Second Weddings

MIL driving me nuts, need some advice

Ok, I've been putting up with this on my own for awhile, and I have finally decided that I need to ask for advice from those I know are much wiser than I. :)

As pretty much all of you know, DH has congenital heart disease, and overall he's been okay, but lately his pulmonary valve has been leaking more and more. It's an old valve from a human cadaver, and after almost 20 years it's not working as well as it did. So DH had a cardiac cath done last week to determine just how bad it is, and what our next move is. What we found out after the cath is that his valve is old and leaking, and he could probably use a replacement soon (in other words, we didn't learn anything new at all). But his cardiologist said it is not an emergency, in fact those were his exact words. He's mostly looking into this because DH has complained of a reduced quality of life (inability to work or exercise, feeling tired all the time, etc.)

Unfortunately, DH's mother and grandparents have gone off the deep end. Despite the fact that the cardiologist has specifically said this is not an emergency, they have decided that what the doctor REALLY means is DH is weeks away from dying. And they're acting completely ridiculous. They've decided that DH is going to be having an open heart surgery within a week or two, even though he's a patient at the most gigantic (and therefore busiest) hospital in this state. They keep telling me that when he has his surgery, that it's not important if I can be there or not, that I should just go back to work and leave him for however long, and "visit on weekends". Both DH and I consider that prospect to be beyond distasteful and not even an option, and so they've also resorted to lying to DH, trying to convince him that I'm hiding what the doctor really said because I'm afraid of doctors and surgeries. They even claimed that I made a huge scene in the hospital demanding that the doctor agree that the surgery could wait, which never happened.

Now that we're back home, they keep calling DH several times every day, freaking out about how he could apparently fall down and die at any second. On Wednesday his mother tried to call him while I was at work, and he didn't answer the phone (turns out that the phone cord was damaged and we didn't know it). She proceeded to freak out, start calling me and texting me while I was at work, demanding that I leave work and go check on him immediately to make sure he wasn't on the floor dead or dying. When I refused because I told her he was fine, she berated me for it. When I got home that night, he was sitting on the couch reading, perfectly fine.

DH even talked to his cardiologist himself because he was tired of being harassed by his family, and tired of seeing me so stressed out because of how crappy they've been treating me (what i've posted here is the tip of the iceberg, it would take pages for me to tell you everything). The doctor confirmed everything I said, that it's not an emergency, and at this point they're even considering more tests and other options instead of open heart surgery. He told his mom this today, and she STILL is adamant that no, the doctor said that DH is going to die within the next few weeks without a replacement valve, and treating him as though he's too stupid to understand what's going on with his body, and that I'm lying to him.

What I need, besides the opportunity to vent, is to ask some advice, especially from those who are parents. I understand that his family is extremely worried about him, and they've spent decades caring for his heart condition. But what I don't understand what they stand to gain by convincing DH that he's weeks away from death. I mean, I don't know about you, but if someone kept treating me like I was knocking on death's door, I would probably be pretty freakin' stressed out about it. And stress is the last thing DH needs. I also don't understand their refusal to listen to what anybody tells them, the fact that they keep treating me like crap, etc. DH is now married, and I am his wife who has vowed to care for him during sickness and in health, but they keep trying to snatch him back and treat him like a helpless child. Can any of you give me advice for how to make them chill the heck out?!
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Re: MIL driving me nuts, need some advice

  • edited December 2011
    So, I don't recall, but is this his first marriage?  Because if yes, transitioning to him having a wife as the second in command (after him) is challenging when they have had the role for his whole life.  All of a sudden, they are left out, and they are afraid. 

    If you are his second wife, you may be paying for the sins of his first.

    I know your DH is not well, but the most effective communication will come from him.  If you and he can come up with a list of thou shalt nots, and then sit together and share them with the key players in this drama, that can set the ground rules.  Only choose the most important ones, don't swet the small stuff.  But the other side of this is that if he is really ill or has surgery, you will NEED their help and support.  No one will do it better than they will, if you join forces and work together.  So if you can include them, that will make life so much better. If you can perhaps invite them to family conferences (with the doctor) about care planning, their fears about being left out will diminish, and they will be able to ask their own questions. 

    Finally, DH needs to complete an advanced directive, or update & re-confirm his choice of you.  That protects you from challenges from them.   Just because you are his wife doesn't always mean that you have complete control.  A legal document protects you. ~Donna
  • edited December 2011
    Ok, so more awake now, I have another thought.  This is sort of like a stage production (stay with me...)  Mamatiger was the star of the show for years.  Whenever MrTiger was sick, she took over the directing, producing and obviously the starring role in decision making and doctor speaking, and caregiving.  And MrT was too sick to do anything but just hand the reins over to her.  The evidence that she did pretty well is MrT's continued presence with us. 
    Enter stage left : fireytiger.  You are sort of like the young ingenue who joins the cast.  When you were just the gf, you had a supporting role.  And since things were going ok, MamaT could deal with that, because the show wasn't being produced on the big stage at that point. 

    Curtain time:  Now that MrT is not doing as well, its almost time for the curtain to go up.  But the problem is-- the diva is no longer the star.  The young ingenue has stepped into the starring role.  But the diva has never actually seen a rehearsal by the ingenue, and is quite worried as to whether or not she can actually handle the role.  The good news is that the diva really cares about the whole production, not just her own role.  The outcome is incredibly important to her.  So, if indeed the ingenue is going to be in the role, the diva wants to see her do well.  But if the ingenue gives her any opportunity or indication that she is not up to the role, the diva is ready willing and able to step back in, and in fact she would be so much more comfortable being the star, since she knows that her past performances have all resulted in good outcomes, and in her mind the ingenue is unproven. 

    Which leads to a solution-- as the ingenue, you can very much benefit from her coaching you and feeding you the lines.  She has been there/ done that and done it well in the past.  You talked about not getting sufficient time off to be able to do as much as you think MrT will need, so how about partnering with mom to work out what will work best for YOU, for MrT and give MamaT some stage time as well??  You are still the star of the show, but the diva gets reassurance that you are going to listen to her voice of experience, and use her as your understudy along the way.  I am sure she'd still rather be the star, but if she is not shoved aside, I think she may be somewhat appeased. 

    You get to remain the star, however.  If she suggests (or worse- demands) something from you that you cannot or will not deliver, you will have to remind her that you are the star of this show now, and that MrT trusts you to do the right thing.  But she is less likely to get anxious and excitd if you are listening to her and taking her voice of experience into consideration. 

    Part of her excitability is her anxiety that you will flop in this role, and the good news is that both of you want the same thing-- MrT to get healthy.  If one of you is powerful, the two of you combined are nearly invincible, as long as you are working together.  If too much of your energy is used to fight each other, it won't be there for MrT, which is just a bad idea,

    Good luck to you - break a leg!! ~Donna
  • Marrin713Marrin713
    1000 Comments Third Anniversary 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
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    edited December 2011
    Donna - your mind works in wonderous ways ;)

    I am trying to picture myself in your MiL's position.  I'd like to think I would be much calmer about it but can't say for sure.  When it comes to family members or friends I lose my "medical objectivity" and can overreact.  i think in your case the distance might be a factor.  There is geographical distance isn't there or did I remember incorrectly?

    And your MiL has been dealing with his condition all his life.  Doesn't mean she knows best, just that she's worried sick and has been ever since he was diagnosed.

    Cut her some slack but make sure MrT lets her know in no uncertain terms that she is not to disrespect you or the medical decisions that you and he make together.

    And as Donna already wrote - get all that medlegal stuff in order!
  • MikesAngieMikesAngie
    1000 Comments Third Anniversary Name Dropper 5 Love Its
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    edited December 2011
    Donna has some very good advice.  Team work will get you all through this easier than not.  

    I know it's tough to deal with when the other family members aren't truly hearing what the doctors are saying. They have scary memories of when HIS original valve was leaking and to them surgery NOW is way less scary than waiting, even though the doctor is saying he's not in a rush and wants more tests. This isn't their first round with this and they want him healthy again as soon as possible. A lot of what you are getting is them being scared and having knee jerk reactions. 

    Work toward common understanding that you all want the same outcome and you are working toward that goal with the doctors. 
  • edited December 2011
    I appreciate the advice thus far. See, this is why I should have come here sooner! :)

    Part of the problem is, to use Donna's example, is not that the young ingenue is demanding all the stardom and refusing to listen to the diva who's done all this before. The trouble is that the diva is no longer in the star role but is forcing her way into it anyway, trying to force the young ingenue out of the role and throwing a big ol' diva fit the way divas are prone to do. Another part of it is that the diva has MS, and so her brain is a bit on the addled side, and she doesn't see things the way they truly are most of the time. The whole time after DH had his cath, I took care of him completely, and his grandmother and mother did nothing but berate me the entire time for doing exactly what the doctors told me to do. And yet in their fantasy world, THEY were the ones who did all of the caring for him, I didn't do anything the whole time.

    This has been a problem for most of DH's life, including his adult life. They have constantly spent all their time and energy trying to sit on him and prevent him from doing ANYTHING, because they can't stop seeing him as more than a cripple. The only reason he's gotten as far as he has in life is because he's fought with them tooth and nail for everything he has, because they didn't think he could/should do it, and many of those things turned out to be the best thing he could have done. The cardiologist hates his mother, because up until he was in his mid 20's, she would come with him to the appointments and refuse to let either DH or the doctor speak at all. DH wasn't even permitted to tell the doctor how HE was feeling, or what HE thought about his health, because his mother would just butt in and talk over him. So now, she's no longer the one who goes to the appointments, or who the doctor will talk to, I am. And she doesn't like that at all.

    So I'm not sure what to do. It's not that i'm rejecting what they have to say, or refusing to work with them, but they are refusing to work with ME on this. I'm kinda at a loss, and I really want them to stop telling DH that he's on his deathbed and hounding him repeatedly every day, because it's stressing him out. He can't make the scheduling department squeeze him in any earlier, he can't make the doctors go faster, etc. but they seem to think it's his fault if he has to wait a week for something, or worse, they think it's MY fault. And I can't take it much more.
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  • edited December 2011
    So then you have 2 choices.  Shut them out completely (and MrT has to be the one to do it) or work with them. 

    Parents of children with chronic serious illnesses often infantalize their child, and it continues into adulthood.  In her mind, no one can take care of her sick baby any better than she (and the proof is that this child that she was told may not survive DID, under her special care).  Talking over the doctor is the adult version of covering her ears and saying "I can't hear you, lalalalalala!"

    So back to advice number one - DH tells her to back the eff off, that you are the person he wants fulfilling the role, that he trusts you and that you will be the star of the show, period.  She's terrified that (1) you'll screw up, since she believes she is the only person who can play the role or (2) you'll succeed and demonstrate that in fact, you are better at it than she is, making her superfluous and all washed up. 

    The doctor has the right idea.  He won't deal with her. You and MrT have the same option.  If you choose to include her in the process, then you need a plan to deal with her shenanigans.  That plan can be: "Mamatiger, I know you love MrT very much and are worried.  However, if you continue to do X,Y, Z, that is NOT in his best interest and negatively impacts his treatment plan by creating A,B,C reaction, you will not be permitted to [visit, speak with the physicians, speak with DH, etc] until he is stronger and feeling well."  And MrT needs to deliver that message.  

    Boundaries - she needs them!

    I think we all knew you weren't trying to bump the diva out of her role.  The director (MrT) just decided it was time for new blood in this production!  ~Donna
  • Sue-n-KevinSue-n-Kevin
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
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    edited December 2011

    I'm loving all the analogies here, LOL.

    My two cents: I think this is generational. His parents generation (probably like mine, but I'm probably the same age they are) treated serious illnesses like his (it is serious, just not critical). "Infantacize" is the perfect word from Donna above.


    My guess is they have nothing else to worry themselves about, so they are blowing everything out of proportion, to fit their "older medical opinions" of how serious everything is, and making it your fault for not allowing them to do so.


    I'd also go out on a limb and say he's probably an only child, but only because of their incessant worrying.


    I sort of disagree with keeping all the communication with the doctor between yourself and your hubby, however. In my experience with my own parents, and older family members, they are never aggressive enough in their questioning with physicians, and never know the answers because of that. Perhaps they are super-imposing that liability of their own on you, thinking you suffer from the same thing: trusting what doctors tell you, and never asking all the right questions. If you can, if the doctor is willing, maybe set up a conference call or visit for his Mom to get all her questions out of the way, and let her know that is IT. No more. No more questioning, no more doubting, no more imagining the worst, no more blaming, NO MORE. If you explain to the doctor how this is impacting your hubby's progress, stress, and peace of mind, the doctor may agree.


    I also find knowledge is VERY powerful. Find all the information on the internet you can (if you haven't already) and print it and present it to her. I've done this with my kids and my parents. Sometimes understanding a health situation goes a long way with in bringing peace of mind.


    Good luck.

  • edited December 2011
    Donna, you nailed the situation on the head. That seems to be exactly what's going on, I even ran it past DH and he agreed, this is how it's always been for him, with them infantizing him. He said that if it continues he will definitely be having a discussion with his mother especially, to back the eff off.

    Sue, DH is the oldest of 5 children, but because he was born with all these horrible heart problems, the doctors never thought he'd see age 1. Then they didn't think he'd ever see age 10, and then age 20. Now, his prognosis is actually really good. His cardiologist believes he could easily live to his mid-to-late 60s, possibly even longer, as long as he cares for his health.

    Now, DH's mother is a registered nurse, and she spent 20 long years taking care of DH's health condition because it was required. She actually is incredibly well versed in what his condition is, all the surgeries he's had, what all his medications do, what all the procedures are for, etc. The problem is basically what Donna said, is that she has convinced herself it's a life or death matter when the doctor, myself, AND DH are all telling her it's not. And she is doing the adult equivelent of putting her fingers in her ears and going "LALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU LALALALALA" when anyone tells her different.

    I do have a bit of an update for y'all, which I found incredibly entertaining. DH called his cardiologist's nurse to see about the MRI venogram they want done and to ask a few more questions. She repeated the fact that the doctor is not concerned that this is an emergency case, he'd like to see the valve replaced, and DH is indeed sick, but he's not even remotely close to dying. It turns out, that his cardiologist is SO unconcerned with DH's condition becoming an emergency, that he has now gone on vacation for the remainder of the month, lol. So DH told his grandma that and she seems to be calmed down. Now we just need to get his mother to stop being delusional. :)
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  • Marrin713Marrin713
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    edited December 2011
    His mother will probably track this doctor down on his vacation.
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: MIL driving me nuts, need some advice:
    His mother will probably track this doctor down on his vacation.
    Posted by Marrin713
    This is funny!

    I agree with the pp's.  Really, DH has to be the one stand up to them.  My xH had health problems and his family were fatalists about it.  His Mom had similar problems and was telling him all these worst-case scenarios about things that happened to her.  As it turned out, her procedures were done several years before his and the methods had changed.  I hope you and your DH can come to some kind of understanding with his family.

    Good luck with everything.
    Anniversary
  • edited December 2011
    Marrin, you gave me a really good laugh with that one! Mostly because I wouldn't put it past her to start calling his cardiologist while he's lounging on the beach or something, freaking out because DH sneezed a certain way and she was sure that it's a sign that he's going to die.

    My dad and best friend have given me a few good ones to laugh at too. My best friend suggested that whenever my MIL calls to "check on" DH and ask how he's feeling, he should tell her "well, I coughed up my pulmonary valve today by accident, and I had to try to swallow it three times before I was able to get it back down there." as calm and nonchalantly as though it's a completely normal and everyday occurence, lol. My dad told me I should call and ask them if I could borrow the money to open a million dollar life insurance policy on DH, and that i'm certain I could pay them back within a month or two. :P Not that I'd ever do any of this, but it is amusing to think about. :P
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  • handfast4mehandfast4me
    Seventh Anniversary 1000 Comments 5 Love Its
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    edited December 2011
    Ok, so as a former performer (and I've had both roles, ingenue and veteran performer) what needs to happen is the veteran performer needs to break her ankle falling down a flight of stairs so she can't perform,  and the "show must go on" with the ingenue.   Happens in every 40s musical there is.  :-)    Now, how to get the MIL near the stairs is your problem . . . 

    Only kidding.  Just use a stick like Tonya Harding's group did. 

    Really, only kidding again.  Good luck with this--you've gotten some great advice above. 
    image Don't mess with the old dogs; age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill! BS and brilliance only come with age and experience.
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: MIL driving me nuts, need some advice:
    Marrin, you gave me a really good laugh with that one! Mostly because I wouldn't put it past her to start calling his cardiologist while he's lounging on the beach or something, freaking out because DH sneezed a certain way and she was sure that it's a sign that he's going to die. My dad and best friend have given me a few good ones to laugh at too. My best friend suggested that whenever my MIL calls to "check on" DH and ask how he's feeling, he should tell her "well, I coughed up my pulmonary valve today by accident, and I had to try to swallow it three times before I was able to get it back down there." as calm and nonchalantly as though it's a completely normal and everyday occurence, lol. My dad told me I should call and ask them if I could borrow the money to open a million dollar life insurance policy on DH, and that i'm certain I could pay them back within a month or two. :P Not that I'd ever do any of this, but it is amusing to think about. :P
    Posted by fireytiger
    Oh God - wish I'd had these ideas 10 or so years ago!! LOL!
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