Encouragement. I think it is one of the biggest pieces to helping Mom deal with MS. But it is also one of the biggest puzzle pieces too. What is the right way to encourage Mom? What do we say to keep her going? To keep her working hard? To in a sense keep her moving?
After Mom returned home from rehab, her doctor ordered 4 weeks of home healthcare coming out to our house. A physical therapist comes 3 days a week and a nurse also comes to check her blood pressure. It is a tedious process because people run late, times get changed or canceled, plus we have these 2 dogs at home that we have to corral while we have these people in our house working with Mom, not there to play with them. It is an ordeal for everyone. It is part of the reason Sister K and I went home last Friday so we could help out while the therapist was there.
But it’s been hard on Mom. She does her physical therapy and then ends up in pain in the evenings. She described it as a strong aching. It is a pain though that makes her want to quit. To quit physical therapy and just have Dad work with her. Dad has discussed that this is not an option while we have these services available. He is simply spread too thin to also be responsible for this. But the point is Mom has to keep moving. She wants to see faster and bigger results. When she doesn’t she wants to quit. It is hard for me to relate to because typically if you work out everyday you get stronger and stronger. She isn’t seeing this level of progress. She has improved greatly from where she was just 3 weeks ago but it is still small, baby step improvements.
All of this is tough though. Sister K and I were on the phone last night just thinking now we get to deal with this hurdle. It’s as if the hurdles with MS do not end. You just bounce from one to the next. I also don’t know what the right thing to say is, what does she need to hear. The strength she has to find has to come from within. We all know that. I wish she was naturally more of a fighter in these situations but she isn’t. It’s not her fault but she has never had to be and that’s not in her nature. But it makes it even harder when we hear about people who have MS and are fighting through it. Even though we also know MS and the people it affects cannot be compared. There is no comparison in them, no two cases are alike. But as a daughter it is hard to sit by and watch Mom not have the fighting spirit she needs. Sometimes it is there but sometimes it is not. And when it is not there, it is not fun.
So add motivational speaker to the many hats Sister K and I are wearing. Sometimes it is a positive conversation and sometimes it is a really tough one. All we can do is pick up and move forward. Each day is a new day. Some of these days will be easier on Mom than others. That’s just that way it is.
What keeps you fighting? What makes you feel encouraged? Do you believe a fighting spirit has to come from within or is it something that can be influenced by others? How do you encourage people in your life?
I just love how you take your personal story, and your personal situation, and make us realize how universal it is on some level at the end of your post… I don’t know what keeps me encouraged exactly. I do know that writing – about my life, about my struggles – keeps me strong. And I am SO happy to see you doing this very thing here. What a wonderful blog – and the fact that you have started an entire blog around your mom’s illness underscores for me what a wonderful and thoughtful daughter you are.
I can’t tell you how much you posting on my blog means to me. This is exactly what I am trying to accomplish with this blog- making it about my Mom’s MS but also finding a way to apply it universally so other people can feel like they relate as well regardless of having a connection to MS. I am so glad you could gather that from reading. You were my inspiration for starting this blog, a blog that had been an idea in the back of my mind for awhile but I needed the guts to actually start. I really appreciate your kind words and to have you comment means a lot- thank you!
Your mother may be overwhelmed right now and still dealing with grief issues since her diagnosis is relatively recent. For some people, it takes years to go through the stages of grief and emerge ready to fight. MS does not help since it is constantly changing and restarting the grief process all over again. So, giving her time may be a factor here. Another factor to consider is that depression is very common in MSers. This may be due to biological issues associated with the damage being done to the brain. Some take antidepressants, with varying results. As for how I fight this, I have turned to writing poetry and fiction, both of which are a joy for me. I also, through my blogging, have tapped into a global “support system” which helps a lot. Lastly, think about you and the family getting the support you need. This is an enduring, long-lasting issue. As caregivers, your burnout would not be helpful to anyone. Make sure you take care of yourself emotionally and physically.
This brings up 2 things I have thought about often- the stages of grief and depression. MS does add another level to the stages of grief that I hadn’t thought about since you said it is constantly changing and restarting the grief process all over again. We have also wondered about depression and if that may be a small factor as well. We walk a fine line on approaching that possibility but it is in the back of my family’s minds. This blog has helped connect me with people, ideas and a support system that is giving me strength everyday and helping me to not burnout as well. I take what you said to heart though because it is something I am watching very closely with my Dad as he lives with this Mom’s personally everyday. Thanks for being part of my “support system” too!