Caregiver Stress

Over the past three weeks, I have noticed a significant increase of physical signs of stress. I only put two and two together today when I had an appointment to address some of the symptoms. This past week has been the worse increase for back pain, asthma flares, and headaches. It is all interconnected. It was obvious to me that something wasn’t correct, but my brain would not acknowledge my stress level. It was almost as if because I showed no outward signs of the stress on my face, I didn’t look run down, that my brain was able to disconnect the stress factor from everything I felt physically.

The past seven days have been increasingly difficult. Every morning my back hurt more, making it difficult to get up. Even with heat and ibuprofen it was hard to get settled at night. Throughout the day, the pain will spread and increase exponentially. Once I reach higher pain levels, the ibuprofen will barely touch the pain. However, I have only been using ibuprofen as needed, so I will be switching to around the clock treatment for a few days. I also received an anxiety/muscle relaxer medication from my doctor to help calm both my muscles and my nerves. If my stress decreases, it will give my muscles a better chance to relax. I am also going to invest in some heat wraps for continuous heat throughout the day. I am ready to try nearly anything.

With this pain, and the fall allergy season, I have been having asthma flare ups as well. I know that this is partially due to the stress, and just partially due to having asthma. Quite certain it can be maintained with proper medication and trigger avoidance. More concerning have been the headaches. I’ve woken up with headaches nearly every day and a couple of days with a low grade migraine. Not how I want to start my days. I can deal with asthma. I can deal with pain. Headaches? Not my cup of tea. Thank goodness Excedrin still works. I fear the day when it doesn’t, but there are stronger prescription items to consider if need be. Thankfully, I’ve managed to control them. In full countdown mode, I am hoping to continue to be able to do so.

 

As of this post, we are on  countdown day 19 until my husband’s surgery. He’ll be having an esophagectomy which is pretty major surgery. There are plenty of complications that could happen. He and I have batted those around pretty thoroughly. Both of us are remaining positive that he will have successful surgery and speedy recovery. The hardest part through all of this, and I do not know if I’ve said it before (not going back to check), has been learning to just be by his side as his wife, not his nurse. I want to do everything I can to make this easier, but sometimes I am over-helping (meaning I’m siding more with the medical staff than him). I am not to micro manage him while he’s in recovery. I can do this. I had my epiphany with his last surgery for the j-tube. Still not easy.

The nurse in me always wants to be helpful. Amber-nurse, Amber-pharmacy tech, and Amber-wife have always worked well together. Amber-medical now has to take a back seat to Amber-wife but still keep her ears and eyes open. That, I think, is the largest part of my stress.

At his last appointment before scheduling surgery, my mother had come to visit. It was very relieving to allow her to ask the more medical questions of the surgeon so that I could just be the wife. So, countdown shall continue. Caregiver stress I can handle as long as I don’t turn into caregiver fatigue. There is plenty to get done before the big day.

 

Informational sites regarding stress: WebMD, AIS, and Mayo Clinic

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