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How to help poorly DH

(11 Posts)
iloveewanthedreamsheep Tue 12-Apr-16 10:17:10

MN gurus... I am in need of some advice about my chronically ill DH. I'm really worried about him, and also because I need to talk to someone about this. This will be fairly long so apologies in advance. 

Bit of background so I don't 'drip feed'. DH and I are 34. One DC, 4 months old. I'm on maternity leave at the moment, planning to take a year off though I'm the bigger earner out of the two of us, as we've saved up for me to take time off. DH also has really 'good job' but quite a demanding role. 

For 5-6 years DH has suffered from RSI (repetitive strain injury) in his wrists/arms. This is not carpal tunnel syndrome (i.e. no surgical fix). His job has a lot of computer use. 

Since DS was born, his RSI has been a lot worse, which I attribute partly to him helping me a lot with DS in the early days and party to an un-ergonomic set up at work. He can barely eat or dress as he is in so much pain in his forearms and shoulders. He also has tendinitis in his hips and knees so can't get out for walks either. His quality of life sucks at the moment. 

He has been off work for 8 weeks so far, receiving physio and self managing his injuries, which he's thrown himself into with a lot of enthusiasm.  He has seen some improvement in the wrists, however yesterday after one day of using them slightly more (he played with our son for an hour to help me and cut some bread) he is completely incapacitated again. We are away on 'holiday' at my parents house at the moment (they aren't here - we thought a change of scene would be helpful).

His GP care has been variable - some really sympathetic, some not at all. 

For the last few days he has been really down (not surprising I'm sure you'll agree) but has been talking about how rubbish his life is and how he has no hope left. I'm concerned that he is really (clinically) depressed. He is starting to say that he doesn't think he'll ever get back to work, and that he is giving up on recovery/returning to work (this will mean some serious lifestyle changes for us eg moving house, which I don't care about but we still need to consider)

My questions are:
1. How can I best support him? I have encouraged him to see someone and he has agreed to see the GP next week, but I think he ought to see someone sooner. 
2. Does anyone have any experience with illness like this? 
3. Should I support his decision to 'give up hope' to return to work or am I enabling his depression if I do this? 
4. Any tips on how I can manage better (trying to do everything at home and look after baby and DH. Can't afford cleaner or to live off ready meals unfortunately!) at home? I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed!

Thanks for reading this epic post if you've got this far. Any advice gratefully received! I've NC as it's  about DH and I've been on here enough to have some RL crossover! He doesn't know I'm posting. 

pippistrelle Wed 13-Apr-16 08:34:57

What a difficult situation for all of you, OP.

It's no wonder he's feeling gloomy, but at 34, he shouldn't giving up hope of anything. First things first - the GP. Is he good about expressing what level of pain he is in and about how despondent he is feeling? Because, at the very least, his pain needs to be better managed. Could you accompany him to act as his advocate, if he's at all likely to be putting something of a brave face on it for the GP?

Longer term, you could point out that a return to work can usually be managed so that someone returns initially on short days. Also, a work place assessment can be carried out to make sure that his set-up is ergonomically sound for him.

I'm sorry I don't have more to offer. But I hope this will serve as a thread bump and people with direct experience will spot it and be able to advise.

iloveewanthedreamsheep Wed 13-Apr-16 19:09:50

Thanks so much for replying pippi - accompanying him to the GP is a great idea. I think I'm mostly struggling to be there for him as I'm SO sleep deprived. DS wakes every 1.5 hours during the night... But that's another thread entirely!

He is hoping for a phased return, but he's worried that his employer will fire him on the grounds of capability (he's only been with them just over a year). It's be so much less stressful if he knew his job was safe and could just take as long to recover as he needs...

GreenMarkerPen Wed 13-Apr-16 19:16:38

the tendonitis and long time he's been in pain makes me think of arthritis or similar. maybe your dh can mention this at the gp to get a referral to a rheumatologist.

iloveewanthedreamsheep Wed 13-Apr-16 19:19:10

He has got a referral, which the GP grudgingly arranged for him! He does have a family history of rheumatoid arthritis but his RF levels are normal. The appointment is in a couple of months, I guess our concern is that he won't have a job by then.

Corabell Wed 13-Apr-16 19:22:56

Can he be referred to occupational health in his workplace? They may be able to suggest reasonable adjustments to help him at work?

Has he ever had his vitamin d levels checked? I had horrendous wrist and hip pain and had my vitamin d checked by a rheumatologist. I was at the bottom of the normal range and my symptoms were alleviated when I started taking vitamin d supplements.

pinocchiosnose Wed 13-Apr-16 19:34:23

It reminds me of inflammatory arthritis . I have psoriatic arthritis which did take a while to diagnose . Is there any psoriasis in his family? I only ask as I have no skin psoriasis just sore joints.It's great that he's got a referral , good luck and I hope he gets sorted. Sounds miserable for you both thanks

iloveewanthedreamsheep Wed 13-Apr-16 19:41:45

Thanks for the replies everyone. He hasn't had his vitamin D levels checked. It would be so wonderful if he could take a supplement and feel improved!

There's no occ health department at his work, but assuming he is allowed to return on reduced hours they have talked about getting someone to assess his work station.

CMOTDibbler Wed 13-Apr-16 20:40:42

Theres lots that can be done to help, and changes to his computer workstation is going to be really important, but also there are lots of lifestyle/ home things that will help control his tendonitis.

I have chronic tendonitis in my good arm (the other is mostly non functional after an accident so I do everything with one arm), and I control it by being careful with the way I do things (never hit a ball, throw things, drag a suitcase behind me, no twisting/whisking movements, big grips on things, careful position of keyboard), using splints at night to rest it in a good position, and using acupuncture and physio as needed.

If he types a lot, he could try a speech recognition software package like Dragon.

To get it under control, steroid injections and antiinflammatories can help damp it all down.

If you can afford some private physio, it can make a huge difference, especially the acupuncture (I never believed in it, but its amazing for me).

The pain does drag you down, so really make sure he takes the pain relief he needs

iloveewanthedreamsheep Wed 13-Apr-16 21:31:09

Thanks CMOTDibbler. He is doing private physio and looking into dragon. I think the pain relief thing is really key... He's allergic to NSAIDs so can't take ibuprofen etc. Are there any other painkillers that work for you? The GP gave him low dose amitriptyline (sp?) but he doesn't like to take it as it makes him groggy.

CMOTDibbler Wed 13-Apr-16 22:00:32

Does he take the ami at night? It really will help him get a good nights sleep, and everything is more manageable after that.

Can he deal with topical ibuprofen? The gel is good, or movelat cream.

I have pain issues, so take various things including tramadol. TENS can help as well, and is worth a whirl.

If you are near W Sussex, then I saw the most amazing hand specialist there and his team of hand therapists who were able to make splints on the spot

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