Monday, 13 June 2016

Stress and how (not) to deal with it.

Not such a great day today - got a terrible night's sleep courtesy of youngest son - he's got a sore throat and was really restless overnight.   Felt fine this morning, not tired at all, but feeling a bit out of sorts this afternoon and evening.  Not helped by a couple of twinges that sent me into panic mode.  I couldn't tell you if they were heart related, or anything to worry about, but the second I sense something I feel a flush of stress hormones going through my body as I panic in case it is happening again.  So far so good, but the psychological impact of this is really kicking in, and is probably worse than what I am going through physically.  Hopefully a good night's sleep tonight will sort me out.

I'm also feeling very hard done by - was watching a programme about a guy about my age who weighed in at 448 pounds and changed his life by losing loads of weight and getting fit - why is he ok, while I have a heart attack?  I know I've not been a paragon of virtue in the lifestyle department but why me?  And why is all this shite happening to MY family.  

I may have mentioned earlier in the blog that the doctors have said that the primary cause of this heart attack is most likely stress, with a bit of a contribution from a poor diet, overweight and lack of exercise.  

So... stress:  At the moment both my mum and my hubby's mum are in advanced stages of dementia.  Dementia is just the worst thing.  People don't realise what this condition can do to people unless they have lived through a family member suffering it.  My mum has a weird form ("atypical" - i.e. they don't really know what sort it is as it doesn't fit any particular profile)  that has led to some very violent behaviour.  

My mum's situation is just appalling, your worst nightmare.  She is only 68 years old. She is in a specialist care home for people with dementia with very challenging behaviour. In 2012 she was sectioned because she was a danger to herself and others, and spent 9 months on a hospital ward for people with early onset dementia before moving to the care home.  She now can't walk, talk, feed herself, she has fits, she is doubly incontinent.  She has a broken hip that they think was caused by a fit, and there is nothing they can do for it other than give her morphine and wait for it to heal.  Zero quality of life.  She has been in hospital 4-5 times since Easter.  She is 3 hours drive/train journey from us, doesn't know me anyway and it is pot luck whether she is pleasant to me, or aggressive when I do go and visit.   Over the years I've had to deal with all of the worry and trying to deal with my dad, who has struggled so much to come to terms with things.  It has been tougher than tough.

My mother in law lives round the corner and although she isn't as severe as my mum, she requires constant attention and my poor father in law is at his wits end.  I'm honestly not sure who the dementia will kill off first, him or her to be honest, as the caring responsibility is his whole life at the moment.   She is such hard work, and now I'm not in a position to offer any support. 

My dad had his own heart attack in September 2015 and had a stent fitted.  He's doing well but again it was stressful.  It happened on the first day of the new university term.  He's been stressed out looking after mum, and still goes to see her every couple of days.  He's also in a relationship, and that, from a daughter's perspective feels very odd.  I'm glad that he has got someone to support him, but it is a weird state of affairs.  I wish I had a brother or sister in all of this, but I'm an only brat!

On top of all that I have my gorgeous boys, who are the most amazing thing in my life, I love them so much, but with an 8 and 5 year old comes hard work.  And then I have my full-time job.  I'm a lecturer in linguistics - I love my job, and work with just the best group of colleagues.  

So I'm a busy girl, and have a lot on my plate.  I have put looking after myself at the bottom of the priority list given everything going on - no time for exercise, eat whatever I can grab, etc etc.  Hence the stress and perhaps the coronary.  I knew before this that I was stressed and had too much going on, but none of the stress is from things that can just go away.  Admittedly I'm not dealing with things directly while I recover but it is hard just to switch off completely from it.  It does help that I have a boundary now - I CANT help, and I think people understand that they need to back off.   I need to learn that the best way to deal with stress is NOT to put it in a box and stamp all over the emotions that go with it.  Trouble is I don't really know how else to do it.   

So that is my stress in a fairly large nutshell.  Oh and my youngest son is feeling ill with a sore throat, and they think my mother in law has a urine infection (that will be making her dementia worse probably).  Sometimes, I wish that things could just stop for a while to give me chance to recover and regroup.  Also, and this may sound awful, I dream of a future life without dementia in it.  It never goes away, and it hurts like hell to know how much the people I love are suffering.  You wouldn't let an animal go through it, so why is it ok for our mums?  I guess that is another debate entirely but if I had the dementia diagnosis I'd be booking a one way ticket to Switzerland.  

Perhaps tomorrow's post will be more cheery, but it helps to get this stuff out.  Yes I can be strong, and at the hospital one of the nurses said to me that I must be a bloody strong woman if my body gave out before my mind.  Therein lies a story, and a coronary.....  

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