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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.
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  • 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: 13,587
    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 Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • 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.
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  • 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!
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