Sunday, November 6, 2016

Making it Through the Tough Times

A friend of mine has a husband with a fatal illness and who is in a great deal of pain. They are both struggling with the situation. Though I wish I could relieve their suffering, all I can do in share my experiences in those years when I didn't know that my adrenal glands were failing, or when I collapsed after a major stress in my life and needed to recover. Here are my comments.

I know you are under tremendous stress. It doesn't sound like you can do much for your husband, but just having you there makes it easier for him. It doesn't sound like he is really the person you knew, which is hard. I have known a lot of pain, not being able to sleep well, and lived with knowing I had a condition that could take my life at any time. It is a heavy load. I know I wasn't the cheerful, balanced person I wanted to be. I was shaky, frightened, confused, exhausted, irrational, emotional, and struggled to just keep going each day. I appreciated my husband's support even though I was rough to live with. He was often gone and I think that helped him to be able to handle my illness better when he was home. I knew he needed to get away from me, or I would drag him down with me. Other friends and family gave me support also. I don't think one person can keep giving all the support that is needed day after day, year after year. Does your husband have friends, church members, your children, or family who visit and call him? Being around supportive people helped to divert my mind from my pain and problems and helped me be more upbeat. Visits were also tiring, so they had to be short. Phone visits didn't tire me as much.

Though coping with the pain was about all I could handle, I tried to do something for others, or accomplish something each day. I would send a couple emails to friends or family, write the LDS missionaries, create a poem, clean a shelf etc. Sitting in the sunshine and being outside helped. Winters were especially hard. I watched old comedies and musicals -- anything upbeat and diverting. TV numbs the brain and the pain. I tried to move when I could, as often as I could. Hot baths helped so much. I had fibromyalgia too. I listened to or watched LDS Church videos (I specially like the Bible Videos), the Ensign, and General Conference. It helped me keep together when the pain was getting more than I could handle and I couldn't concentrate or focus to read. My immune system was failing so I couldn't take any medication for pain. Priesthood blessings helped me to make it. The scriptures were, and still are, my lifeline. I had a few experiences where I had reached the end of my strength, and the Lord helped me. I now know that no matter how difficult and painful my life can be, the Lord will be there. He will carry me when I can't walk any further. His love and strength comforted and sustained me.

Little things bothered me. Noises made me jump. They hurt my ears and exhausted me. It helped if I could be somewhere else when my husband did noisy things such as running a vacuum.  I often felt so sick to my stomach and had difficulty gagging down food. I didn't have any appetite. Having nutritious organic food that was prepared and I only had to heat it up in the microwave helped. Also smooth foods which didn't need chewing such as soups and applesauce went down easier. Spicy foods just made my stomach worse. I needed more salt and plenty of filtered water to keep me from getting light headed.

Sometimes, I spent the night in the tub, on the sofa, or in the recliner. I knew that there was nothing my husband could do to help me, and his not getting a good night's sleep would not help either of us. Soft but supportive furniture also helped. For awhile I had a waterbed. I didn't try to drive. I knew I wasn't alert enough or up to fast moving activity. Comfortable cotton clothes made life bearable, but mainly what got me through was prayer.

Hope this helps.