ALZHEIMER’S, PAIN AND THANKSGIVING

PAIN AND ALZHEIMER’S

 A woman cries in pain

Pain comes in many forms to different people.

November 16, 2012 – Pain:  Something we all experience in many forms yet it remains undecribed and unmeasured because there is no scale or other device to record those calculations.  The severity of the pain may be determined really bad as medics watch a patient’s blood pressure skyrocket under many kinds of duress, or the doctor will summarize it with, “She/he is in a lot of pain.”

A friend might say, “I feel your pain.”  Perhaps.  But to what degree?  So the remark should be graciously accepted for what it is: concern, sympathy, comfort, recognition or even empathy for where you are in life’s battle at that moment, and for what discomfort you are feeling – either mentally, emotionally, physically or all of the above.

 

PAIN AS A CHOICE?

If given the choice, which we don’t have, would you rather experience emotional pain, mental anguish or physical pain?  I suppose that answer could be laughable.  One might quickly plead, “I would like another pain please — the one I’m not experiencing at the present time.”  We can’t even decide for certain which one hurts more. Physical pain can hurt for a brief time, such as a tearful child and a skinned knee, or longer when someone shuts the car door on your finger. Mama can kiss the knee better and it’s gone, but the mashed finger seems to throb endlessly.  Depending on the injury or cause pain can remain for a very long time requiring medication to endure.  On the other hand, emotional or mental pain, which may also require medication, can seem to last forever, and all the kisses from mama or any other loved one won’t make it better.  The bottom line:  often it’s only time that heals and then not always.

PAIN AT FIRST HAND

Yesterday I had lunch with my friend Jayne.  She needed to return some purchases and I needed to make some purchases at the same store.  “I’ll pick you up,” I said.  Following years of medical ills Jayne is now wheelchair bound with pain as a constant companion, so she takes prescribed medication every few hours.  She can stand long enough to make transfers from the chair to wherever she needs to be.  The routine leaves her a bit tired but she is determined to be independent.  Living alone she makes it happen in spite of the pain.  She says, “Ow, ow, ow,” a lot.

Before we shopped, we stopped for lunch at the store’s franchise after we had transferred Jayne to a motorized shopping cart.  Now she was mobile and her usual jolly self.  With the afternoon totally free we did spend more time at lunch talking and just enjoying the day.  So much so Jayne forgot to take her pain medication.  An hour or so later when it was time to leave her pain level was at the top of the chart.  Taking it late, which she did, helped but it would take a while for it to become effective. Helping her from the shopping cart into my vehicle pushed her into sobbing tears.  Yet she persevered.  Once secured in the front seat with her seat belt in place we waited a few minutes for calm to return even though it was time for me to get back to help with Ken.  I drove carefully so as not to hit any potholes or bumps finally arriving in front of her duplex where we sat a while longer.  Finally, she felt confident to go through the routine of leaving the vehicle, get into the wheelchair, out of the wheelchair, “climb” the steps and then back into the wheelchair for the rest of the evening.  Every step was agony.  But for Jayne, a day’s outing was worth it.  “Next time” she promised, “I won’t forget to take my meds on time.”

ALZHEIMER’S CAREGIVER AND PAIN

 I thought of my own pain – which is mostly associated with caring for the man I love who suffers from Alzheimer’s.  There is a lot of pain stemming from several sources: sadness and distress which can manifest into private emotional outbursts. Often there is physical pain from kicks, jabs, punches and pokes as I help care for this terribly ill man.  The list includes aching joints, strained back and pulled muscles.  Pain is part of the package and all rolled up in what we caregivers do.  For now I’m just grateful that I don’t have Jayne’s constant and intense physical pain to accompany what I do experience and the emotional pain of the roller coaster that Ken and I continually ride.

BLESSINGS                           

However, I actually count my blessings as Thanksgiving Day approaches.  I am grateful beyond measure for Ken and the good years, for his wise commitment in planning for our long-term needs, for Ben and Crizaldo’s help, their devotion to me and Ken, and for my devoted family. 

 I am a woman of faith and for all of this I am grateful, and for my belief in life after life and eternal progression.  I am certain our earthly future holds more pain in all of its many forms — for all of us — but because of my faith and the truth that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle I am also certain that we, including Jayne, can and will endure to the end. 

 

Another perspective of Alzheimer’s and caregiving: The disease has helped this writer and caregiver, mentioned below, become more aware of her mother in a different light. This new perspective is another glimpse at how Alzheimer’s affects a relationship but doesn’t need to define it or the feelings attached to it. http://www.cathieborrie.com/. For a review on the book, go here. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/doris-gallan/alzheimers_b_1856367.html

Originally posted 2012-11-17 21:48:36.

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