The Difference an Involved Partner Can Make
This is another article aimed more at the individuals around those of us with chronic pain than the individual themselves. As somebody with chronic migraine, it is so easy for me to see the ways that my spouse could be supportive and helpful with my condition. As far as spouses go, I have seen enough in various support groups that I moderate to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that mine is by far better than the average spouse. Does this mean that I do not ever want to strangle him, absolutely not the case! That would most definitely be a lie, but I can guarantee that he probably would like to strangle me as well at various times, for we are just like any other married couple. Having a partner who is willing to hold onto those vows “of in sickness and health” and learn to become an advocate for their partner can make the biggest difference in the world of the individual with chronic migraine.
Attend doctor appointments
One thing that anybody can understand is the need to be validated. For some individuals living with chronic pain conditions such as chronic migraine, having somebody care enough to be willing to go to the doctor appointments (as many as reasonably possible) helps show them that this person believes in how the condition is affecting their life. For the most part, my husband attends most of my doctor appointments, at least the important appointments for my conditions not necessarily because of a cold.
Dealing with doctor appointment battles
Over the years of seeing some, let us say eccentric doctors, my husband has learned to advocate for me and my health. It may not always be pleasant for him, the doctor, or the doctor’s staff but at times can be extremely necessary. I pretty much have two modes my husband is faced with when doctors or their staff are slacking; my primary mode is I am completely pissed off and you need to listen to me vent and my secondary mode is I give up so you need to fix it. It took him a while to get there but he can basically determine which level I am on by himself and do or say whatever needs to in order to get things lined out. This has varied from me complaining about the Botox office inability to correctly file the Botox claim the first time, which is me just expressing my never ending frustration. On the other hand this has also included a doctor who refused to give up on nerve block injections that were not working after a year of the process and he had to finally tell her to come up with a plan B or we would find a new specialist. While it is important to be able to advocate for yourself, it is also beneficial to have somebody else that can advocate for you as well… sometimes doctors will pay more attention to somebody else that is not the patient when they are saying no this really is an issue.
Caregivers being there
I do not simply mean, sit next to them and say I am here for you honey, although sometimes this could be helpful. After doctor appointments, ask them what they thought about what the doctor had to say and how it made them feel. Inquire about any concerns they may or may not have regarding the new treatment plan. If a doctor is arguing against a treatment plan they feel may work, let the individual with chronic migraine vent it out to you. In some cases, you may be the only person they have who they can vent to about these things and they need to let out instead of holding it inside. Attempt to find ways to help them decompress after an upsetting appointment or painful procedure. My husband knows after a round of a Botox a very big Icee is definitely something I would enjoy. If they are simply frustrated and not overwhelmed by pain, maybe suggest that they try some yoga or mediation or something relaxing they enjoy.
The extra support goes a long way
Some of the suggestions may not seem as much or may seem logical, but would most likely make a world of difference to the individual in your life that is in chronic pain. Having somebody care enough to attend your doctor appointments with you, to help battle the doctor office with you, and then to be there with you afterwards to review everything that was presented during the appointment would make the person trying to live with chronic migraine feel like they mattered and that they were not some sort of extra burden on their significant other.
How is your partner as far as being supportive or not so much? Are there things you think you could/should explain to them to make them understand more/better?