When a difficult friend becomes a difficult patient.. (long) help!

  1. HELLO everyone! I'm in a bit of a sticky situation any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. I have a family friend (whom I have not spoken to in years) call me a few weeks ago basically begging for help since she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She states that she doesn't have anyone, family is not around, no friends etc.

    Well, at that point in time she was not diagnosed with cervical cancer but had an abnormal pap.. She does tend to exaggerate and has a history of attention seeking behavior. Nonetheless, she was crying so much so I was there to support her.

    Turns out, after getting a biopsy and the results, she does have cervical cancer. I have been there as much as possible taking time off of work and basically my life. Its hard because I know she is going through a rough time but all she does is spit out drama and cry about problems that have nothing to do with her cancer or her trying to get better.
    She cries about how she has no one ,so she really really clings on to her 2 friends. I was not able to go with her to her biopsy because of work/school and I had to listean to her passive aggressive comments all weekend!!

    Lastly, she went into an appointment today and she told me that the doctor stated she will have a D&C and will be down for 8 weeks so she will need me and her other friend to come over and help her. Does this sound right to you? My instinct tells me she is exagerrating and just wants as much attention as possible but I also feel so damn guilty for thinking this. My mind is so foggy after every time I talk to her because she just spits out verbal vomit. She has no friends, no one ever sticks around for this girl but I feel I should but I am just drained from her already.

    There was many reasons why I stopped talking to her years ago and I know if it wasn't for her being sick, I would have not rekindled our relationship. This girl is a DRAMA magnet and has never been able to control her emotions.

    What do I do??? Please help
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    About chapsticknurse

    Joined: May '08; Posts: 7; Likes: 1


  3. by   Bean79
    Wow...Can we say drama queen? You are an awesome friend to this woman. I have no doubt that her current situation is very stressful and requires support from loved ones. BUT she is clearly taking advantage of you. Anyway, as far as the D&C is concerned. I hardly believe she will be out for eight weeks. Especially since it is a routine outpatient procedure. Typically a person can return to normal activity within a day or two. I had an oophorectomy AND a D&C and I wasnt even out of work for a full 2 weeks. Eight weeks is rediculous. Especially since people that have Hysterectomies usually take 4-6 weeks to recover.

    She sounds absurd, and its time that some boundaries are set. I would simply tell her that you want to be there for her, but you feel like she has been taking advantage of your kindness. Also you need to ask yourself if you really want to be friends with this person. Anyway, Good Luck
  4. by   eriksoln
    Well, during your last paragraph, you pointed out what I was wondering about for the whole post.............you stopped talking to this person years ago and now you are the one she comes to? Dont forget why you D/C'd the relationship years ago.

    I am not saying turn your back on her. My take on it is, if you dont get along with her the way you'd like, those things that bothered you then will still upset you now. You are no good to her if you cant stand being around her. CA or no CA, if you dont get along, you dont.

    My advice, do what you can for her, but dont do anything that makes you feel put out or over extended. That way, the time you can spend with her will have more quality to it. Setting boundaries will be very important in this case. When you cant do something she wants, you cant. If she persists and harasses you, tell her you cant have it and continue to set boundaries.

    I've had friends who were..........ah........easier on the palate when taken in very small bites.
  5. by   DDRN4me
    have to agree with ericsolon... tread slowly and lightly with this friend. 8 weeks is ridiculous for a d&c. sounds like this person needs some mh counseling. she is overwhelmed and scared.
    you need to set firm limits NOW with her. (ie; i am available at x day and time; sorry but i have a job etc that i must take care of)
    dont feel guilty or let her make you feel guilty ( i am sooo bad at that!)
    let her know that you care but cannot be a primary caregiver... sometimes being honest and upfront is just what people need from you. good luck. sending prayers her way. mary
  6. by   LilyBlue
    no way that a d&c puts someone down 8 weeks. I have seen patient undergo craniotomies and be back to work in less time than that. All people are different, of course.

    My mother's best friend from childhood is a non-practicing RN (due to health reasons). Many of these reasons were self-inflicted (self medicating with narcotics and nursed an addiction, refused to be compliant with her diabetes regimen, etc. Regardless, she is a person who deserves good care and knows what care is to be had and what care she wants...which I totally am on board with.

    I am NOT on board with her nonstop seeking admission to the hospital, playing nurses against each other, calling a nurse into the room every five minutes for ice cream, soda, water, adjust the ambient temperatue, bring me a blanket, did you get my lab results?, call the doctor and ask if I can have (insert narc of choice).

    My mother wanted me to go "set the nurses straight" because she bought friend's sob story about how she was SOOOOOOOO neglected. I made the couple hour journey to visit and observe. She had top notch care, very friendly, sweet nurses, and a doctor who treated her pain but also addressed her real issues with addiction (by ordering a psych consult, referring her to a pain clinic, asking for a pain contract, etc).

    Mom's friend, the RN, was SOOOO annoyed with all this and kept screaming, "pain is what I say it is!" while asking me to go smuggle her Taco Bell and sweet talk the nurse to bringing her Dilaudid just a leeeeeeeetle early.

    I dropped the bomb quite frankly. I was not acting as her RN, but as her friend's daughter who happened to know the medical scene intimately. I straight up told her that she was receiving wonderful care, was being a real PITA patient, and that everyone, even though they were smiling, knew her game.

    Hey, they ASKED me to get involved. Final straw came when said friend asked me to be "lookout" while she smoked out the window. I refused, and she went and lit up anyway, three feet from her oxygen hookup. I went out in the hall and informed the nurse that she was smoking. NO WAY was I going to risk what could happen just because she was mom's "friend".

    My mother was horrified at first, but gradually began to see the big picture. Fast forward and "friend" is in drug rehab and narcotics anonymous after stealing a script pad and trying to write her own perco scripts.

    Sorry, that's a little off topic. But I can relate! It's a tought row to hoe between being a friend and being a nurse spectator.
  7. by   caroladybelle
    Sometimes in our lives, someone latches on to us and will not let go....

    Thus many of us have "friends" that are truly not friends but people that know us and cling on dragging us down into their abyss with them.

    First remember why you lost touch. For reason or due to relationship "neglect", there was a reason. There is also probably a reason why there are no others to "help" her.

    Second, recovery from a D&C does not require 8 weeks off work. If your friend sucks you in with that one, you will be in for it when the real heavy treatments come later.

    Third, assess the cervical cancer situation. As in what stage, and what treatment needed. If the only treatment is a D&C, well, something does not sound right about that.

    Cervical cancer is generally one of the more treatable cancers, if it is found early. Risk factors include HPV or multiple sex partners/early onset of sexual activity and can usually be ascertained on a routine gyn/pap exam. While it definitely can often happen in women that do not have those risk factors and aggressive forms can progress rapidly, it is definitely more common w/the above. While we should never "blame" people for disease/cancer, one does have to wonder whether she got her exams yearly, paid attention to the warning signs, have any risk factors, etc.

    And while cancer is a scary disease, there are many good treatments out there, symptom control has gotten progressively better, and it is not an immediate death sentence in most cases. But some people will automatically behave as though it is and others will show them sympathy because cancer scares us.

    But how to handle this....explain that you have limits, and set limits. Use your therapeutic communication training. When she starts doing the passive aggressive bit, call her on it, gently correct her on it and do not let her guilt you for having a life - that is your right. Remind her that YOU are helping HER , something that you are not obligated to do.
    Last edit by caroladybelle on Mar 6, '09
  8. by   chicookie
    I am one of those people that if anyone causes me problems forget it, out of my life. Life is too short to be dealing with other peoples drama.
    Plus when people go on that your a nurse tirade, I clearly say, sorry nurse off duty, and ALL my friends know that when I am not on the floor I am not a nurse just a regular person and if they ask for whatever I am going to say, go to the ed.
    Heck I don't even trust my own medical advice.
  9. by   eriksoln
    Quote from chicookie
    I am one of those people that if anyone causes me problems forget it, out of my life. Life is too short to be dealing with other peoples drama.
    Plus when people go on that your a nurse tirade, I clearly say, sorry nurse off duty, and ALL my friends know that when I am not on the floor I am not a nurse just a regular person and if they ask for whatever I am going to say, go to the ed.
    Heck I don't even trust my own medical advice.
    I dont trust your own medical advice either.

    wait, thats not right.

    I mean, I dont trust my own medical advice for you either.

    No, still not right.

    forget it, I agree with you.
  10. by   chicookie
    Quote from eriksoln
    I dont trust your own medical advice either.

    wait, thats not right.

    I mean, I dont trust my own medical advice for you either.

    No, still not right.

    forget it, I agree with you.
    Thank you for your vote of confidence!

  11. by   Ruby Vee
    first off, it doesn't sound as if this woman is your friend -- you cut off contact with her several years ago for what must increasingly seem like a very good reason. she isn't someone you've chosen to have in your life; she's not a friend. she's an acquaintence. you need to decide how much time and energy you're willing to devote to this acquaintence, and then don't get sucked in any further than that, even if she doesn't have anyone else around. (there's a reason for that, too, and it isn't that the gods are aligned against her!) i'm sorry she's sick and i'm sure that you are, too. but if you weren't "friends" before she got sick, and she's not contributing anything positive to the relationship, you're not friends now.

    years ago, i worked with a nurse who i didn't know very well . . . until she got ovarian ca. it just so happened that i was walking through the waiting room of her doctor's office just after she got the news, and you can imagine how devastated she was. because we were acquaintences, and she was there alone, i sat with her while she wrapped her head around the diagnosis and what happens next. i discovered that she was bright, positive, funny and caring, even in the midst of her own very personal crisis. i genuinely enjoyed her company, and with my history of cervical cancer we had something besides our jobs in common. we became increasingly close, spent a lot of time together and although i spent time changing her dressings, holding her hair while she vomited and driving her to appointments, she contributed a lot to the relationship. it was a two way street, not kj just sucking up all the life out of me. she died several years ago, but i'm glad i knew her.

    if you can't say the same thing about this lady, back off and don't feel guilty about it. we reap what we sow, and perhaps she's reaping what she's sown now. but it's not your problem. anyway, if she's a "friend of the family," where's the rest of the family in this scenerio?
  12. by   NurseyBaby'05
    Quote from eriksoln
    You are no good to her if you cant stand being around her. CA or no CA . . . . .
    This pretty much sums it up. I'm not going to repeat all the good advice in previous posts. Just do what you can. Also, I would be wondering if she was actually diagnosed with cervical CA given what you've said about her previous antics. I guess demanding to see the pathology report would be a little callous . . . . .
  13. by   chapsticknurse
    Thank you all so much for all of your advice! I am going to set limits on how much I am there for her and if she gets upset or passive aggressive about it then I guess I will have to call her on it. I feel that I know how to deal with friends and difficult people fairly well but I've never been in a situation where that person has cancer!

    Thank you again for your honesty and advice!!

  14. by   bagladyrn
    People like this are basically "emotional vampires". They will suck the life out of you and then drop you like a rock when you are no more use to them, going on to the next person.
    The best thing you can do here is, as others said, set limits on your involvement. Instead of becoming her "personal servant" research and give her the information for appropriate agencies and organizations for help she may need. I can almost guarantee she will have a dozen excuses why "that won't work", but don't buy into that.
    Aside from that, I'd agree with others that the "diagnosis" is probably exaggerated as well, especially if the "treatment" is simply a d&c., which from personal experience I can say takes only a few days to get over and back to work.