Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Loss of wife headaches
Expert: Andrew M. Elmore, Ph.D. - 4/7/2013
Question My wife died 5 years ago and this last year I started getting frequent headaches. My psychiatrist told me she cannot up my meds. She directed me to take a yoga class at a studio and learn meditation. I have not done that. I have started doing hatha yoga at home. I did it for a couple years about 20 years ago and throughly enjoyed it. I meditate by practicing classical guitar, when I can play.
I am still getting the headaches. I have seen my doctor and a neurologist and taken an MRI. They have found nothing wrong with me. I no longer change my clothes, frequently bath, spend too much time in bed, waste time on the computer, and rarely clean house. Go to a yoga class? Get out of the house? Be around other people ? How? Very difficult for me to leave the house. I MAKE myself go to a comedy club once a week. I feel better after. I MAKE myself go out for pizza each Tuesday night. There are people there. I visit my wife's grave each Wednesday and light a candle at the Shrine of the Little Flower each month on the anniversary of her death. I am retired in 2006 and live alone. My wife was my life and treasure. We were madly in love. We were married for 42 years. I quit work and was her primary care giver for the last 2 1/2 years of her life and read to her, and tried to make her happy. She died of breast cancer at 64. I am a puzzler: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Kazuba What do you advise?
I am not certain what sort of advise you are requesting. I am a psychologist and a headache specialist. I am also a man who like you would be ruined completely if I were to lose my wife, with whom I have been madly in love for all of the 38 years since the instant I saw her for the first time.
I am terrible sorry for you loss, and I can only imagine what you are going through even after five years, only imagine but I can imagine how dreadful you must feel very well.
For your headaches you need to find a neurologist who is a specialist in the treatment of headaches, because most neurologists only know how to give you all the tests you require to make sure there is not a serious disease process that is causing your headaches. You need a neurologist who can go beyond that to find the right medication or diet or lifestyle change to make them go away or get them under control. Yoga is not a treatment for headaches, but biofeedback is, and biofeedback is a treatment that is particularly effective in controlling headaches without or in conjunction with the least amount of medication. Here is a good resource for finding this type of specialist.
As far as the implied question about how you are living in the painful absence of your beloved wife, I am not sure if you listed all these details for the purpose of eliciting some suggestion from me.
It is good that you have developed routines for forcing yourself out into the world when you are fighting the urge never to go out. It is great that you like puzzles because these are terribly good for both the mind and for making the solitary life feel more stimulating than it otherwise might be.
It is not good to neglect your personal hygiene, even if there is no one watching. We have to keep up appearances even for ourselves, because human beings are social animals and when we neglect ourselves we feel bad, even if we are telling ourselves it does not matter. You see this is true as you notice that you feel better after going out even when you do not feel like doing so in the first place.
I have little doubt that you did make you wife happy, even when she was very sick. Try now to take as good care of yourself mentally and physically as you know she would want you to. Endeavor to honor her memory, as you already do in so many ways, by not letting her loss make you less of the fine person you were when you had her in your life.
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30 years in private practice as a psychologist in Manhattan. Dealing with people from almost every conceivable ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and as many character types as exist in this country. Dealing with patients from 8 years old to 90 years old. Pioneer in biofeedback and the treatment of stress-related disorders. Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1982. Treatment of stress-related, anxiety and depressive disorders with biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy. Developed personal problem solving, an extremely precise form of psychotherapy. Relationship therapy for couples, families, parent/child issues, business partners, coworkers, employers, and dealing with psychopathic individuals in your life.
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B.A., magna cum laude with Honors in Psychology, Illinois Wesleyan University, 1974.
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Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, First, Second and Third Editions, 1997-2000.
Appointed to the Training Faculty of the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA), 1993.
Senior Fellow BCIA.
New York Academy of Sciences, 1987.
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Who’s Who in Frontier Science and Technology, First Edition.
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Biofeedback Society of America Scholar, 1979.
Co-author, USVA Grant, “Variables Affecting the Experience of Pain in Migraine,” USVA Medical Center, Northport, New York, 1977-1979.
Biomedical Research Fellow, Department of Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, 1978.
NIMH Predoctoral Fellowship, 1976.
BA, Magna cum laude, with Honors in Psychology, 1974.
Danforth Fellowship Nominee, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 1973.
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