Should I Give My Husband a Pain Pill or an Academy Award?


Should I Give My Husband a Pain Pill or an Academy Award?

drop-of-water-597109_640How mean? Right?!

Yet daily I truly ponder this question. Back in June, my husband would literally tremble in pain due to a collapsed disc. A reasonable reaction. A procedure was done and he claims immediate relief. That lasted three days! "I over did it!" Again he is laying prone on the couch. He tries to walk. It's his hip. The same trembling. It takes my breath away to move! We finally meet with a orthopedic surgeon. I wait in the waiting room because I have my kids with me. He comes out, slumped and pitiful. "The doctor is amazed that I have such a high tolerance to pain."

"May I speak with the doctor?"

The doctor does say that his hip is pretty well eroded from arthritis, but also adds that he is in dire need of exercise.

I ask my husband simply, "What can we do to get you more exercise?"

"Don't start on me about that!" Then he refuses to talk to me. Claims I am unfeeling, vindictive. He doesn't talk to me for three days and does not hesitate to paint me to others as being uncaring to the point of convincing myself that my behavior is out of line and that I am a terrible caregiver.

So I press forward to get the hip replacement done. Initially they don't want to do it. He does have congestive heart failure and respiratory issues. Yet with my pressing the subject and his constant complaints we finally get the procedure done at the end of September. His daughter comes down from Kansas to help me. At first I am not too thrilled with this idea. We have had words in the past on how I take care of her dad. Ironically most of her knowledge of my caregiving comes from her dad as she is very seldom around. Anyway, we wait together in the hospital's family room.  She remains quiet while the pastor from my church counsels and consoles, and then we pray. When he leaves, she immediately turns to me and says, "Why do you stay with daddy?"

I am struck dumb by her question.

"Mom couldn't stand his constant bellyaching. He was always sick with something or claimed to be. Why do you put up with it?" My mind went back to the very beginning of our relationship. Gregg claimed he had colon cancer. As a trucker he would get treatment over the road; within the sixth month of our relationship he claimed to be cured. What can I say, I was 22 and rather gullible. Case in point, my husband revels in the drama of illness, real or imagined. With every illness he is on the phone, proclaiming his dire straits, many times exaggerating the condition. I have heard how he was shocked by his defibrulator 71 times at least threefold that amount, and he was in the hospital 13 times with pneumonia before they diagnosed him with congestive heart failure. It was three, actually. Why do I put up with it?

"Because I love the SOB." This was all I could say. We talked more, honestly and earnestly, for the first time in the 27 years we've known each other. We talked.  It turns out she was not as critically of me as I thought. In fact, she was sympathetic with my load and admires my dedication to taking care of the "cranky old fart." So, much to my husband's chagrin, his daughter became my ally. She comes back and stays for 11 days after his stay in rehab. He balks at every attempt I make at getting him to walk. Throwing things, having a tantrum. His daughter jumps in every time, this makes things better for awhile. I really hate to see her go.

For about a month things were good. We went for a few walks together, we would talk about going out on dates, to the theater, or the museum. And then, it stopped. He complained that the arthritis in the small of his back was bothering him. Then there was the bed sores that never quite healed. And now, we are back on the couch. He trembles in pain. Just like back in June, before his the vertrebroplasty, before the hip replacement, nothing has changed.

Resentment and doubt sink in. Many friends and even Gregg's brother asks the same question his daughter did, "Why do you put up with it?"

"Because I love him..." He is a Drama Queen despite the inaccuracy of the gender. He is a Career Caree, and he appears to enjoy the role. And so with the queen goes the pitiful martyr or so it seems.

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