Wits End

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m at my wits end. My husband is, or more accurately was, a
contractor. In addition to working endless hours he did all sorts of
projects around our house. Like the cobbler’s unshod family, many of
those projects were only partially completed, and we always had last
place in line behind paying clients. Now, through an accident of fate,
we have a who-knows-when-but-big medical malpractice payment that
will pay for all manner of household assistance while he is
incapacitated (for up to a year because his joint replacement surgeon
royally ^&$^^%#ed up!!). Because some of these repairs must be
completed for us to be able to shower, I hired a contractor buddy.
Needless to say, Mr. Fix-It is not happy with the pace or quality of the
work, because this guy does what my hubby always did: juggling
many clients at once. But he cannot do the work himself. His body
won’t cooperate. He is angry, depressed, moody, and restless. It is
causing huge stress and undoing a lot of the work we did together in
counseling a year ago. I want to go back to the counselor to get help
to get us back on track. He doesn’t want to go because it would open
our records to the doctor’s insurance company. Is there a way to parse
Wits End

Dear Wits End:

Call the counselor and explain the problem. I don’t think your previous
marital counseling should be any part of the medical malpractice
conversation. As the counselor if s/he can start a new file for you two,
one that relates only to issues connected to the surgery,
complications, and after-effects both on your husband’s health and
moods and your marital relationship, then that’s the way to go. If s/he
cannot, go to a new counselor, telling that person the techniques that
worked for you in the past. Warn them the records may be requested
for litigation.


One of the problems with a theoretical malpractice payout in the future
is that you are still paying all the costs upfront now, both emotional
and financial. Be sure to keep very accurate records of everything, not
merely of actual dollars spent to supplement the household duties your
husband is not able to perform. A log tracking everything from
household help to emotional issues would probably help your future
attorney. I’m assuming you’re not going to try resolving this without
one, but please consult one before you negotiate any kind of
settlement. There’s an entire area of law devoted to calculating the
damages such events impose. Pain and suffering is more than rhetoric,
as you are learning.