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Coping with spouses chronic pain

He is such a trooper!  I just don't know how he deals with the pain day in and day out.  His chronic back pain has been going on for 3 years. He has had back issues for at least 20 years, though. The doctors say there isn't anything they can do until it gets worse.  It seems to me that everyday it gets worse...or different as hubby would say.  He makes daily goals for himself and accomplishes them.  Some days, he goes too far and the pain is extra severe.  He has been getting up in the morning with pain and it really showed today on his face.  I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said, "If I can't fix it, then you can't either."  It's not that he is giving up.  He is coming to terms with the pain that will never go away, and there is no hope that it will in the future.  This just broke my heart! 

Medically, he has been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, bulging discs, spinal stenosis, facet joint issues, radiculapathy, retrolisthesis.   Mostly in his lower back, but now he is starting to have issues with this arms, too - numbness and tingling. Severe pain across the lower back, extends up the backstraps with bulging and tight muscles.  Sometimes he has difficulty lifting his arms.  Sometimes he has trouble holding onto items. Sometimes he has trouble moving his legs.  Sitting for too long hurts. Standing for too long hurts. Walking for too long hurts. Laying down in bed gives some relief, but in the morning he is in pain again. The pain meds take the edge off he says, but he'll only take one a day and not every day.  Anyways, that's a quick background of what he is dealing with besides having to give up his business, learning how to do things differently, having to ask for help with tasks and not being able to pick up the grandkids.  He did not have an accident or anything.  All of this has been coming on slowly but surely.  He has always done physical labor for work, and has always been the powerhouse of strength at home.  After 34 years of marriage, I've seen him accomplish so many amazing things.  I am still amazed at what he gets done with as much pain as he is in!

I just want to help him.  My heart breaks for him.  But he is a lion!  He wants to do things himself and not have to ask for help.  He doesn't want any pity. Finding that balance of helping him without making it seem like I am doing things FOR him is difficult.  Crying when I see him in pain and there is not one thing I can do to help him is so hard.  As a spouse that has never had to deal with chronic pain, I can only imagine what he is going through everyday.  I know that he has gotten depressed in the past and has worked through it.  I guess his comment today just hit me really hard.  I've always had hope that someday we would be able to find a way to get him some relief, to get rid of the pain.  His comment today let me know that his hope is gone.

Thanks for letting me vent.  I don't think that I need to see a professional.  This too shall pass. 

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Comments

  • BlueRose

    A lot of those symptoms and ways describe me, I have said many times that I think my wife has it harder than me, we have been married 35 years, she wants to help and I know that, the best thing she can do for me is listen, because that is about all she can do, she doesn't want me to mow the yard and plenty of other things, I tell her that please don't try to take the things away that I can still do, he knows that you care and that is the most important thing, so tell him you love him again and if he wants to talk about it, just listen.

    Take care

    Chip


  • Thanks Chip!  That's what I needed to hear!  He has told me similar things.  I try, and sometimes fail, to step back and not do things for him.  He has said that he will ask if he needs help, which is true, he has.  When he talks about it, I listen and usually just say "That s*cks!"  I used to say "I'm sorry!" but he asked me not to say that anymore because it eeks of pity.

    How long have you been dealing with chronic pain?

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  • I had my first back surgery over 30 years ago, I had a lot of good years in between, since 2014 it just won't stop, 2 lumbar fusions, 1 cervical fusion and 1 discetomy, my poor wife has had to go through it all with me, the complaining and fussing about it, knowing it's not fair and everything else, she never complains, she just ask what she can do, as I am sure you have, she has learned when I am having a good or bad day, and knows that the most important thing she can do is listen and support me, don't get me wrong when I start doing something I know I shouldn't be doing, she still knows how to fuss a little too.

    Chip

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,343

    BlueRose

    Thank you so much for such a caring and understanding discussion. Your husband is very lucky to have you by his side, at least you understand and you are not sympathetic. Can you imagine not being able to do your most favorite thing because of pain?

    I have been in chronic pain over 10 years with the last 6 being the worst. But if it were not for my husband I do not know where I would be. On a good day I will overdo something and then start moaning. But he lets me. He never tells me "I'm sorry", only what can I do to help. But I have had to learn to let go and let him do for me. But hope is always there with me. I have a morphine pain pump and even though I have a wheel chair, I try not to use it. 

    This forum has helped me also. My husband is a big supporter of my time on the forum, we both know how it has helped me over the years. We are here for you and your husband. I completely understand both sides.

    Take care of both of you, we are here if you need us. 



  • Chip...wow, 30 years!  He/we are doing what we can to avoid surgery altogether because we've heard, that once that starts, it could lead to more.  For now, he is dealing with the pain.  I cannot imagine dealing with it for 30 years though! I am glad you have a supportive wife.  That's my goal...to support him as best I can, and try not to make life harder for him.

    Memerainbolt...whew...a decade of pain.  That's tough!  On the good days, he overdoes it too.  Especially when the grandkids are around.  Those are good days, but he overdoes it because he doesn't want them to know he is in pain, and he wants them to enjoy their time at our house.  Those days, he allows me to do more for him so he can sit and spend time with the kids. Although he is in pain, it makes him so happy to have them around!  Do you find that after you've overdone it, it takes several days to recover?  I am finding that is the case with him.  Since we usually try to do stuff on the weekend, either around the house or with the grandkids, we try to leave Mondays and Tuesdays as "recovery" days - meaning, we don't plan anything for those days.

    Thank you for your posts.  It is so helpful to communicate with people that understand.  Sometimes it's even hard to explain to our sons about what it going on with him.  He is able to hide his pain so well that they don't realize how much pain he is in.

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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,343

    BlueRose

    I know the recover days all too well. When I know the kids are coming I try to take it easy for a couple of days before. That way I am able to spend some quality time with them. You have to find a balance between how much pain you are in and how much you can endure. That is my tolerance level. 

    But I don't hide my pain. How are they going to know what's wrong if you don't tell them? My great grand kids know my back hurts. They will give me gentle hugs and know they can't crawl all over me. My daughters and grown grand kids all know what I go through and how bad it is. I just don't dwell on it. 

    I consider myself lucky that my pain is somewhat controlled. I have a morphine pain pump. If I did not have that I would not be able to move. I also see a pain psychologist who brought me out of the depression, anger and guilt. A good thing he has me doing is be thankful every day for 3 things. Write them down and months later go back and read them. You will realize how blessed you are.

    Have a good day and take care.
    Talk to you again.

  • I imagine your husband and I are a lot alike, we know certain things are going to hurt, but we do them anyway, and we understand that it will take a few days to get over it but you have to figure out when to say no, that has been the hardest thing for me, and I imagine for him also. I was able to continue working until Jan. 2018, quitting work was the hardest thing I have ever done, it was also the best thing for my body, but I still miss it badly.

    My wife has been my biggest supporter, without her I couldn't make it through the day, most men are not very good at communicating that, I know I am not the best at it, but you can believe that your husband knows you care and support him, and he doesn't want to cause you pain just because he is in pain.

    Take care

    Chip

  • @BlueRose

      I've been both a caregiver and I have spine and chronic pain issues too. And at one point it was all at the same time.

       First off as a caregiver dont forget to take care of your own needs too..I know that's a very hard thing to do but its extremely important. Give yourself a day here and there for me time. Go out do something nice for yourself . Even if it's just having your hair done. I know I use to almost feel guilty ..but see what good will it be if over time your burn yourself out or resentment set in and yes it can happen without you really knowing it is.


       I know for the longest time even after my husband passed I almost felt guilty to even admit it was hard or that I have pain as I used to say to my kids how can I complain when your dad was so brave but see that wasnt good either and threw their help as well as a couple members on here helping me I'm starting to finally  let go..and admit yes it is hard dealing with chronic pain  and also handling all my husbands needs and no I dont need to feel guilty saying it..but see I have others here on the board that understand the chronic pain side...it would be really good for you and I'm saying this based on my experience if you could find a local support group for caregivers.  It will give you that safe hub were you can freely express your feeling with others that are going through the exact same thing..caregivers so often hide how all of it is affecting them too.

       So please take care of yourself too.

  • Thanks everyone for the encouragement!  He has been doing better the past few days, so that is good.  Then again, when he feels better, he starts to do more than he should!  Then it gets worse again.  I think that is today!  I hope he takes today off.

    I am still working a full-time job.  At times, I feel a bit guilty for feeling this way, but it is a good escape for me.  I understand your thoughts, boo9989, about feeling like I cannot complain when he is being so brave.  It is hard dealing with chronic pain, even as the spouse who isn't in pain.  This forum is helping a lot since I can come here during the day, when I am already away from him. If I didn't work full time (and I am also taking classes to earn my degree), then I would probably find a local support group.  I just don't want to take any more time away from home for now. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,343

    BlueRose

    My husband retired a year and a half ago to stay home to be with me. And I appreciate it and all he does so much. But sometimes I have to run him off.lol  I'll ask him if he has anything he and Joe (his blue tractor) need to do. I need my time too. Like you he doesn't complain and I tell him that isn't fair and makes me feel selfish. 
    Take the time you need for yourself. If he overdoes something then he has to pay for it.I do it all the time.

    Take care of both of you.

  • BlueRoseBBlueRose Posts: 11
    edited 08/01/2019 - 3:24 PM

    Memerainbolt, Thank you!  I think somedays he is thankful that I go to work! LOL!  I think that when I am home, he feels like we should accomplish something.  But when I go to work, he can take things a little slower.  Believe me, I would love to take things a little slower when I am home, too.  And I do not push him in any way.  He pushes himself - I think because he has always been the go-getter!  I know that he'll plan projects for us to do in the evenings or on the weekends because he knows that I will be there to help.  He knows that I can do a lot, but there are things I cannot.  I guess he has the mindset that his back will never get better - it's destined to get worse, so get accomplished those things now that cannot be done when it does get worse.  Does that make sense?

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