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Maybe this is more of a need for someone to commiserate than a true question. My dad has been sick with abdominal pain. Because he'd had an intestinal blockage years ago, he convinced himself this was the cause of the pain and he needed to go to the hospital and see a surgeon. I insisted we'd started with primary care doc, who quickly saw this as a bout of diverticulitis, a problem he's had off and on for many years. My dad seems disappointed. Next, he insists on walking to the mailbox and falls. From the ground he calls paramedics to come pick him up though the neighbors saw it happen and were right there ready to help. He told them not to help, he'd rather have paramedics. Then he called me to take him to the hospital. Paramedics picked him up and thankfully saw that nothing was broken and he was able to walk and talk fine. He wanted a hospital. Hospitals here are awful for long waits at the ER, and I've been done this road enough to hate them unless really necessary. I made him go to urgent care clinic where a doc looked at him, xrayed, and declared nothing was wrong. Again, he seemed disappointed. By yesterday he was wearing his collection of hospital socks (those grippy ones) and using a walker (he normally uses a cane) and complaining of being dizzy from pain meds (no doc has given him pain meds, he's squirreled some away from the past and is using them) I completely get it that he's uncomfortable with diverticulitis and sore from falling but we also see that every time something medical happens he gets soooo into it, like he thrives on it. We surround him with care and attention but he loves sickness. He gets on the phone and calls everyone he can think of and tells every detail, thinks of excuses to see more docs, asks what else I think he needs over and over. There's a loneliness factor at play I'm sure. Anyone else experience a parent enjoying sickness or injury? Do you play along or ignore?


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I've read that with most meds like Cymbalta you can gain or lose weight. My cousin did great on it. She actually lost weight, but she has dementia, so, I'm not sure if that is the cause or not. I also actually know quite a few people who take or have taken Cymbalta and had great success. They say it helped them a lot. And it does great for my cousin.

If no med for depression or anxiety is tolerable, I'd ask the doctor for other suggestions like talk therapy.
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Ugg, cymbalta is the worst - for me at least. I've got moderate to sevear chronic pain issues due to three failed back surgeries, related nerve damage, scar tissue related damage issues, neuropathy etc. I've probably tried every antidepressant ever made along with a vast variety of pain meds. Eventually my dr prescribed cymbalta - which for some reason was a big deal for my health plan to cover - got several letters indicating it was special that they were allowing this drug. BTW - if anyone has an idea why it was so special, I love to know. Anyhoo - I figured since this drug was suspose to treat pain and depression it would do wonders for me - even though I wasn't all that depressed. I should say, I wasn't all that depressed until I discovered I had put on ten pounds in two weeks on cymbalta! So no, thank you anyhow - if I wasn't depressed before, I imagine blowing up to the size of the Goodyear Blimp in a month - at the rate I was gaining - I certainly would be really depressed really soon.
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Amy, if you have any DVDs of ballets, watch them. Or listen to any of Beethoven's 9th Symphonies. Or thumb through a gardening magazine if you're a gardener, and if you can afford it, buy some always beautiful red geraniums and put them up in containers.

Then squeeze some fresh lemons, and if you have a chair on your front porch, sit in it and watch the world go by.

Better than meds (especially if you have a DVD of Nureyev or Baryshnikov).
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Been to a cardiologist, stress test - all good. BP low - 110/60 . Doctor has tried me on several antidepressants, which make me feel horrible - really sick (Lexapro & Cymbalta & Zoloft) I don't do well on medications, allergic to many antibiotics, also bad reflux from antivirals. I'm lucky I get very few infections!
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My late MIL said exactly that about taking Buspar for anxiety. .. it made her feel " funny"...sort of like normal people feel, we used to think!
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It's so ironic that one of my family members takes all kinds of medications. She constantly complains of pain in her ear, pain in her knee, funny looking vein, nausea, hot scalp, feels funny, sick, etc. It's endless. It's odd that the only med she claims that she can't tolerate is one for anxiety/depression/pain! That one makes her feel funny. lol My theory is that her brain is aware that taking that pill will make her feel better and her brain doesn't want her to feel better, because that's what she is so used to. It's so frustrating.
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AmyGrace, I know what you mean. I have dealt with the issue for so long with a couple of my family members, that now when I have a physical ailment, the first thing that I think of is, "Is this symptom psychologically induced?" I have a series of questions that I asked myself. I really don't want to go down that road.

I recall that years ago, I suffered from a panic attack and rushed to the ER. They checked everything and found nothing. I followed up with my primary, had a cardiac consult, just to be sure it was not heart related and ACCEPTED my panic attack diagnosis. I was then able to deal with it, get treated and it soon went away. Thank goodness.

I think that if someone refuses to accept the diagnosis, but keeps the belief that they really are sick in the back of their mind, it helps perpetuate the cycle.

But, I wouldn't fool around with chest pain. I'd see a cardiologist, get checked out and rule out any cardiac issues. AND then ask the cardiologist for advice.
And if you fee crummy a lot, ask the doctor about meds.
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Lordy, it sounds like me lately. Having all these health issues (trips to urgent care for chest and back pains - only to find out its another attack of GERD but they have to do CAT scan, etc "just to be sure") I swear next time I have a bad case of chest pain I'm going to let myself die rather than go back again! Dizzyness and head throbbing - can't find a thing wrong with me. Then they find elevated ANA - referred to rheumatologist telling me I might have lupus - resulting in lots more blood tests - all normal!
I'm ready to commit myself. I hate going to doctors and it makes me feel like a hypochondriac. I'm too young to feel crappy. I don't want to feel this way. Yuk! Too many years of stress with Mom (who had NO health problems up until age 100) and I've got it all (so does my sister) - GERD, arthritis, BPV, and gyn issues. Why me?
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Oh I did get a breather from taking my Mom [and Dad] to the doctors all the time... it happened when I broke my right shoulder, I was unable to turn the ignition key nor could I put the vehicle into gear, and I couldn't do it left handed. I was out of commission for at least 6 months as my arm muscles frozen and it took months of physical therapy. And my Mom survived not going to the doctor.

I don't recommend the broken shoulder route, as it was terrible, but I noticed whenever I wore my sling, I didn't get asked to drive them anywhere, so I would wear that sling for as long as I could around my parents whether I needed it or not :P
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For me the ER visits were the worst. Hour upon hour sitting in that small, curtain draped cubicle while it feels like nothing is happening. Mom is dosing in the bed - I'm sitting in the one, hard chair - waiting... You look out the curtain and see nurses and docs chatting. I'm sure they must be doing something worth while but it sure doesn't feel like it at the time! I have a theory that they make a trip to the ER as miserable as possible just to keep people from making frivolous visits. I know I'd have to be pretty freakin' sick to go there for myself but sadly my mother didn't look at it the same way.
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Daughterof1930, Yes, I've been there. Still am. It's so frustrating. My loved one wasn't always like that. It started with her when she was in her 50's. I've begged her to get help, talked to her doctor, annoyed her complaints, praised her healthy times, etc. but, to no avail. I doubt she will ever receive relief. It actually makes the patient very miserable, but they can't help it.

If your dad has a psychologically induced health problems, it's very difficult to treat. Mainly, because the patient is in such denial. One of the best things to do is get rid of some of their anxiety and/or depression, which seems to exacerbate it. Good luck getting them to take meds though. Their brain seems to ward off anything that is helpful. She loves to take meds that are not helpful, but avoids that that would be helpful.

How old is your dad? I would try to discuss his condition with a Primary Doctor and see if the Primary will refer him to a Psychiatrist. Just a look at his medical charts likely will confirm what the Primary suspects. How many trips to the ER and doctor where they find nothing wrong? Often their records reveal a lot.

I would also discuss anti-anxiety meds. If I can convince her to take one of these, a trip to the ER can usually be avoided.

It's a tough life. Keep watch of others. This type of condition often runs in families.
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My mother obsesses about her health issues (past small strokes, atrial fibrillation). We just had an ER visit two weeks ago because she got dizzy. Of course nothing was found.
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Get him an adjustable bed. We got mom one and heard no further complaints about back pain.
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My mother is always complaining about all the pain she has, not only physically but also mentally. Its like she doesn't cares about my life at all, even though I'm just 18. As long as i sit and listen to her complaints, everything is fine. But as soon as i say I've hurt my foot or i feel sad or whatever, she suddenly changes topic and tells me i dont know what pain is at all.. Its absolutely exhausting! I've ended up just nodding and agreeing until i find i way to escape the conversation or change topic. I dont feel that much sympathy with her anymore, as you say; it gets old after a while..
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Reading the responses, I can tell who has gone through living with a hypochondriac and who hasn't. :) We really can't cater to the constant requests for going to the ER or doctor. As one who spent 3-4 days a week at a doctor's office for a while, I know it will make a total wreck out of a caregiver's life. There is another big consideration. We need to be considerate of Medicare spending. If my mother had been paying the bill anytime she went to the doctor, she would have quickly stopped. She saw it as free and she saw my time as expendable, so she thought there was no harm in it. There was huge harm to it, because it was taking all my time and costing Medicare a lot for no reason at all. We really can't cater to it when it is frequent. There are better ways to pay attention to people than taking them to multiple doctor appointments/ER visits.
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My Mom always wanted to make sure she saw at least twice a year her primary doctor, her dentist, her gyn, her oncologist, her audiologist, her urologist, her foot doctor, her eye doctor, and her yearly mammograms and at that time she was 97. If I saw another waiting room I wanted to scream !!

For my Mom, she wanted to be reassured that the doctors would schedule her another appointment in 6 months [some doctors it was every 3 months]. And she loved it when the doctor would say to her "see you next year". That made her feel she was going to live another year.

Jessie, I liked what you wrote "late-life occupation is being a sick person", that's a keeper.
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As long as I can remember my mother has been a bit of a Hypercondriact. I use to say going to the doctor was my mothers hobby - that and that she was there so often she should have her own parking spot. Mom peaked at this in her early stages of dementia. Because moms health plan is one that has every type of doc/specialist on one campus her "illnesses" would range from headache to foot issues and everything else in between. AND mom expected 100% recovery/relief without any participation in her part beyond popping a pill. Her hip and knee surgeries were a nightmare- she expected total relief coming out of anathesia and wouldn't do any physical therapy. Mom kept all her "after visit summaries" like they were the holy grail- reading and rereading. Putting all her upcoming appointments on her calendar was the highlight of her week. Sorry for the rant - touchy topic for me as this all drove me insane! But here's the kicker - mom went on hospice in late February. At that time she was taken off all meds but pain and "mood meds". Know what? Nothing happened. Mom continues to slowly lose weight - which was happening while on all her meds and she's sleeping more - she is 89. But no big decline, no stroke or heart attack, no leg swelling - nothing. Mysteriously moms health obsession has all but disappeared - perhaps it's the mood meds? But yes, it's very annoying and yes, the ER sitting is torturous. But I'm sorry to say I haven't a solution for you - you do have my complete sympathy
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My mother was always saying she didn't feel good and five minutes later we ask her about it, and she denies ever feeling bad. One minute she was complaining, the next denying problems. She also went through about two years of obsession with bowel movements. The bowel thing is pretty typical of very old seniors. Her complaining of feeling bad, then a turnaround we attributed to her needing attention and sympathy.
Daughter: it sounds like your father is afraid of dying now that he is older and having health problems. He might unconsciously be looking for the security of being with medical professionals and in a hospital setting because it makes him feel safer.
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Maybe he loves the attention he gets, rather than "loving sickness." And who can blame him? He's old, probably less limber, probably frightened about growing old.

Think of a toddler who skins his or her knee. It's a major event.

People need comforting at various times in their old age; I think it helps to give them the support he needs. It doesn't really take that much effort, and if he feels he's still loved, people still care, and that he actually is all right, that has to be better for his outlook.

I think it's better to be overconcerned than refusing to address medical issues, as some posters have written is a problem with their parents.

But I do completely agree that when an older person falls, a paramedic is better to handle getting him/her up than neighbors who have no medical training.

Just pamper him, be extra special to him and remember that he's going through something you hopefully won't have to as you age.
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Forgot to add that she can take little things and turn them into life-threatening ailments. I've wondered with her if going to the doctor accomplished two things -- it got her some attention and it kept Death at bay.
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I know exactly what you're talking about. I've gone through years of it. I swear my mother wakes up sick, goes to bed sick, and doesn't feel good anytime between. She checks symptoms a lot. She used to want to go to the hospital almost every day. She would make multi-weekly visits to her doctor. Fortunately, that stopped. Now she is just sick all the time. Her late-life occupation is being a sick person. She won't let herself feel well. Why some people do this, I don't know. My mother has dementia, so there is no reasoning her out of it. Her vitals can be fine, her appetite great, the day might be beautiful, but she is still about to die of sickness at any moment. It gets old, especially after a few years of living with it. You have my total sympathy.
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