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Monday, September 5, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 202 - Strategy For Bad Days

Today was horrible for me, and in many ways worse for Barbara...it being Labour Day, she was home and could watch. There was very little she could do to help.

It was a kind of help-I-am-being-sawn-in-half pain experience, with the added frisson of almost continuous dry heaves.

Well, dry unless they brought up blood.

An ER visit would have been a good idea, frankly, because pain can kill, but not having insurance that was not an option. Against barbara's secure future (without a huge set of my medical bills hanging over her) my comfort and my life are expendable.

So...how might a caregiver cope with a Day Of Pain?

First, Let the professional care team (one or more doctors) know what's happening, and that it's a singularly bad event. Don't worry about 'crying wolf'; most doctors can read the anguish behind your words when someone you love's hurting bad. (And unless the patient's me, if the doc says to head for the ER and he'll meet you there, DO IT.)

Second, make sure the prescribed pain meds are taken at the right time, and in the right dosage. Taking too much at one time can actually make the pain worse.

Third, keep the patient hydrated, preferably with a weak mixture of Gatorade. Avoid soda, as the carbonation can make gas a problem, especially if the patient's doing 'gasping' swallows (taking in a lot of air) as a result of pain spasms.
Fourth, only light food, if any. And don't try to force something the patient really hates. Now is not the time to make a point.

Fifth, distraction. We watched "Return Of The Jedi", which we've both seen a million times or so, but it's a nice, friendly place to be, and the fact that I kept passing out didn't make me miss much. (Interestingly, for the bits I was able to appreciate, I noticed things I had not seen before, both in the scene dressing and the action.)

Sixth, kind words. "I'm sorry you're in so much pain...is there anything I can do for you?" is just fine. (And "I know how you feel, because I once had a pain like that when I overdid it at the gym..." is not OK. Don't dream of going there.)

And that's it for now; can't really stay upright any more.

Today sucked. Tomorrow may be worse.

Still worth trying to catch the moment the sun comes up, though, even if I have to crawl to the door to do it.


  1. So sorry. Wish you could get well, but I know that won't happen this side of Heaven.

    1. Jan, thanks so much...and I wish I could get well too. But God disposes, and all things are ordained to His purpose. I can and should witness the pain, but Heaven forfend that I should complain.

      Thanks so much for being here, and please pardon the delayed reply.

  2. Hugs and prayers Andrew...and really tight hugs and prayers for Barb! So sorry you are going through this pain...

    1. Barbara, thank you so much. We so appreciate your kind and loving presence here, and always the hugs and prayers!

  3. Andrew, I am so very sorry. That you can write at this level when feeling such misery is an incredible grace.

    Your pointed reminder for those who are well to avoid reminiscing about their own past illness experiences is so spot on. Sometimes we're best saying nothing at all ...


    1. Linda, thank you. On the one hand writing isn't easy, but it gives purpose to what otherwise might seem a kind of mindless torment. I can live with it like this. Does that make sense?

      We so appreciate the prayers, and ask your pardon for the tardiness of this reply.

  4. I thought Obama was supposed to help with medical.

    1. Mick, good observation...there's a 'hole' in the Affordable Care Act that leaves the only plan we could possibly afford one with such high deductibles that it isn't worth it. The whole rigmarole comes down to politicians being able to say "everyone can get coverage" without really caring about whether the coverage is meaningful.

      If we bought the cheapest policy I would not be able to afford the copays for a single doctor visit, let alone meds, and never mind an ER visit.

      So we are penalized for not being able to afford this governmental grace...ah, well.