Apologies in advance for this post being lengthy. My husband and I believe that my mother-in-law suffers from Munchausen Syndrome. There have been signs throughout her life, but I will focus on the past 15 years. About 15 years ago, she was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis (similar to M.S.) I do believe that she was told at some point, by some M.D. that they believed she had this disorder. This disorder went from causing pain, to muscle atrophy, the progression from using a cane to a wheel chair, and she is now essentially bed-ridden.
Some of the other diseases and afflictions she has had since the M.G. "diagnosis" include: fibromyalgia, asthma, congestive heart failure, enlarged heart, seizures, unexplained passing out, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, neuropathy, diabetes, and others I have probably forgotten. The amount of medications she is on for all of these different afflictions range from herbs and homeopathic, to heavy-duty narcotics that are usually used to treat break through pain for terminal cancer patients.
Her unexplained deterioration over the past two years began to make my husband and I suspicious of all of her health issues. It seemed like she was starting to "collect" diseases. My husband asked to go to a Dr. appointment with her several times, and she became very defensive and emotional. Then, in July things reached a boiling point. She was admitted to the hospital for "seizures" . To make a long story short: a 2 week stay in the local hospital, and a 3 day intensive study at a Nationally recognized clinic revealed that: She does not have M.G., she does not have seizures, her heart is perfectly healthy, and no known medical tests reveal any known diseases or anything else. It was suggested by both hospitals that she see a psychiatrist.
This is where it gets ugly. My husband fully supports the conclusion that she needs mental health treatment. In fact, he feels it is bad enough that she should be at an inpatient facility. However, his mother lives with her sister. The sister she lives with, as well as her mother and other sister do not believe any of the medical tests. They all act as if my mother-in-law has an illness so rare, or undiscovered, that she requires round the clock care, use of a bed pan, etc... My husband has tried numerous times to try to convince them to support his position that she needs serious mental health treatment.
Since July, this "disagreement" has gone from arguments with his mother about her health to: the two of us being banned from family gatherings, telling my husband he is verbally abusing his mother, his mother making the whole issue an us-versus-them game, etc... To say that things have passed the boiling point is an understatement. The Munchausen is coupled with passive-aggressive behavior, crying, passing blame and guilt, and a constant victim mentality.
My questions to those with family members who have Munchausen: Does this sound like Munchausen to you, or something else? (Perhaps a misdiagnosis that snowballed?!?) Does your loved one with Munchausen also have passive-aggressive behaviors and a victim mentality? Have you been able to convince your loved one to seek treatment? Have you also experienced retaliation from other family member, and if so how did you deal with it?
Any suggestions or advice would be very much appreciated. Things have gotten so bad that I am due without first child any day, and she will not be meeting my husband’s side of the family until there is some resolution to the situation (if such a time ever comes). I feel so badly for my husband that he is not able to share this joyful time with those who should matter most because he has been banished for trying to help his mother the only way he knows how.