Thursday, 20 November 2008

Agoaraphobia is more important than a carer's condition...

I suffer from renal colic (aka kidney stones) from time to time, and for the past couple of weeks I've been having the familiar twinges.

About 6 years ago I woke up from my usual deep sleep to the most horrific pain I had ever encountered. Apparently, it seemed, someone had removed part of my lower right side and inserted a sharply spiked, red-hot vibrating ball. I also urgently needed to puke.

I staggered to the bathroom and dropped to my knees in front of the toilet, but despite my best efforts I couldn't vomit. My world had suddenly shrunk to the size of my painful side. Nothing else existed. The pain was so intense that my usual health anxiety issues were unable to surface. Strangely, I felt really thirsty, and the next couple of hours were spent drinking water and rolling around the floor in all-encompassing agony.

About 2 hours later, the pain subsided. It was now only excruciating. I was able to phone National Health Direct to find out what might be wrong with me. During the call, I had communicated the severity of my pain without trying – it seems that the way I talked gave it all away - and I got a call back within a couple of minutes. Renal colic was the provisional diagnosis and a bed was being prepared for me at the nearest hospital while we spoke. An ambulance could be sent for me, but it was suggested that if I could get a taxi or someone to drive me there, I could be receiving treatment a couple of hours earlier.

And this was when Marie's agoraphobia became a problem. Although she could drive me to the hospital, she couldn't go into it with me. She couldn't drop me off and drive home either due to her monophobia. Even worse, I couldn't go to the hospital by taxi, because Marie cannot stay at home without a safe person. In effect, my condition was of secondary importance to Marie's.

My daughters came to the rescue. Despite the fact that it was the middle of the night, Carla took me to the hospital and stayed with me until I was suitably drugged and firmly ensconced in a hospital bed. Other daughters, and a day or two later, her mother stayed with Marie until I returned from hospital about a week later.

It is likely that I can avoid a recurrence of that night's events by drinking 2 litres of water daily. If I don't drink enough, I get twinges of pain which I now recognise as the precursor to a major attack. I then drink twice as much for a week or two and the pains go away. Caring for an agoraphobic raises issues about which the average citizen has no idea!

I have been told frequently, and often in a patronising way, that men have no idea what the pain of childbirth is like. Well, here's one guy who knows pain which has similar or greater intensity. Since that renal colic attack, I have met 3 ladies who have had the same problem and have also given birth. They all told me that if they were given a choice, they would prefer the pain of childbirth.


rosiero said...

At least childbirth only lasts an average 24 hours!! Your pain can recur any time and last longer. So sorry you have this and also feel for you, that you have to put yourself second in this sort of situation. It can't be easy. Visit me tomorrow. I have an award for you.

Kit Courteney said...

Do you know, that's why I love this blog. I *think* I'm an average citizen - and you're right - I had (have) no idea what the implications are for others within the family when one member has agoraphobia.

One can guess and assume, but it's not until you see it in black and white from someone actually in that situation that it hits home.

Sarah♥ said...

I was in this situation with my 'husband' 6 years ago. He had appendicitis. It started on the Saturday night gradually reaching unbearable by the Sunday afternoon when he was taken off by ambulance.

At that point i had RARELY left the house. I swollowed a travel sick pill and my mother took me to the hospital where i sat with him (his mum/dad, my mum) for a number of hours. IF my mother couldn't have taken me, i wouldn't have been able to way. It sounds terrible doesn't it...but agoraphobia is shit. I don't imagine those feelings of terror, breathlessness, fainting, nausea they're all pre-programed now to happen where and whenever they flipping want. So if its a contest between putting myself through those feelings OR getting help to achieve what i need to, i will do the latter.

Sweetie pie said...

Speaking as a fellow "renal colic" sufferer (I've never heard it called that..the name makes me chuckle a little!)...I literally feel your pain! I've had 3 total, and I'm only 30. I also had 48 hours total of labor (long story), and a C-section. I DO have to say that having my impacted wisdom teeth out still tops my list of horrible painful hell...because I couldn't keep my pain pills down, and I had an allergic reaction to the first type. ANYWAYS...

I had my first kidney stone when I was agoraphobic. It really forced me to deal with some of my fears. Although the hospital was only a mile away, it was still difficult to leave the house. And don't get me started on my fear of medication! I.V.'s?? Not my friend. But when I felt the sweet relief of morphine, I was thankful for that I.V. and that hospital!

Point being, sometimes shit happens in life that FORCES you to deal with your fears. And sometimes when you get through that fear, it helps you realized you can do it again!

Second HAVE TO take care of yourself FIRST. ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO. Because if you're not well, whether it be physically or mentally, you WILL NOT be able to take care of anyone else. Its lucky that your daughters were there to help out then, but should you not have that available, you HAVE TO leave Marie to deal with her fears while you take care of yourself. You carry way too much responsibility for her. I know you love her, but you can't care for her to the detriment of yourself. Not to mention that the more you do for her, the less she does for herself. I finally got better when I had to start fending for myself. It wasn't easy AT ALL, but I was better off in the long run. Your survival instinct will always outweigh your irrational fears. If Marie was left alone all the sudden with the kids with no help and no way to get groceries other then herself...she would get those groceries. Those stupid grocery delivery services and internet shopping are making it too easy to be agoraphobic!

I'm sure others have told you these things before...and I don't know your situation like you do. I'm sorry if I overstep!

Faith Hoffen said...

That sounds awful! I'm so sorry you had to go through that.

Kit Courteney said...

Robert - It's obviously a busy time for you because I have an award for you today, too!

(You're clearly WAY too popular!)

lavendermace said...

i'm so sorry you went through this.

when i was taking care of my father the last couple of years of his life we had a list of numbers on the fridge. my therapist and my mother, who worked full-time talked to three people who were willing to be on the list.

if we had an emergency that did not require 911 i could use this list of trusted people and their numbers to contact someone i trusted to come into the home and take over for me. this allowed me to feel confident that i knew what to do if i started to panic and didn't have to deal with the guilt of "freezing".

having a plan ahead of time for this type of situation saved so much worry for all uf. everyone on the list was fine with it and knew the situation before hand.

we only used it twice in all that time, but it was nice to just know that it was there.

my thoughts are with you.

Robert said...

Hi rosiero! Thanks for the award (and the tag - I think!). I'll post it in the next day or two. Lavendermace's comment has given me a really good idea so that I'll be prepared for any similar incident in the future.

Robert said...

Kit - the *average* citizen doesn't write as well as you!

Robert said...

Sarah - I really like lavendermace's idea - see her comment. It might be of use to you?

Robert said...

sweetie pie - you absolutely haven't overstepped the mark, and thanks for your comment.

I am aware that agoraphobia expands into the area available and that there is no record of any agoraphobic dying in a fire or similar because they couldn't leave their house. Marie knows this too and knows that her "safe" world will not shrink to the point that her health or safety will be jepordised. But how to motivate her to expand her world...that's what I'm looking for.

Btw - what was the most severe pain for you - childbirth or kidney stone?

Robert said...

Faith Hoffen - I'm sorta glad that I had a pain of that intensity!! Before that event, I was worried about going for an operation or similar. Now I know that I can survive whatever pain life can throw at me.

Thanks for leaving a comment!

Robert said...

lavendermace - Marie & I think your "list" idea is an excellent strategy. So simple - why didn't we think of it before??? Anyhow thanks very much for stopping by and leaving the comment.

Millennium Housewife said...

I'm over from Rosiero's tag, and so glad to find you! I often think how tricky it is to be a man and have to cope with the 'you've never given birth' jibes. How can they compete?? Even if their pain is the equivalent of childbirth they can never prove it due to the lack of baby bearing essentials. I shall now give my Husband the necessary reply - "try having kidney stones". Excellent. So sorry you've been in this pain and wishing you the best. I'm looking forward to following this blog! MH

Robert said...

Welcome MH! Better to advise your Husband to avoid kidney stones...he really won't want to try them!! (lol)

I'm not really feeling sorry for myself about having this pain - it's rarely a big health hazard.

maz said...

Wow Robert I never knew about that condition!
It sounds real painful.

Let's hope you get some peace from it mate!

maz x

Robert said...

I'm managing to control it at the moment, thanks Maz. But I occasionally worry that I'll get another major attack. Silly to worry really - I survived it once, I can do it again.

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