A Step Towards Healing

The last year has been really hard on Hubs. I have seen him slowly spiral downhill into a place I can’t always reach him. I have watched him change from the man I married into someone else. Someone who was a shadow of the person he used to be.

Over the last year, Hubs has seen no shortage of health care professionals. While we were still in NB, and he was still in the military, he was seeing a Nurse Practitioner. He had been seeing the same NP for years. She was also noticing the change in him. She acknowledged she thought he may be depressed about a year before he was released (which was about the time the release process started) She did not send him to see anyone at this time. It wasn’t until about 2 months before his release that she decided to send him to anyone. Well. He needed to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist. But those have waiting times. So she sent him to a counselor. The counselor acknowledged he had depression and anxiety ‘tendencies’ and gave him breathing techniques. They didn’t help him.

Through all this, I knew that something was off. He needed more help. But the military isn’t really open to spouses advocating for the health care of their serving members. I tried. But there wasn’t anyone listening to me. I was just the spouse.

Around the time he was being released we started meeting with Veterans Affairs Canada. VAC disappointed me over and over and over when it came to Hubs. Hubs should have all his medications and treatments covered in relation to his ankle injuries. His right ankle was injured as a direct result of the military and we have documented proof of his left ankle being injured due to his right ankle. We have documented proof that he grinds his teeth due to the pain and the stress surrounding everything. We had 2 medical professionals stating that Hubs was, on some level, depressed and needed help. VAC acknowledged that his right ankle was the military’s fault and is covering all his treatments. They acknowledge that his left ankle injury was caused from compensating for his right ankle, but they are refusing to cover treatment for it. We can’t find anyone willing to treat the right ankle and not the left ankle. As soon as the right ankle is treated, the fear is the left will get worse if it’s not receiving some care too.  And if the left gets worse, the right will to, because Hubs will likely compensate for the added pain in his left ankle by over using the right ankle. But I am kind of digressing here.

Every time VAC denies something, I can see  Hubs getting more and more discouraged that he isn’t being listened to. (this problem isn’t unique to us, a lot of people have this issue with VAC) No one was helping him with those emotions. Finally we were assigned a VAC caseworker here in Winnipeg. Finally we had someone we could sit down with and talk to. Someone who’s job was to oversee Hubs file. He can’t make the decisions on our claims, but we had someone who was going to advocate for us. Someone who wanted to see Hubs get the help he needed. Someone who was going to educate us on what our entitlements are. Someone who would tell us how to appeal the decisions we felt were unfair. Someone who could HEAR us.

We met with the caseworker for the first time in late August. He came to our home and observed. Finally I had someone ask me about Hubs mental health and how I felt he was coping. What I felt he might need. Imagine that. Someone asking me, his wife, his spouse, his support, the only one who sees him on a day to day basis. I felt heard. I told our caseworker about our day to day lives. I told him about how some days Hubs isn’t here. He’s here in body. But that’s about it. I told him that I KNOW my husband needs to talk to someone. I can see him going downhill. He told me about a clinic that sees veterans that Hubs qualified for that would enable him to see a psychiatrist for an evaluation and see someone on a regular basis if he needed it. And it wouldn’t cost us anything. I could have hugged him.

That was August. Hubs FINALLY had his evaluation yesterday. He was diagnosed with depression and chronic pain. The psychiatrist is sending in a referral to a psychologist, a referral to a pain management clinic and a referral to our family Dr to have Hubs put on anti depressants. Finally. I feel like a weight has been lifted off me. I feel like we are finally, finally moving in a direction towards something positive for him. I feel like maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to struggle a little less and feel a little more like himself. I hope he can finally feel like he is being listened to and heard. That someone out there is taking him seriously and wants to see him heal. I want so desperately to have my husband back. I want so much for him to find a way to cope and not stress and obsess so much about everything going on. I know it might take awhile but I am still holding that hope that there is a better tomorrow out there for us.

Love, hugs and more to come later
Lynn

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Gaining Perspective

A couple weeks ago I posted about the struggles I was having with Hubs. Last weekend I went to Edmonton to hang out with my best friend, M, and celebrate his birthday. M’s wife just left him. After 6 months of marriage and a 4 year relationship. For no apparent reason. The specifics aren’t important, but basically she caught him off guard. She was unhappy, and didn’t tell or show him that.
It got me thinking.
There are a lot of things in Hubs and my relationship making me unhappy. I’ve been choosing not to discuss them with Hubs because they are related to his chronic pain condition and he has little to no control over them. I figured since he can’t change them, why talk about them. He can’t help that sometimes he’s in too much pain to do much with the kids and I. He tries. I know he does. I see it. I see him overdo it and that frustrates me too. M’s wife chose not to express she was unhappy. I don’t know what was making her unhappy. Whether he could change it or not. But he didn’t know. And that’s not fair.
Now, just to clear it up, I am not considering leaving Hubs. But, when I am in a bad mood, he deserves to know why. He deserves to know what makes me unhappy. Even if he can’t change it. At least then he can help me work through it.
So I talked to him. I told him the things about his condition that make me unhappy. I expressed myself.
And at the end of it, he thanked me. He could tell something was wrong, but didn’t know what. At least this way, he knows. And maybe he can change it a little bit. We’ll see. But I know that I am happier then I was a couple weeks ago. And now, Hubs knows that I need a husband, not another child. And we are working on ways to help him stop making excuses not to do things for himself. So I can stop feeling guilty when things get forgotten or put off.

I can’t win

Lately I feel like Hubs and I have been struggling like crazy. I can’t seem to find a balance when it comes to helping him cope.
There are things he needs help with. I get that. The medication he is on to help him with his pains affects him mentally.
There were days he was forgetting to take his pill, or unsure of whether he took them. He decided to text my phone whenever he took his pill. Which worked… Mostly. Except when he forgot to text me. I found that he was relying heavily on me to remember if he took his pill/pay attention to his every move. So I bought him a 7 day am/pm pill dispenser. Now there is a visual he can use to track it himself. Then the problem became that he would forget his pill and remember it when it was too late to take it. So again, Lynn to the rescue. His alarm now goes off at 845 am and pm to remind him. And again at 945 am and pm, just in case.
He and I got into an argument today. Because he was supposed to go enroll at the university and he hasn’t. When I asked about it, he spouted off his reasons for not going… I hadn’t told him how to get there (he hadn’t asked, and can use Google Maps without me) He forgot and I hadn’t reminded him. He thought I was going to email/call them.
I kind of lost it at him at that point. I’m his wife. I’m willing to help him. But I’m not his mother. I explained that he needs to take ownership for himself. But I’m frustrated. I’m annoyed. I’m saddened. And most of all… I feel guilty.
I love this man. More then I can possibly describe in a mere blog post. I want to help him. Care for him. But I want to be his wife. Not his care taker. Its so… Draining. I find myself getting annoyed more and more. I find myself surrounded by happiness less and less. I tell myself it’ll get better once he’s in school and productive… But… What if its not? I know the divorce rate for chronic pain sufferers is high. And I’m scared. I want to work on this with him, but I’m tired. I’m going to Edmonton alone in a couple weeks for a weekend. I’m hoping I find perspective. Because right now I don’t feel like I have it.

Love, hugs and more to come later
Lynn

I wish I didn’t feel so selfish

This post is a hard one to write. It’s one I’ve been contemplating writing but I’m unsure if I should. It’s raw and honest. It’s me. And it’s my feelings and perspective. I don’t know if my husband reads my blog on a regular basis, so I don’t know if he’ll see this. But if he does I hope he can understand where I am coming from. As I hope all my readers can. I’m not in any way attacking Hubs. But this is a big part of me and my life…

A little while back I decided to start a series of posts to give me an outlet to talk about what its like to live with a husband who suffers from chronic pain. I only got as far as talking a bit about Hub’s history and I never really talked too much about the impact that has on me.
Hubs struggles a lot with his pains. And often he pushes himself past his physical limits and causes himself more pain. This usually leave me feeling two things. The first is annoyed that I’m 8 months pregnant and picking up the slack while experiencing pains of my own and the second is guilt. Guilt because I’m annoyed, and guilt because I know the reason he pushed himself past his limit is because he was trying to make the kids and I happy.
I struggle with the guilt. A lot. I feel guilty when I wish he was able to do more. I feel guilty when I’m not as sympathetic as maybe I should be. I feel guilty when I’m annoyed that I want to do something and I know he’s in too much pain. I feel guilty that I have thoughts along the lines of ‘I suck up my pains to do this, why can’t you’ when I know that he’s already pushed himself much further then he should.
I feel guilty that I want him to go back to work RIGHT NOW because I’m tired of dealing with his struggles with veterans affairs and long term disability. I’m tired of hearing him complain, I’m tired of feeling like I’m doing it alone even when he’s here. I’m tired of the mood swings, of his drugs leaving him not all here. Mostly I’m tired of feeling selfish and guilty.
Hubs is only really like this maybe 30% of the time. But its exhausting.
I hate seeing him in pain. I hate that nothing is really going to help him. I hate when he tells me that my rubbing his ankles helps when we both know damn well that the only thing its doing is giving me the illusion that I’m actually helping.
I love my husband. Through sickness and health, for better or worse and so on. I hate that he is hurting. I hate that I can’t help. I hate that I have the thoughts I do and I hate that there doesn’t seem to be much support for the spouses that help their loved ones cope with chronic pains. Because, quite frankly, its hard. And I could use the help.

Love, hugs and more to come later
Lynn

A History on Hubs – part two

For the first part of hubs story, go here.

In August of 2012 hubs went for the same surgery he’d had on his right ankle, on his left. His healing this time was quicker, although still not as fast as fast as we were led to expect.
Shortly after returning to work from his surgery hubs was informed he would be starting his courses in February 2013. The first one would run February to April, the second May to July and the third August to November. This meant he would finally be trained and able to move on with his career.
At the beginning of February, a few days before the kids and I were leaving to go to Winnipeg for the birth of Zoey, hubs found out he wouldn’t be going on course after all. Instead, they were going to start the procedures that would lead to a medical release. His pains were still more then they liked, and they hadn’t found a cause for then. His Dr decided hubs wasn’t ready for course. Obviously hubs was upset by this. The kids and I were leaving for a few months, and his career was at a stand still.
From February 2013 until February 2014 hubs did everything he could to hold onto his military career. He tried different drugs, some that really altered his personality. He tried managing his pains without drugs. He went to the gym to build his endurance. He tried to train himself to run. Unfortunately none of it helped. In February 2014 he had lost. The military was releasing him. They couldn’t fix him. He was told he would likely deal with the chronic pains for the rest of his life. No one can tell him what is actually wrong with his ankles. He’s currently scheduled for an MRI and an EMG. We’re hoping one day to find the cause and solution to his pains. Until then we’re hoping to cope with his pains and still have a healthy marriage and family life.
This journey is going to become a part of my blog. I know we aren’t the only couple coping with Chronic Pain. I hope someone out there feels a little less alone if they come across our journey.

Love, hugs and more to come later
Lynn

A History on Hubs – part one

I’ve never really discussed hubs in my blog much. And I realize now that maybe I should have. So much of how I feel, or how things affect me are a result of his health issues that I haven’t been talking about.
I’ve mentioned before that he’s currently military, and he’s being released for medical reasons. And I think I’ve mentioned his ankle issues in passing. But the issues are pretty big and impact our lives on a daily basis.
Back in 2009 he sprained his right ankle, it healed but he went on to sprain it a few more times between the spring and fall of that year. The Dr and physiotherapist told him his ankles were ‘fixed’ but couldn’t explain why he was still getting pains in them.
Fast forward a little bit and in 2011 hubs was finally referred to an orthopedic surgeon. Who told us he found the cause of hubs pains, and he could fix them. So in February 2012, 6 weeks before Nick would make an appearance into the world hubs underwent surgery on his right ankle. The surgery was to tighten the tendons in his ankle, which would increase the stability and allow him to continue on with his career.
His recovery wasn’t quite as we were expecting. He was in a lot more pain then we were led to believe he would be in. (We recently found out that the reason his recovery was more painful and slower then expected was because a nerve was stitched into the incision, more on that later) As a result of the pain he was on a really strong drug that really messed with his head. I needed to wake up every few hours to give him his pain meds. I had to hide them from him for fear he would forget when he took them and over dose. At the same time Alex was cutting his molars and eye teeth. I had no husband, a teething toddler and really bad Braxton hicks. The whole experience was exhausting, no one was surprised that I fell into depression after Nick’s birth.
After going through physiotherapy and relearning how to walk, hubs was ready for surgery number 2.

To be continued…..