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Thread: How to deal with denial

  1. #1

    Default How to deal with denial

    Yesterday while eating at a restaurant, my husband's right arm suddenly went numb. He described is as feeling like he had slept on it. My thoughts were immediately "this is a sign of a stroke". After about 5 minutes, he said it was gone, and he had feeling back in his arm. I calmly said I thought it would be a good idea for me to drive him to the hospital. He agreed, and we did. The emergency room nurse did some cursory testing to see if he had any signs, and he did not. The checked him in (he was not admitted, but they just wanted to evaluate him for admission). After doing a CAT scan and talking about things they determined that he had a TIA mini stroke, and told him they wanted to admit him to stay overnight and have a MRI some time during the night, and then talk to their team of stroke doctors in the morning. He was feeling fine, and told me he did not want to be admitted. After an hour or so of me basically begging him, and three ER doctors telling him he needed treatment, he decided not to accept the admittance, and told them he wanted to go home. They made him sign a waiver that he was refusing admittance and treatment, which he did, and then I drove us home. Now, the next day, he is just sitting here reading things online trying to find something that says what he did was the right thing. Of course he will find someone somewhere who will say whatever it is he wants them to. What I want him to do now is call his general practitioner and talk to her about all of this and see what she has to say. He says he thinks that "might" be a good idea, but he will do it when he is "ready". Clearly he is in denial. When I ask him what he wants to do, he says he wants to take some aspirin, and lose weight, eat better, etc. It's now 11 a.m. and he's still just sitting at the computer reading. According to his ABCD2 score his is a "5" and is around 6-12% chance of having another "event" within the next day or week. Maybe it will be months or even a year, but I believe from what I have been reading and from what the doctors said yesterday, that the risk is definitely there, and to take it seriously. His medical history is not good. Two years ago he underwent quintuple bypass surgery. At that time he was told his kidneys were not functioning well, and that renal surgery might be in his future as well. He is 64 years old. He is taking meds for high blood pressure, but refuses to take statins because of their side effects. He also is refusing to consider blood thinners, other than aspirin, because of their side effects. How do I deal with this? What can I do? I've thought about calling his doctor myself, but I know that would enrage him. He doesn't want me to "meddle" and he gets angry when I try to tell him we need to do the MRI as soon as possible and get him treatment as soon as possible.

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  3. #2
    Distinguished Community Member tic chick's Avatar
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    welcome to braintalk, zoe !

    i understand and empathize with your position. unfortunately, there's not much you can do with a spouse that refuses treatment. you can say, "i love you and i want to be your spouse, not your caretaker, but you have to love yourself enough to take care of yourself."

    a person can have many tia's and their brain function will gradually go down with each one. i know you want your hubby to get the mri to see if there is anything big looming in the horizon that perhaps he can take care of now to prevent serious harm or death later. his blood pressure must be high or hard to control if he is having renal problems. you can point out to your hubby all the problems he is skating around that will decrease his quality of life in the future, including dialysis, becoming incapacitated by a stroke or a heart attack.

    the "DASH" diet is something you might want to read about ( sometimes aspirin does work as well as blood thinners, but i don't know if the renal problems would prevent him from using that. he definitely has to talk to his doctor.

    maybe he is having depression issues? i just thought of that, because it seems like he doesn't want to take care of himself and live a healthy life.

    other than that, i don't know what else to say, except something that is really hard to do. you have to step back and let him be in charge of his life. i know you love him and it is hard. sometimes nagging makes people dig in their heels more and not do what they know they have to do. ask your hubby questions, does he have a will? where are his insurance papers? any passwords to accounts you should know about? tell him you need to know all this in case something happens to him. maybe this will make him think, maybe it will just pi** him off.

    take care of yourself. go out and do things with friends or by yourself.

    i hope your hubby realizes he is endangering himself. if he doesn't, at least you will know where everything important is.

    thank you for sharing,
    Last edited by tic chick; 03-30-2015 at 09:49 PM.
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  4. #3


    Thank you, Jennie. Yes, he is on high blood pressure meds, and it has been very hard to bring it under control. When he goes to the doctor or a hospital, it soars up to phenomenal heights, (white coat syndrome) but the doctors noticed yesterday that the longer he was there, the lower it got. When he left the hospital, it was at 148/ at least there is that! He did call his doctor, now, and she wants to see him on Wednesday. He has told me that he will be taking low dose (81) aspirin for now until he talks to his doctor. We were told about the differences between aspirin and Coumadin and the only time it matters to take the Coumadin, they said, was if he was having a-fib, and he is not. However, you mention that aspirin and renal disorder can be an issue? Could you elaborate on that so I can understand what aspirin does to the kidneys? Is it the bleeding? Not that it really makes a difference because he is going to do whatever he is going to do.

    Thank you for your thoughts for me. I will do those things you suggest - mostly I will need some important passwords. I have the list of his meds in my phone, and the dosages. Hopefully we (I??) will get some answers on Wednesday from the doctor as to how to go on.

    He was a little depressed today saying he feels "out of control", but it's not because he doesn't want to live. It's the opposite, actually. He takes his meds regularly and faithfully. He's just very stubborn, and does dig in his heels, but only because he wants to have understanding of what he is being told and what he feels is the right course of action to take. I am glad that he did do something, though.

    Thanks again for your help - it is greatly appreciated at this time. You're is what it is, and if it's time for him, then it's time, and there's nothing I can do about that.

  5. #4
    Distinguished Community Member Earth Mother 2 Angels's Avatar
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    ((((((Zoe)))))) ~

    Welcome to BrainTalk. I'm glad that you found us. Jeannie gave you wonderful advice (as she always does).

    You're doing the best things you can do for your husband right now by seeking counsel and suggestions in how to handle your husband's situation. Educating yourself about your husband's medications, including side effects, as well as about strokes and TIAs will help you to be better informed regarding his options and treatments.

    Here's the link to our Drug Info page (which appears at the top right hand corner of BrainTalk's pages):

    Check out all of your husband's medications, including aspirin. All medications have side effects, most are processed through the liver and kidneys, which are the organs commonly affected. Tylenol is very hard on the kidneys, for example.

    Google search strokes and TIAs for information gathering. At some point, your husband may welcome you as a partner in his decision-making, and the more information you have, the better you will both be able to decide the best course.

    Your husband has already been through quite a bit medically with his bypass surgery, and he may feel discouraged and depressed that he might have more to worry about. He might have fear that he will have a stroke that will debilitate him. He may be having difficulty processing the possibility that he is at risk for a stroke. He may be internalizing all of those feelings.

    Releasing those fears and that anxiety would be beneficial for your husband. Perhaps you can let him know that you understand why he's nervous, worried, afraid, whatever word best works. And reassure him that you're there for him, as his partner, to face with him whatever the future holds. Open up the lines of communication, so that he feels comfortable sharing with you his inner thoughts.

    Obviously, he realizes that he needs to pursue this, so it's wonderful that he's made an appointment to see his physician. He may just need a little time to adjust to this new glitch in his health, and learn ways to reduce his stress, lose weight, and reduce his risk.

    In my experience with heart patients (among family and friends), depression is common. I think that is based upon fear and anxiety, which is completely understandable. His denial may just be sheer frustration that he now has another thing to worry about.

    As Jeannie suggested, don't forget to take care of yourself. This is very stressful for you too. Be sure to rest, eat properly, and get some exercise. These are the best coping tools we have at our disposal.

    Please let us know how your husband's doctor appointment goes, his physician's recommendations, and how things are going for both of you.

    Love & Light,

    Mom to Jon, 49, and Michael, 32, who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003. Our Angel Jon received his wings April 2019. April 2020, Jim, the world's most wonderful Dad, joined them. Now, they all watch over me.

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  7. #5


    Thank you so much, Rose. It is so nice to have someone to talk to about this. All that you say is so true. He is depressed that he now has something else to deal with. Not just a minor thing, either. One thing that I overlooked through this recent event is that I am not recognizing the fear that he has and the memories of what it was like for him to go through not only the heart surgery, but remembering how he felt before he had his heart attacks. He had two minor heart attacks, which led him to take action. The fact that he has had a "minor" stroke is bringing all that back to him, and he is dumbstruck as to what to do.

    Today is his birthday. When I gave him my card, he told me that "here you are giving me a birthday card, and here I am thinking that I should tell you that you don't have to stay with me - I've already burdened you with enough" (I can't type those words without needing a hurts so much.) When he said that I told him that I would never leave, that I was here to be with him and to try to understand what is going on as best I can.

    He said he feels like he has 27 "arrows" coming at him, and he is having a hard time trying to figure out which one to shield himself from first. I suddenly realized that he wanted to talk so I suggested we go out for a drive. We talk well in the car for some reason...solve all the problems of the world as we are driving around looking at the countryside. One thing he said as we drove is that "maybe I should just let them do whatever they want with me and see what happens." That is a revelation of sorts, because he questions every drug he takes, and seriously. I told him I agreed with that, and it would make me feel better if he just let the professionals do what they think is best right now, and see what happens. I said what harm could it do. So right now he is pondering that.

    Anyway, yes, today we discussed all the ways we can change things. I am a good cook. I suggested that we get a lot of good vegetables and steam them, along with a little protein and just a smidgeon of carbs. I have all kinds of ideas about how to put these things together so that he likes them. And then I suggested that we both take our little dog for a 10 minute walk every day (weather permitting). Maybe even twice a day. He is motivated and liked these ideas. My intention is that once we start on this routine, he will start getting better, and like how he is feeling so much that it will become a natural thing, and not a chore.

    I'm babbling, now. But I am very grateful for your ideas and information. I see that you are right that he is internalizing things, and he doesn't want to worry me. I will try to assure him that it is more to his benefit that I am part of what he is going through, and not an outsider. I must say that when he was feeling the symptoms of the heart problems, he didn't tell me any of it. He called his brother to discuss it, and his brother told him what to do and when and where. I had no idea. One day he told me he was going to visit his brother and the next thing I knew, he was in the hospital where his brother lived and was going to have the quintuple bypass! I told him that can't happen here, and I am not afraid of facing this beside him. He is grateful, and I think he will be more open now.

    Thanks, Rose, and Jeannie too. I am more hopeful now than I thought I could be considering what's going on! I appreciate this so much, it is comforting and gives hope.

    Love and hugs from me. I'll keep posting once he sees his doctor.

    Thanks, thanks, thanks!!!

  8. #6


    PS, Rose, thanks for the drug info link...I'm reading it now.

  9. #7
    Distinguished Community Member Earth Mother 2 Angels's Avatar
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    ((((((Zoe)))))) ~

    Bless your heart and your husband's heart! This is excellent news (and so timely!) that you two have connected. Communication is so vital at our age (as seniors, when stuff starts happening to us), and re-committing to our vows to love each other through "better or worse," "sickness and health," is important.

    Your husband doesn't want to burden you. I've heard that a million times from my husband, who like your dear hubby, doesn't tell me the whole story, when he isn't feeling well. He thinks that by not telling me, I won't worry about him! Ha! Men! Like we can't tell when something is wrong with them, and we don't know that they're hiding something when they say they are fine. I try to convince my husband that I worry more about him, when he doesn't confide in me, because I KNOW that something is amiss.

    How wonderful that you two put a plan of action together today on your drive. Better diet, walking your dog, getting sunshine (Vitamin D) and it's good for your dog too! Excellent. A positive approach to this situation will boost both of you. You're being proactive instead of reactive. That's just great!

    And you were not babbling ... you were letting it out (we call it venting here at BrainTalk) which is healthy.

    Sometimes life's most difficult challenges carry a silver lining of bringing us closer to our loved ones. You've already proven that to be true.

    Healing prayers on their way ~

    Love & Light,


    Last edited by Earth Mother 2 Angels; 03-30-2015 at 07:56 PM.
    Mom to Jon, 49, and Michael, 32, who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003. Our Angel Jon received his wings April 2019. April 2020, Jim, the world's most wonderful Dad, joined them. Now, they all watch over me.

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