Category Archives: headache

The Power of Nurturing

I have always been the caregiver. Ever since I can remember, even as a child I chose to be the care giver in every relationship. I was comfortable in that role. I was good in that role. I found the role satisfying, and rewarding.

I was born with asthma. My frequent hospital admissions allowed me to get to know the staff and the other patients quite well. Watching the nurses do their job, was one of my pass-times. I would watch them interact with each other, the doctors, and the patients. Next I started comparing each nurse to the other, silently critiquing them. I would observe how they treated the other patients, and the reaction or result obtained. From that I would think about the more desirable situation, sometimes even to the point of wondering what might work better. I remember, even as a child being uncomfortable with how disrespectful communication between either nurse/doctor or nurse/patient would result in less desirable responses. As you are reading this you may be thinking this is a peculiar activity for a child. Maybe it is, but it was me. That is just what I did. Action plus action equals reaction equals effect.

The more I did this, the more detail I was looking for. One of the specific interactions I would observe was with a patient named Brian. He was born with a “water head” is what I was told. Later I learned more about the congenital anomaly hydrocephalus, but at the time all I knew was that he had extra water in his head. He spent all of his time in one of those large metal cribs, mostly laying on his left side. He would make noises, no words. Brian was about the size of a four-year old child, but he was a teenager. I watched for a very long time, before I came to my conclusions. My conclusions were, Brian needed more attention, Brian needed to be taught, Brian needed to be moved around, Brian needed….more. I started to ask the nurses questions. I made some requests, and they did not take a liking to a child asking them to do things for Brian. After some pondering on the topic, I decided it was up to me.

My Mom tells me I was about four years old when I started taking action with Brian. It started with visits. I would talk to him, and ask him to say my name repeatedly. My memory does not leave me with a time sense of how long this took, only that when he was able to say my name, I knew that I was on the right path. Wow, that made me more determined than ever. Look out, Brian created a caregiver monster! Next I taught him to laugh, and say “hello”. As I became more attached, I felt it was my job to insist that he be moved around. His head was flattened on the side that was usually down to the mattress, his jaw as well. This bothered me. I remember the nurses not being happy with me insisting on moving Brian, but that did not bother me. I was on a mission. It became a routine that Brian was up for a period of time each day.

My main reason for describing some of the details of my time with Brian is while I was  spending time with Brian or pestering the nurses about Brian, I forgot about how much I missed my family and friends. I forgot about the time and how slow it goes when you are in the hospital. I forgot that I was having trouble breathing. When I was the sickest in the beginning of each admission, incarcerated in the croup tent, I would will myself to get better so that I could get to Brian. I would think about breathing easy, because I knew that meant freedom earned. I loved how I felt when I was “caring” for Brian. In my little world, I really believed that I was making a difference for Brian. His eyes lit up when I approached him, that was all I needed.

It seemed an easy and obvious decision to become a nurse. My Mom tells me that I told everyone I was going to be a nurse during this time. I always remember that as my plan. I always have a plan, big or small, there is always a plan. 

Once I started working as a registered nurse I knew it was the right choice for me. I loved it so much, it did not seem like a job to me, it was exhilarating. The more I did, the more I wanted to do. There really was not enough hours in a day, to do what I wanted to do. Nurturing is empowering for me. ♥

The other reason for my telling this possibly silly story is, since my car accident I have been trying to balance my nurturing others with my own need to minimize my physical activity, since that is the only way that I can attempt to keep my pain at a tolerable level. In my prioritizing it keeps making sense to stop helping others but it feels so unnatural to me, and it is my “nurturing others” that I am able to leave my own challenges in the dark and focus on something else. Tough choices! Compromise my balance to maintain my balance!! 

I receive a great deal of feedback from people around me, telling me to ask for help or not to do so much for others. Many times I have re-evaluated my personal approach to life and I always come up with the same plan. It feels right for me to accept people for who they are and help those in need, to my abilities. Of course I prioritize, my children come first, then everyone else. I use the nursing process in my daily life. Assess, plan, implement, re-evaluate…assess, plan, implement, re-evaluate..etc. It might sound silly but try it-it works for everything, every situation!

The pictures are of my daughter’s hand, I thought they symbolized my theme as our heart can be expressed through our helping hands! 🙂

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Seriously, This is really happening

My first response when I woke up from the valium sleep that the emergency Doctor gave me and the skull busting headache was still there, was shock and disbelieve. Now what do I do? I went in to see my family Doctor and she phoned a neurologist. The neurologist got me right in to his office. As soon as he was finished his assessment he told me my headache was a “cervicogenic headache” caused by trauma. He proposed sub-occipital injections with a freezing and a steroid to confirm and possibly help. I was scheduled to meet him in outpatients at the hospital in two days. I was told to stop physiotherapy and exercise. That is fine to stop those, but how do I do laundry, cook for my kids, clean the house and the rest of the list that goes along with being a Mom. The kids were 6 and 8 years old at this time, very energetic and used to me being energetic with them.

The narcotics just barely took the edge off of the pain, and I felt weird. It was hard to focus, so I did not want to take more of them. Work through the pain, that is the only answer. Just take a breath and do it.

The injections gave me 3 days without the headache. It felt great, then when the headache came back, I was rolling on the floor, whretching to vomit. When ever the pain would suddenly increase, it would put me down. Once I was able to get used to it a bit, I would make myself get up and carry on with the day. I did not have a method at this time that I was aware of, my voice inside my head saying-“the kids need you to be normal, they need activity, they need food, they want to play”. What ever the immediate need was at the time, I would just focus on that and do it.

Six weeks after the constant headache started I had fallen asleep with my son in his loft bed. I woke at midnight and was having trouble moving my legs. As I was trying to get down off of the bed, I fell because my legs just did not have much strength. With both kids sleeping and home by myself I could not go to emergency, so I just made my way to my bed.

The next day, my feet were floppy, and I was still having significant trouble with my walking. Thinking that it was possibly a medication that I just started for my headache my family Doctor told me to stop the medication. There was no improvement over the next two days, so I went in to see my Doctor. She put in a call to the neurologist on call. It was my daughter’s birthday, so I had company coming over. A friend picked her cake up for me, and came over to help. “Carry on as usual!!”

Right before all of the company came over, my Doctor called me to say that the neurologist felt it was urgent that he see me. I was to go emergency, he had arranged a bed for me and would order an MRI. I finished the birthday party, arranged for places for the kids to go and off to emergency I went.

The next day, I couldn’t hold my weight without using a walker. Good thing I was in the hospital. The next few days were a roller coaster ride so to speak, with multiple tests to figure out the reason for the profound legs weakness. After three days, one neurologist told me his impression was that I may have MS (multiple sclerosis). That day, high dose IV pulse steroid therapy was started. and I felt like a truck hit me. Not only do I have to live with this constant headache, but MS as well. My positive thinking was walking out the door, and I could not call it back.

When my kids came to visit me, my son wanted me out of the hospital bed, so I could look more “normal”. He got a wheelchair, proceeded to help me up, and arrange my legs in the foot supports. “Move your feet Mom, just try. OK, but keep trying Mom, and you can do it.” Wow! He was 8!

The afternoon that I found out about the possible MS diagnosis, a friend of mine brought me a stack of articles on MS. She knew my method to facing anything was to learn about it. I read them, that day. My conscious decision as I fell asleep that night was, “I will deal with this, as it comes”. “carry on as usual”!

The next week, the neurologist who took over came to me with more test results. Two of the tests to diagnose MS had come back as negative. The EMG showed excessive muscle activity in my neck, (constant muscle spasm), and decreased in my legs. This neurologists opinion was that I did not have MS, but spinal cord inflammation. This was good news, because if indeed it was true, it would mean that muscle weakness would be temporary!!

The neurologist was correct. Once the steroids starting working, my legs got stronger. Within two weeks I was walking easier with the walker, then to a cane. By the end of the month I was on my own. phew! What a relief! I was thankful beyond words! Now I only had the headache and neck muscle spasm to live with.

Do you see how that works. The glass is always half full. There is always a bright side. Something positive comes out of every situation. Every day, the sun shines and the stars twinkle at night. There is beauty in every sunset, even if I can not watch one each day. I can remember and picture the ones I watched, knowing that the sun will rise in the morning.

At that moment, 6 years ago, I did not know what I was to face for the next 6 years. I did not know that no matter what I tried my debilitating headache was going to stay. I did not know that the muscle spasm in my neck was going to interfere with every activity I attempted to do. I did not know how many sleepless nights I was in for. I did not know that my boyfriend was going to put me in a legal situation that was going to cost me thousands to try to keep the house that I bought. The house that I am raising my kids in. I did not know that he was going to sexually abuse me, to try to convince me to let him stay. I am glad that I did not know, because I felt optimistic. I was hopeful. I believed I was going to be ok. I am ok, but to say the last 6 years has been easy is an understatement.

The glass is half full, the sun is shining, I have two amazing kids…they are my reasons why!!! The sun will set tonight, and rise again in the morning, whether I am screaming with pain or not.

sunset on the water


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