Tag Archive | helpless

Why not just move on?

I have heard people speak those words regarding people who have had something devastating occur in their lives, wondering why those people seem to linger in their misery long after the initial event has passed.  Sometimes it seems people just can’t seem to get past a particularly bad event in their lives. Maybe they stay in grief mode years after a death of a loved one. Maybe they have post traumatic stress for months or years after being mugged. And those around them, whether its people who love them or people who just like to pass judgment on others, can’t help but wonder why the person just can’t seem to pick up life where they left off? Just brush it off and MOVE ON already!

Well, as someone who suffers daily with chronic pain and anxiety related to a botched surgery that occurred in November 2005, let me just say that it’s not as simple as one may think.  I truly wish it was. But when every single waking moment is filled with pain from that incident, it’s really hard to just “get past it.” And the anxiety that I suffer with is also hard to just blow off…I suffer with anxiety and worry daily, regarding my declining health, my pain, my bleak future, not being able to do things I would like to do, not being able to make money to contribute to our family, incurring medical bills that keep us in debt, fear of future medical issues, feeling like a burden, and fear of the medical profession as a whole.  It’s hard to put trust back into the very group of people that caused your situation. It wasn’t just the surgical mistake the doctor made, it was me laying in ICU for days with infection burning thru my body, eating my insides like acid…with both nurses and doctors not picking up on it. It was that next year where 200 days of it were spent in hospitals, enduring 15 further “repair” surgeries, open wounds, flesh eating virus, pneumonia, blood clots,  wound vacs, poorly fitted ostomies, skin infections, central line infections, blood infections…caused by poor medical care in some instances. Nurses who didn’t wash their hands properly for instance. There was one instance I can prove this, I was of course very ill, laying in a hospital bed, a CNA was caring for me, cleaning me up for the day, and during the bedbath she had to wash around my central line in my chest, so she would touch it and move it aside during the bath. She was young and very sweet and I liked her, she was one of the few who actually talked to me and treated as a human being in the bed rather than some practice dummy. She and I were conversing, mostly her since I wasn’t feeling real chatty, but she used some little hand sanitizer she pulled from her pocket before she left and I said it smelled good, she said she got it at Bath and Bodyworks and she had many, so she handed the little container of sanitizer to me saying I could keep it. I said thank you of course, and she sat it on the bedside table and left. The lighting in the room was dim, but later I turned on the over-bed light and picked up the sanitizer…it was then I noted the little bottle was smeared with fecal matter. Yes…POOP. So, obviously at some point the girl got poo on it but didn’t realize it and was then squeezing it onto her hands to “sanitize” her hands, but was really contaminating her hands in the process…

So, that long story was really just to show that when we are helpless in a hospital or nursing home setting, we are depending upon the medical professionals caring for us to follow Universal Precautions to help keep the rate of infection down. But sometimes they do not. Sometimes they don’t wash their hands, or don’t do it properly. Sometimes they think, “I was wearing gloves when I cleaned up that poop, I don’t have to wash too” and move on to the next person.  But maybe the glove had a tear or small hole. Maybe some of the matter got on her wrist or her shirt or her stethoscope (another potential portal of infection), they maybe washing a dirty area then wash a clean area, or touch your IV caps or your foley cath tubing when emptying your bag…there are so many ways for infection to spread. They don’t mean to. They are just trying to do their jobs…which are extremely stressful, with the corporation rules, the constant short-staffing and heavy patient loads, the management breathing down their necks to keep costs down but do more work…it’s no wonder there are so many staph infections and MRSA infections, among others that get spread throughout healthcare settings on a daily basis.

But, this entry really wasn’t supposed to be about infection control…so I apologize for the tangent. My point with that was that I ended up with so many hospital acquired infections during that horrid year, and witnessed so many medical mistakes…wrong meds they attempted to give me, watched them perform treatments or instill meds in ways that were not following proper protocol, leaving me to lay in a dirty bed for far too long, or just being unprofessional or even, I am sad to say, downright cruel in some instances…I had one aid strip me down and park me in a shower chair, tossed a rag in my lap and left me there under the cold running shower, while she went to do something else. At the time I couldn’t stand or walk, I had lines coming from everywhere, my intestines were open with my belly having a softball sized wound, covered in saran wrap and hooked to a wound vac…a foley cath to collect my urine, and was so weak, ill and drugged I could really barely speak or move. I sat there with my teeth chattering, naked and vulnerable, freezing water spraying on me, no call light in reach and unable to call out for help. Another aid came in and half way dried me off, threw me in a gown and rolled me back to bed.

Nurses who yelled at me for wetting the bed, or soaking it with perspiration during high fevers or the hot-flashes after the ovary removal. A doctor who was abrasive saying “This is the hand you were dealt, you gotta decide how to play it” when I was fighting for my life…and just trying to live from one minute to the next.

So, yea…I have anxiety issues when it comes to the medical profession. I must go to the doctor every month, the Coumadin nurses every month…and I live in fear of my intestines becoming blocked or twisted by adhesions and ending up back in the hospital, facing another surgery in a life or death situation. Or having to go due to bloodclots or heart problems. 

Every single day since that botched surgery has been filled with pain and anxiety. They can’t fix the physical or mental damage that was done. They can throw meds at the problems, but they can’t fix them. They believe and understand the physical pain I am in, like they said, “You can’t be cut and sewn and cut and sewn on one area of your body as many times as you have been and not have long-term consequences, the adhesions have become rubber band tourniquets around your bowels Tammy, you can no longer digest food properly and the nerve bundles have been sewn up into the tissue adding to the pain cycle, the ventral hernia which we cannot fix will continue to burn and cause pain, we are sorry that all we can try is to keep you comfortable and keep your nutrition supplemented” oh and there’s always the “We are so sorry you have had to live thru this unattended mishap.”

I wake up and the pain is there, I can’t sit up from a lying position without first rolling onto my side. I walk hunched over much of the time because standing strait sometimes makes the pain worse. I cannot cough, sneeze, laugh, yell or blow my nose without bending over and splinting my belly and God help me if a sneeze catches me off guard! Of course running or most exercise is out of the question. I can walk, but not for long, extended periods. I can dance, (badly)…but carefully and not for long, I can’t lift more than 10 lbs, can’t pull wet towels out of the washer, I can’t eat red meat, raw veggies or fruits, fiber, nuts or seeds or dairy, I can’t do much of what a normal healthy person can do…somedays I can’t leave my bed or couch due to the pain in my abdomen. When I do leave my house, I put on my “normal face”…I walk straight even if it hurts, I smile at people and chat with people, I get my groceries and put them in my car…I’m so good at my act people have no clue how I’m really feeling…but what they don’t see is me getting into my car and driving away sobbing…but  CAREFULLY sobbing, because I don’t want to cause more pain…getting home and waiting for the garage door to shut so I can walk all hunched over, crying, holding my belly, carrying in the groceries and putting them away…then laying in the fetal position, as still as I can, while waiting and praying the pain med will atleast take the edge off so I can take a breath without feeling like a knife has been plunged deep into my gut.

My life was completely altered by that botched surgery and the events caused by it. I usually say that I died that day in the operating room…because a part of me truly did. I’m not the same person anymore and never will be whole again. I feel I would’ve been better off for them to have cut off my leg, because atleast that would heal…my insides can’t heal and they can’t just be removed. The pain and scarring from that ordeal is permanent. The change in my psyche is permanent.

Sometimes things happen to us in life, where it’s just not so easy to move on and forget it. When the memory of it hits you in the face everytime you move or cough or take a deep breath…how do you just “get over it already?”

Just as when a loved one dies…who’s to say how long you should grieve? You will never just get over losing that person…your heart will always feel heavy at the thought of them being gone. Or your house burns down, taking everything you own…yes, you can get new stuff and a new house…but its still a trauma that you will carry with you, even if just the fear of fire.

I do what I can to lead a normal life. But it truly is controlled by my pain on most days, even if I can walk and smile my way thru the store or at church…its an act…its not me…because ME is balled up in pain, sobbing and begging God to get me thru the next sixty seconds.

I would honestly give an arm or a leg, if it meant the pain would be gone or even lessened by 50%…maybe then I could “move on” but really I don’t think one ever truly just moves on after a traumatic event in their lives, they just learn to shove it down and hide it from the world, because it’s just not tolerated otherwise.

 

What kind of hand were you dealt? If you have had a strait flush your whole life…be very grateful…and if your holding jokers like me most of the time…I feel your pain!

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Helpless

Well…for those who do not know, I broke my ankle/foot last Saturday.  I was leaving our local outdoor mall where my husband and I had just went to see a movie, then had gone to Cold Stone for some ice cream…that was amazing by the way (Coffee Lovers). It was dark, I was walking at a normal pace, I think I was switching my purse from one arm to the other when SNAP!  This bomb exploded in my right ankle and the fire spread up my leg, and my butt hit the ground…I had fallen off the curb, and I looked to my husband in shock…not only from what was occurring right then, but because exactly one week previously at the same mall I had tripped UP a curb and fallen forward and skinned, bloodied and bruised my knees, ribs, elbows and ripped my new jeans!

I mean what is wrong with me? Now I can’t even walk? Suddenly I have no clue how to maneuver curbs?  Like my son said (in the same sarcastic tone of his mom) “Do you see curbs and think you can DEFY them??” lol.  Now here I am, on the ground, people milling by, my husband is freaking out and I am as usual trying not to call attention to myself or my predicament, telling him to go get the car and bring it to the curb…I’m holding my foot, sitting on the curb, yet trying to act like this was the most normal thing in the world to be doing…I swear if I was out in public and my arm fell off, I would hold it up and pretend it was still attached until I was alone or at home.  Why am I like that? I have no clue.

I have had many sprained ankles and even broken them before.  I was younger then.  I didn’t have all these other health issues then.  I wasn’t already dealing with major pain then.  This is HARD.  I have this heavy Frankenstein boot on my RIGHT foot (can’t drive), using crutches is next to impossible because it requires using your abdominal muscles, which I don’t have and it makes my hernia buldge out as far as it can.  I cannot put ANY weight on my foot for six weeks.  So for the first week, I literally stayed in bed, only using the crutches for short trips to the potty.  I have a wheelchair from previous illness, but it’s a transport chair with the little wheels, so you can’t wheel it yourself…not that I could anyway with my abdomen issues, but we have been using it when I must be taken to doctor appointments.  Today we went and rented me a knee walker, thinking that would be the perfect thing, just rest my bad leg on it and scoot around the house! 

 First of all, it’s a damn crime how much these things cost to rent!  $150 per month! Or more at some places!  Buying them is double or triple that.  So I’ve been kinda using it around the house tonight…I have ran over my good foot twice, got myself in our tiny bathroom and couldn’t get it turned around to get out, same with my tiny kitchen (galley type), and my good leg is now exhausted from scooting around the walker!  I’m a walking catastrophe!

I know my husband and daughter are sooo sick of waiting on me.  I honest to God try to limit my needs.  But just the basics really add up.  We don’t realize how much we need or do until we are asking others to do it for us!  I mean, a glass of water…oh maybe a snack…oh, my purse, where’s that magazine? I need the phone please.  Heating pad?  Ice pack?  Meds?  Remote?  Extra blanket?  Turn fan on?  Dvd?  Feed fish?  Feed/Water dogs?  Let them out?  Let them in?  Breakfast?  Lunch?  Dinner?  Lotion?  Kleenex?  Someones at the door!

 And don’t get me started on taking a shower!  It’s like a national event!  I can’t do it alone, getting in and out that is…so, its like this “Ok, I need undergarments from that dresser over there I can’t get to cuz the wheelchair is in front of it, I need clothes from that closet I can’t get to cuz the box fan is in front of it..no not that shirt, the blue one..no, not that blue one…oh nevermind, I’ll wear a blue bonjovi tshirt with orange flowered pajama pants, who cares?…okay, now I’ll hobble down the hall, can you get me a towel and wash rag please? Get undressed with an audience, be assisted into the tub to sit on the shower chair…feeling exposed and embarrassed…shower head not pointed at me right…please point it so the water is actually hitting me?  Finally I can close the curtain for privacy and wash…drop the soap, drop the razor…an Intuition, which falls into three pieces, I can’t get them…I give up on shaving.  Finished, now freezing, trying to dry off, need help to get out of the tub and getting dressed…more embarrassment.  Then must ask them to take my dirty clothes away and help me back to bed or recliner.  I do not like others having to mess with my dirty clothing.

By the end of that we are all exhausted.  I am hurting so bad I could not imagine anything hurting worse, but I shouldn’t say that cuz God may decide to show me differently.  I am really feeling picked on.  I feel like people must think I’m some kind of whining baby, but really…this is some crazy shit that has happened to me in the last five years!  I have been thru more crap than anyone I know for sure.  I don’t get it…I’m a good person, really I am.  Am I truly cursed?  Is there such a thing?  Am I really being punished for something in a past life?  Am I here for a purpose?  Is my suffering for a purpose?  Why is my family being tortured?  I feel horrible for them. They are having to be my servants for God sakes!  Like I said, I am alone alot, so once one of them gets here, I am in need of things!  Not to mention just some human conversation!  It’s a bummer to say the least.

I hate being helpless and needing so much help.  REALLY hate it.  I try to have them get anything I think I may need all in one trip, and will just not say anything if in fact they forgot something I needed…even if its a fork for my meal! lol.  I have been dealing with illness and pain for a long time now, and was helpless for part of that…but I was a very drugged and in a coma type of helpless then, so it wasn’t quite as distressing as it is now.  The holidays are coming…will I be healed by then?  I have Christmas shopping to do…and I do NOT like to do that with my husband…lol, that is something I prefer to do alone, so I don’t want to have a “babysitter” to drive me around then! 

The worst time though is around four in the morning.  I have been asleep maybe two hours, and suddenly am bolted awake by severe burning ankle/foot pain!  It feels as if someone is beating it with a sledgehammer, while simultaneously setting it ablaze!  I get the boot off and put on an icepack that I have thankfully thought to request before everyone went to bed, I take an extra dose of pain medication, hoping I don’t OD!  There is no comfortable way to sleep.  IF I sleep at all.  I’m so tired right now, but I know I couldn’t just lay back and sleep.  I need a shower, but no one has had a moment to help me with that today…maybe tomorrow.

It’s no fun to be helpless, in pain and alone.

STUPID CURBS!

Happy…

😀

Happy!

I felt happy

Does that sound sappy?

Being hugged by a small child

Makes my ills seem quite mild

They are so sweet and innocent

They see the world as magnificent

When they look at you with eyes so trusting

How can you feel anything but loving?

Small children and puppies make life seem so grand!

Their unconditional love makes me feel like I’ve gone to Disneyland!

Puppy kisses and childrens hugs

Are so much better than any drugs

Add to them a few good books and a cherry limeade

And I may just feel I’ve got it made!

It really doesn’t take much to be happy

And I really don’t care if that sounds sappy!

There we have it, another original Tammy poem….maybe I could be the next Dr. Seuss??? Yea, right. lol….nah, but it’s fun to do, so I have no plans to stop.

Pain levels have been going steadily upward as of late.  Not much I can do about it.  Just rest when I can and bite the bullet and do what needs done when it needs done.  Living with chronic pain is a pain.  Especially when your disability is invisible.  Because as I have said before, if people don’t actually SEE something wrong with you…they have a hard time believing you’re suffering.

I keep trying to live as a “normal” and somedays I do just fine. Then there are days as of late where my acting abilities fall short, and I start biting off peoples heads and fall into bed and burst into tears.  Ya spend alot of time feeling misunderstood when you have a chronic illness.  Your brain is screaming “Why don’t they understand?  Can’t they see I’m in so much pain it’s crippling? Why can’t they get it?” But it’s not really their fault.  They don’t get it, because they aren’t living it.  Although, if they are close family or friends, the do have to live with it to a degree.  They must see you when you’re suffering, they must deal with your moods, they must feel helpless because they can’t help you.  They must feel that way, because I know that’s how I feel when someone I love is ill or hurt.  I feel helpless that I can’t help them, that I can’t make the hurt go away.

So, although I’m in pain today….even worse than yesterday…I am going to ignore that demon and I am going to do what needs to be done.  And I’m going to keep the feeling of that little three year old boys hug and the slurpy smooches of my baby Daisy Duke in mind, and make it a happy day!

I have fallen into a funk as of late, but starting today, once again, I am crawling out of that hole and living with a more positive attitude!  I’m sure I will trip and fall again into that hole, but I will ALWAYS crawl out of it and start over! 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!  Choose to be happy!  Choose to be positive!  Smile!  Play with a puppy!  Hug a child!  Watch the sunrise/sunset!  Read a great book!  Do what makes you feel like you’re living!

 

big baby hugs!!!!

“There is no such thing as the pursuit of happiness, but there is the discovery of joy”….Joyce Grenfell

Helpless

Recently I had the honor of taking care of a patient.  This person had a stroke, but this blog could relate to any0ne who has ever been seriously ill.  As you probably already know from my first blog, I have been and still am to a degree, seriously ill.  While caring for people who are sick now, once in awhile a memory will come to me.  This is the reason for this particular entry.

As a person who is laying in a hospital bed, with no good ability to communicate your every need, you are indeed helpless.  You are laying there, like an innocent little baby, hoping that the people around you will take care of you, and do it with empathy.  I truly remember being in that position.  One particular memory of it,  I was lying there in the hospital bed, ventilated, too weak to write or signal my needs, so horribly ill.  My abdomen was open…trying to let the insides heal…I had a catheter in for my urine, but was incontinent of “the other”…now of course I wasn’t eating, but was receiving tube feedings…so, “what goes in, must come out”…I remember being incontinent, and not being able to call for help.  So I layed there in it, hoping for the nursing staff to come and check me.  Sometimes this waiting became unbearable, as you can imagine…

I can remember having “good nurses” who would come in and talk to me, like I was a person!  They were smiling and friendly!  They touched me gently, checked me frequently, kept me clean and dry and some even stopped to hold my hand or to touch my cheek, thinking of the kindness brings a lump to my throat even now.  I can also unfortunately remember the ones who weren’t so nice.  They didn’t check me much, they seemed grumpy or indifferent, they were rough…and sometimes said some not so nice things while cleaning me up.

Laying there, so dependent on others, so helpless and scared…very scared…and very alone, is almost more than the mind can bear.  When your whole life is literally in anothers hands, it changes you.  I was a nurse in the 90’s.  I remember all the paperwork, the heavy patient load, the doctors orders, the meds, the treatments, the management…I was a good nurse, but I know looking back there had to be times that I didn’t spend as much time looking at the patient as a person…to treat their humanity as well as their illness. 

I had some really great nurses that took care of me over that agonizing year…and I never really got to thank them, and there were so many at all three local hospitals, and I was heavily drugged some of the time, so I never will get that chance to thank them…but they will always be in my heart.  It meant and means alot to me in my memories how they took that extra minute to treat me like I was more than a dirty body laying on a bed.

I hope I can always remember that, so that whenever I am caring for a person that is too ill to care for themselves, I will treat them with the care and respect they deserve and then some.  I will remember that they had a life before this illness brought them to this hospital, they have a family, pets, hobbies, a career…a personality.  I will let them keep their dignity and pride.

To all the good nurses and doctors out there…THANK YOU for what you do and how you do it!

To any person whom I ever come into contact with or care for, I promise to always take care of you as I would a loved family member, and to not forget your humanity.

Thanks to anyone who reads my blogs!  I appreciate it!  Pass the word if you will!

“Mastery of Life is the Opposite of Control”…..TOLLE