Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall

My last published post is now almost 9 months old. It’s been a rough interlude. I’ve taken some time. I needed to, and while I’m not sorry, it is good to be back in the world, so to speak. I had planned to share tips and tricks for dealing with caregiver stress, or stress in general.

Obviously, I didn’t do that.

There are several reasons. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I was doing a good enough job of managing my stress to offer guidance to others. In hindsight, I was being too hard on myself.

Done is done. I made a choice. In fairness to myself and the situation, my energies were needed elsewhere.

So, like Humpty Dumpty, I sat on the wall, and gravity…well, gravity’s a bitch. Here’s what went down:

The Last 9 Months…Heavy Sh*t

When momz came out of the hospital in November she was still a mess. The little mobility she had was gone. She was on 24-hour oxygen. She was diagnosed with lung disease and heart failure on top of her diabetes.

I would get momz breakfast and her pills and check her vitals before work. Dad would check on her throughout the day, and then I’d come home, and I’d be taking her vitals and binging her pills and making dinner.

I quickly saw that momz needed more help during the day. My dad’s neither young, nor fit as a fiddle, and it was hard for him to handle things. The constant calls with the lung doctor, the heart doctor, the family doctor were causing me to miss a lot of work anyway. I decided to take a leave of absence.

Besides, as the family jokes run, my dad’s not a medical guy. He’s the pick up a prescription, do a popsicle run guy. He won’t hold your hair back when you’re puking, but he’ll get you ginger-ale and Pepto. His medical philosophies run along the lines of ‘don’t worry, be happy,’ and ‘…a fever of 103.5? When she gets to 104, sell!’

My dad, the joker.

I called the ambulance on a Sunday in December. It was a week and a half before Christmas. Momz died the next day. Sepsis and multiple organ failure. I guess the IV antibiotics they gave her in hospital were stopped too soon, or the infection was too deep in her body, which quickly shut down.

Even with COVID restrictions, my Dad and I were allowed to come to the hospital. We sat with her until she died a few hours later. She wasn’t lucid. She was mostly unconscious. There was nothing anyone could do. They gave her strong pain meds, and we held her hand, and talked to her and waited.

She was holding on, and it was hurting her. I remember momz always liked ABBA’s “I Believe in Angels,” so I played it for her. I thought it would be soothing. I think it was. As the song faded away, so did she.

Amongst all this, Dad had flunked his heart checkup. He had to wear a heart monitor, and it decided his heart had stopped temporarily. I worried, and I thought it had to be a technical malfunction. I mean, if his heart stopped, surely he’d have passed out, or there would have been some sign.

They redid the tests a week or two later, and still didn’t like the outcome. The words surgery and pacemaker got thrown around a bit until the specialist decided to wait and see.

Unsurprisingly, the stress of everything was taking its toll on dad, but he seemed to be hold steady. He wasn’t getting worse, at least. Until Superbowl Sunday when he ended up in the Emergency room.

It wasn’t his heart this time. He’d been bleeding from a place he ought not to be bleeding from, and common sense and self-preservation finally got the better of his embarrassment. Now, the spike in COVID cases meant I couldn’t go with him, so I watched him walk into the emergency room alone, and I worried.

I had never actually wished hemorrhoids on anyone before, but I did then. It beat the alternatives.

Weeks later (because medicine – while free – proceeds in geological time in Canada), a colonoscopy revealed whatever had gone wrong had sorted itself out. He was ok. I felt so much relief and gratitude.

I had gone back to work in January. By the end of March, I started a new job. I was excited to begin. Working from home was ideal. I wasn’t going into a workplace where people sneered at public health measures, and those who took them seriously.

And, I could be on hand for dad who, as the executor of momz’ estate, was handling a lot. (Doctors, and lawyers, and probate, oh my!)

Bottom line: I needed a fresh start, a change. I got it, and I was grateful.

However, right around Good Friday, my left eye started swelling. Dr. Google said to take it seriously, so I went to the doctor and did a week of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, but there was no improvement. In fact, it was getting worse. My eye swelled completely shut. I was sent to the hospital.

The sounds and smells, being there, reminded me of momz dying only a few months before. With cases near the peak, yet another peak, I wondered if every breath I took was infectious.

I did not succumb to the panic attack that lurked.

To calm down, usually I focus on my breathing. However, breathing was a source of anxiety in that environment, so I put on a brainwave entrainment mp3, and came to a zen sort of chill.

I was put on an IV antibiotic pump for 2 weeks, followed by another week of regular antibiotics. It was miserable, but I mended.

Close as I can figure, a zit in my eyebrow went thermonuclear. There’s still a scar under my eyebrow. A fetching souvenir to match my old chicken pox scars.

I guess the stress of everything was taking its toll on me too. But life continued, and I managed.

Fast forward and we’re getting our COVID shots. Things were starting to open up. Things were looking up.

Then dad ran into trouble again. At first we thought it was his bladder. Turns out, it was his prostate. Not cancerous, as far as the doctor could tell, although there’s been a biopsy, and the results are pending.

Apparently, enlarged prostates are common in men as they age. You could avoid it I guess – if you chop off your nuts. The cure sounds far worse than the disease.

Although my dad, who’s been dealing with a catheter for the last 2 months might have his own opinion. Then again, maybe not. I imagine guys feel rather possessively attached to their balls.

Dad had surgery on Wednesday, and he just got home on Friday. He was supposed to come home on Thursday, but the nurses and doctors didn’t like his pulse and his blood pressure. The words surgery and pacemaker got thrown around again.

And now here we are. It’s 12:30 on Saturday night. Dad’s on the mend, and we’re back to the ‘wait and see’ approach on the pacemaker.

So yeah, pretty rough this last year, coping with death, grief, and stress. I’m getting through it.

Wow

Now you’re all caught up, more or less. Tomorrow, or actually later today, I’ll post 7 tips for managing stress. I’ve had quite a lot of it lately, so hopefully the things that have been helping me can help you too.

Until then, wherever you are, goodnight, good morning, good day.

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