Triggers for caregivers

Posted by Scott, Volunteer Mentor @IndianaScott, May 29, 2019

Hi to all caregivers here! This past week I really got to thinking about all us caregivers here as I had a set of unusual triggers hit me, as the kids say these days ‘right in the feels’. I’m wondering if other caregivers, present and past, get effected by triggers as I do?

First was when our daughter was admitted to the hospital for a serious illness. Other than for visiting in a hospital I hadn’t been in the ‘working areas’ since I had been caring for my wife. As I drove the hour from our home to the hospital to be with our daughter I was overcome with not only my worry for her, but by a crush of emotions as I was overwhelmed by memories of the times I had to be in this crisis mode with my wife. When I arrived I got hit with another trigger as our daughter was in the same hospital where my wife got her first diagnosis of her brain cancer. Walking through those same front doors, I actually had to sit and cry in the lobby before I went back into the ER. In short order she was transferred to the ICU. I had not been in an ICU since my wife spent days in the NICU at Mayo. The noises, IVs, rush of nursing, regular monitoring, the feelings of fear, etc. triggered wave upon wave of emotion and memories.

Thankfully our daughter’s condition did improve and she was able to return home and is well on the mend. Then the next kind of crazy trigger hit.

Before getting ill our daughter had arranged to adopt a rescue Lab. She couldn’t go to pick up her dog so I made the trek and agreed to keep her for the week until she could join us. Her name is Stella and I was slammed again. Shaking, ribs sticking out, sores on her body, and then the intermediary said to me ‘you better be a good caregiver, she need’s a lot of TLC.’ Just him using that word sent me into a spin again.

Stella is improving and a truly sweet dog, then another wave. This is the time of year I have a lot of trigger events in quick succession. This was the time of year my wife suffered incredibly in her final days. It’s also when we celebrate and remember her birthday, our anniversary, and then the day of her passing. I know my emotions are far more raw and release easier in life. Heck, I even cried watching EndGame with our grandsons! But this time of year, when I am hit with trigger, upon trigger, upon trigger, I am a bigger emotional mess than usual.

I’d appreciate hearing how you, as caregivers, deal with your triggers?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Caregivers group.

@grannybrenda

Triggers! Wow! Yes I’ve had a few now. My husband was treated at the Mayo with CAR T therapy for lymphoma. It was a last resort which I’m happy to say has been successful thus far. He had some pretty awful side effects and was in ICU twice. They gave him steroids while in ICU when it was really bad. Now that he is home he has had monthly IVIG infusions. Well he had a reaction to the infusion and had to be given a steroid. Well who would have thought that would do it? Not immediately but later that evening I started shaking and fell to pieces. He was sleeping away from all the meds totally unaware which I was happy about. But I have had a hard time since then. Even the mention of steroids can cause a panic. Now I know you asked what people do and what I have found helpful is a meditation app. Sounds silly but 10 minutes of listening to a soothing voice and the other things calms me right down. It is getting better but I imagine there will be more triggers.

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Hi @grannybrenda I was happy to read the CAR T therapy has been successful for your husband! The leaps made in medicine are truly astounding! Wonderful to see therapies that just a short time ago were considered experimental now basically mainstream! Should give us all hope about what miracle might be around the next corner in research departments worldwide!

I will have to look into one of those meditation apps for sure. Amazing what all they have put into an app these days!

Now if i could just find an app that would feed the dog for me 🙂

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@nancyguy

Scott, I am so sorry for your troubles. Saying a prayer that God will help you and bless you, your daughter, and your doggie. But thanks for your good sense about triggers. I need that.

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Hello @nancyguy I appreciate your outreach! So often the tough times are those when we tend to feel the most alone. A voice is always welcome! Our daughter continues to make progress and they have made a major adjustment in her medications, which seems to be a big help. Getting her back to 100% will take a bit longer, but she said the other day she feels much more like her 'old self' now!

The dog is taking a bit longer. Had our vet do a thorough check on her and he found more than met the eye so to speak. She has eye troubles and I think that is leading to some of her anxiety. I know when I lost the sight in my right eye with my stroke I was a LOT more anxious than I had been so I can agree with the vet on that one with ease. Two ointments to see if they improve her eyes or not and the tincture of time. The one 'good' byproduct is she sticks close to me like glue so I enjoy the company — except when she sneaks up on my blind side and I jump sky high when her cold nose rubs my leg! 🙂 In spite of all her battles she is a super sweet dog so we are lucky.

You are more than welcome for the 'good sense'. Glad it helps you! The benefits of the sharing that goes on in Connect is a wonderful thing for sure.

I hope the sun is shining on you and yours today!

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Triggers…April the month of Mom’s diagnosis two years ago…now April makes me apprehensive but I try look to it as the time of renewal and survival…
September the month of a favorite aunt’s death and four years later…on the same day…the day of my father’s death, her brother,…two days before my birthday…
I try to stay busy and honor their memories by just remembering all they meant to me…..
October…when my husband suffered a massive heart attack and died in my arms….I stay as busy as possible and do the thing he liked best….carving a pumpkin…

Triggers….I try my best to stay above them but if I have a breakdown and cry…I try to remember that the sun will come out tomorrow…tomorrow tomorrow I love you tomorrow you’re only a day away…..hmmmm think there is a song in there some where!!!!

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@providence1960

Triggers…April the month of Mom’s diagnosis two years ago…now April makes me apprehensive but I try look to it as the time of renewal and survival…
September the month of a favorite aunt’s death and four years later…on the same day…the day of my father’s death, her brother,…two days before my birthday…
I try to stay busy and honor their memories by just remembering all they meant to me…..
October…when my husband suffered a massive heart attack and died in my arms….I stay as busy as possible and do the thing he liked best….carving a pumpkin…

Triggers….I try my best to stay above them but if I have a breakdown and cry…I try to remember that the sun will come out tomorrow…tomorrow tomorrow I love you tomorrow you’re only a day away…..hmmmm think there is a song in there some where!!!!

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How great–you honor your husband by carving; I think he must be close to you, watching, for I do believe our loved ones can visit us once in awhile. I have had experiences otherwise unexplainable.. . . not frequent and when least expected. God bless you!

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@providence1960

Triggers…April the month of Mom’s diagnosis two years ago…now April makes me apprehensive but I try look to it as the time of renewal and survival…
September the month of a favorite aunt’s death and four years later…on the same day…the day of my father’s death, her brother,…two days before my birthday…
I try to stay busy and honor their memories by just remembering all they meant to me…..
October…when my husband suffered a massive heart attack and died in my arms….I stay as busy as possible and do the thing he liked best….carving a pumpkin…

Triggers….I try my best to stay above them but if I have a breakdown and cry…I try to remember that the sun will come out tomorrow…tomorrow tomorrow I love you tomorrow you’re only a day away…..hmmmm think there is a song in there some where!!!!

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You just might be right @providence1960 … a song for sure 🙂 Maybe even a musical!

I like your idea of doing something special at those trigger times! I'll be trying that going forward for sure!

Cheers!

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@grannybrenda

Triggers! Wow! Yes I’ve had a few now. My husband was treated at the Mayo with CAR T therapy for lymphoma. It was a last resort which I’m happy to say has been successful thus far. He had some pretty awful side effects and was in ICU twice. They gave him steroids while in ICU when it was really bad. Now that he is home he has had monthly IVIG infusions. Well he had a reaction to the infusion and had to be given a steroid. Well who would have thought that would do it? Not immediately but later that evening I started shaking and fell to pieces. He was sleeping away from all the meds totally unaware which I was happy about. But I have had a hard time since then. Even the mention of steroids can cause a panic. Now I know you asked what people do and what I have found helpful is a meditation app. Sounds silly but 10 minutes of listening to a soothing voice and the other things calms me right down. It is getting better but I imagine there will be more triggers.

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@grannybrenda, you mention that you continue to have a challenging time, even though the medical crisis is now passed. Did I understand that correctly? It's as if, now that you are no longer full tilt in action with caregiving, you're subconscious is registering what you went through. Would that be a fair interpretation? I'm not a professional, but that makes complete sense to me. I can also see where meditation would help bring you back to the here and now, where things are okay.

Mindfulness is often bandied about these days, but I think mindfulness exercises can help to keep us focus on the moment. Dr. Benzo has produced some nice mindful breathing videos that you can see here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/mindfulness-in-health/tab/resource-58/

Which meditation apps have you found helpful?

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@nancyguy

How great–you honor your husband by carving; I think he must be close to you, watching, for I do believe our loved ones can visit us once in awhile. I have had experiences otherwise unexplainable.. . . not frequent and when least expected. God bless you!

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I’ve had those moments too…comforting!

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@colleenyoung

@grannybrenda, you mention that you continue to have a challenging time, even though the medical crisis is now passed. Did I understand that correctly? It's as if, now that you are no longer full tilt in action with caregiving, you're subconscious is registering what you went through. Would that be a fair interpretation? I'm not a professional, but that makes complete sense to me. I can also see where meditation would help bring you back to the here and now, where things are okay.

Mindfulness is often bandied about these days, but I think mindfulness exercises can help to keep us focus on the moment. Dr. Benzo has produced some nice mindful breathing videos that you can see here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/mindfulness-in-health/tab/resource-58/

Which meditation apps have you found helpful?

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Colleen I think you might be on track there. I just find now the most minor of thinks can cause a huge panic. It is getting better again but it totally surprised me. I have tried a few different Apps, Head Space, Breathe and Calm. I ended up choosing to purchase Calm after using the free version. And the reason was because it has bedtime stories for adults which I find very beneficial to help me get to sleep. Or get back to sleep when I’m awake during the night.
Thank you for the link. I will check them out.

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@IndianaScott

Hello @nancyguy I appreciate your outreach! So often the tough times are those when we tend to feel the most alone. A voice is always welcome! Our daughter continues to make progress and they have made a major adjustment in her medications, which seems to be a big help. Getting her back to 100% will take a bit longer, but she said the other day she feels much more like her 'old self' now!

The dog is taking a bit longer. Had our vet do a thorough check on her and he found more than met the eye so to speak. She has eye troubles and I think that is leading to some of her anxiety. I know when I lost the sight in my right eye with my stroke I was a LOT more anxious than I had been so I can agree with the vet on that one with ease. Two ointments to see if they improve her eyes or not and the tincture of time. The one 'good' byproduct is she sticks close to me like glue so I enjoy the company — except when she sneaks up on my blind side and I jump sky high when her cold nose rubs my leg! 🙂 In spite of all her battles she is a super sweet dog so we are lucky.

You are more than welcome for the 'good sense'. Glad it helps you! The benefits of the sharing that goes on in Connect is a wonderful thing for sure.

I hope the sun is shining on you and yours today!

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Hello, Scott! I am so glad your daughter is getting better–praise God and all good doctors!! I do hope your dog keeps her eyesight. Years ago, my sister Sally's little schnoodle (spelling?) lost her sight. So sad; however, she bounded and bounced around the house, even upstairs and down, and she continued to play for several years. And to love and be loved, of course.
The sun is shining here (Painesville, Ohio) today after several rainy days. Happy Springtime to you and yours!

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@nancyguy

Hello, Scott! I am so glad your daughter is getting better–praise God and all good doctors!! I do hope your dog keeps her eyesight. Years ago, my sister Sally's little schnoodle (spelling?) lost her sight. So sad; however, she bounded and bounced around the house, even upstairs and down, and she continued to play for several years. And to love and be loved, of course.
The sun is shining here (Painesville, Ohio) today after several rainy days. Happy Springtime to you and yours!

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Thanks for the well wishes, @nancyguy Glad to hear the sun is shining! It is here today in northern Minnesota. Small world, though. I grew up in Berea and my family were multigenerational Clevelanders back to 1850. Then as happens my dad changed jobs and so did our home! Still have a great friend over in Gates Mills.

The pup has a check-up with the vet on the 6th so we should know a bit more by then.

Keep on keeping on!

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