A Fight with a Heart Patient or a Calling I missed.

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Being a nurse or caregiver is a calling, a calling I did not receive.

Caretakers are kind and gentle, they are patient and seem to be always in a good mood. I am afraid I am rather the opposite. I am ironic and perhaps a bit sarcastic, and I don’t have a filter between brain and mouth, which is not helpful at all right now.

An in-house nurse was supposed to take care of my husband, but the DEAL fell through last minute because he got the flu, which left me to take care of my husband and his needs after open-heart surgery.

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Again, I informed my customers and made a schedule that would allow me to do both, take care of the love of my life, and continue to work at the same time. Holy Mackerel….what was I thinking?

I got a crash curse on his exercises, and a physical therapist showed me all we needed to accomplish and put a binder in my hands with instructions on what I have to do. Sadly, they left out a few very important things.

Instructions like CHECK HIS INCISION TWICE A DAY should clearly come with a small bottle of any kind of alcoholic beverage from a minibar or something like that. Looking at his healing scar throws me in an emotional turmoil each and every time.

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Within the first week, my husband lost 10 pounds, which made me curse all men for their ability to lose weight so much faster, but which also left me concerned -after I was done cursing.

He is losing the fluid, which had been building up in his body after surgery but he also doesn’t eat much. He doesn’t have an appetite -which is normal. “No problem, give him six meals instead of three.” (Are you kidding me?) “Sure no problem.”

Between the FEEDINGS I am busy, checking vital signs and temperature, giving out medication. We are now in the possession of a daily pill organizer, which comes in handy, even though I don’t like its presence in our home.

A sign of aging it might be
a sign I don’t want to see.

My knight-in-shining-armor walks on his walker to the guest bathroom downstairs and gets cleaned up by himself. He is such a proud man, and relying on me for so many things is not easy on him. I know it, and make humorous remarks about it -but don’t always succeed. Seeing him on a walker is a heartbreak, trying to look at the bright side is not that easy at all time. The silver lining is hard to see with a brain fog I suppose.

Twice a day we go for walks outside -if the weather permits it- if not we walk through the house and amuse our dogs. We started with five minutes and we are already up to 20 minutes. We made it all the way to the stop sign, which is only a few houses down from us, and back to our house. I am so proud of him. He is trying so hard. Every day one minute more, it reads in the handbook, and we are following this protocol to the T.

My husband has days when his mood is down and he feels blue, days when he doesn’t want to walk or do his exercises and I don’t allow it. I feel like a heartless drill sergeant, and don’t like how it makes me feel.

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Before his surgery I walked 3 miles every morning, now it’s just a few houses down in snail speed, but it makes us both feel like we just finished a marathon. Some days he gets brave and I carry the walker, on other days he still needs his crutch. Yesterday we even crossed the street. High Five all around!

Today we will make it seven steps up and down on our stairs, and I will be behind him having his back, pushing him forward if I need to, so he cannot fall backward, but also pushing him on -as I am supposed to. Sleeping upstairs in his own bed will be the reward.

I gave him a little bell, he can ring when he needs something. The bell was a good idea! No shouting from room to room when I am working, or cooking, or cleaning or whatever else I am doing these days. Still, the bell will be smashed when he is fully recovered.

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My husband has days when his mood is down and he feels blue, days when he doesn’t want to walk or do his exercises and I don’t allow it. He is irritable and of course concerned. Being stuck in a recliner, when he sees me working like a maniac is not helping the situation. I try to keep my worries away from him, but goodness, it’s hard to put on a smiley face when you feel like crumbling.

We had a fight. Let me rephrase that. I had a fight -and argument- with a heart patient. Good grief I am a monster. Turns out that’s normal as well and we are not so special after all.

So far so good, we are making progress!

17 thoughts on “A Fight with a Heart Patient or a Calling I missed.

  1. I’m a lot like you, my OH says I don’t have a sympathy bone in my body. That’s not quite true, but I don’t pander people and sickness, I give tough love. I have had to nurse my 40 year old son back to health twice in the last couple of years. It’s draining. I agree. And also I feel like I’m constantly nagging him and then I think, he’s an adult, let him get on with it. When he came home after surgery this summer, he became ill, wasn’t eating, had a fever. I kept telling him to call the hospital, I wish I had insisted earlier. By the time I took him back he had sepsis and ended up back in hospital for a month. Anyway he’s OK now and back home, but I just wanted to say that I know what it’s like and it’s not easy.

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  2. Recovery is no easy task for patient or caregiver… Wishing a speedy recovery for your husband and some relief for you too. I was worn to a frazzle when Hubby had heart surgery, but we both survived and I think we appreciate one another more now. Hang on to hope! It’s real… New Year Blessings to both of you.

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  3. Just a guess here, and I hope you don’t mind the assumption, but I think it’s possible you might have been better prepared to be your spouse’s caregiver if you had been a mother before. In my experience, babies are equally demanding, and they can’t tell you what is causing their pain or discomfort! In the case of my own spouse, he usually won’t do that either, nor will he even consider doing what I ask him to do on the few occasions when he does share that info with me. In that respect, maybe babies are easier.

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  4. I can’t push the “like” button because I don’t like that you both are going through this. Being a care giver is a full time job. And it’s hard. Almost impossible to do that and work at something else as well. I wish you both strength to get through his recovery!

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  5. I found myself nodding my head in agreement while reading this. Having gone through a valve replacement surgery (with major complications) back in 2011, so much of this feels very familiar to me. There’ll be good days and bad days. The hardest part seems to be finding the patience to ride it out and trust that things will eventually return to some semblance of normal.
    Courage to you both; one day at a time 🙂

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