Friday, May 10, 2013

Caregiving Overload

Despite my plans to work on some writing I ended up having two weeks of unexpected stress that meant I had to step up my Caregiving.

I have mentioned on many occasions about Sean's chronic pain issues and how we have been back and forth trying to find what he needs to get some semblance of comfort.  Well he recently had a doctor change and so his new doctor was trying other meds on him to see if we could get some better control on his pain levels.

Initially when the plans were discussed it gave Sean some relief as he felt like someone was actually going to do something to help him with the pain instead of ignoring his complaints.  He felt that finally he would get something strong enough so he could get around more and not be stuck in a chair so often.

Then when the med changes happened that relief turned into bitterness.

The stronger pain meds didn't help at all.  In fact they actually did the reverse, they gave him even less pain relief.  So, for the last two weeks he was pretty much stuck in his chair because even getting up to move to the bathroom was a feat.

Now on a normal basis this wouldn't be a huge deal as I have dealt with many a time where I had to handle more while he struggled, it just varied on what he was struggling with, depression, PTSD overload/shut down, poor sleeping, the chronic pain...you get the idea.  The thing that made it so much more stressful this time was at the end of the month we have a party we planned to celebrate our Tenth Wedding Anniversary where people are coming in from out of town to attend.  This means there is a list of things I need to tackle on top of my usual duties as wife, mother, Caregiver, and so forth.

That meant with Sean basically out of commission I would have to do everything and the thought alone was beginning to wear on my mental state.

It is one thing to do everything when it is just the normal daily routine, but when you throw on extra events and jobs it weights you down so much that you end up on your knees from the heaviness, pleading for some help.

That was me just a few days ago.

See, because of the fact that I take care of Sean I don't host dinners or parties.  We have had a friend over for dinner once in a blue moon, but for regular gatherings and parties they require more in depth planning.  They also usually involve more people and Sean does better with smaller groups and I will admit over the years I haven become more introverted.  The only reason I wanted to do this party was because back when Sean and I married we said we would have some kind of Vow Renewal for our Ten Years.  Granted back then we never expected him to be injured and end up disabled, but even in the last few years as this time drew closer I kept asking him if he still wanted to do the party.  Every time I asked he always said yes, so we kept the plan.

Of course I also didn't count on the new stronger meds not to work for Sean and that lead to us spending two weeks where I watched the times tick closer to the date of our party, while Sean suffered in his chair and ranted on daily about how the VA doesn't care.  Throw in the children constantly annoying each other like siblings tend to do and Spring allergies, I was feeling more and more overwhelmed about the whole thing and was ready to cancel the one party I had my heart set on for years.

Then as I said a few days ago it all caught up to me and I broke down in tears while venting my own frustrations on an already agitated Sean because of his pain weighting him down.  It wasn't my finest hour I'll admit, but lately I seem to hold it in till I can't anymore.  I need to learn not to do that as it isn't the most helpful thing.  I just worry about adding to Sean's struggles.  He already at times talks about how he feels guilty that he is such a burden on me and I don't like him thinking that.

I mean life is filled with burdens.  If he was never injured we would have had other burdens holdings us down.  Just because we have to live life differently from the pack doesn't mean I find him a burden.  I love him dearly and honestly I am sure I'm not the most pleasant person to live with at times either.  So, I tend to curb what I vent to him about, but then I don't exactly vent to too many others either.  That is what I need to work on, finding better ways to ease my stresses.

Anyway, back to the day of my meltdown.

I cried and vented till my eyes ached and at first Sean didn't take it too well.  For one the message I was trying to convey wasn't exactly clear and misconstrued by Sean understandably.  Second, Sean was still hurting and anyone who has dealt with pain for any length of time knows just how much it can negatively affect one's mood.  Still after I calmed down and was able to speak more clearly, we had a better stance on how we were going to move forward with the plans.

The next day we made calls to his doctor to discuss what we could do to correct the pain med issue.  Unfortunately we never heard back from the doctor that day and I began to worry again.

Then that evening an unexpected call came through for me.

It was from one of the people who handle the quarterly check ins for those of us in the VA's Caregiver Program.  She was asking how things were going and what we have been dealing with for this quarter.  So, I went ahead and rambled on about the back and forth with the pain med issue, about how we have yet to hear from the physical therapist for the TENS unit consult, and how I am working on straightening out his counseling and psychiatric appointments.  The lady who spoke with me was very nice and told me she would send some messages to help get the bug in some peoples' ears to try and get back with me.

The very next morning the nurse for Sean's doctor called and we managed to hash out a better plan for his pain meds.  Later that afternoon the person of the PT department called and Sean now has his appointment for the TENS unit consult.  We worked out his counseling appointments and I left a message with his psychiatrist.  Then today the replacement tubing and mask for his CPAP machine arrived.

Now that things are moving along again, Sean is in a better mood, I am feeling better about getting things done, and excitement for our party has kicked back in.

The last two weeks may have been pretty rough but after speaking with that one lady, not only did things get back on track for us but also it proved that despite the many things the VA may have a bad reputation on, there are still some gems who work for them.

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