Hi all,

I am in need of some advice to help a buddy of mine. He dropped out of college, and for the past 10 years or so (we're 29, both guys) he's been working in construction. I stayed in school and am now working on my MBA. He is constantly in back pain. Like, even just kneeling down to tie his shoes gives him pain. It's not like he can't move, but he's in pain.

I've always told him that he needs to see a doctor about it. But you gotta understand him, he's obstinate and stubborn. He thinks doctors won't do anything to help, they're all in it for the money, and even a bit scared that it may make things worse. Now, I'm not suggesting surgery (his pain isn't THAT serious, and this would only be a last resort), but I keep telling him that he needs to do something about it or else it's going to get worse. Heck, he's not even 30 yet!

But like I said, he's his stubborn self and won't listen. His fiancee doesn't really seem to care. Well, I  mean, I know she does, but I think she can do a lot more to persuade him to see a doctor. I spoke with her to see if she can do a bit more, since he and I don't live in the same city and we only see each other a month or two or so -- but I'm wondering if there's anything else I can do? Should I try to "push" the fiancee to persuade him? Don't get me wrong -- I like her and she likes me. But I just feel like she can do a bit more. This guy is my best friend, I care about him, and it hurts me to see him in pain like this.

David

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No.  As long as he's mentally competent, it's his business; and if he isn't, it's still not yours.  Sorry you have to watch, but it is his choice.

What Will said

It depends on your relationship with him and the way your personalities jibe.  If you can get away with it, you might have to plan an "ambush"---make an appointment for him on a day you know he'll be available, go load him up, and say "you're going to the doctor--I'm not taking no for an answer".  Of course, it helps if you're right and he knows it.  I've had friends who could get away with something like that with me, and vice versa--if someone cares enough about him to get a little bossy---sort of a "friends don't let friends hurt themselves" attitude, it might just work.  You can tip his fiancée off as to what you're doing so she can help.

If you know that won't work, you might ask him "so what are you going to do about that chronic back problem that's not going away?", let him talk, and then give some suggestions he might not have considered.  Does he know about chiropractic treatment?  Does he have insurance?  Is he afraid that the only treatment available will be surgery?  Maybe he's thinking that the only thing they can do is prescribe muscle-relaxers and bed-rest, and he simply can't take the time off.

Whatever you try, I'd let it go after that---you don't want to alienate a friend while trying to help him.  Give it one good shot, then leave it alone.

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