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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".

5/25/2012 02:47:55 pm

The role of caregiver (I have been one for a relative with MM.) is a tough one. On the one hand you have to balance being a drill sargeant about medications and schedules while also being a compassionate person fluffing pillows, applying creams, etc. All of this while remembering that You are someone who also needs care... tears are helpful and so are taking days to get a massage or pedicure... to stay in balance when the world is tilting is a challenge to be sure. Intending you are making time for you in the midst of caring for Mr. B.

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Shelley
5/27/2012 12:21:05 pm

Sandy, just when I think I'm starting to figure out the balance, the carpet gets pulled out from under my feet. I think I need to start being more vocal to let others know when I need a night out or if I need a ride to do some shopping. But it's been very hard for me to call on people. I always feel like I'm imposing on them.

I find myself often torn between my own desires to get away and the need to stay with Mr. B. And even when I do finally manage to go out for a short time, I find my thoughts still going back to him. The only time I haven't focused on him when I've been away was when I was doing some casual employment at my daughter's office. I actually felt normal on those days because I caused my mind to think about something else. :-)

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Denise
5/28/2012 11:52:27 am

I have had many of these caregiver meltdowns. It is impossible to find balance(or at least it was for me) when your hubby is in treatment and getting sick. After reading your post, I can only say that if you think you should call the doctor, call them. These men are so stubborn but with MM, small things can become really big things, really fast, and that affects us caregivers too. My hubby has gotten a little less stubborn, as he has seen this happen to him, and knows it does him no good to wait. If Mr. B. gets mad, so be it. Better than the alternatives of not catching something in time. This MM thing is like a roller coaster. It will smooth out a bit soon, and let you catch your breath and get your feet back under you again. Hang in there.

Reply
Shelley
5/28/2012 12:47:24 pm

Denise, part of my meltdown was because I was thinking about the future and what it would hold for Mr. B. In such a short time I've seen him become a shell of his former self and it has been extremely hard for me to witness.

Is your husband still in treatment?

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6/12/2012 01:46:00 pm

Shelley,
When Big EZ spent 31 days in the hospital, bedridden for 26 of them, believe me I was scared and shed plenty of tears. It is so hard to see your strong man in such a state. I had a dear friend that would come to the hospital to make sure I got outside for a walk, a talk, or a comforting cup of coffee when I felt I could. It is a balancing act for sure. Follow your heart when you are concerned about something, and seek the help you need. Better safe than sorry. Hoping you see light at the end of the tunnel soon as you look forward to better days down the road. You and Mr. B are in our prayers...

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