It was not a shock. You regular blog readers have known that she has been sick with Alzheimer's for almost 25 years.
Society has taken a strange turn here in the US. Almost 30% of us are caring for a loved one while having a family of our own AND maintaining a full-time job. The numbers will only get worse as half of us will have to deal with caring for someone with a chronic illness in the next 30 years.
I found these numbers completely shocking when I was Googling anxiety and fibromyalgia for my own personal needs. You see, out of all the symptoms I have had over the course of the past several years, I'm finding panic attacks to be the worst. And I think it's because those attacks remind me of what I have lost.
Both deaths were not shocking, but they still are very hard to deal with. I no longer have an ill person to care for and that's an empty feeling. I think that is probably the hardest thing for me at this point, aside from not having both of them around to just talk to.
When they were both here and in need, I found a sense of purpose in preparing their meals, doing their laundry, and giving them the companionship they craved. I also had two children that needed me for help with homework, meals, and laundry and a husband who needed these things too. Life was beyond hectic and I would often find myself suffering from anxiety the most as my stress levels rose. It had gotten bad enough where I really didn't want to leave the house in fear that it would surface and I'd be trapped.
Now that they are gone and there is less of a sense of urgency, I am having difficulty finding a sense of purpose. This usually can be easily remedied with me immersing myself into work, but I honestly have been finding it hard to write. I either lack the energy or nothing seems to sound right. I am even struggling with this blog post. I personally think it's one of my worst entries, BUT I know there are probably a lot of people out there that may appreciate these raw feelings so I'm going to go with it-- for better or worse.
I'm also finding it difficult to do housework. It seems like I get a panic attack at just the mere thought of doing it. I know some of it has to do with my OCD and the fact that I have a new puppy. She is difficult to potty train and that is REALLY not helping.
But hey-- let's bask in the cuteness of the puppy-- shall we?
This is Luna. She is a Siberian Husky. We got the puppy for the hubs as a gift. He has always wanted a husky. She is quite a handful. She loves VERY long walks, likes to tug at the leash every chance she gets, is teething, and is BEYOND playful with my Sport.
Sport, my Cocker Spaniel is really liking Luna. They get along quite well.
The cat Onyx? Well, he's not all that into Luna and would rather spend most of his time in the basement. But even he is starting to warm up to the sweetness! Okay, here's some equal time with the cuteness factor. Here's Sport waiting for Daddy to get home:
And here's Onyx in all of his cuteness and being VERY bad. He's not supposed to be on Daddy's desk. LOL!:
These three, along with my daughters, nieces, and hubs have always been my inspiration to get out of bed in the morning, but after 10 years of dealing with this beast, you'd think I'd have a better handle on my symptoms where I wouldn't get a panic attack at the drop of a hat. Sure I could say that my illness has just gotten worse, research would back me up. But I'm not so sure.
Truth be told, there is a reason why Fibro is called a beast. This thing can be hard to tame-- even after having it for 10 years. Sometimes new symptoms creep up.
Or in my case-- the symptoms are there because my body has not found a way to calm down after being put through a constant fight or flight scenario.
Yes, it is true that many Fibro sufferers CAN and DO suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). BUT I do not feel that this is completely true in my case.
Alzheimer's/ dementia care is a unique type of care. You are caring for an adult like you would a child, BUT you have to honor the adult with dignity. Watching someone lose their entire being is probably one of the worst things you can witness. There are others-- but this one ranks high up there because you wind up feeling completely torn.
This person, when aware, must feel so trapped and you want nothing more than to try and comfort that feeling for them. It's a battle you tend to face alone because the partner in this might not remember you or their disease 5 minutes from now. This is why stress can be at very high levels with Alzheimer's. Cancer, heart disease, or any other illness that need a caregiver is just as hard. I just can't speak with as much experience, so I won't try.
I believe that sometimes a caregiver continues to go through the fight or flight feelings after your loved one is gone because your body needs time to catch up and process what has happened. I've been caring for my Mom and grandparents for over 15 years and I think that does something to your psyche.
But even if you have been caring for someone for a lesser amount of time, I think your body has a problem processing that much stress without a release.
And when this happens, listen to your body. Relax by taking a nap, a soak in the tub, meditate, play a mindless video game, read, write-- whatever-- but do something that YOU enjoy. Your body is longing for that release. Give into it so your body can heal and get one day closer to the normal you remember.
Supplements also help. I'm currently taking Ginko Biloba and Sam-e for the anxiety, stress, and depression. I also take vitamin D and B to help with the fatigue. And I also crave a glass of orange juice every morning. I stay clear of coffee and drink a good cup of tea.
Hope this helps...
Love and friendship,