Burned Out

Light bulbs are throw-aways, people are not.

Burned out and useless.

It finally happened.  I managed to evade it for quite a while but it did catch up with me.  There’s many ways of saying it – ran out of gas, hit the wall, bottomed out or as the blog title states – burned out.  The last couple of months have been exhausting with so many highs and lows and not a lot of time in between.  Running from one situation to the next, never thinking, just doing.  So when life, reality or whatever you want to call it, catches up with you, it can be nasty.  That’s what I have been dealing with for the last three days now.  Migraine headaches that just take me right down.  I have great medication to numb some of the symptoms, but really my body is telling me to stop.  Rather, my body is making me stop.  Hopefully, three days in, I am on the other side of it now.

It is my fault and mine alone that I’ve got to this state.  Certainly my husband or my sister-in-law haven’t gotten me here.  In fact, both of them have told me to slow down, that I won’t do anyone any good if I don’t.  Truer words, right?  I suspect that this is the norm for a lot of caregivers; you try to be superhuman, but the crash, when it comes, makes you realize that all you’ve been is foolish.  I have heard it from everyone, how important it is to make time for yourself. Somehow, just like being a parent, making that “time” is secondary to absolutely everything else.  But it shouldn’t be – and it can’t be.  Because if you don’t make the time and you keep pushing and pushing yourself, then you bottom out – like I have.

The thing is, the only expectations that I have to manage are actually my own, not anyone else’s, just mine.  The expectations all along have been self-imposed.  My husband is happy for any support that I can give him.  He hasn’t criticized me, nor complained. It’s my own desire to be all things to all people that needs to be revised.  So, after being fairly useless for three days, it became apparent that the necessary things still got done – we ate, slept and got by.  There are some things that really can wait – they won’t go away – but in the grand scheme of things they are way down there.  Looking after myself needs to move a little higher up on my priorities list.

I’m Having A Moment

It’s late and I’m tired.  Although things have settled down a bit, the worry never leaves.  Today, he was very, very tired and lightheaded.  He ended up going down on his knees in the hallway because he was “woozy”.  No harm done, but there’s always the what ifs that linger. We are officially at the lowest immune level which mean the highest potential risk for catching infection.  So although the nausea is gone, the invisible fears are still all around us. These things bring me back to our painful reality. 

When my husband was diagnosed with this no one in the medical field offered us any hope.  A simple visit to the emergency room at the hospital ended up with a diagnosis of inoperable lung and bone cancer.  The man had been playing tennis the week before and in one day, 24 hours, our world was devastated.  The resulting visits to the specialists didn’t give us much to go on.  They wanted us to understand that this was a terminal illness.  There would be no operations or miracles to come our way.  Any treatment would be to gain quality of life, not longevity.  The prognosis was given to us in months, not years. 

So sometimes, like tonight, when he’s sleeping, I have my moments  I cry, even though it doesn’t solve anything, I cry.  It doesn’t mean I’ve given up hope, if anything it makes me more determined to prove them wrong.  I am painfully aware that somewhere there is a giant clock ticking down the weeks, days and hours, but many people have been given the same “months to live” prognosis and are still alive and kicking years later.  What did they do to stop that clock from counting down in real time?  That’s what drives us on, the fact that many people have defied the odds and become members of an elite group of survivors.  If ever there was a group that we want to get him into it is that one, the true survivors club.