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Interrogated About My Pots

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Hello there. A few months ago I posted about how the mother of my boyfriend of 4 years was making disparaging comments about me as a potential future daughter-in-law because I have a chronic illness. Then she was questioning my ability to give her son children someday. I thought, after spending an extended visit with her over the summer, that she and i had turned a corner and she wouldnt' be so judgemental and interfering, but alas...Hurricane potential-MIL has struck again.

Let me preface this by saying I have been doing much better lately, the Fall temperatures have been a huge help boosting my BP and generally making my body feel better. I'm taking licorice root extract which is also helping my BP, and taking vitamin b12 shots every few days for my fatigue. I drove for the first time on a highway in over a year last week. I was able to go out and go apple picking this past weekend, something I physically couldn't do a year ago. I am still plagued by pretty bad fatigue in the mornings, and i get waves of exhaustion that hit at random times, but all in all I'd like to think things are steadily improving for me.

This evening while I was skyping with my boyfriend (we are long-distance)...his mother entered the room and proceeded to punch my day in the face. She started out by telling me I needed to "be happier" and "find more things to be happy about" based on a facebook status i posted today that jokingly made fun of the bad drivers in my state. (she should be glad i am driving at all since so often brain fog kept me off the roads over the summer). She then proceeded to grill me about my POTS. During this interrogation which included "What exactly is your prognosis?"..."Would you ever consider getting a second opinion from a doctor who could actually help you?" (I see a top POTS specialist, and she does help me...there just isn't a cure or a magical pill to make it all go away and MIL doesn't get that)..."What would happen if you got up and went out and did things even when you're feeling bad? Can't you push through it and kind of build up your endurance?" ( MIL translation: You should tough it out and be on your feet even if you're feeling bad, I do! play through the pain!!!) and "explain to me about this hours of the day thing..." (MIL would like to know why I sleep through the mornings and I have to explain to her what my neurologist told me about how throughout the day, human BP is the lowest between 12 am and 10 am so mornings are when POTS patients feel worst. This is a concept she has a very hard time with and it is not first time I have tried to explain it to her.) As for her wanting me to "push through it" and "build up my endurance" and "what would happen if you at least tried to play through the pain" I tried to explain that it's not like a normal person trying to get in shape where they feel bad the day after they first exercise. I literally said to her "my sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are BROKEN. They cannot regulate themselves." (To which she asked if there was anything I could "take" to fix that). I had to explain that my organs aren't getting enough oxygen-rich blood because of low blood volume and pressure and therefore I cannot just "play through the pain" because the energy is just not there. I am able to go for walks each day at a brisk pace, do a full grocery-run on a good day. I thought I was doing better. MIL disagrees.

I had a pretty decent day today and was in pretty good mood and I just felt like she swooped in and dumped all over it. I understand that people who don't have illnesses can't really understand what it's like but, come on-- one doesn't need to be sick to have compassion. This whole conversation felt so accusatorily like "you're not trying hard enough to get better" that it's making me sick. Of course I'm trying. If you had asked me last year if I could inject myself with a needle to get vitamin b12 i would have told you NO WAY JOSE but I do now. I'm sorry i'm not recovering quickly enough for this woman but sakes alive, I assure you I far more eager than she is for my health to return. I don't know how to deal with people like her...specifically her. She just makes me feel really judged on-the-spot for something i have no control over and would dearly love to be rid of. I am at a loss as to what I could possibly say to help her understand. I am very happy to explain to anyone who asks about my POTS, but not if they're going to turn it around and make it seem like i'm not trying hard enough to be better.

Sorry. End of rant. Thanks.

oh, btw, i thought of the cheesiest POTS joke: Do you think POTS wakes up every morning depressed because it looks in the mirror and thinks, "nobody UNDERSTANDS ME!"

yeah, that was the worst.....

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This sounds awful and I have to ask this.. if you were talking to your boyfriend on Skype when she swooped into the room, where did he go during this interrogation or did I miss something major?

I'm understanding he lives with her and she came into the room with him while he was talking to you and started in on you like that?

IF that's the case, I just don't know who's to blame more. Her for doing it or him for allowing it.

I'm a mom, my babies are 21 and 17 and if I had someone talking to them like that I'd take their face off and hand it to them, so forgive me for being a bit "protective" here.

I just don't think it sounds right or healthy for your boyfriend to just allow this, I don't care what the situation. It makes me shudder to imagine your future. Someone who loves and cares does not let someone do this Hon...they just don't.

I may be wrong. The situation may have been totally wrong from what I read and I may be reading something off and if I am forgive me but if I'm not I want you to reconsider something.

Part of being healthy and living strong is being around loving understanding supportive people who will help you be what you can be. Not people who drag you down and undermine what you accomplish. And someone who just sits back and allows others to undermine you are just as guilty as the ones doing it.

Love is beautiful and bright, but it can be like staring into the sun, when you look away you can't see anything till it's too late

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I hope i can give you some thoughts, without advice, based upon experience. Im 53 which should sound ancient to you, but like most people I still feel 18 mentally, albeit DA makes me feel old sometimes.

1. Revealing medical issues many of have learned the hard way is a trick pony. Especially with chronic illness. Stuff like "you LOOK fine to me", etc. Or the "you have anxiety" stuff because they couldnt diganose you right away and dumb azz doctors were admitting they didnt know much other than how to prescribe drugs for a cold. We ALL know here a neurological specialist at Mayo has the same title as a chiropractor: DR. One may have graduated cum laude, the other barely. Doctors are frequently dumb, and mostly uninspired creatively. They are not "trained" to think outside the box. They operate on data, not intelligence.

2. Why would the man you love allow ANYONE to disparage you like that so disrespectfully? Its one thing for a mother in law,,,but again, that brings up another question. Is he too weak to stop her, doesnt care, or she runs the show? You MARRY the family, trust me, not just the person. Im wondering out loud to myself, why would my spouse allow anyone to speak to me like that? And if theyre doing it now, whats it going to be like in two years?

3. Dont ever "respond" to someone like that. Its better to act as if they dont exist, and i hate to say that but ive been there and done that. Theyre looking for an emotional outburst from you. Confidence is the key here. Youre BETTER than that, and you dont even need respond to it. You werent raised that way. The more that dingbat talks, the more she looks like someobody

on Maury Povich. Enough said.

4. Fight fire with fire. I know this isnt exactly biblical, but you will learn in life there are certain people who enjoy sticking a needle into a sensitive person. If you dont fight back, they keep doing it. If I was in that situation I might be tempted to say (after the third time they've done it) well, at least I..........wont be dead in 20 years............ dont look like the bride of frankenstein............whatever. You hate to do it, but if you up the ante big time, they get the message fast. Its a last resort but it works. Turn it around on them. "So youre saying things in your life turn out perfectly? Well how about ____________. Howd THAT turn out for ya" in an subtle tone.

These are things ive been forced into using, theyre not advice. I only use them when somebody decides theyre going to pick on me. And Im a big guy, 6ft, 225. People dont threaten me physically, so they resort to words. And with chronic illness, ive heard it all---"they havnt cured THAT YET"???? You learn who loves you real quick and who doesnt. And you may quote "turn the other cheek" however that was mostly to do with entering an earthly kingdom where all rule was absolute. You have to know how to defend yourself or they'll keep coming. NEver start it, but occasionally I've had to "finish it".

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I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this. I've been married for almost 22 years. This is where we might differ...When we married, I always liked to say "we've left and cleft", that means that we are now a family, my husband and I and our children of course. There have been times in the past when my in-laws have driven me mad with all the "gee you don't look sick" and "oh, you went on vacation, you must be feeling better" and on and on. There was a case where I was at my wits end because they like to spring visits on us, like emailing me on a Thurs. evening to say they are coming for the weekend which sends me into a complete tailspin as my kids have homeschooling Enrichment on Fridays and that leaves me no time to clean and prepare the home for visitors. That all being quite confusingly said, my husband noticed how it affected me and has since told his parents that if they are intending to come for a visit, they must allow us at least a week in advance so that we can all prepare for their arrival, physically, mentally and emotionally. Also, he asked them to email and/or contact him because the littlest stress can send me into a downward spiral. He looks out for me and our best interests first.

I agree with the above statements, your boyfriend should be sticking up for you. You might even consider telling her exactly what you said in your original post by articulating, "I feel ________when you suggest that I can just take a pill and be cured." Possibly send her a link to "The Spoon Theory" for her to read.

I know it is hard dealing with in-laws and I can honestly say that I love mine to death, but I have to keep in mind that all of us are different and have different personalities, perspectives and such.

Wishing you all the best.


P.S. I'm proud of you for going to the grocery! That is a feat in and of itself :)

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I'm so sorry to hear that you were subjected to all this. You've been thru so much and done so well, you need supportive people around you- not this kind of harassment!

We had a somewhat similar experience around here this summer in that my daughter was dating a really nice guy who we all liked fine, but as time went on, we realized he was a total momma's boy. She controlled him like a puppet-on-a-string and there wasn't going to be ANYBODY good enough for her son. (My daughter has some health issues but she was still running circles around him because his mom was limiting him so much!) Ultimately, hard as it was, my daughter decided she didn't want to have to deal with that forever and it wasn't worth putting more time and effort into the relationship if he wasn't going to change.

I'm telling you all this to point out that it may not even be YOU that is the problem for your future M-i-L....rather that SHE is the problem and you just happen to have an easy target for her to aim for. The fact that your boyfriend isn't standing up to her though is what I'm worried about. That seems to show a definite lack of maturity on his part and the fact that this has been happening repeatedly doesn't seem to bode well for the future. If it happened once and that was the end of it, I'd think he had done something about it, but if he's sitting there watching and not saying anything it's almost as if he's encouraging the behavior.

I know it's not easy to hear all this, but it will be much less easy to hear it after you're married with a couple of kids. There is a lot of truth to the saying, 'you don't just marry the person, you marry the family', so I'd be very cautious before I'd go rushing into this situation unless your boyfriend suddenly starts showing more of a backbone than he has so far.

Why am I focusing on your boyfriend and not his mom? Because he should be the one to intervene here and put a stop to it. If he really cares about you then he should be standing up to her and telling her to cut it out. You shouldn't be having to fight this battle on your own. You've tried; he needs to step up to the plate.

I've known my M-I-L for over 30 years and she's lived with us for over 3 (my idea) so I do have a bit of experience in dealing with one. :)

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Hi Pumpkin,

I too am in the "old" category. I have not been on here very long and may have missed a longer explanation of how your boyfriend feels about you and POTS. And I also don't know if either of you have discussed moving your relationship to the next level of marriage. That said, what I do know is if someone isn't sticking up for you now, he most likely will not after marriage. A very wise person told me something when I was in my 20's and newly diagnosed with HIV...you will not survive if you don't get rid of the toxic people in your life. You have to surround yourself with positive people who will be there for you. Chronic illness is a very long road that has many ups and downs and stretches even the strongest family and friendship bonds. I know I have had to tell several friends and relatives, "Hey, you make up your mind. You are either with me or I really don't need you in my life." Twenty five years later I am still here and doing just fine without them. It is their loss, not mine. Perhaps boyfriend and potential MIL need the "either you are with me, or not" talk.

AND good for you for making progress!!!! Don't let anyone take that away from you. You own it.

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I have some very unpleasant inlaws. I'm respectful and polite, but I will not go to their house. I support my husband's relationship with his family- from a distance. The final straw for me was when my father in-law bullied me in front of my 3 year old daughter.

His family is dysfunctional but that's not his fault. I know I'm the most important person in his life and but he cares about his birth family.

We've certainly had some fights about it. My husband is in a very sad position and I try to be compassionate towards him.

He travels about 25 mins. each way on Christmas Day to spend maybe an hour with them. I stay home with my children and put together Legos :D. It's our down time between celebrations with my family. I'm sorry to not be with him for those two hours but I don't pressure him. I know how important I am to him.

I'm not really disagreeing with previous posters but for me a cr@ppo family wasn't a deal breaker. They were horrible before we got married and they still are. My only mistake was hoping they would change.

My husband is NOT like his family.

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So sorry you have to be made to feel attacked. I'm sure most of us here can empathize. I myself have the opposite problem with MY parents...they don't talk at all about my health and pretend it doesn't exist. We spend our time not mentioning the elephant in the room.

I'm wondering if maybe you can tell your boyfriend how much it hurts you to have his mother question your abilities. That would get a dialogue going for the two of you, and from there you can get a feel of how he might help intervene on your behalf with his own mother. It might be very telling what comes from that.

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I just tucked my kids in bed and was thinking about you again.

I didn't mean to imply that the way you were treated was ok. It's hurtful, insensitive, and disrespectful. How she is treating you is really about her shortcomings not about your illness and "not pushing though".

Because "I don't look sick" sometimes even my husband forgets how I feel. He doesn't understand, although he has become compassionate over time. He knew me in highschool though so my illness took him by surprise.

I have a sister in law who really is a sweet heart -but she really doesn't "get it". Most people won't. It doesn't mean that it's ok for you to be mistreated, I just mean that sometimes even good people are cr@ppo about invisible illnesses.

I try to be extra patient with them as though they have a learning barrier. It's almost like having a student in your classroom who isn't a native speaker.

Best wishes for you- relationships are hard enough with perfect health.

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It's good you're feeling better and I would try not to let this interfere with enjoying the improvement in your health. I don't have much to add except to say that it took YEARS for most of my family to understand how sick I am and that NO, there really is no cure for this, nothing more I can do, there's nothing I'm not doing and no, Doctors don't have the answers. Honestly, I still can't even believe it! It goes against everything we grew up believing. And these are close family member who I know love me and just want me to be well, but it was hard for them understand an illness no one has ever heard of and the dreaded, but we look so normal. And it's just such a weird, complex and hard to explain and understand illness - so much internal suffering, but little that is outwardly obvious. I'm not excusing the lack of compassion because when someone says they feel sick that should be enough, but like KayJay said most people -no matter how you explain- just don't get it, but it doesn't mean they won't eventually. I also agree that your boyfriend should be advocating for you. That might help speed the process along. But I really just wanted to say, I liked your POTS joke! I think POTS is depressed and he's taking everyone down with him! :) I agree with one thing your FMIL said, do something that makes you happy (just forget about her when you're doing it!). :D

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Thanks for the responses!

This woman has some serious boundary issues that I need to learn how to cope with because I don't think she's going to change anytime soon... and from what I understand, she is constantly grilling my boyfriend about my health situation as well and anything he says goes in one ear and out the other. Apparently she is convinced that there is a doctor out there who holds a miracle cure out there and we just don't know about it. He lives with his parents because he has tens of thousands of dollars in student loans and needs to save up to get out from under his crushing debt before he can move out, so he has to stay simpatico with his mother while under her roof. Twice he has faught with and then stopped speaking to her for weeks on end because of things she has said about me/my health/our relationship, but the reason he didn't speak up is because he just kind of shut down. He's so used to her being obnoxious. We've talked about it and he gets frustrated because no matter what he does or says, she doesn't stop, and so even if he did tell her to stop, she wouldn't listen. I'm not just making excuses for him...sometimes I wish he would try more to respect boundaries, but his general attitude is, this is just how she is, how she's always been and there's nothing he can do to change it.

In general though, he is one of the two most supportive people in my life, the other being my mother. He is caring and understanding of my limitations, has been willing to do all of the traveling to come see me since I can't drive to see me, gone with me to important doctors appointments, and we have discussed a future together before, and after I got sick. His immediate response last year when I told him I might need heart surgery was "I will go with you."Two weeks before my surgery he surprised me arranged for my 3 college roommates/close friends (who all live in other states) to come visit me so I could see them before the surgery. He's a keeper and I don't plan on letting his mother taint my relationship, even thjough she does stress me out and make me upset.

I think I might have a situation like kayjay's where he is commited to me, but his dysfunctional family isn't his fault and he will continue to be close with them. It's frustrating that so many people can't and won't understand what its like being sick and I read and enjoyed The Spoon Theory. It's just a shame that some people will never know unless they are sick themselves. Sometimes I wish people would read up on it to better understand it rather than ask ignorant questions, but since my own brother knows absolutely nothing about POTS even though I sent him a link to DINET that he never bothered to read, it might be asking too much for my bf's mother. Like I said, I'll answer questions about POTS but not when I'm being questioned by someone who has boundary issues and asks the questions in such an accusatory way.

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Might I suggest you e-mail her the link to our "changes" video. It is pinned up at the top of this forum. Ask her to watch it, as she might find it will answer some of her questions. I'm not sure why you had heart surgery, but that does add another more difficult layer and means you do not have just plain old POTS with no known cause.

My cardio told me last year, there is no cure for what you have, but we can manage it. It helped put it in perspective for me and helped me accept that I have what I have and it is what it is. At least I don't look sick. Most of us don't, but it also gets in the way of getting diagnosed quickly.

It sounds like your boyfriend is doing the best he can. The next time she quiz's you a possible response could be something like "thank you so much for asking, appreciate you caring so much, I wish I had the answers too. If your frustrated for me can you imagine how I feel. I do the best I can. I'm not my body though and I still have many things in my life to be joyful about. I've used this before and they usually don't know what to say after that.

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