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"Helpful" Family and Friends

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Old 04-26-2005, 04:14 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 7
fritosander HB User
"Helpful" Family and Friends

I'm struggling with the attitudes of some family members and some friends. Over the last six years, I've seen several doctors, chiros, pt, and a pm, and my sciatica was worse after seeing most of them. I've had two surgeries, lots of ESI's, electro-stimulation, nerve regenerating drugs, and deep-tissue massage. After my back started hurting, I continued to work, but it got to the point where I was working and then spending my evenings and weekends recovering from working. After awhile, I got to the point to where I couldn't work. I was on a cycle of working for a few months and then being on long-term disability for a few months. I was also heavily medicated and in a "drug-stupor" as my mother inlaw put it.

The best thing that I have found for my back is to not do the things that hurt it. I have found that I can work for up to four hours per day with some advil as long as there is no heavy lifting, bending, twisting, too much standing, and certain repetive motions (like folding clothes). I'm a chemical engineer, but because most of the jobs require that you are mentally focused or able to be on call 40 - 60 hours per week, I haven't been able to find a part-time job in my field. I've tried customer service, retail, technical support, and clerical. I moved eight months ago for my husbands job, and I haven't been able to find a job that I can do.

When I cut my hours to 20/week, my quality of life improved slowly, but in a big way. I can't do everything that someone without back pain can do, but I manage, and I can do so much more than I could do a few years ago. I test this 20 hours/week limit every once in awhile, and end up in a lot of pain.

How do you deal with "helpful" family members that seem to forget that you have an invisible injury, like my mom that wanted me to help her move (she already had several people and a moving company helping her), my sister that thinks if I just practice some breathing techniques and stop thinking about the pain that it will go away, my mom that thinks it's all in my head and that I should be able to return to work, a boss that tells me a few days after I returned from disability leave that her sister has migraines, but she still works, or a friend that thinks I should be able to control or overcome this with determination? I'm tired of explaining the complexities of my pain and why I can't do certain things. How do you deal with it?

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Old 04-26-2005, 04:42 AM   #2
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: PA. DeerCreek
Posts: 4,428
shawley HB User
Re: "Helpful" Family and Friends

That subject ticks me off. I understand where your comming from, All I here is suck it up, I work through pain to,,Lalala. It cant hurt that bad. I was injured at work, My Doctor said no lifting over 20lbs. I ask my eployer to give me a job I can do, ( and there is alot of jobs I can do ) But all they say is there's nothing we can offer. I was employed for 11 years with them ?? My work buddies think Im the one who wont come back, They dont realize how much money I am missing out on. I lose $150.00 a paycheck. When there was overtime I was there,,,Grrrrr..Workers Comp stinks. But yeah No one understands your pain, UNTIL it happens to them..

Old 04-26-2005, 07:28 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Alabama
Posts: 158
blossom64 HB User
Re: "Helpful" Family and Friends

Sit them all down in a room and get all your doctors reports out and make them read them! Then send them to this board and let them read a few posts!

Been where you are, oh there's nothing wrong with you, your're just lazy, ha! I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy!

Tell them straight out, I loved my life, my career, and now I am in agony 24/7. Make your mother go to the doctor with you next time, maybe then she will get a gist of what it's like.

I remember what my mother said....."get that surgery fast before you become hooked on drugs". I was mad, very mad. Surgery is not a cure all. I know how you feel, I have had people except those closest to me acting like I could do anything. I have a sister in-law who is jealous because I don't work? OMG, she has no idea! What I wouldn't give to have back my life, and not been hit by two drunks! Have a career, kids, resume the sports I once loved to do!

Failed Laminectomy L4-5 1992 (herniation)
Bulged again month later after surgery
T7-8 herniation, 2 car wrecks, both caused by drunk drivers. I have seen most of it and been through nearly as much.
23+ yrs chronic pain
360 Degree fusion 7 weeks ago

Old 04-26-2005, 08:20 AM   #4
Nervous Nellie
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 225
Nervous Nellie HB User
Re: "Helpful" Family and Friends

Hi Frito,

You are definitely not alone in your situation. I also have invisible damage and gave up a career I loved as well as my home because I could no longer tolerate the physical demands of either. I live in an apartment now, and am fortunate enough to have enough savings to get by for a period of time, but I am definitely worried about the future.

I'm a single mom with two teenage boys and while I could (and probably should) apply for a government disability pension, there's this stubborn part of me that does not want to admit that I am truly "disabled".

I've held a few temp jobs over the past year, but like you, when I do work, I wind up on the couch all weekend. It's not a fulfilling or pleasant life when that happens. My family (kids) and friends are aware of my limitations but don't always show it. They seem to forget sometimes that I can't sit in a car for 5 hours or go grocery shopping on my own or even scrub the bathtub. I could do those things but I'd wind up incapacitated for days.

I have nerve root damage. Long story, but I had similar damage over 10 years ago and it healed after THREE years. For those 3 years I was pretty useless, but when my nerves healed I was able to shovel snow! I became almost frantic in my quest to regain my former usefullness to society, so boy was I ever a whirlwind of activity.

Then I reinjured myself about 2 1/2 years ago (lifting my father in the hospital after his stroke) and I've been recovering ever since. It's basically because my previously healed nerves were a bit weaker and more prone to injury because of all the scar tissue and all my former symptoms flared up again.

I've become almost somewhat of a hermit, but I'm lucky in that I do have one good buddy (he's a guy) who lives down the hall from me and who himself was once incapacitated by extraordinary pain. I think that's the only reason he's so empathetic. I don't even try to explain my situation to my mother because she is of the mind that if you're not better within a few months, it must be in your head!

Well, I'm not sure how long you've been suffering but I do know that the tolerance of damaged nerves/tissues can take a VERY long time to heal. Progress can't be measured in days or weeks, but instead in increments of 6 months. I am slowly getting better, but like you, I know my pain limits and to push them would be totally unproductive and futile.

There is always hope. When I was "down for the count" the first time, after about 2 years I resigned myself to never getting better. Lo and behold, I surprised everyone, including myself when I finally DID get better.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.


Old 04-26-2005, 08:49 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 261
diva78 HB User
Re: "Helpful" Family and Friends

We are all here for you and sympathize with what you are going through. There isn't a thing that hasn't already been said to you that I feel. It's a never ending battle...especially if you are the type of person, like me, that takes care of everyone else first. Right now I have a boyfriend that has had surgery and about to have another surgery...constantly out of work and gets to stay home and I don't want to be bitter but I can't help but wonder when its going to be my turn to be taken care of! Then I start thinking how awful I am to say such a thing in my head and move right along to caring for him and making sure he's comfortable and that all of the bills get paid again this month. It's a never ending battle.I get tired of sucking it up...tired of being the target at work as the person who can't make it in most days...and when I do I'm drugged up and they all look at me like "why are you here"! If I wasn't here...I'd be fired! That's what I would like to say to them! (Sorry...I didn't mean to let my frustration out on your thread ) Just know that you are not alone....and we are here to support you in any way we can. We understand and we know what you are going through. The people closest to us sometimes are too caught up in their own things to realize the severity of our situations and we dont' want to look as though we are constantly complaining. It's a catch really is. I wish you much luck my friend...and if you need me...I'm on here quite a bit! Hugs and luv being sent your way from Texas!

Old 04-26-2005, 09:14 AM   #6
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: florida
Posts: 9
dclodfelter HB User
Re: "Helpful" Family and Friends

I see there are a lot of us in the same boat. I have been out of work since November and I only work part time. The working and ending up out of it for the weekend... I just try to get by one day at a time.. Keep waiting for a good day to try to get so stuff around the house done. I have two teenagers at home and tryin to keep up with them is enough when I feel good. I feel like people think I should try harder. If only I would put more effort into doing anything I could get it done. I wash dishes and have to rest. Here I go wha..wha..wha.. sorry.. it happens. I feel gulity I am not working. Frustration is common complaint. I want my life back. hang in there.

Old 04-26-2005, 03:33 PM   #7
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 7
fritosander HB User
Re: "Helpful" Family and Friends

Thank you all for sharing your experiences and struggles. You sure know how to lift a girl's heart. I was feeling pretty low this morning, and just hearing that others are going through the same thing--I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. Although my husband has lived through this whole thing with me, he's in the same boat--not knowing how to deal with the insensitivy of some friends and family. Thank you again.

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