French GPs: worried about husband

Hi, can anyone - preferably French- help me. I would post this on a French website but reckon it’s just not the kind of question that a non-anglophone person would ask (lol). My husband has some medical conditions (and other problems) that he’s not handling well, causing knock-on effects everywhere. This has been going on for a year (as far as I know, maybe longer). I’m asking this question because when I’ve tried to get help from an obvious (to me) source before, the person (who should, according to British logic) have known better, let herself be dazzled by my husband’s higher social status, and didn’t help- in fact she reinforced his sense of rightness, giving him carte blanche to continue to act as if he’s irreproachable - treating others badly and not taking responsibility.

Since then, he has experience career setbacks (to put it mildly) and has partially realised that things need to change- but still sees himself as the victim. He is- but only partly…

Anyway, back to the gp (médecin généraliste) question: I am worried he might not be taking medication correctly or not being truthful with the doctor. This us having knock-on effects on how he’s dealing with his health and his life. I hate interferers, but where does one draw the line between not mothering a grown man and watching someone go down the tubes? Should I talk to the GP or will I make matters worse by being “incorrect”? (British people, please don’t tell me not to be afraid of being incorrect, I have found out to my cost just how much social rules are virtually law)…

I fully expect to be ignored by the GP, at least on the face of it. But one never knows what (positive or negative) will ACTUALLY happen “unofficially”, miraculously, if I open Pandora’s box. Can anyone give me the inside track? Thanks

Beats me too and I am a bloke who has made life difficult for my family. But I fought back instead of giving up and blaming the world but targeting the closest sitting target. If I was that bad I'd kick myself out... I am not joking either.

Yep. Why? Get yourself away, anywhere
Look up, VIA.
the number is at every police station. They will help you move.

It beats me too Vero.

Sandra, why are you still with this man?

Hi Emily !

Sorry to hear what you are going through - believe me I know how difficult it is the case of my husband, he is in total denial of anything .......his daughter told me his late wife joined AA support group because of his drinking (I didn't know that when I met him !) .....he has now had two AVC's and been told to give up drinking - he says it is not harming him ! He has had three of four vasculaire surgeries, an accident which almost lost the vision in one eye. He complains and moans all the time - will not go out, and will not have anyone in - and as he has now had to give up driving, he is a nightmare to live with ! At least your husband seems now to be talking to you which is a good thing ! My husband says everything is my fault, and to leave him alone ! He gets extremely aggressive and never talks to me saying that I have nothing interesting to say. If I comment on something on the News, I am stupid and should shut up ......he is 82 and is today suffering from the heat - his answer ? to go outside and make a new bird feeder - I have tried to get him to stay in the shade, and take cool drinks - he says he is not going to do that ! My MT (gp) is very very good, and she understands how difficult it is for me - I have had cancer which has returned three times (now ok !) - long story, won't bore you with it - but I had absolutely no support whatsoever from my husband, who simply told me to stop whinging (I didn't ! I just got on with it !) - he offered me no support whatever, in fact, the professor who treated me for the first secondary episode was amazed I was alone at the rdv - and another one in a different hospital, where I was waiting with my husband for his rdv (I always go with him, sort out his medication, make his rdv's, etc etc) .....came up to us and said to him "ah - you DO exist then'.......he still never got the point ! It has become so bad now that our doctor simply says to him 'It is your life' other words, if you take no advice, get on with it .......he had a corneal transplant which he was lucky to have been given - all he does is complain he can't see properly .............he has now had his eyelid lifted twice (and going again next week - which means I have to drive 75 km in this heat and then wait hours at the hospital !) and the opthalmologist did say, at last 'You are very lucky to have been given the graft' husband was amazed someone should say he was lucky, when he complains about the vision !

I hope you have friends who you can talk to - we have none - some having died (from age !) some having moved back to the UK or other places in France - so we are completely alone ! He does not speak any French, and moans every time we are invited to an 'apero' - I still invite the neighbours but all he does is complain that they are talking and he can't understand them ...........

Like you, I find it very difficult indeed - I joined Alzheimers forum in the UK as he was also diagnosed with the onset of vasculaire dementian following his second AVC - and I find the forum to be of help, if only to see I am not alone in this ! I also have very good childhood friends in the UK with whom I chat online (he doesn't like me talking to people on the phone !!!!) - although I do use my portable from a cafe if out having coffee !

It sounds like your OH is having difficulty coping with what I think you are saying is a loss of status from his employment, which can be difficult for him to deal with - although it does not appear that he is in denial, like my husband. For my OH I think losing a lot of his independence and not being able to do things like he used to has been very difficult and he is unable to adjust or accept his new limitations - so he takes it out on me ! My doc says I am very strong, but not always ! I sometimes get so fed up with coping with everything - all the responsibility for everything is mine - and of course, I don't do it right !!) and sometimes I am just about to take out a loan to go off to Dignitas - but then decide I would resent paying all that money when I could spend it on a world cruise and not come back ..............

I hope you have a sense of humour, as you will need it - I have got to the stage where now I simply ignore his complaints and carry on without bothering - although having said that, sometimes I do creep away and bang my head on the wall, or have a cry about it ...........but I am determined not to let him see that he upsets me, as this is normally his aim. He knows, for instance, that if he refused any thing to eat all day, I would worry and get bothered about it - ok, so now I just say fine ! I'll do my own then ! and leave him to it he has taken to saying he can't walk far and needs a diabled sticker for the car ............this is another ploy to get me to be concerned - ok so I drop him near the door of the DIY shop (he still likes to get me driving there at least twice a week !) he says he needs a stick to walk with - ok, give him one of the crutches I had when I broke my femur ..............

Aaargh !! Life is very difficult, but as the French say, c'est la vie !!

Do e mail me if you want a chat at any time ..............helps to have a moan sometimes ! Meanwhile, bon courage ! By the way, there are several counsellors, AA groups, etc etc advertising in the back of The Connexion if you want to talk to any of them .....

Hi Emily,

You have my sympathy, for what it's worth I have spent alot of time in the past 'caring' for various family members, with a variety of illnesses and I do know how difficult this can be and how 'under pressure' you must feel....

Obviously you can't go into specific detail, but it might be useful to get in touch with supportive organisations some of which are on a list here (re cancer, alcohol etc...) (sorry to go to a competitor site) and take a look at SFN's Friendly advice pages...

And this one might be especially helpful.... Therapists, 'the works' here, so whether it's depression or something more concrete, this may help you deal with things until such time as he admits there's a problem.

Good luck.

This is so sad and truly a difficult situation.

If he gets to a point where he is ready to accept closer help you might consider finding someone who practices EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) it takes some practice, but I have seen and personally experienced it produce astonishing benefits. Not that I am advocating anyone not to take medication.

Here are two sites well worth reading. But he will have to be very open and willing to participate.

I hope it works out well for you both.

Hi Emily,

It's a bit difficult to offer any suggestions without specific indications. In you opinion does he have a problem with drink or drugs because that seems to me what you are saying?

Alcohol is a great drug and in occasional and moderate use is a boon to relaxation and social intercourse but it is also a depressant and long periods of abuse can lead to severe depression. People with a drink problem are often on ante-depressants because they are unable to tell the doctors that they drink too much. They take the antidepressant and then drink depressant and wonder why things don't improve. It would be funny if it wasn't for the misery and pain this causes to them and to all those who love them and are tormented by their apparently self destructive path.

I could be barking up the wrong tree but the fact that drink or drugs are not specifically mentioned, except is a very round about way, could be part of the problem. If it is drink or drugs then the first thing to do is to ask for help for yourself. There are a number of 'self help' organisations for people whose partner appears to be out of control in the use of mood altering drugs (alcohol being the most common). Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, has a sister fellowship called Al-anon which is for family and friends of alcoholics who also need help because of the alcoholic's behaviour. You can contact them through the local AA (English speaking) site

You can always contact me privately if you wish at

All my best wishes and as they say here - bon courage


Emily- i have had a few friends and clients who became totally obsessed with their work because of the excessive competition which drove them beyond their personal capacity. On one occasion a good friend completely lost the plot and tried to stab several guests at a lunch in his house. However the medics did get to the bottom of the problem and successfully treated him and he changed his job to a less challenging one. This happened in the City of London where income was very commission led. Afterwards he had a very happy family life but died very soon into his retirement which was a great shame. I had two supposedly wealthy and successful clients who ended their days and obviously they did not get the right help. My own father died of very similar circumstances in 1964. He had sought and found help but unfortunately he just could not resolve the issues. I was 17 and although I knew there was a problem I was not equipped to cope with it and in those days problems were covered up and not mentioned. I found out decades later that his own childhood had been highly problematical and that his mother (my grandmother I was never allowed to meet or discuss) had deserted him. Life is very complicated. I think you live in Brittany not far from Brest or have I got that wrong. Nayway if you want a chat you can find me in the white pages.

Hi Emily, just an idea, but I wrote to our French doctor (secretly) about my husband's ill health because I didn't think the doctor was being on the ball enough and might have overlooked things. I then went to see him and he was very nice and cleared things up a little. I felt relieved afterwards. I then told my husband and he didn't seem to mind too much. It might help your situation. Good luck!

Like Dominique, I second Steve's advice, talking to the GP will work, especially if you emphasise your will to help and support your husband (as opposed to wanting to know exactly what's going on…)

I am French, Steve advice is good, go talk on your own to the GP.

yes it was a french gp in france. Maybe just make a rdv and go in to talk about it when not under immediate pressure?

sounds like his self-medication is probably more the problem than anything else

I was with my GP when she took a call from a spouse, who was obviously concerned that hubby wasn't taking his meds. She encouraged her very strongly to make sure he did. It was clear that the hubby's meds were antidepressants. I talked a bit about it with her once she'd finished the call and she said that it wasn't uncommon. So yes, I think you could call the gp.

Maybe useful to Google the Drama Triangle game where there are no winners?

If it fits the 'escape route' is for each to honour their own sense of wellbeing & make healthy choices for themselves with an awareness of the consequences for others of those choices.

Apologies if this does not fit-what do I know?!

All the best,


See how bad the myths are. Mine is vascular for sure, my health is (I am told) better than before when I believed it better than perfect (ahem, ahem). Career related problems are as bad as 'real' health problems and can do terrible damage. That I have seen from the sidelines too many times but fortunately never got close to myself. Let's say, I have outlived several of my contemporaries.

Asking for help. How do we read it? That is the problem. Ask my OH and she will tell you I was, metaphorically, digging my own grave and asked after the event. She then compared me to a typical Latin man, she being a Latin woman and all. The part of the problem that is now clear is that I was my worst enemy and ignored symptoms as twinges, tiredness, age, stress and anything but conditions building up because 'they do not happen to me'. Wrong! Knowing after the event is not very helpful.

Job things, as I have seen in friends, lead to stress. Stress can do many things including precipitate depression which in turn can destroy everything. So whilst none of my acquaintances has taken a gun to themselves, one woman did the classic cut wrists in a deep bath and three men have overdosed, one unsuccessfully but achieved serious brain damage instead, however kind of gave up and dwindled away in a couple of years. Only one of them was an 'Anglo-Saxon' or in the UK, the one there was Portuguese. So, not a 'typically' British thing either. If I was to ask here, I think the advice she would give is to watch and be prepared (which she was not, because she believed my version all along until too late). So it looks like you are watching and preparing, probably more ready than you imagine. Maybe that is your best option.

I wish you luck with it and that his head is not as hard as mine at least...

Emily, I am so sorry that you have to go through this.

I wonder if you could look on some UK support sites for whatever condition your husband has. There may be people you could talk to or info from someone who has been through the same problems.

Anyway, good luck.

Emily, I am looking at it from his way round. I think I did something similar to him. When the proverbial compost hit the fan I still did not take things seriously enough. Thus the outcome was that from when the first thing happened to the one that made me seriously sit up and listen something over a year after the first, I had no choice but to listen all round. My OH knows what a stubborn animal I am, without all of my own tendencies to believe that I can look after myself better than anybody else, etc. So once I had been carried in an ambulance blue light flashing on a 120km dash with a surgeon at the receiving end, I thought about it. Now she is involved, well she was but now because if anything seems wrong I say and all but a recent specialist appointment where I needed support do it all alone again - but say what was said after.

In sum, it seems to me that it is a bit like the Alcoholics Anonymous approach which is to wait until somebody has a crisis or an all time low and then asks for help. That may seem radical, indeed I used to dismiss it as pretentious nonsense until I got a bit too far past that point and had a whole system helping without asking of necessity. How we measure too far is another question as well, but who can answer that? Anyway, perhaps that is your best approach and demands ultimate patience until there is a crisis, with luck not too big, that means he will have to listen to all advice, especially medical, and need support all round.

Our GP would never have spoken to my wife about my health until we went together. The first time we did was when the first thing happened leaving me unable to drive and, so I am now told, in a state of real shock. Thereafter as things built up over the next year, especially when I was misdiagnosed a medication that was doing more damage than good, she did get more involved, accompanying me to the doctor. After the big one I no longer went alone, in fact I realised it was better to have her with me to have somebody else know the advice to help me remember and keep to it. So, it 'organically' became part of my healthcare.

I am saying this from inside rather than from your side. I imagine that that is hellish, I now know it was here because I have listened since. My 'rules' were probably the same as French social mores until I had the same kind of health crisis as they have, now realise why and how the rules are played out as they are until an acceptable line is crossed. It is, as you are saying, very unlike Anglo-Saxon behaviour where people seem to pay far more attention to health and was, in my opinion (and perhaps still is), that they are reactive too often to things that they need not take seriously and yes, the mothering of potentially 'invalided' husbands is more or less the norm. I am sure you do not want to hold on to your seat and wait but I suspect you have little or no choice. The difference is that I think that because you are actually asking the question here you are better prepared than my 'better half' (definitely in this case) was.