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Wedding Woes

Your husband's recovery is the point at this moment.

Dear Prudence,

My husband recently suffered a stress-induced stroke that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. He is currently in a rehabilitation hospital for several months of recovery. One of the issues that he says triggered the situation was a visit from his family a few weeks earlier. My husband has always had a rather unhealthy relationship with his parents. His mother is incredibly needy and demanding. Several times he’s had to cut off communication with her. During my husband’s recovery, I have asked his mother to not contact him directly. I set up a website where I update on his condition and she (and others) can comment and post sympathy or well wishes. But yesterday she violated the agreement and called my husband on his hospital room phone. During this conversation, my husband told her that he did want to see/hear from her and it was absolutely untrue he had said otherwise. I understand his brain is not working properly right now and he likely said what she wanted to hear, but I feel incredibly betrayed.

Now I question whether or not I’m doing the right thing by requesting she give him space while he heals. I feel disrespected by her disregard for the boundaries I have set, and I am concerned about the negative impact she will have on his recovery. Every day matters in his rehabilitation, and he tends to lose focus and be difficult with his therapists after he speaks to her or she visits. Is it appropriate for me to have his room phone cut off so she cannot call? Am I supposed to go along with what my husband says to her in the moment or stick with the original plan? And if she doesn’t respect the boundaries I have put in place, do I have a right to cut her off from his recovery entirely and stop engaging with the website where I post updates? Am I making this decision out of spite? Because I’ll be honest, I’m pissed. Her behavior has a serious negative impact on my mental health as well. I just can’t figure out which way is up anymore.

—Pushy Mother After Stroke

Re: Your husband's recovery is the point at this moment.

  • Poor LW!  There is no question she should do whatever she needs to, to protect her H from his mother.  Yes, cut off his room phone.  I'd also speak to the hospital about what visitors are allowed and which ones are not.  Just to make sure there aren't any "surprise" visits.

    However, I think it's better to keep up the updates on the website.  I could see it exacerbating the situation and possibly have more people calling her or trying to get in touch with her H to find out what is going on.

    He's vulnerable right now and she said herself that he doesn't necessarily know what he is saying.  The fact that she saw an obvious decline in his recovery after the phone call is enough reason right there to cut-off contact for the time being.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    OliveOilsMom
  • So with brain injuries, it can affect memory {short and/or long term} It's possible he forgot of the situation and she took advantage of it.
    I know with my dad, if it was something very important my mum would have him write/sign a piece of paper with the date since his memory was hit or miss.

    The MIL definitely is taking advantage and idk if LW can, but LW should try to talk to the hospital directly - or have therapist do it - stating that only certain people can call and speak to LW's husband.
    I know when my dad was in the hospital, my mum and I were only ones automatically accepted but my mum had to tell the hospital that his mother was allowed to see him on a constant basis.
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Damn. That's a rough situation. I think if her husband expressed to her that his mother's visit caused this stroke, I'd have to do all I can to keep her away while he recovers. Cut off the room phone, ask the hospital not to allow her to visit. He can choose to repair his relationship with his mother after he's out of rehab. But until then, I'd try to keep her away. 

    CasadenaOliveOilsMom
  • What do your husbands doctors say? Do they notice the change in your husband’s behavior/mood after he speaks with her, and if so what do they recommend? 

    This is an extremely difficult situation and you are entitled to all the emotions (angry, frustrated, stressed, exhausted) but your husband likely doesn’t remember everything that is happening and his feelings may change quickly. 

    But also it’s possible the husband initially blamed his mother and has changed his mind? It’s hard to know exactly what he wants given the injury. I’d work with the doctors to see what is best for his recovery. 
    cupcait927mrsconn23
  • cupcait927cupcait927 Western NY wine country member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    What do your husbands doctors say? Do they notice the change in your husband’s behavior/mood after he speaks with her, and if so what do they recommend? 

    This is an extremely difficult situation and you are entitled to all the emotions (angry, frustrated, stressed, exhausted) but your husband likely doesn’t remember everything that is happening and his feelings may change quickly. 

    But also it’s possible the husband initially blamed his mother and has changed his mind? It’s hard to know exactly what he wants given the injury. I’d work with the doctors to see what is best for his recovery. 
    I agree with this response. I'd also ask the hospital if they have social workers that LW could speak with that could help her navigate this situation, if her husband truly doesn't remember that he asked to not have family members visit during his recovery.
    Ro041short+sassycharlotte989875
  • If her H is actively making decisions in his recovery, then there's not much LW can do about who comes around/contacts him.  Also if talking to his mom hasn't hurt his recovery, then LW needs to back off.  While she has her own issues with his mom and his relationship with his mom (which is mostly a husband problem if he didn't manage it well), it's her H that has suffered the medical event.  

    Also, strokes aren't caused by stress.  It can be exacerbated by it, but the actual cause is not stress.  

    LW needs put her feelings aside for the moment, because she does sound spiteful and that she's putting words in her H's mouth/head.  A better way to deal with her MIL would be to try and manage the situation by setting up 'visiting' hours.  If her H is in a hospital/rehab setting, there people around that can help him.  If his mom wants to call/visit and he wants her to, then it should be allowed.  LW could say, "Hey, keeping things on a routine helps him.  So on these days, at this time, it's best to call or visit."  Then LW can choose whether or not she's around during those times.  Her H is STILL her MIL's child. 
    STARMOON44
  • Ro041Ro041 member
    Seventh Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I agree that LW should be discussing these issues with her H's care team.  I would be hesitant to be the one to cut mom off when H has expressed a desire to see her and hear from her.  Now, if the care team makes that call, that is different.  I think @mrsconn23 has a great idea - I would set up visiting hours and be there to monitor/diffuse any situations that might cause H unrest.  

    MNNEBridemrsconn23
  • STARMOON44STARMOON44 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited August 22
    Oh my god no you are not entitled to cut your husbands family out without his consent and contrary to his express wishes. He is in recovery yes, but he’s still entitled to control his care to the extent he is able. Respect for a patients autonomy is a pretty basic standard. Absolutely talk to him and his care team about it but no you can and should not isolate him against his wishes. 
    short+sassymrsconn23ei34MesmrEwe
  • Oh my god no you are not entitled to cut your husbands family out without his consent and contrary to his express wishes. He is in recovery yes, but he’s still entitled to control his care to the extent he is able. Respect for a patients autonomy is a pretty basic standard. Absolutely talk to him and his care team about it but no you can and should not isolate him against his wishes. 
    This is pretty much where I am too.  In the first part, she says that SHE requested no contact with MIL but did not mention that her H had asked her to do so.  Yes he is a memory patient, but to the extent that he is participating in his own care, she shouldn't have the power to restrict access to him.  Especially without discussing with him and his doctors.  

    Seems like she just doesn't like MIL and wants her to butt out (which I totally get) but she doesn't get to unilaterally make that decision.
    mrsconn23ei34
  • Oh my god no you are not entitled to cut your husbands family out without his consent and contrary to his express wishes. He is in recovery yes, but he’s still entitled to control his care to the extent he is able. Respect for a patients autonomy is a pretty basic standard. Absolutely talk to him and his care team about it but no you can and should not isolate him against his wishes. 
    I definitely agree with this.  I just interpreted the letter differently.  That when he was of "sound mind", that was their plan.  But that now he isn't of "sound mind".  She also might be his medical proxy and has been given that authority by him, to do what she thinks is best.  I'll also temper my response that she should also be taking cues from the care team about the extent to which he is able to make decisions.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Oh my god no you are not entitled to cut your husbands family out without his consent and contrary to his express wishes. He is in recovery yes, but he’s still entitled to control his care to the extent he is able. Respect for a patients autonomy is a pretty basic standard. Absolutely talk to him and his care team about it but no you can and should not isolate him against his wishes. 
    I definitely agree with this.  I just interpreted the letter differently.  That when he was of "sound mind", that was their plan.  But that now he isn't of "sound mind".  She also might be his medical proxy and has been given that authority by him, to do what she thinks is best.  I'll also temper my response that she should also be taking cues from the care team about the extent to which he is able to make decisions.
    I get that they had a 'plan' when he was well, but I feel like her cutting him off from his mom when he's currently receptive to it is borrowing trouble.  If stimulation from visits with people who know him helps his recovery, LW should be all for it regardless of her feelings about MIL's past behavior.  I think since MIL has gotten through to him and he wants her around, then it should happen.  It doesn't sound like MIL was abusive, just annoying/needy/demanding.  I would hope that she's not doing that now, but that's why LW should coordinate with his care team. 

    LW sounds very much like she's bordering on martyring herself in this situation.  SHE'S doing all.the.things, SHE'S keeping everyone updated via this website, SHE'S being the gate-keeper on her H's contacts with the outside world. But from everything I've heard about TBI, if there's no anger or confusion, being around people from your life is huge when it comes to recovery and reclaiming memory loss. 
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited August 22
    I think when you're dealing with someone with a TBI, you can't trust their judgment all the time. So while he's talking to his mother, and saying it's OK, how can you trust that? Especially if she sees he's agitated after interacting with her. And he's expressed HE feels she caused his stroke. 

    ETA: I think she should err on the side of caution. It won't harm him to have her cut off while he heals. 

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