Sunday, December 21, 2008

What do you do when your partner is not taking care of his or her health?

What do you do when your partner is not taking care of his or her health...at least not in a way that is up to your standards?

If I have a new symptom -- an ear ache, a twisted ankle, a mysterious rash - I will at least call my health care team to describe what's going on and ask for advice. I do know a lot about my own body, and about basic care for basic conditions -- but even so, I will seek medical opinions and consider them as additional data to be factored into my decision about how to take care of myself.

Richard is different. He likes to wait to see if the symptom will go away by itself, or if it will shape itself into some pattern that he can describe. He will consult a doctor when he believes his situation is serious enough. But that moment comes way too late by my measure. Although, I do have to admit that he is pretty healthy, and there have only been a couple of times when his delay had potentially harmful consequences.

This is a real source of tension for us. We have not figured out how to resolve it. I certainly can't make him do it my way, but neither can I sit quietly and watch him injure himself though inaction (imho).

Have you had a similar struggle? How do you handle this situation?

3 comments:

The Angry Medic said...

Ooh, always a difficult problem - and one that never ceases to pop up in clinical practice. Believe me, it's difficult for the doctors too :P my usual solution is to find something very interesting on the floor/ceiling to study whilst the couple argues it out :)

Thanks for popping over to my blog! I'll be back here too soon.

Jeanne said...

Barbara,

This is a tough one. My husband's grandfather died of colon cancer. He has lots of cancer in his family. He went to his primary doctor this past summer (a rare thing for him to go to a doctor). She wants him to have a colonoscopy. He has yet to set it up. I worry about him. I don't want to be accused of being a "nag" but I don't want him sick or hurt either. It's very frustrating. I don't have a magic answer but I'd love to hear what others have to say. Maybe someone out there has a way of dealing with this. I'm afraid after 12 years together and 10 years of marriage, if I haven't found a way to inspire him to just go take care of medical things, he just won't. It is really hard for me to bite my tongue but I often do because if I make too big a deal about it, he'll just "rebel" by putting it off even longer or not ever going at all. Wish me luck!

Jeanne

Barbara K. said...

Thanks for your thoughts Angry Medic and Jeanne. This is a tough one. Good luck to all of us.