Accepting Help

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Accepting help from others is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I don’t know if it is because I am so fiercely independent or if I have a martyrdom side to me. No, It’s simply independence, self-sufficiency. Pride.

Yet, the lesson I learned from the first cancer Dave had back in 1988-89 is that it is important to ask for and receive help. It lessens the stress on the primary caregiver and gives others who care about me and Dave the chance to show their care for him, for us. We all want to do something, to be needed and helpful. The generic “call me if you need me” rarely works. Just ask anyone who needs support!

I woke up to the sound of someone walking in heavy boots, in the mud. Thump, whoosh, thump, whoosh. I was coming out of a dream about hurricanes, having to sleep in the bathtub for safety, watching playoff games on TV. There are all sorts of day residue here but I am not concerned by this dream, it was the sounds I heard. Are they part of this dream or am I hearing something loud and strange? Is someone here? I turned over and the sounds became beats on a drum, resonating deeply and physically reverberating through my head.

My ears. My new inside voice. My reminder that I awaken with an ailment. My reminder that things have changed. Again.

Once I had the clock in focus I saw that it was late, after 7 am. Dave needs pills. I have to go get his Ensure breakfast. I don’t want to repeat the too-late-wake-up and have him experience the pain that lies beneath the surface 24/7. He needs to get something on his stomach so his belly won’t ache over all those pills. We’re managing new symptoms of gastric upset with more pills. Ironic, the pills are likely some of the cause.

Thump, thump, thump. Get up. Now.

My to-do list and a cup of tea. Here I am knowing that I will send an e-mail to ask for help. Yes, please, drop by and pick up the proceeds for the scholarship. Thank you for asking.

It isn’t the request or help that bothers me. It’s that I am compelled to accept this offer. I am facing limitations. I wouldn’t give it a second thought if I were on the other side offering to drop by. Not a problem, happy to help. But I am on this side, thinking that not driving and navigating a walk across the college campus is one less worry. I now have to think about conserving my energy, consider my choices about what I do and keep myself closer to the safety of home.

The dominoes fall on this thinking for me. If I am not doing this – even this one little task today –  what else can’t I do? Whew. Loss. The same devastating grief and loss Dave has endured one at a time. No longer driving, no longer working, no longer getting down the stairs. No longer enjoying food. No longer reading… Am I ticking off a list of I can’t, too?

Granted, Dave is in much more dire circumstance than I. Everything is relative. But the big question is, what if I can’t take care of him? Are there solutions in place? I’m sure there can be. I don’t even really need to know now, but what is coming out of this writing is that I have some fear. What if I can’t take care of me? Accepting help, even a small gesture, only serves to justify my fears.

Accepting help means I must accept this diagnosis that I can’t (won’t) do anything (surgery) for now.  I must weather this storm (dreaming of hurricanes).

Last night I found a resource guide on a Meniere’s Disease website about Brain Fog. I’ve heard that term a lot from other sufferers of SCDS as a symptom, but until last night I hadn’t read any real description. Does “Brain Fog” need a description?  But this brochure listed out the facts of the vestibular system (our balance via the inner ear) and the interference with brain functions such as memory, concentration and other sensitivities. For years I have been worried about early onset of Alzheimer’s with real concern for some memory lapses. Leah hates when I say this, but I have worried nonetheless. I have experienced real holes in retrieving information from my head. (At least it’s there once I get the right words to find it.)  Concentration has been a new challenge most recently and definitely disconcerting to me. There has been an exacerbation of symptoms in the last year. I can go backwards and recognize this change brought on by SCDS has been underway for quite some time, years.

Maybe I can embrace an answer. I am not crazy, I am not buckling under the stress of Dave’s illness. I have a physical disorder that is creating side effects that are real. I am not making excuses, I am accepting reality. Perhaps giving credence to this diagnosis is most helpful. Letting myself give in to fact rather than fighting and thinking I can change, ignore or even will away these weird manifestations could be a “a good thing.”  Isn’t that stress release? Isn’t this the smart way to pick “it” up and examine all sides?

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, I must remind myself. Nor does it actually threaten my independence. It is a sign of having limitations for being human. The hardest lesson learned back in 1989 was to ask for help; and that people want to help, and even delegating help is good for us all. Apparently I have to learn this lesson again.

2 replies
  1. Jan Rodelander
    Jan Rodelander says:

    Joan, I can really appreciate this particular topic of accepting help and facing limitations. it is quite disconcerting. I am in the midst of that right now, having just had knee surgery and Jerry facing back surgery next week. I am not functioning at even 30% right now and its scary. However, I have found that release of stress by accepting the help. It seems weird and i am overwhelmed by the love that comes with the help. In all, I know it can’t be done with help and truly people are glad to have a real “task” that requires more than just stopping by.
    I continue to stay in touch by watching and reading your blog. I do appreciate getting to know Joan in this time and place. Love you.

    • joan
      joan says:

      I always love to hear from you Janet! (You’ll always be Janet to me!)

      I don’t know how you’ll manage with you both down for a while after surgery. Maybe have a small fridge at the end of the bed? LOL.

      It is scary. But that love that comes through from family and friends is more than heartwarming. I’ll be thinking about you both and sending more love for a speedy and full recovery. ~Joan


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