I think my wife is faking her “chronic illness”, and more advice from dear caution

Dear Prudence is Slate’s advice column. Submit your questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Dear Prudence,

My wife (“Laura”) and I have been together for 10 years and have generally had a good relationship until the past two years. Laura is a hypochondriac. At first it was really minor and barely noticeable – she insisted that any cold she had was actually pneumonia or stomach aches were appendicitis. Over time she became convinced that she was suffering from an undiagnosed condition and after years of seeing doctors and getting tested, a doctor diagnosed her with a syndrome which consists mainly of a collection of symptoms with no other cause, no tests to confirm the diagnosis, and no treatment except lifestyle and diet changes. I had hoped that by getting a diagnosis, his hypochondria would calm down.

This is not the case and I am afraid it will get worse and turn into Munchausen syndrome. It came to my attention recently that Laura may have written in this column about an incident that happened a few weeks ago where she was throwing up and I didn’t want to take her to the hospital and I prevented an ambulance from coming to pick her up. In the letter, she changed some identifying information, but the other details corresponded to an incident that happened between us. My concern with the letter was its presentation of his diagnosis with medical terms derived from the CT scan and not the actual diagnosis the ER doctor gave him, as well as the deletion of key information, such as questionable chicken remains that she had eaten earlier that day. and the urinary tract infection she was diagnosed with earlier in the week and for which she was supposed to be taking antibiotics. She wrote that she had been diagnosed with “acute colitis, cystitis and kidney infection”, however, except for a hint of her UTI moving into her kidneys, the doctor told her that she probably had food poisoning (acute colitis) and needed stronger antibiotics. for her urinary tract infection due to slight inflammation of the bladder and kidneys (cystitis). He gave her new antibiotics for the UTI and when I went to throw the old ones away when we got home I noticed they were much fuller than they should be and I told him asked if she had taken them. She said she may have missed “a few doses”, but there were plenty of pills left.

I’m really afraid she’s trying to make herself sick. If she wrote the letter, then I’m also afraid that she’s trying to get validation and sympathy from the public and could continue to get worse. I’ve hinted before that it was all in his head and it didn’t go well, so I’m hesitant to ask him directly, but I have to do something. I don’t want her to get hurt and I want her to get the help she needs. Should I try to talk to her therapist about my fears? I know he can’t break doctor-patient confidentiality, but can family members share their concerns with them so they can investigate? Should I talk to my doctor about my fears? His family? Even before this incident, I knew that some sort of intervention had to take place as we have almost $10,000 in medical debt from his various tests and medical visits. His health is more important than money, but if it’s Munchausen and it can be fixed with therapy, then I’d rather that than continue to add to our debt.

— In love with a hypochondriac,

Dear lover,

Well, that complicates things… Sorry for telling him to leave you. I don’t know what a therapist or doctor will do with the information you provide, but it can’t hurt to share your concerns with them and a few family members you trust. I will add that whether she got sick or not, she was indeed sick and you should have helped her get to the hospital. If your suspicions are correct, I hope she can get help, but in the meantime, you should make it a priority to address her very real illness and suffering, despite your beliefs about its origins.

Dear Prudence,

My brother-in-law loves Hawaii and frequently talks to my husband and I about traveling there. Although Hawaii sounds amazing, we don’t like to travel with other people and have always strayed. Recently, my brother-in-law told me that he wanted to plan a week-long trip to Hawaii with just my husband as a Christmas present and that he would contact me to ask about dates. I know it won’t go well with my husband but I don’t know how to turn down the offer without hurting my brother-in-law’s feelings. Not only is this too extravagant a Christmas present, but my husband is easily annoyed by the brother-in-law and prefers to go on adventures alone. Why can’t he just buy my husband socks for Christmas? Or give him the space as a gift?

-Burnt

Dear burned,

It’s his brother ! Not a colleague or a neighbor. He should know better. But he doesn’t. Unfortunately, you have to spoil the surprise, tell your husband what’s planned, and come up with an answer together. Maybe he’ll say, “He’s my brother, I’ll do it just to make him happy.” Or maybe you’ll make up a white lie about how her chiropractor told her that air travel wouldn’t be a good idea for her back for the foreseeable future. Either way, you shouldn’t have to deal with this alone.

Dear Prudence,

I am very close to my sister’s children, who are now 7 years old. I am now pregnant myself and my sister is very happy for me too. We want to get the news to my niblings as best we can as she expects them to take it badly – they love babies but they’re used to getting a lot of my attention and energy (and that of my partner, whom they also adore). Already when I slowed down during my first trimester, they wondered why I didn’t play with them so much. Do you have any tips for letting them know that they are still important even when my partner’s and I’s attention and energy for them will be drastically reduced? I’ve read tips, but they’re all for parents to tell a child about a new sibling, and it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

—Aunt waiting

Dear Attendant,

I love how worried you are about the kids and how sensitive you are to their needs, though I wonder if you think about it a bit too much. For a 7 year old, 40 weeks is a lifetime. By the time you have the baby, they will barely remember what life was like before you got pregnant. I don’t think there needs to be a big announcement about a new relationship format. The answer to why you’re not playing with them as much right now is that you don’t feel good. And instead of “I’m having a baby and I’ll have less time for you”, I think your angle can be “Our family is going to have a new member and he or she will be your cousin!” with some discussion of how they might interact with the baby. Remember, they’re not just wasting some of your bandwidth, they’re gaining someone they’ll really like and have a lot of fun with. with.

Catch up on this week’s Prudie.

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