Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just random thoughts

I've only made it 26 days into the new year without letting much get me down. But, I only made it this far because I haven't posted the stuff that's been going on that's less than positive. Ron continues to have issues; I've decided that just probably isn't going to change any time soon.

He fell three weeks ago (which wasn't the only fall he's had) and landed very hard with his fist between his chest and the floor. He doesn't know why he falls, he just does. He's refused to let me get a monitoring system and says that he'll just be more careful. So now, he sits in his chair all day and only gets up if he really, really has to (i.e., bathroom trip). He can't stand well enough to fix himself anything to eat so unless he grabs a piece of fruit or a carton of yogurt, he's not been eating much. He grabs some snacks but for the most part, my evening conversation usually goes something like this:

Me: What did you eat today?
Ron: Eat? Was I supposed to eat? (he's kidding; he knows I'm going to ask)
Me: Yes, I told you to eat {whatever I've mentioned that morning}
Ron: Oh, well - I guess I didn't.
Me: Why didn't you eat?
Ron: Too much trouble (or) I didn't feel like it

He's been shaking a lot more, too. Last night he wanted a drink and because I was doing homework, he thought he'd get himself a drink. He was standing there, with his cane, and shaking so badly he could hardly stand up. He said he'd been shaking quite a bit during the day. I got his water and got him back to his chair. In bed, he started shaking again. He was shaking so much the whole bed was moving. I wondered how long it would last, should I say something, should I ignore it and try to sleep, or just wait and see what happened. After about three minutes, it subsided and he was able to get to sleep.

One night last week, I thought he was having seizures. He was sleeping, I could see his chest moving up and down (I was lying on my left ear, which is the only one I hear out of so I could only "watch" and not "hear" him breathe). Every few seconds, his whole body would jerk. This went on for several minutes. I was getting quite concerned but it stopped almost as suddenly as it started.

He got a new brace last Monday. I was so thrilled. It really helped him stand up better. We were able to put it down into a pair of his shoes he got after he had his left foot amputation. Because of the way the brace was made, we put it down in the shoe and then he slid his foot in it. This was great because he could pretty much do this on his own, and the shoe fastens with Velcro. Woo-hoo! Thought we were on to something. He wore that shoe on Tuesday to the cardiologist's office (had to have his pacemaker checked out after the fall because of the amount of pain he was in), walked in from the car and back out again. When I took off his shoes and the brace, I checked his foot and did not see any evidence of "wear" on his foot. That was a good sign...

Wednesday, I put the brace in the shoe and showed him how to put his foot in, fasten the brace, and then fasten the shoe. Told him to take the whole thing off if he felt like he was having a problem. I got home Wednesday evening and he said he thought the shoe felt too tight and could I take a look. I took the shoe off and immediately knew we had a problem. His big toe was bleeding. {sigh} That is never a good sign. He said, "It's only a blister, right?" I told him that nothing is ever "only" anything where his feet were concerned. It looked like someone had literally taken a cheese grater and grated off the end of his big toe. I cleaned it, added antibiotic cream, and bandaged it along with the other hole.

Today, it does look better but he can't put the brace and shoe back on until it's healed. He sees Dr. Heady again on Thursday so I'm sure he'll take a look at it. The other hole is just not healing. I can tell the hole is bigger underneath the layer of skin than it appears. When I push down around the opening, I can tell it's squishy underneath. I think Doc will probably cut the outside off to let the inside heal. We've been months on this hole.

In fact, next month makes four years that we have been trying to keep Ron's feet attached to his body. April 1, 2006 he had his first amputation (1/2 of his left foot - a transmetatarsal amputation) and he spent the rest of the year healing from that. 2007 we spent treating a recurring blister on his right heel. 2008 we spent having surgery after surgery on the right heel. Finally got the wound VAC off and the healing was looking good, and we then spent all of 2009 on the heel and a "new" blister caused by his first brace. Once that heeled (it's not quite heeled), the next "new" one popped up caused by pressure on the end of the next brace. Each time we get something healed, a new issues crops up.

About the fall... We believe that he cracked a rib or two when he fell, or bruised his chest cavity. He's been barely able to get himself in or out of the bed because of pain. Finally, this week it is starting to get better. I ask him every day if he wants to go get X-rays and he says "if I'm not any better tomorrow" and he's been a bit better each day.

As I was contemplating this post today, I was in tears. I couldn't decide if I felt sorrier for him or for me. Sure, he doesn't like the position he's in any more than I do - but are my feelings of sympathy really sympathy and compassion - or are they self-pity? Some days - I truly don't know. Other days - I'm ashamed of the answer. When I see his struggles, my heart just breaks for him. I'm torn between jumping up and doing what needs to be done and sitting back to see if he can make it. But, he's in so much pain that I have a hard time just waiting to see if he can do it because I figure I'm making him suffer needlessly. Then, I think that if he did more things for himself he might feel better. Then, I see his hands shaking and trembling and him struggling to do even the simplest of tasks and know that he is in tremendous pain, and the cycle starts all over again.

I have been letting my guard down lately with people and expressing my thoughts and my fears. I realized (today) that it is making me more vulnerable to feelings that I cannot afford to have. So, I am shutting back down and putting the survival walls back up. I cannot allow myself to feel, because feelings mean failure and failure is not an option. I have to just remain numb to all that is going on around me and put one foot in front of the other - day in and day out. That is the only way to survive. Running away is not an alternative action. LOL - I'd be on the phone every day asking if he was OK and if he had eaten.

I was talking at work today with one of my co-workers. I was doing fine until I started talking about concerns and the wondering if I could do anything differently than what I'm doing. I often feel like I'm not doing enough, and then there are times that I feel like I'm doing so much that I can't do another thing. I waver between resentment for some of the things that I have to do and compassion when I have to do those same things. I say over and over again that I wouldn't want to be in his shoes and that I do these things because I love him and because I'm glad to do them.

After I decided that my own feelings were causing my feelings of weakness and distress, I was able to get a grip on myself and get on with the items at hand. I wondered about the years my mom took care of my dad without ever complaining. My mom is my hero. I want to ask her if she ever got tired of her responsibilities and if she ever felt guilty for doing so. After all, at the time she was in better shape than my dad was. She never let on that she might have more on her plate than she could handle. She was retired, so that helped - but because she was retired, she was also older. Her trials with my dad's health started when she was 55; he died in Sept 2005. She was 75 and he was 74.

1 comment:

Rae said...

I am amazed that you are able to do all that you do. It is hard being a caregiver. Sometimes the caregiver needs someone to take care of them once in awhile too.

I took care of my mother for only a short time and I felt overwhelmed with all that it required. More than anything I missed having time for myself. I imagine you find that hard too. You should never feel guilty for having wavering feelings. That is normal. You have a lot of responsibilities without many options to change any of it. You are a remarkable individual. Keep telling yourself that when things start to wear on you.