The Pit of My Stomach
There is so much more to caregiving than what meets the eye. To begin, a family member or friend you love enough to help and care for has a health problem that necessitates your assistance. This doesn’t go away. Despite everything else going on in your life, the ill health of someone you dearly love is always there, in the background, no matter what else is going on in life. You are in a car accident, it’s there. You win the lottery, it’s there. It’s not like it’s the only thing you think about, but it is there.
Lately I’ve been able to push our caregiving situation to the back of my mind. Steve’s been doing the best that I’ve seen him doing since our adventure began in October 2009. When we saw the neurologist in December, the doctor said, wait, let me get my notes here, there was “significant improvement” in some areas. One area “improved dramatically” which the doctor said were “not small changes”. Based on these statements, I thought that Steve wasn’t doing worse, and in fact, was maybe (hedge word here) doing slightly better.
Late last month the short version of the annual paperwork arrived from the insurance company. It includes one two-sided form for the doctor to complete. You may think I’m nuts, but I was wondering what the doctor would say since Steve was doing so well.
The neurologist was very prompt in completing and returning the paperwork which arrived last week. It was a beautiful day and I was weeding the garden when the mail was delivered, so I sat on the front step to see what had arrived. I opened the fat envelope from the neurologist and did not read anything resembling what I expected. I now think envelopes from the doctor are the opposite of college acceptance envelopes. (I’ll let you know in a year if college acceptance and rejection letters are still mailed.) Remember how a fat envelope from a college was good news, meaning that you had been accepted?
I flipped through all the pages, many more than the two I had e-mailed to the doctor’s office, and my mouth hung open as I read words like, “worse.” I was surprised when I read that the type II diabetes my husband had in 2006 was resolved. It’s especially good news since, to my knowledge, Steve has never been told he had diabetes!
I piled all the mail together and took out my frustration on the weeds in the yard before our son came home from school. When he arrived we went into the house where I heard about his day while he ate nonstop and drank a couple of glasses of Gatorade. All the while that paperwork was bouncing around in my head.
An hour after reading the mail, I was feeling better. I rationalized that the doctor sees Steve for a short period of time. The report is like a snapshot taken of a moment in time. I see Steve all the time and, due to that, what I see over time may not agree with what the doctor sees. Of course I know better than the doctor! I was able to move on from the paperwork and not let it bother me.
Monday I realized I really needed to get the paperwork sent off to the insurance agency, but not before I scanned everything into the computer. I got smart and set up a file into which each page went. I labeled each page in the computer as I scanned them so that the information would be easier to find in the future.
Glancing at the paperwork as I scanned it made me feel the way I imagine it would feel if I had been punched in the stomach.
Steve was at the local college working on a play when our son, who got his driver’s license last week, asked if we could go out for a drive. He can now drive by himself, so this was very unexpected. I was taken aback, and was thinking that I didn’t feel like doing anything, but was happy that our son still wanted to practice driving with me so I said we could go for a drive.
I finished scanning all the paperwork and had a pain in the pit of my stomach. We went out for a drive and I thought how my son’s driving wasn’t causing my stomach to hurt.
The pain in the pit of my stomach lasted for the rest of the night. I started typing this Monday night and am finishing it Tuesday night. Once again, I have a pain in the pit of my stomach.