Sunday, January 12, 2014

Drastic Times Call for Drastic Measures

Winters are a stressful time at our house. 
Pain: Give me my husband back
Richard, (aka, hubby), has increased back pain due to many factors: the cold weather, the extra activities from the holidays, the increased stress due to the holidays and, of course, the denial that the pain has increased. Not to mention not remembering this happens Every. Single. Year.

For my part, my job is extra stressful from November through January.  Year-end projects are a nightmare and ever since getting appendicitis a few Januarys ago, my co-workers and I joke that I lose body parts during year-end.  Add in the stress of the extra activities (yes, I know, I bring on a lot myself with my wild ideas about holiday decorating), and, of course, the denial that the pain my husband feels has increased.  Not to mention not remembering this happens Every. Single. Year.

This year, we have the additional responsibility (which, yes, is stressful) of caring for Robert in our home. We haven’t yet experienced a full year of Robert living with us so we’re still working through routines, helping with his ADLs (activities of daily living), keeping him well so he’s not in the hospital or dealing with his hospitalizations (three since he moved in).

Oh, yeah.

I also flunked my stress test which meant having to do another, more intense stress test which really stressed me out. 

Richard’s pain keeps him up at night and going months without a decent night sleep is stressful on everyone. He has tried sleeping pills which are not working; he has tried meditation which doesn’t make him calm or sleepy; he has tried staying up all day without napping but that only makes him crankier because he still can’t sleep at night. His doctor is going to have him do another sleep study but who knows when that will be scheduled.

Even though I can generally sleep through anything, his restlessness and periods of wakefulness throughout the night is starting to wear me out.  It is taking a greater toll on Richard, of course, but we both need him to get some sleep.

I wake up every morning knowing he is in pain (him bending over in pain and moving extra slow are a couple of clues).  I wake up knowing that he barely got any sleep yet I persist in asking, “How did you sleep?” 

Either I am an optimist or a glutton for punishment but I have no idea why I ask this other than I just want to hear that he slept well – for once!  

I want Richard to sleep.  I want his pain under control – after all, we went through a horrible ordeal in September due to something that is supposed to keep his pain under control. 

It isn’t and I demand a refund!  (Insert stomping feet and screaming tantrum here.)

Okay, it’s not that easy but shouldn’t something that can possibly put his life at risk be more effective?   We’re afraid to stop using the intrathecal pain pump (I say “we” because we’re in this together) because of the exponential pain he feels without it. 

Yet, he uses it and still has extreme pain. And stress. And lack of sleep. All causing more pain.

It is a terrible, terrible cycle – one which I can’t seem to change but am wracking my brain for ideas. 

Today, I took drastic step #1: I got a massage and a facial to deal with my own stress level.

Today, I also talked with Richard and told him I was taking a drastic step to see if it would help his sleep.  Because if he gets some sleep, his pain will eventually lessen which will lessen the stress we’re under because of this awful pain.

Drastic step #2:  Tonight, I am taking my pillows (and the dogs) to the room down the hall so that Richard has the best shot possible at getting some sleep. 

It’s a drastic measure and not a permanent one but I do hope to hear a different answer to my question, “How did you sleep?” (See above re glutton for punishment.)

The answer won’t be different after one night.  It might not even be different after several nights.  But we need to try anything at this point. 

The pain needs to get under control. 

I’d love to hear what you’ve done when you’ve come to the end of your rope.  What have been your drastic measures? 


Jane said...

Oh Trish.... isn't life grand as a caregiver? I can't imagine the stress that you go through caring for two people. I am so glad that you took the time to get a massage and facial I bet that was heaven. I have decided I need something for the stress too but I think I will get a hobby something that will allow me to be creative.

I hope that there will be a solution for Richard's pain. I know how hard it is to watch someone go through pain. When Nicole is in pain she doesn't sleep well either and like you I ask Nicole every day how she slept. Most of the time she sleeps well. She just go to sleep and she doesn't nap at all.

You, Richard and Robert are all an inspiration to me.


Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Jane, Thank you so much for commenting. You have so much of your own stuff to deal with. I hope you and Nicole are doing well! Love!