Monday, May 19, 2008

Sheila & Harry: A Story about an Under-Functioning/ Over-Functioning Couple

Over the past several years, Sheila, age 80, has been the designated patient. Her closest friends are her doctors whom she believes understand her best. In any given week, she may have two to four appointments. She takes a jumble of medications, some of which are not compatible with each other, and intermingling them can cause the symptoms they are intended to alleviate. As the months go by, she spends more and more time on the couch.

Lately, a new dynamic seems to be setting down roots. Her husband, Harry, age 82, has had several serious falls which resulted in hospitalizations followed by lengthy rehabilitation and physical therapy. Last week, he caused a car accident and is back in the hospital, soon to go to another rehab facility. He is miserable, in pain, and non-communicative.

The kicker is that Sheila, rather than sinking deeper into the folds of the couch, has risen. She is becoming the competent one who deals with paperwork and arrangements and information. She has even started swimming three times a week.

In short, the worse he gets, the stronger she becomes. From my work, I know this is not an uncommon pattern - the under-functioning/ over-functioning couple.

Have you seen this pattern in your family? How about in your own relationship?

No comments: