Monday, December 12, 2011


The problem with fibro, or just about any other illness, for that matter, is that life doesn't stop just because you do. Most people are caregivers of some sort. It doesn't mean you care just for elderly or sick people. If you have an immediate family and children, you're a caregiver. If you have pets, you're a caregiver.

I'm a caregiver, I have both pets and elderly parents to care for. The pets aren't usually a problem. The parents are. My father has dementia, and it is getting progressively worse. This past week, for two days he was unable to sit up, stand up, or walk. I won't go into all the gory details that the logistics of this debilitation entails, but we ended up at the emergency room last Tuesday afternoon.

It started with a call from my mother. "I need help getting him cleaned up and changed."

He had problems the day before, so this was not unexpected. I said I'd be right over.

It turns out, he had tried to get out of bed during the night, and both he and my mother had fallen. She made him comfortable on the floor, since he was too heavy for her to move. She didn't call me until nearly one o'clock in the afternoon. My father had been laying on the floor for hours.

I cleaned him up, dressed him, but I too couldn't get him off the floor. We did not know why he suddenly couldn't support himself, and decided that a visit to the hospital was necessary. We called an ambulance.

I started to worry, when the attendants wanted his DNR. This is the do not rescucitate order. "Did they think he might die on the way to the hospital?"

His vitals were fine. The more I thought about it, the less worried I became. He's been this way for hours, he's not going anywhere yet. My father, despite all his ailments, has this amazing resiliency.

If you have never been to an emergency room, it is a torturous experience. You wait and wait and wait. We knew this. We have been to the emergency room several times in the past few years. I always take something to do.

My mother on the other hand, takes nothing, and despite our vast experiences with emergency rooms, she complains constantly the whole time about how long it's taking. While she was doing this, my dad was trying to escape. He kept trying to sit-up and would pull off all his monitors. They'd reattach them. He'd start all over again. Between the two of them, I was ready to scream.

We arrived at the hospital between four and five in the afternoon. We finally got home around 11 pm. Yes, believe it or not, they released him. The blood tests showed no signs of infection or any other trouble, so they gave him fluids.

After his second IV bag, the doctor decided to see if he could walk. They got the walker out, and two nurses escorted him around the floor. He did just fine. Here was a man who couldn't even sit up a few hours ago, using his walker with no problems at all.

We took him home. Unfortunately, he felt better, and became less docile and more belligerent. We went through quite a struggle getting him settled for bed. I finally got home to my house around 1 am.

Between the physical exertion and the stress, I woke up exhausted the next day. Anyone would. My muscles were aching, my bad wrist and back were aching from all the pushing and pulling that occurred over the last couple of days. I could feel a flare coming on.

I was fatigued but, I had a deadline to meet. All the other things I needed to do had to go on the backburner while I struggled to meet my deadline. It took me the rest of the week to recover. Even now my arm and lower back are still giving me some trouble.

Many of the people I interviewed are caregivers in the family sense of the word. More importantly, some are caregivers as a career. Because of her fibro, Kristy had to give up caring for children because she could no longer handle the lifting required. Carmen had to give up her job as a nurse technician when she damaged her shoulder lifting a patient. This set off a series of operations along with the fibro. Misha still works and loves her job, but finds being a radiology technician physically demanding and very hard on her fibro.

Like it or not, we continue somehow, but the stressful demands of caregiving, places and even greater burden on those who suffer from chronic pain conditions.

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