Sunday, October 21, 2007

The little things are slipping away......

The world of someone with a chronic illness shrinks. First the big things fall away, then the little things.
The first big thing to let go of is usually the job, profession, career. Your reason for being, sometimes. For my husband, giving up medicine was excruciating. He loved being a doctor. He loved fixing people.

Then he was diagnosed with COPD. "But, I can still go to work!" - he would say. And he did. He just hid his portable oxygen tank in an empty office and every once in a while, would go in, close the door and take deep breaths of oxygen. Then he'd go on with his work - happily...... Until....
Someone coughed in his face. Not intentionally, certainly not on purpose. But the damage was done. Hubby came down with another pneumonia.

He had no choice but to stop working.
Give up his beloved career. Now he's the patient.

Slowly, gradually, other things went: socializing, biking, gardening, vacations.
So we try to adapt.
We go out for mid-morning coffee. Doesn't sound too exciting, does it?

Every morning we'd get into our car and drive to the post-office to pick up our mail. Then stop in at the local grocery store for a few items, then on to Tim Horton's or Dunkin Doughnuts for coffee and a snack.
So what? you're probably thinking.

Well, I had begun to resent these daily excursions. I am a morning person and love to "get going" - milk cows, chop wood - no, just kidding. I like to go for an early morning walk, to get started on the day's chores, bop over to our local Chapters and Starbucks for a latte with friends. But it seemed I was tied to this ritual,which would take up the whole morning.

Then Guilt sunk in (much more about Guilt later). How could I take this pleasure away from my husband? He looks forward to our daily coffee. I can always do my stuff in the afternoon.

But now, sadly, even this has gone. And I miss it. He no longer has the strength to get into the car. So I go alone, do my errands as fast as possible and bring him his special "double-double" coffee. He is so appreciative. The little things in life - and even those are slipping away.

Maybe it's just his "excerbation" thing. Maybe he'll regain some of his strength and come back to where we left off - just 2 short weeks ago. We never know.

With COPD it's a real roller-coaster ride.


lori said...

Windy I understand what you are going through, I am a caregiver. I am not the primary caregiver of my grandfather my grandmother is. However since I was a young child my responsiblitys have become more and more. I am only 23 years old and have had it with COPD. It has robbed my grandfather of the same things that it has robbed your husband. Simple tasks are hard to manage for them all. Eating is one of the things that my grandfather has struggled with for years. It takes his energy from him so much so that after the meal he goes to bed. I have not seen my grandfather ever stay awake after a meal or any other tasks that to us is simple. He has a bipap machine which I praise GOD everyday for that he goes through about 4 machines a year. Now days people can live longer with this awful disease because of the medications that are now used. Back in 89 my great grandfather my grandmothers father had COPD. He was told that he was in end stages and died shortly afterwards. For the past 8 years they classify my grandfather as endstages and he has had the disease since 1980. The medication is much better and they are living better more fullfilled lives then ever before. It does get lonely but remember that it is worth it and never give up the fight. ONE DAY COPD WILL NOT EXSIST. THERE WILL BE A CURE AND THAT WE CAN NEVER GIVE UP ON.

Wendy said...

Thanks so much for your encouragement. I wish that day were here and there was NO COPD!!! I do realize that we are living on "borrowed time" If it weren't for oxygen, my husband would not be here. So, I do treasure our moments.
You are so young to be involved in this illness. I hope one day you can move on and enjoy some well deserved good times and happiness.

Judy said...

I'm afraid I think there will be more COPD and lung disease before there is less. There is so much pollution now and our lungs are impacted by that so much. I talked to someone at the swimming pool who was moving back to Maine as she had gotten lung disease after moving to the DC area, and now her son was showing signs of the same disease.