Monday, 4 April 2011

Going once too often to the well ...

There is an old proverb about not going to the well too often, because one day it will be dry. My understanding is that it is a warning not to push one's luck or to ask too much of someone.

This past weekend, I went to the well once too often.

The last few months have been very tiring for both my wife and I, trying to cope with our respective fathers and work. The last fortnight in particular has been very wearing, as my father-in-law has been in hospital in Ashford, Kent, and we live nearly sixty miles away and have been driving down to see him almost every day after work. Last Friday I was so tired that at one point I insisted that we stop for a rest break, especially as we had had to collect some things for my father-in-law from his house in Herne Bay, and that this had pretty well doubled the length of our journey.

On Saturday, I began to feel ill. I had a headache that would not go away, and I was suffering from stomach pains. I put this down to stress, but during the night I was kept awake by both increasing levels of abdominal pain and the worst anxiety attack I have had in years. Despite all this, on Sunday I again drove to Ashford with my wife via Herne Bay, but by the time we got home I was physically and mentally exhausted. I went to bed ... and other than several trips to the bathroom because of my ongoing stomach problems or to get water to drink, I have been asleep ever since.

It is obvious that I have had a stomach bug, but because I was so tired I just had no reserves to shrug it off as I normally would. I am now feeling somewhat better, but what has happened has been a warning to me not to think that I am a superman who can do everything. Luckily my trips to Ashford should end this week, as my father-in-law is returning to his home with a care package that is supposed to help him recover … although his general irascibility when people try to ‘interfere’ with his life is hardly likely to endear him to his care worker.

6 comments:

  1. Sadly, he who digs the best holes generally gets the biggest shovel.

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  2. Conrad Kinch,

    I have not heard that one before!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Bob, listen to your body when it talks. You don;t want to end up on the menu at Spice of Life!

    -Ross

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  4. I've been there, trying to combine a high-stress job with dealing with a terminally ill parent while trying to have some sort of personal or social life outside of those two. It wears you down and eats up your reserves, but unfortunately you only tend to notice when those reserves run out and you find yourself flat on your face with no strength to pull yourself up.

    But you're a wiser man than me, Bob, so you already know what you have to do. Take some time out and look after yourself, otherwise you'll be in no state to be able to look after your loved ones.

    Trust me on this one.

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  5. Ross Mac,

    How very true!

    The problem with my father-in-law is that unlike most old people, he chose to move away from his family - not towards them - as he got older. He is also very independent, whilst still expecting his only child - my wife - to be available when he needs her. Because he has been retired for over thirty years, he seems to have forgotten that sometimes work - hers and mine - has to come first.

    He should be home from hospital today, and they are putting a care package in place for him that should help spread the burden a bit.

    As to listening to our bodies ... well my wife and I have a holiday booked over Easter that we are determined that we are not going to cancel unless something drastic happens; we need the R&R!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Dr Vesuvius,

    You are spot on. It is possible to do a high-stress job and be a carer for a time ... but that time is limited. When you pass that limit, you are no use to yourself or anyone else.

    Over the past year (and particularly the past four months) both my father and father-in-law have required more and more time from my wife and I, and it is becoming obvious that our health is beginning to suffer. The only respite we have had was a cruise at Christmas, which gave us a chance to recharge our batteries. We have another holiday planned for Easter, and unless something really drastic happens, we are going to take it just so that we can recover our strength.

    All the best,

    Bob

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