Caregiver Perspective: Blessings from Pain
I’m sure you have heard others reference the saying “turn lemons into lemonade.” It implies taking something bad and turning it into something good. Our pastor challenged us to think along those lines but with a different twist. When something has you down or something bad/inconvenient happens, try thinking about why that’s a good thing. I have to admit I have difficulty doing that much of the time but each day I try to think of at least one thing good about that day, be thankful for it and share it on my Facebook page. It helps me to, at least once a day, think of something positive. I’ve been pretty negative lately because Lynn and I have not been feeling well and I’ve spent three weekends in the last two months in the emergency department without any answers regarding what is causing me to have abdominal pain. I know it’s nothing serious but I don’t know what it is and I’m getting tired of it. Anyway, I’m also tired of being so negative. Therefore, my post today is my attempt to take this challenging period in our lives and make it into something positive. Here goes….
I am blessed that I have been in the hospital three separate times for three overnight stays because it has allowed my family and I know have a trial run on what we would do if I was sick for longer than overnight.
- We realized the “emergency” information I had given them long ago needed to be significantly updated and expanded. I had a list of medications, doctor’s numbers, and insurance information—all important stuff; but what I was missing was the daily details of caregiving. That first admission I spent most of the time between treatment and doctor’s visiting my room texting my family back and forth with “how to” and “where is” questions. Once I was discharged we gathered to talk in more detail about what they really needed to know and what if I was out for longer than a day. They all needed to know details. Who would step in if I could not? This was an uncomfortable conversation and one that took days actually to finalize what the family needed in my absence and how to help them be prepared. However, now we have a nice little folder both at my house and theirs describing how to do his care, when to do certain procedures, where to go for additional help if needed, and much more.
- We have talked for a while about training Lynn’s son how to catheterize him and how to do some of his more “sensitive” care. His son is really great about taking care of him but he’s not a medical person so doing things like catheterizations or wound care can seem a bit overwhelming. There just never seemed the right time though to teach him. However, when I was in the hospital, blood starting appearing in Lynn’s urine due to the trauma of the catheter rubbing the inside of his urethra when his legs were in motion using the electronic peddler. They had three options: stop using the peddler (and he would have been miserable with leg spasticity), remove the indwelling catheter and do intermittent catheterizations or just let him bleed (not a pleasant thought and it would likely lead to an infection). They made the decision to remove the indwelling catheter. Lynn talked him through the catheterization process and now his son is a pro! Therefore, this hospitalization resulted in his son learning a new skill, developing greater confidence in himself and helping both Lynn and his son realize they could solve a medical problem together successfully.
- Everyone realizes now that I am not invincible. Up to now, I’ve always been the strong, healthy one. Everyone commented on how much I did and I needed to take care of myself, etc. but not before now was the reality of what it meant if I was not around. It was a real wake-up call for everyone, as well as, a very scary reality check. I realized I needed to pay better attention to what my body was telling me (still working on that part) and they all realized they needed to have an idea of what to do if they have to find help to care for Lynn. We still have a way to go with this because you can’t really plan on who will provide care from an agency until you need it but at least the children have people to call to try to get it figured out.
- I know I can count on all of them at a moment’s notice. I had severe abdominal pain and could not leave the bathroom floor to stand up. Lynn did his part by notifying the Rescue Alert system that we needed help. He couldn’t make the call himself because the phone was out of reach but he could push the button to get them. Rescue Alert called my daughter who lives 15 minutes away to come to my house and called the rescue squad. She called Lynn’s son to come because she could only stay an hour (had to get home to a sleeping toddler before her husband left for work). My daughter arrived and got my things together for the trip to the hospital. She then got Lynn settled and reassured after I left until his son arrived. His son and daughter-in-law arrived to take over and spent the night and next day making sure he was fed and all his needs were met. My other son managed my transportation needs home since I had arrived at the hospital in an ambulance. Everyone had a part and they all worked well together. Great team work from a great family.
- I learned that my constant use of Ibuprofen for arthritis pain and caffeine to say awake is slowing causing erosions in my gut. Without the pain, I would not have known there was a problem until I had a bleeding ulcer which would have been more serious and more difficult to correct.
- Finally, I got some much needed rest. I’m allergic to shell fish and needed to have a CT scan. The dye used in the scan has iodine which could be what I’m allergic to in the shell fish so I had to have a 13-hour prep of steroids and antihistamines before they could do the test. That was thirteen hours of rest and no responsibilities which wasn’t such a bad thing to endure.
So there you have it. My attempt to take the negative event of me getting sick and turning it into a blessing. How did I do?