We knew his kidneys would eventually fail, but nothing could have prepared us for that precipitous crash when his creatinine went from four to ten in only two weeks. Steve's kidney disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and transplant failure should qualify me for extra Continuing Medical Education credits!
This morning when I left for work, Steve and I had just stabilized his blood pressure--from a low of 69/40! We were fortunate to have corrected the problem with oral fluids. But it's unnerving when you live on Bainbridge Island--a ferry (or airlift) away from Seattle!
But I do get frustrated, for example, with things like this:
- Steve forgets to buy juice boxes for emergency blood pressure and blood sugar regulation
- Steve neglects to get a seasonal flu shot, and now--when they're harder to find, it becomes a major headache
- Insulin needles get left on the bedside stand, not placed in the needle disposal container
- Steve forgets to place his nitroglycerine tablets or phone next to the bed.
In medical school, we learned a great slogun: "Never invest more in someone than they're willing to invest in themselves!" (I don't know the source.)
And while that slogun has helped me considerably in my work as a physician, it becomes harder to adapt for use at home. After all, if something does go terribly wrong for Steve, I, too, have consequences! If he is injured in a fall, for example, I will have to scramble to deal with the outcome, too.
So, Caregivers, how do we find that delicate balance of:
- Being supportive without enabling?
- Reminding without nagging?
- Not giving up and just doing everything ourselves?
- Taking care of our own hearts and souls so there's something left over?
- Preserving an adult relationship with your spouse, and not feeling like you have yet one more child!