June 26, 2009

Catching the Caregiver Back Pain Train

I'm just returning from a two week pity party. You know the kind where you don't think you can handle one more metaphorical---or real, for that matter---hangnail. Giving myself a sharp "get over yourself, everyone has problems" usually keeps pity parties off my property---I'm generally an upbeat kind of person---but not this time. This time, four out-of-place vertebrae were playing sadistic games with the nerves running down my leg and they threw open the front door inviting the pity party pack to camp out in the living room. Woo is me! The cry fest started and the tears were only interrupted with occasional outbursts of succulent statements like: "I can't take care of us like this," "Oh, crap!" and "where is a nursing home when you need one?" I even cursed Don and myself for not having the foresight to have a few kids that we could guilt trip into coming over to help their old folks out in our time of need.

The only thing I was able to accomplish these past two weeks is to drive myself five times to the nearest chiropractor, shove simple foods like cereal and TV dinners towards Don, and let the dog outside almost as often as he needed to go. (And wouldn't you know it, my back problem started the day after we had the carpets professionally cleaned.) Heck, I was in such bad shape that I couldn't even kill an ant that was scouting his way across the bedroom in search of a cozy little place to relocate his colony. All I could do is hope he'd scouted his way half way up a wall where I could assassinate him without bending over. He was a smart little bugger. He never did get within my kill zone, but the gods of small favors did send Levi, our curious wonder puppy, to play the poor ant to death.

Thankfully, the pain is less frequent now and not as intense and instead of longing for that nursing home where all our needs could be met I dream of assisted living where someone comes in do the laundry, see that we eat and are not lying in bed bemoaning the fact that the bathroom is twelve HUGE steps away. I'm making progress. Next week I hope to be confident, again, that I can manage our lives with the decorum of a happy, in-charge woman who is not ready to throw in the proverbial towel.

Caregivers and back pain go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or so I've been told. I don't know why it took me so long to admit that pushing nearly 300 pounds of man and metal chair around has taken its toll on my already aging and not so beautiful body. So next week in addition to playing catch-up for the time lost to the pity party and pain I start physical therapy to learn how to minimize lower back strain. In the meantime I'm armed with my new best friends---the 48 inch body pillow and the handy-Danny PosturePro lumbar support. The first time I climbed on that pillow, face down with all four limbs hanging off, I audibly sighed and thought there really is a light at the end of my caregiver, woe-is-me tunnel and its not a train coming full speed ahead. ©


Anonymous said...

hey Jean:

I looked for months for your blog and was glad to see one.I hope & pray you feel better soon. your posturepedic pillow looks quite comforting. I am amazed that in so much pain you were still able to write humurous blog, I gues that's great writer in you.

lots of love

gugge1 said...

Hang in there - I know it's hard to even comprehend how to take care of someone else when you are in pain. I can definitely relate. We have managed only by keeping laughing at all the funny crazy ways I have to do things to accommodate my own pain. Your blog helps those who read it by knowing that we are not alone in this world of caregiving. I'm still trying to find something for my husband to do besides watch tv and drive me to work. It's hard because of his daily pain and speech or lack of speech which limits his communicating with others. I do allow myself time to cry and feel sorry for myself but only when I do the dishes - I figure that my husband will never volunteer to do the dishes that it is a safe time to let myself go. I try to keep it only to the dishes and that really seems to help. After that I pick myself up and get going again. Keep blogging so we can share with you.

Anonymous said...

Being no stranger to back pain, I literally feel your pain. I hope you mend soon.

parlance said...

I think when an episode of back pain is upon us it feels as if it will never subside. But it always does, even if takes a long time.

I'm thinking of you.

happy said...

Sorry to hear about your back. Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

The Bee Folks - Lori Titus said...

Sorry to hear about your back! I see a chiropractor once a month, whether I need it or not. I figure if someone is reminding me on a regular basis to take care of myself and lift with my knees, I'll last a bit longer.

BookingAlong said...

I'm glad to see this post, however late I've come to it. Hope you feel better soon!