it's ALL useful! Your info on the firing of muscles and your own story were very helpful.

    Ranger, you sound very much like my son who is an EMT, soon-to-be paramedic. His father (my husband) is his best friend but my son sees so many people in far-worse condition, he loses patience with my husband. He wants him to be out enjoying life, even with modifications. "Suck it up" are words my son has used...even though it sounds harsh.

    Thank you, everyone.
  • Your son should try to be a bit more understanding. Believe it or not being in physical pain 24 hours a day 7 days a week is not enjoyable.

    I have been in chronic pain since i was 17 and im nearly 20 now. Everytime i do something that is mildly enjoyable i am reminded quickly after that ill still have chronic pain...i havent really had an enjoyable day in a few years now. I dont whine much or talk about it but it really pisses me off when people say things like "tough it out". Its possible to "tough it out" for a few months, maybe a few years but knowing you'll always be in physical pain and will get worse is very difficult to deal with when theres no hope left to get better.

    Good on you for coming here though.
  • Hi Marais,

    I do symphatise with both of you. It's a tough one... I myself suffer from mild back pain and sciatica but just becasue it's been going on for a year now, I can tell you it is really depressing, especially for people with strong personalities. I don't know your husband or you so it is very hard for me to say much but if you feel you need a break... do it! I know you have been together for a very long time but before there was 'you and him' there was 'you' and 'him' and that will never change. I am sure your son will be able to help your husband while you are away and you are still the same person you were before you got married. It all of course depends on everyone's individual needs. My parents for example can't imagine spending even one day without each other but other people need more space and sometimes need a break. I am a bit like that and I only saw my last ex at weekends. We never lived together and very often I was just happy to sit with him in one room and each of us did different things. Maybe it is not just your husband's condition that is the problem. Maybe you just need a break and some time with yourself and for yourself. I hope everything goes well for both of you. Lots of love x
  • Ok I guess you all resolved this and don't need my help, Well done , lol

    Only thing I could of added is breaking up taking a break is always great, Make up sex is even beter so well worth it,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • 4life44life Posts: 36
    edited 04/13/2013 - 2:52 PM
    in sickness and in health. glad my wife has more sympathy
  • 4life, that hurts...but when I decided to post here I realized that I might get comments like that. Believe me, I spend plenty of time thinking that I'm an awful person and a failure as an understanding wife. I don't know what else to say.
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 04/14/2013 - 8:33 AM
    ...is that you are willing to be honest and express your frustration - frustration that comes from years of dealing with that. Some are silent about their frustration or that inconvenience is short term and there is a beginning, middle and an end to it.

    Just because it's 'in sickness and in health' doesn't mean that there aren't frustrating moments and feelings that go along with all of that. That's usually someone in denial and completely oblivious to the other person and what they are going through being the caretaker that makes a comment like that.
    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
  • 4life44life Posts: 36
    edited 04/15/2013 - 9:21 AM
    no its not comments of someone oblivious to the other peoples feelings that are involved in the situation. statements like "im ready to leave my husband" are unacceptable to some. I think anyone that undergoes surgery completely understands the stress' and strains it puts on the other person both mentally and physically but the thought of turning your back in your partners time of need is beyond me. lets hope neither of your parnters ever suffer with something more serious or longer lasting.
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 04/15/2013 - 10:55 AM
    ...I don't see anyone turning their back on anyone. It was a feeling expressed in a moment of what appeared to be complete exasperation. I didn't see anyone abandoning anyone, especially seeing that they have been married for 41 years! Holy moly. That's a testament to a putting up with a lot of "in sickness and in health".

    If it's the subject of the email that caused you to respond that way - I guess it required reading more. To suggest married people don't FEEL that way from time to time (and usually don't act on it) would be, well, silly.

    I hear married friends say it from time to time when they are exasperated, but fortunately know that they aren't throwing in the towel and that their level of support doesn't diminish. It is, however, very challenging to be with someone when they are giving up. So, someone expresses a feeling. Lordy.

    I see no one turning their back on anyone.
    I do see it being incredibly healthy to feel more autonomy if one is feeling stuck- without throwing in the towel, but cultivating their own strengths.

    What a ridiculous statement you once again make about "let's hope neither of your partners ever suffer with something more serious or longer lasting." You really don't get it, but thankfully none of that matters in the real world. I will go with the person who has been by her husband's side for 41 years and has a moment of frustration to someone who makes mean-spirit comments based on, well, absolutely nothing.

    Enough said on this, especially since you have no real information, especially about me! haha

    Enjoy your day.
    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
  • maybe instead of trying so hard to defend the post of someone else you should read the start of the post. like I said. a statement of "im ready to leave my husband" would suggest turning their back. so I guess if people post opening statements with headings like that they kind of open themselves up to comments from other users currently going through rehab. Im sure if your as intelligent as you like to make out then youll realise that you do not need to defend other users on this site. Im not surprised what side of the fence you fall on with the nature of your response. good luck to you and those in your life
  • ..mine are all well taken care of and supported well beyond what one would consider fair and reasonable, I suspect. :)

    And really, I usually don't defend others in this forum, except yours was such a sweeping condemnation that it warranted a response, because I usually expect people of intelligence to read and read more clearly. That is my mistake - and an assumption on my part, apparently. :)

    Thankfully, we both seem to be quite happy with those in our lives and they are happy with us. That's really all that matters, now isn't it? :)

    Good luck to you!
    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
  • MaraisMMarais Posts: 11
    edited 04/15/2013 - 1:55 PM
    OMG, the last thing I wanted to do was create discord on this board. Everyone who responded to my initial post has said something that has helped me...or made me take a good look at myself. 4life, I think you are correct - I chose the wrong title for my post. It should have been "Need to get away" or "At the end of my rope."

    My husband knows me so well after 41 years, knows that I love him...knows that when I am extremely stressed, I say things I don't really mean...and yes, I believe sometimes he needs to know that I am at that point. Please remember, my husband is not in a lot of pain, needs no pain meds - his problem is a weakness in one of his quad muscles that led to knee osteoarthritis. His doctor would not even sign for a handicapped parking permit. He has been told by his doctors to count his blessings and "go out and live your life." After a year and a half, that's what I want him to do.

    Please, please, know that posting here has really helped me and I wish every one of you well. Thank you!

  • HesterHHester Posts: 90
    edited 04/15/2013 - 2:21 PM
    is people get testy and there are those that take a few printed words as they are the sum of that person. I look at blog posts as what people feel on that day or that moment. Any post that is "negative" is in some way a cry for help. Otherwise, the person would not have bothered to post it. I totally saw your statement as a loving, caring partner who is at the end of their rope. I wish I could have told you to take a vacation. You do need it as does my husband more than likely. It is a shame we all cannot get a nice long break from pain, surgery and ill health or overworked caregivers.
    Age 55
    Herniated L4-5 1992
    DDD diagnosed
    Hysterectomy 2005
    Steven Johnsons Syndrome 2008-09
    Gastroparesis 2009-10
    Right ankle and toe reconstruction 2012
    ACDF C6-7 surgery March 2013
    Stroke? Cancer? MS? Who knows! in inferior cerebellum 2013
  • ...the difference between a frustrating moment and a real action. I suspect if you were really looking to leave your husband or were truly not supportive and "there" for him, you would have just left and certainly not come on here to talk about it. :)

    I didn't take anything that was said personally, and I was chuckling through most of the back and forth. I certainly wasn't spending energy being upset.

    I got what you meant by thoroughly reading your post. Glad you clarified/spelled out your intent. :)

    Keep up the drivers license test studying!! hahaha

    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
  • Marais, If I may add my two cents in, the simple fact that you came here looking for advice tells me that you are a caring person and love your husband. I think that if you didn't, you wouldn't have bothered to come here at all. I know this has been said, but some people seemed to stop reading after looking at your title, which is sad in of itself, but no matter. I'm glad you came here to express your feelings, keeping them inside will do no one any good. So please remember that we're here for you and feel free to vent for any reason. Take care.
  • I am 61 and my wife is 45 we were married 22 years ago, we have a 20 year old daughter, one year after we were married I hurt my back. Long story short 9 spinal surgeries, 10 spinal procedures and 2 cancer surgeries we are still happy and very much in love. It has not been easy on any of us and I thank God for my wife and our daughter every day. Depression is very common with chronic pain or when surgery has left us less than we were. I'm not sure about your reluctance to antidepressants, they can help, find the right one, even an aspirin can have side effects. Also make sure that you both communicate with each other it's not always easy, but the only way to resolve issues is to let your feelings be known and listen to one another.
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