It’s been a real struggle for me this last week, especially mentally. My mum once gave me some great advice. She said something to the effect of “There is a line; that line is the balance between happy and sad. When you are sad, you will dip slightly below the line; when you are really really sad, you dive deeper and deeper. However, when you are depressed, you are very deep and can’t even see the line anymore. So when you see yourself dipping your toe below the line, you know its time to change something in your life- go for a walk, go to the beach, go out with your friends, change your diet, do something for yourself that will bring you back up to the line. If you can no longer see the line, it’s going to be harder and harder to get back there.” This was some profound advice from my mum given to me shortly after Paul’s accident in 2016. This same woman also told me to shake my wallet at the new moon each month to ensure I would always have plenty of money. I still practice it to this day, so whose the bigger fool?
This line analogy has stuck with me 5 years later and I have passed on this wisdom to many. I seem to recognise depression and anxiety disorders in others quite easily, especially when people start to open up about themselves. I don’t consider myself depressed but I have frequent moments when I dip ‘below the line.’ This week, I was drowning under the line, in fact, it felt like someone was keeping my head under water.
Amongst the plethora of issues concerning the care agency-staff shortages, getting phone calls in the middle of the night because someone didn’t show up for their shift or staff not getting paid properly, Paul was also becoming unwell. Paul was tensing, wincing, moaning and groaning every time he needed to urinate or if someone was cleaning around his catheter. The catheter is the bane of my existence but I am trying to give it a chance to woo me with its magic. It’s been 5 months and there is still no love between us. The alternative is Paul risking kidney/ bladder stones again which is difficult to manage without a catheter for someone like Paul. This was traumatising to me having to helplessly watch Paul suffer with the pain that equates to that of childbirth. Watching Paul in agony for so long until its diagnosis and then waiting for someone to do something about it, was far to great of a risk to take. Catheter it is. I am aware that this tube sticking out of Paul’s body to allow him to pass urine easily comes with it’s fair share of issues, but geez, give us a break already. Month after month, Paul has had some sort of catheter- related infection.
Last Friday the GP sent us to ‘ambulatory care’ also known as “Hospital at Home.” I could have kissed the Doctor for not making us go to the Emergency Department when he discovered a nasty bacteria growing in Paul’s urine. The staff at the clinic were awesome, patient, attentive, down to earth- something I am not always accustomed to. Up in ICU, Paul had to get a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) line into his arm to deliver the antibiotic. The nurses were quick and efficient which I was grateful for. I will not judge them for the damage they did to my ears with their country music playlist blaring as they worked. They are only human. Back down to the clinic, we received a bag of Tazocin antibiotics that came with their own funky bumbag and home we went. My instructions were that Paul needed another catheter change mid course to ensure that any bacteria from the tubing was removed. Sigh. Another trip to hospital.
At home, the staff did well not to get the PICC line dressing wet or pull at the tube. The community nurses came each day, mixed the drugs without complaint. All was going well despite Paul feeling incredibly lethargic and not wanting to get out of bed for days. I felt myself being drained of energy though. It was all getting too much. The stress of the care agency not being able to meet our needs, the unhappy staff, underpaid, being ignored and undervalued by their employer then to top it off, Paul’s pain and suffering; I was suffering too.
Too scared to reach out to anyone for fear of being seen as weak and not the usual superstar I am, I thought I would go and paint. Painting was my therapy. I didn’t have to concentrate on anything but the brush and the canvas in front of me. Some like meditation, some like yoga, some slam it out at the gym. I have my painting. But when I walked into the room where my paint was splayed out, my bushes in their cup, unfinished projects begging for my attention…. I had no desire to be in there. I knew I was starting to drift into deep water territory. So I went to my room to contemplate all the changes I should make in my life. I cried instead. I cried and cried and cried some more. I begged God to send me a life raft or maybe a good- looking ironman on a jet ski to bail me out.
But you will have to wait for my next post to find out how shit got worse.
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