"Happiness is a Choice." quote taken from an interview of Drew Barrymore by Kevin Sessums

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Family Snag

When I was first diagnosed with RSD, my husband Michael went right to the internet and downloaded on his computer and mine a booklet about RSD so that we could intellectually understand what RSD is, what can cause it, and how to possibly treat it. We both read it and made comments to each other about it. Yet as the days since my diagnosis turned into weeks and months, it was clear that no booklet could “educate us” on the effects RSD would have on our family and our marriage.

For the first couple of months, we stumbled along like I’m sure most people do. The expectations of me being a stay-at-home-mom remained the same in Michael’s mind even though I knew that some things were difficult for me to do. My interest in cooking due to the standing and repeat motions like opening cans and stirring things immediately waned. I found this activity that I once loved taxing and when we were receiving the dinners from the PTA moms, it was an absolute relief. When I had to make food, I was finding myself making sandwiches and spaghetti and heating up soup…..the simplest things to make. We were flying through the deli meat, cheeses, bread and tinned soup, but I didn’t care. As long as everyone got fed, that’s all I cared about.

When my parents arrived in December for the Christmas holidays, my folks helped a great deal with keeping the bathrooms cleaned, vacuuming and the laundry. Dad went with me to grocery shop as he always done before. Dad bought an electric can opener to ease my wrists. When they left, I not only missed them, but I missed the help with the ins and outs of running a house. Despite their own aches and pains, they jumped in as always to help with whatever needed to be done.

January and February are difficult months. Here Michael is working a full-time job, the kids are in school and have homework and projects to do and all I want to do is be on the couch. It isn’t just because I am depressed…..it is because I hurt…..A LOT! I don’t know how to manage my daily household activities without my body screaming and my daily wardrobe is my pajamas unless I have to leave the house. The house is now looking like a bomb has gone off (at least compared to how it normally looks) and Michael and the kids are making comments about the mess. Elizabeth wants me to be in physical therapy yet the type she wants me to do is not available and even if it is, I can’t afford it. Michael’s overtime has now been cut to an “as needed” basis and so now money is tight for even our most basic of expenses.

So when I tell Michael that Elizabeth would like me to exercise by doing water exercises at the athletic center, we both know we can’t afford it. Even though the monthly membership might be paid in part by our health insurance, we don’t know when and how much. Then there is expense of the extra gas for my car due to the commute back and forth to the athletic center which is at least 15 minutes away. Michael thinks that I need to stop my PTA activities and responsibilities immediately. After all, how can I volunteer for the school and yet struggle to vacuum, clean the bathrooms or cook a real dinner? I argue that it is my only social outlet that gives me the opportunity to see friendly faces and makes me feel like I am useful AND capable of doing things that ultimately benefit our children. Michael simply can’t wrap around his mind that PTA activities don’t hurt me physically to perform and the household chores do, particularly at the latter part of the day. I realize that my sleeping in the living room for more comfort is adding to this problem. We are no longer living like a married couple because we aren’t sleeping like one. We are communicating and yet we aren’t listening or appreciating what the other is saying. The failure to get anything done to anyone’s satisfaction, including mine, opens my depression pit wider and wider and I fall.

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