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Very ill husband(11 Posts)
My husband has a degenerative form of chronic arthritis. The last year he has struggled to work - his work have been fantastic about it though. He has a demanding well paid job, long hours - but he is barely coping with it, days at home in bed, days struggling to make it in. We have three young kids under the age of 10. Also animals...a 5 bed house. Private school fees. My parents are overseas and his family are horrid. His mother is toxic. I'm the one he leans on and only me. Friends think he is a hero dealing with it silently and quietly, little do they know what happens at home. He's quite happy letting people think this. His friends and family are nowhere to be seen. I see a therapist to help me deal with it all, and deal with my anxiety.
He has wanted despite his illness to "have it all" but he has done this without looking after himself (and quite often me). He is supposed to do daily physio exercises but doesn't, ever. He is losing flexibility because he doesn't do this. He is supposed to swim but never does. He has made no changes in diet, or ever seen a nutritionist. He just takes massively powerful drugs to combat the illness and then pushes himself into work. He has lived with his head in the sand, hoping the illness will just sort itself out. Now he is looking at multiple joint replacements and is very ill. Who knows how he would be had he looked after himself as he was supposed to. I have nagged and nagged to no avail. Repeatedly said I don't care where we live, what standard of living we have but he is determined to be "successful" - at the cost of looking after himself.
I tried again to talk about this with him yesterday and was told I was "looking for a fight". Tried to press upon him the urgency of him looking at this lifestyle and told "you are angry about everything today". I'm at my wits end. I'm here looking after the big house top to bottom, animals, kids, worrying about him and finances, about what future I face - looking after everything that he wanted - and supporting him when he's in bed in agony. I'm not saying I don't like these things but I'd rather see him in a lower paid job looking after himself. Much rather. He's now saying quite often he'd love to be at home with the kids. Having been forced to be the one at home when he wanted to pursue the big career, I'm now getting vibes that he's feeling sorry for himself being the breadwinner - having made it abundantly clear years ago pre kids he wasn't going to compromise his career... Of course now my career is up the creek without a paddle...
I just don't know how to get him to stop self-destructing. I've forced him after 10 years of nagging to see a therapist but he barely goes... I'm out of ideas and facing looking after someone who is doing nothing to stop themselves becoming severely disabled.... This is now 15 years of nagging...
Well if it's been going on for 15 years, he's not going to change now is he?
Presumably all the medical professionals have told him how to manage his health and he is ignoring them.
I have never understood people who refuse to look after themselves, especially in relatively simple ways like exercise or diet. The person I know who is like this is a bit martyr-like and plods along suffering whilst not doing the basic things which would help. It is so frustrating to watch.
I don't know what to advise tbh. I don't think you can do anything to change him but you can't go on like you are.
Is it an option for him to give up work/retire early/take a period of sick leave? Would that alleviate some of the stress? Would he have more time and energy to devote to managing his illness?
Yes that's right i think. I'm currently thinking we should move asap to an area where he has a less pressurised job but one he still enjoys - as career is so important - with a short commute and shorter hours. That would give him time. With kids at school we'd soon settle in and make friends. If I go back to work too we'd not take so much of a hit financially.
Yes all advice says you can't change someone, you can only change yourself. So I guess I just need to "give up" and just focus on how I can manage/cope/be happy. And keep the family healthy and together.
How realistic is it for him go get a new job with his health and attendance record? You say he spends days in bed.
. I know how difficult it is living with someone in constant pain and on heavy painkilling drugs as my DP has various forms of arthritis. He had a hip replacement a couple of years ago (at 40). But he is very physically active due to his job and the speed of his recovery from that op was, all professionals who saw him agreed, due to the strength in his muscles (even though the year in which he had the op he hardly worked at all). Swimming would be great in my completely non medical opinion, not just for physical strength but the mental space that exercise can provide. but it must be so hard when you know this and can't, as you acknowledge, make someone change.
It sounds like you don't know anyone else with arthritis? that can be a great outlet or even motivation (I don't want to end up like them/ look what a difference xxx made for them).
sorry this isn't much in the way of advice, I just wanted to sympathise.
You need to stop trying to make him change and start focusing on change yourself.
What needs to give? Is it time wise (can you get a cleaner? Re-home the animals? Please don't shoot me mumsnet but IMO adults' mental health is more important than animals)
Do you need to get back to work?
Do you need to downsize the house?
Do the kids do too many out of school activities that you ferry them to?
Do you need to consider leaving him and setting up a smaller and more manageable home with the kids by yourself?
I do agree with Obsidian, you are now very well aware of the problems that you face and have faced for several years but now is the time to make some changes to your lives if you genuinely want change to happen.
I do think DH will find it hard to get another job with his current health problems therefore you may have to take that option out of the equation.
Could the older children do some chores around the house or start doing some of the caring for the animals? Could you take up swimming or some form of exercise (good stress buster) then start getting the children roped into it and then you can all start to encourage DH/DF to join in. Nagging (I hate that word) never, ever works IMHO. People just become resentful and never listen. If however, he saw you all having fun exercising he may be much more inclined to join in.
Maybe you could get a part time job, something not too stressful but would give you a little income.
The way things are now are not working too well so it's time for a few changes. DH has made it very clear that at the moment he is not going to do the things that could make his life easier so start making small changes that could make life easier for yourself. Perhaps once the current mindset gets broken then things could slowly change for the better.
He has a toxic family, is hugely driven to achieve material success, and fails to self-care? You have probably got someone here who at the bottom of their soul has little to no self-esteem and doesn't believe they deserve to get better. He has decided that material wealth and possessions are an "indicator" that he is a worthy and successful person, and has now discovered that to be hollow.
You may have to threaten to leave before he gets his head out of his arse. You may have to actually leave, for your own sake and the DCs. I can't imagine they spend much time with him if he is constantly in pain and/or in bed when he's not working?
Well I'm sort of on the one hand pretty happy - in myself. I love the kids/animals/ got really good friends etc - got my own issues but working on them. I'm just angry with him. Yes pocketsaviour I think you are right. Low self esteem.
As for a job - he's having a massive flare up of inflammation this year mainly now due to not being able to access the right drugs. When he does finally get them - NHS dragging feet - he won't be bed bound and won't have this attendance record. So the move is an idea for further down the line. When he's on the right meds and stable, which he should be.
Yes I am getting to the point where it is unbearable. You say what you feel and want and it's just ignored. Serious serious things. Years.
I'm struggling to see how this is going to get any better.
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