I had to make a choice this week about my own care that turned out well but according to the urgent care doctor I saw, was not very bright. Maybe so, but it was a calculated risk, and one that I felt was the right decision at the time and, as it turned out, was the right decision in retrospect as well.
You see, I have a lot of allergies and sensitivities. I am often caught off guard by some new thing I’ve become allergic to, so I keep epi (epinephrine) pins around just in case. Well, Saturday night, I noticed I sure had a lot of bug bites for only having been on my deck picking hot peppers for a few minutes. As the night progressed, they were even itchier and in more places. I had patches of hives all over by morning, which itched me to a frenzy if anything touched them, especially my hands. I wanted to claw the very skin off my hands!! It wasn’t very good. I figured the cause was either this new drug I had been put on for arthritis pain or the extra dose of a supplement I was taking, so I stopped them both to wait for it to pass. By night time, though, I wasn’t feeling so well. Besides the hives, I had started to feel a lot of burning pain in my GI tract, and my esophagus was feeling like I had a thick lump in it. Since I have lots of medical equipment around here, I took my blood pressure–fine–my pulse–fine–and my breathing was not labored, nor was my oxygen saturation off. So having assessed my own condition, I decided to use the epi pin to stop the progressing reaction.
It helped a bit, but I was still miserable, and it was worse again the next morning. Being Monday, I thought that Lynn’s family was coming, so I was preparing to go to the urgent care center when they got here. They were late, so he called to see where they might be. His mom reminded him that she had told him the week before that they were coming on Tuesday, not Monday, this week. Now what? I couldn’t take him with me because he was not feeling great either (his thyroid hormone level is way off), and besides, who would take care of his needs while I was being examined, etc.? Though I hated to do it, I decided to call my daughter, who has a baby that doesn’t like to eat, so she is busy all day long with his feeding tube, therapy, and such. I honestly had about decided not to go but to just suffer from the intense itching when I realized that I needed to take care of myself for once. I also knew that if I didn’t call her, she would have felt awful that I did not ask for her help.
As it turned out, it was the perfect time of day for her to be able to come over. I finished Lynn’s care for the morning, put in an indwelling catheter, and hooked him to his peddler. She got here before I got him completely ready, and off I went. I’m now on prednisone and the BEST non-itching medicine I ever had, Zyrtec. It was amazing. I went from frantic scratching to no itching in a few hours. I highly recommend it.
As I look back on this situation, I realize that I have become so used to being the caregiver that I cease to care for myself. While I’ve had enough allergic reactions to gauge pretty well what I need to do, those reactions can trick you, and I should have done as the doctor said and called 9-1-1- right afterward. Why didn’t I? Because what would I have done with Lynn that late at night? I hated to call someone out of bed to come to stay with him. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to put in a catheter. How would I get home if an ambulance took me to the hospital? It seemed too much of a hassle, so I decided to just wait it out. In reality, any of our children would have come over to help if I had called. One would have stayed with Lynn, one would have gone to the hospital, and the other would have helped in whatever other capacity was needed. I know this, but I didn’t want to ask for help.
I am a caregiver and not a care receiver. I know that something will make me a receiver one day, but I don’t want to change that role right now. I want to give and not receive…but then so did Lynn when his MS got worse….
We don’t have a choice often in life but to deal with what we get and make the most of it. Sometimes we make the right choice; other times not so good. I was lucky this time, but I need to keep in mind that if I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be here to care for him. So, therefore, as his caregiver, it is my responsibility to do what I need to do to be well enough to keep going….and going….and going…..