I need some serious and honest advice please, regarding fibromyalgia and methadone

  1. My sister has been telling us for about 4 years that she has fibromyalgia. She does not work or go to school. She is 27 years old. She is on a variety of meds....from valium to methadone to paxil to regular tylenol/advil and others that I dont even know about.
    We (as a family) have come to the conclusion that she is hiding something from us. She will not let anyone attend a doctors appointment with her, and makes up excuses as to why. I've offered her several options to help control her pain (massage, accupuncture, exercise etc...) and she flat out refuses it all claiming that it doesnt help, yet every page of research i've read says that it will.

    We have feared in the past that she was on drugs and addicted to various ones, but nobody could ever really prove it. We are all in agreement that she is very much addicted to the methadone and we don't know how to help her. We are aware that fibromyalgia does exist, but we are unsure if this is really what she has, or if this is all just an act. (please note that it is in her history to make things up to be the focus of everyones attention).

    Anyway, the final straw came about an hour ago when she called and asked if I could "offer up my husband" as she is incredibly lonely. Yes. She asked if I could send over my husband to pleasure her. What the heck?? I dont know if she was serious or just high!

    Please. Can someone, anyone help me here? My sister is very important to me, but I just dont know how to help someone who does not want help. Are we all being a bad family in thinking this is all an act? Or are we actually being smart in thinking this? I have been in tears for the last hour because of her phonecall and I cant keep doing this. I just dont know what to do.
    For anyone who thinks this post is a joke, please, I swear on my life that this is not a joke and I am honestly looking for some advice. I've made an appointment to see my doctor regarding this, but in the mean time...any thoughts would be appreciated.

    thank you.
    Marina
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   Tweety
    Your love for your sister and pain at her suffering is palpable.

    The problem unfortunately is that your sister is an adult capable of making her own decisions.

    I would step back and not get too immeshed. Your sister is having a lot of power over your feelings. Step back and give her space to live her life as she chooses to, as self-destructive as it might be. Let her know you're there for her if she ever needs you.

    It hurts when loved ones are in pain and making poor decisions with their life and health, but we have to accept our own powerlessness.

    If my sister ever asked to "borrow" my husband for pleasure that would be the end of the relationship then and there. I would be so blindly furious. If she was under the influence I might let it go, but some very firm limit setting would begin.

    Good luck.
    Last edit by Tweety on Sep 25, '06
  4. by   clee1
    Oh boy.....

    1) I feel your pain. Sounds like a classic case of Chemical Dependency to me: the information hiding, the overuse of anagesics, etc.

    2) The request of the "use" of your sister's husband is NOT the product of a rational mind.

    3) Has the family considered an Intervention? You know, where two or three of you sign a statement w/ the coroner that states you believe she is a danger to herself or others and needs a Chemical Dependence eval?

    Fibromyalgia IS a real medical problem, but a lifetime of methadone abuse is not the ultimate answer.

    Unfortunately, she is an adult and your options for "forcing" appropriate help is limited to the Intervention process I mentioned earlier.

    Best wishes to you.
  5. by   buddiage
    Uhhh, it's hard to say if your sister was joking or not, you know her, we don't.

    Nobody can make her do anything she doesn't want to. She may suffer from depression or something.... and as far as methadone goes, I don't know that it makes you say gutsy/inapropriate things. I've never heard of that.

    Just like tweety said, I'd step back. It is understandably difficult to take yourself out of the problem with your sister, because you care. But for your own sanity, let her do her thing. You won't get anywhere with her, and she may not want you to go to the doctor with her so she can filter out information she gives to you to tell you what she wants you to hear.

    If she were MY sister, I'd tell her that she had better not insinuiate anything like that again- not ever.

    If she does not want to listen, there is not anything you can do. I'm sure her doctor has told her about exersise already. Let her go, and see if she comes back to you for help. Then, tell her you've already tried to support her, but she doesn't want it.

    It's not up to you to be the martyr. It's entirely her choice.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    "The problem unfortunately is that your sister is an adult capable of making her own decisions.

    I would step back and not get too immeshed.

    It hurts when loved ones are in pain and making poor decisions with their life and health, but we have to accept our own powerlessness.

    If my sister ever asked to "borrow" my husband for pleasure that would be the end of the relationship then and there. I would be so blindly furious. If she was under the influence I might let it go, but some very firm limit setting would begin.

    Good luck."
  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Your sister does not need a man, she needs a qualified mental health professional. And I say that in all good earnest and caring intentions here. Urge her to get mental health counseling if at all possible. My heart goes out to you; you seem to care so much and this must be horrible for you to witness. That is my best and only advice. Good luck to you both.
  7. by   FutureNurse2005
    thanks for all of your replies. This is so difficult for me, mostly because I'm the one being asked to "fix" her. My entire family thinks that I can help her just because I am going to be a nurse. Not to mention I want so desperately to be able to help her. I've tried everything that I know how to, but I dont know nearly enough to even crack her! I can understand why you would tell me to step back, but I am so terrified to do that. I lost my youngest sister to suicide this summer and I would never forgive myself if that happened in this case.

    I have tried to have her meet with mental health professionals, but her excuse is she is on the drugs because of her pain and no other reason. She just doesnt believe there is a problem.

    In regards to an intervention...how would we do that?

    Thanks again for all of the advice. I am going to reread it all again later.
  8. by   santhony44
    Quote from FutureNurse2005
    I can understand why you would tell me to step back, but I am so terrified to do that. I lost my youngest sister to suicide this summer and I would never forgive myself if that happened in this case.

    I have tried to have her meet with mental health professionals, but her excuse is she is on the drugs because of her pain and no other reason. She just doesnt believe there is a problem.
    You are not responsible for your sister!! She is making her own choices here. If she harms herself, it is not your fault! You cannot "fix" her and you can't help her at all if she's not willing.

    As another poster said, asking to "borrow" your husband is not rational and is strong evidence that she needs mental health help. That's outside the drug issues and fibromyalgia issues. If you haven't already, share that request with your other family members. Maybe that is what they need to convince them that she needs way more help than you can give.

    Don't take ownership of her problems and her choices. Don't feel guilty/responsible for her. It almost sounds as if she's trying to make you feel guilty because you have a husband and she doesn't. Don't accept that, either. It's not your choices that have put her where she is.

    Good luck!
  9. by   tubasa924
    Sounds like a very difficult time for you. Apart of the truth is you cannot help her. You just can't; even if she wants help she has to do herself and you still cannot help her. Maybe an Al-Anon meeting would be helpful for you. You can look on google for the meeting nearest to you. You have to take care of yourself above all else.
  10. by   DaFreak71
    I am so sorry for the loss of your little sister. I wonder if that loss is making you feel even more responsible for your other sister.

    Your sister does need help, but I don't think that anyone outside of a professional is able to give her the help she needs right now. Continue to offer her support, but please don't allow her to take over your life. Ultimately, it is her life and she is in charge of allowing herself to get better or get worse. It's hard to sit back and "let someone" ruin their life, but that is the beauty of life...it's ours to do with what we want.

    Please take care of yourself during all of this. I am sure your stress level is incredibly high. Your sister might also be experiencing more symptoms of her fibromyalgia or issues with chemical dependency due to the grief of losing her sister. I would chalk up the request to "borrow your husband" as a dysfunctional grieving reaction unless it continues.

    Best wishes,
    Adri
  11. by   TazziRN
    An intervention is done with the whole family, everyone has to be in agreement. Basically you come up with a plan of care for her away from her presence, then meet with her. The family members present confront her with how her actions have affected them, then you lay out the plan: either she goes into treatment or she will no longer be welcome in your homes or to call you. Then you have to follow through, and that's the hardest part. If she refused treatment, you HAVE to follow through or she will have won the game and you will never get her to get help.

    I understand your fears about losing this sister after what happened to your other one, but you need to realize that whatever happened to your first sister or whatever may happen to this one is not your fault or responsibility!!! People who attempt suicide to get back at someone are the ones screaming for attention. The ones who succeed are usually the ones who were hurting so bad that this was the only way they could see out of the pain.
  12. by   BabyRN2Be
    FutureNurse,

    I definitely feel for you. I can understand wanting to "fix" her because you have that "nursing spirit", but as others have said, she is not your problem. This does not mean to stop caring for her. Caring may mean something not so pleasant as an intervention.

    As far as planning an intervention goes, there's a program on the Arts and Entertainment Channel (the same cable network that used to air Family Plots, currently airs "Dog, The Bounty Hunter"), this program is on at 9:00PM on Sunday nights called, appropriately enough, "Intervention." It shows the process a family goes through to host an intervention. If you get this program, and I believe it's still running, you may want to watch this to get an idea of hows and whys of a family intervention.

    I know that we aren't supposed to give medical advice, but I hope that ideas are OK. I don't think that methadone would be responsible for the irrational request of "borrowing" your husband (and that would be the last straw for me, too!). I believe that methadone doesn't have the "highs" that other controlled drugs are known to do. I'm wondering if she takes Ativan on a regular basis. Ativan is known to have a disinhibiting effect, more than Valium. I'm just throwing out the possibility that she might be using the Ativan in conjunction with other meds and potentiating the "disinhibiting" effects.

    BTW, I should have prefaced my remarks on Ativan with a "reported" to have a disinhibiting factor rather than undisbuted studies, since this is anecdoctal information that I'm referring to.

    Best of luck to you. I hope you can decide what's best for her and for you as to how to handle that situation.
  13. by   rn/writer
    Methadone is taking over for Oxycontin and Oxycodone as the hot new legitimate med gone bad. Frequently prescribed for both acute and chronic pain, it is in such demand on the street that ordinary people with jobs and homes and families get sucked into misusing it, buying it illegally, and, something they could never imagine beforehand, selling it. This is happening in respectable neighborhoods all over suburban and rural America.

    Unlike meth users, who become visibly ravaged in a comparetively short amount of time, methadone addicts can remain relatively normal in appearance and function for years. And because a great many of them begin this downward journey with a legitimate prescription, they can rationalize their use in such a way that they truly don't believe they're doing anything seriously wrong.

    The most important thing you can do for yourself, your sister, and the rest of your family, is to learn all you can about this insidious addiction AND how to set the boundaries you will need to keep from getting sucked into the co-dependent game-playing that addicts so heavily rely on to keep their house of cards intact. You can Google Nar-Anon, a support group for families and friends of addicts, to find resources in your area.

    If there is no Nar-Anon group, Al-Anon may be the next best thing. The drug of choice may be different, but addictive thinking and behavior and the manipulation and deception they employ are the same.

    You, and anyone else interested in helping your sister, need to educate yourselves with solid information and arm yourselves with planning and resolve to avoid becoming ensnared by the emotional ploys and pitiful pleadings of a person who will do whatever it takes to maintain the status quo. Your sister isn't evil, but addicts will redefine good and try to justify committing outrageous acts of selfishness and destruction to get the drugs they crave. It's the nature of the disease. Unfortunately, they learn to exploit the very love that keeps people attached to them until they burn it out or drag others down with them. It's not a pretty sight.

    You can't force your sister to accept help she does not want. What you CAN do is develop an awareness of addictive behavior and fortify yourself against her attempts to use and abuse your relationship. You can learn to ditch the false guilt that addicts can smell from miles away and will use against you in a flash. You can come up with a game plan that helps you to stay connected without being sucked into the drama. As long as she (or enabling others) can somehow make her life work, she will not allow herself to see how much she needs the kind of help that involves getting clean and becoming honest.

    As tempting as it might be, don't give her indecent proposal a big emotional reaction. Provoking others is a fairly dependable method of keeping people hopping and distracting them from the real issues. If she were in her right mind, she wouldn't need to rattle your cage OR borrow your husband. When she comes up with loony ideas or brazen requests ("Can I borrow $1000?" for a down payment on a car with monthly payments she can't afford), give her a simple, low-key response such as, "No, that won't be happening," and move on to another subject. This robs her of your emotional melt-down and the chance to knock you off balance. And it allows you to think instead of feel when dealing with nonsense.

    None of this is easy. But neither is it easy to keep getting sucked in and going along on the terrible roller coaster ride.

    I'm so very sorry about the loss of your other sister. Please sort through your feelings about her death and discard anything that holds you personally responsible. Suicide is a choice made only by the person who commits it. If you haven't gotten any counseling or therapy to help you get through this, now might be a really good time to pursue those options. Otherwise, you could very easily merge your sisters and imagine, on an emotional level, that you can save the one by continuing to rescue the other, a state of mind that will make you ripe for exploitation.

    Please, talk to other friends and family members (in a support group) who have an addicted loved one and learn from their experience. Let them offer you knowledgeable support and encourage you to become strong and protected.
    Find solace in a group who will know without needing much explanation what you are going through and who will be there for you in sorrow or in joy.

    Take very good care of yourself. Set a good example that your sister might one day be able to follow if she chooses recovery. And remember, you can't save her, but you can save yourself so you will be there when she's ready for genuine help and acceptance.

    She's blessed to have you.
    Last edit by rn/writer on Sep 25, '06
  14. by   nursemike
    There are good reasons doctors and nurses don't treat their own family members! Despite some good advice, here, about stepping back from the problem and not accepting responsibility for things you can't control, the plain truth is that you can't be objective about your sister, nor could any of us in the same position. I have been going through some issues with my father over what I fear may be problems related to his coronary artery disease, torn between my concern over what may be versus what I hope it might be, mixed with his unrealistic ideas of what I can do for him (I'm not a cardiac nurse, and even if I was, I don't have so much as a pulse oximeter at my disposal, nor could I prescribe meds even if I could diagnose him with a stethoscope).
    Of course, the situation is all the more complicated where questions of psychiatric health are involved. How do you tell someone you love you think she may be mentally ill? How do you differentiate the garden-variety craziness we all live with from an actual psychiatric problem?
    I don't have the answers to those questions, but it may be helpful to be very clear with the rest of the family that your sister's needs are way beyond the scope of practice of a nursing student. Your role in this is no different from theirs, that of a loving family member.

    In my work on a neuro unit, I routinely deal with patients with impaired mental status as a result of physiological disorders such as stroke, brain tumors, etc. Inevitable, some of these people have psych issues, as well, and some are just stubborn or have poor judgement. We have real problems with things like fall prevention, but in some instances we have to recognize that a patient has a right to fall and hurt himself, if he so chooses. Not every foolish decision is incompetent. It sounds like you are in a similar position--your sister may be fully capable of making an informed decision, in which case your options to decide for her are very limited, even if her decisions are obviously dumb.
    I do hope things work out for the best, but the only real advice I can give is to echo what others have said, there may just not be a lot you can do about this, and certainly nothing in your nursing background makes you more able or responsible than anyone else. (I suspect, though, that that's a problem a lot of us have with our families.)

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