Today on my facebook page, a friend shared a picture with these words attached:  

"Crying is a release, a cleansing, an expression. When done properly crying brings clarity and healing to the body and spirit."

But these words left me hanging. When done properly...but they don't say what is proper.

I'm afraid I had a pretty big emotional meltdown today. I guess I knew I was heading for one with the stress of Mr. B getting pneumonia. Running back and forth to the hospital and coming home to an empty condo can do that to you. I think it reminded me that one day the empty condo could be permanent. Then I had a run in with Mr. B because I spoke with his nurse today and she wants to see him when he goes for his blood test tomorrow. She also indicated that both myself and Mr. B are not making very good judgment calls about calling her. It's not from a lack of trying on my part. I'm constantly in a battle when my heart wants me to call her and Mr. B doesn't want me to call. But some times, like today, I just go ahead and call anyway. I'm so worried that the chemo treatments are wearing him down physically instead of helping him. His nurse said that the doctor even wanted Mr. B to have his chemo treatment while still in the hospital but they finally decided to give him a break. I still feel he's not shaken this pneumonia and will have a relapse if they push his body too hard. 

People keep telling me that it will get better but I'm not seeing that yet and I'm really starting to get scared. I wonder how much Mr. B's frail body can take. In such a short period of time he's suffered so much, blood clots in his lungs, radiation treatments, weekly chemo treatments and now pneumonia. I worry constantly about him falling and breaking a bone, or cutting himself and bleeding profusely because of being on heavy blood thinners. Now I can add the worry of contracting a cold that will turn into pneumonia. It just never ends.

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be a place to share my feelings, frustrations and struggles as a caregiver. Yet when I just read my previous post I realized that I still put my focus on Mr. B and his medical condition. I'm finding it hard to deal with myself when he has far greatly struggles to deal with. I'm doing all the things that a caregiver shouldn't be doing. And that is why I'm having this emotional meltdown. I know I'll have to start stepping back and taking time for myself but until Mr. B's health is more stable, I won't be able to do it. Because mostly, I just want to see him enjoying life again. To do some of the most simplest things like taking a walk or visiting family. I'm not asking for him to run a marathon.

How Crying Can Make You Healthier

We all know a good cry helps to soothe our minds. Now doctors are discovering that tears may help to heal our bodies, too.

But what of crying? Emotional tears come from the same tear glands that produce the fluid that forms a protective film over the eyeballs to keep them free of irritants, and which also releases extra fluid when the eye becomes irritated, or is invaded by a foreign body.

A clue to the purpose of crying may lie in the experimental finding that emotional tears contain different compounds from regular eye watering, such as that triggered by chopping onions.

The phenomenon supports the so-called recovery theory, that emotional tears, and their contents, may be a way of getting the body back in balance after a stressful event. "I have suggested that we may feel better after crying because we are literally crying it out. Chemicals that build up during emotional stress may be removed in our tears when we cry,'' says William Frey, professor of pharmaceutics at the University of Minnesota. "Because unalleviated stress can increase our risk for heart attack and damage certain areas of our brain, the human ability to cry has survival value.''

Other evidence backs up the theory. It's been shown that tears associated with emotion have higher levels of some proteins, and of manganese and potassium, and hormones, including prolactin than mere eye watering. Manganese is an essential nutrient, and too little can lead to slowed blood clotting, skin problems, and lowered cholesterol levels. Too much can also cause health problems. Potassium is involved in nerve working, muscle control and blood pressure.

Prolactin is a hormone involved in stress and plays a role in the immune system and other body functions. Its involvement in tears may help to explain why women cry more than men. Women have more prolactin than men, and levels rise during pregnancy, when the frequency of crying among women also increases.

There have also been some claims that crying can reduce pain, although there has been little research into this area. The phenomenon, if verified, may be an indirect effect – in that crying may trigger physical contact with another individual and touch has been linked to improved wellbeing.

A counter theory is that crying doesn't so much help the body recover from whatever triggered the tears, but that it increases arousal to encourage behaviours to see off the threat. In support of this theory, some research shows that skin sensitivity increases during and after crying, and that breathing deepens. Some argue that crying could perform both these functions: "It is possible that crying is both an arousing distress signal and a means to restore psychological and physiological balance," say researchers at the University of South Florida. Others suggest that emotional tears signal distress and encourage group behaviour, as well as improve social support and inhibit aggression.

Read the rest of this article here

So maybe crying isn't a bad thing. I'm starting to feel better already. Or maybe writing this blog is doing it. My hope when I started this blog was that it would be a sort of therapy. I believe that it has been as I often feel a release when I've completed a post.

Thanks for being my "listening eyes".

For a Multiple Myeloma patient, there is no such thing as a simple cold. Even a simple cold can turn into a life threatening situation. This was something that I was to find out this past week.

A week ago on Thursday, Mr. B started feeling a pressure in his chest that reminded him of when he had the blood clots in his lungs. He also had a very deep crackly kind of cough that sounded very bronchial. The next day he contacted his cancer care nurse who advised him to go straight to the hospital. She didn't want to take any chances after his last bout with blood clots. After a long eight hour wait in the emergency waiting room we were finally seen by a doctor. X-rays and a CT scan were quickly completed and evaluated. The results - both were clear of any new blood clots. So we were sent home with no answers. Mr. B continued to feel worse over the next few days. We decided that he must have a cold and with his compromised immune system, wasn't able to fight it very well. 

On Tuesday evening I noticed that his breathing was starting to sound very labored. I was speaking with my sister on the phone at the time and stopped talking to ask him if he was having problems breathing. He just nodded so I quickly got off the phone. I asked him if I should call an ambulance. All that he could get out was, "Call 911". Well, you didn't have to tell me twice. Even though my heart was racing a million miles an hour, I kept my voice calm to relay the information to the 911 operator. Mr. B was very frightened. And what does he do? Get up to use the bathroom. Then I started to panic a little. I had visions of him collapsing in the bathroom before the paramedics got there. On the way back from the bathroom, he asked for a blanket to cover up because he was so very cold.

The paramedics were excellent. They assessed Mr. B very quickly and found his temperature had spiked. I was shocked since Mr. B had just taken his temperature a few hours earlier. This is part of the regular regiment that I have him do on an almost daily basis. I have him track his blood pressure, weight, temperature and pain medications taken. The ambulance ride was pretty brutal for him though since his back was in a lot of pain. At every bump in the road, he cried out in pain. I could tell that the ambulance driver was feeling very sorry for him, as he slowed down for the areas of the road that had large bumps.

Now it's 3 days later and Mr. B is still in the hospital. The nurses did step down his oxygen and by suppertime had removed it completely. He still needed assistance to use the washroom as he was very unsteady on his feet. I hope they don't release him too soon and he suffers a relapse. His chemo treatment has been cancelled for Monday until he has re-cooperated.

Which brings me to another subject. Mr. B has really been struggling since he started the new more aggressive chemo drug. The first week he was so nauseated that he hardly ate or drank anything. He lost 5 pounds that week. The second week, he seemed to do better but the next two weeks he was suffering with lots of bone pain. He was very discouraged. I spoke with his cancer care nurse to let her know Mr. B was in the hospital with pneumonia and she was very upset that we had not informed her about these other things. I totally lost it and started to cry. So very often I feel like I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. Mr. B does not like it when I call the nurse. Yet I feel that I need to trust my spidey instincts many times and let her know that he's suffering. It's hard to satisfy everyone. I feel that I need to let Mr. B have some control over what happens. He already feels like he has no say in anything.

Today at the hospital, Mr. B was very depressed. I was visiting with his very talkative roommate and I guess what we said would overwhelm him and he would start to cry. His roommate is in his late 60's and also has pneumonia. He lost his wife to pneumonia a year ago and is very, very lonely. He talked my ear off. It was so cute. But he also touched on some very sensitive issues like dying and losing his wife. I'm guessing it wasn't the topic that we should have been discussing since Mr. B was already in a downer state. :-(

But the night ended on a positive note. His niece came to visit. A little while later our daughter and son-in-law came to visit also so the 5 of us had a very good time with lots of laughter. I saw Mr. B lift out of his depression almost right away. Laughter truly is good for the soul.

Keep laughing. Keep dancing. Keep smiling. Look at the small pleasures in life as though it might be the last time you enjoy them. And most of all....don't forget to breathe. 

Sometimes finding the right words to write on my blog is very hard for me. Today is one of those days. 

At the MM Support Group today we were forced to face the inevitable. One of the long time members shared that the doctors feel they have done as much as they can for her. They want to meet with her family members to let them know that her journey will be coming to an end soon. There were many tears shed even from me and Mr. B even though we had only met her for the first time today. Yet we could see the love and compassion from all the other members that have been encouraged by her during their journeys. The group leader asked her if she had discussed the end with her family and if they had made any plans. She said they had not.

When Mr. B was first diagnosed, someone that I'm close to made a suggestion that we get our "affairs" in order now and not leave it for when things were critical. I can see now why this is very important. The emotions takeover and make it very hard to think clearly if you wait too long. Yet, I can see that trying to plan for that time in the early stages of the diagnosis is also very hard because your emotions are also right at the surface. 

When Mr. B was in the hospital with his pulmonary embolisms, the doctor asked him about signing a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). We discussed this and I was shocked when Mr. B said he did not want to have CPR done at any time. He felt that If his heart stopped beating then it was his time to go. I know that it is a personal decision and I tried to understand his point of view but it was hard for me to hear this. I mean, many people have been brought back to life by CPR and continue to live for many more years. But for a person living with MM, maybe the process of going peacefully is more appealing than living the last few years in pain and suffering. 

I read a very interesting article in the newspaper about a group of volunteers called Final Days, Final Hours. They will spend the last few hours with someone that is dying so that they will not need to be alone. One of the volunteers said that many of the patients do not want to talk about dying. Instead they talk about all of the good things in their lives. It was through this article that I realized how important it was to get your affairs in order before the final days come. You can read this article here.

I hope that I have not offended anyone by writing about this delicate subject. It's something that we all do not want to face especially if you have an incurable cancer like Multiple Myeloma. I pray that you will find peace as you face these decisions.