At least I was this morning, and I was reminded of the intensity of this condition after visiting my doctor about a persistent yet irregular pain in my left calf. It has bothered me since Monday, the day after our family’s six-hour car ride to the Mississippi River and back. The doctor appointment seemed wise after failed attempts to massage the pain away, stretch the pain away, and deaden the pain away with Aleve. After discovering the left calf and its corresponding ankle measured .5 cm larger than the right one, the doctor employed medical best practices. She sent me immediately to the radiology department in a city 35 miles away for a Dopplar scan to rule out a DVT, deep vein thrombosis.
I was to drive directly there (“but don’t break any speed limits”) and then to wait for confirmation that the radiologist and my doctor had discussed the results. Should I have a blood clot in my leg, I might need to check into the hospital.
My results were negative, yet from 8:45 a.m. to 11:25 a.m. I wasn’t positive they would be, so I began making plans. The worst-case-scenario kind. Not actually the absolute worst, but the kind where someone could pick up Mark (because we only have one operating vehicle and I had it), bring me clothes and toiletries, inform our youngest why we can’t be at his senior year homecoming events, and help figure out how to care for Stross. I didn’t get that last one fleshed out satisfactorily. Too many details – medical supplies, cath schedule, ostomy care, accessible transportation (remember, I had our van), and ways to occupy his time.
I have had to formulate plans on the move in this manner before – many times before – but I have not had to do it when I’ve been the patient.
When I finally reached my sister by phone, I knew that connecting her with Mark – should the need arise – meant they could complete my planning without assistance. Still, my run-thru felt lacking.
Mark and I work best under pressure and when in proximity of one another. We had not been afforded that luxury. Plus, I was operating on less sleep than normal. One more thing: We no longer had adequate respite in place for Stross. Long story. The point of that story is this: Mark and I, once again, are the only living human beings who know “The Care and Feeding of Stross from A to Z.” Relatives are not even up to speed. Mark and I know it is important to not grow tired of this endless need to find and train members for our support team, but we have been doing it for more than two decades. After I-have-lost-count-of-how-many respite workers and caregivers; we have grown tired of it. We just have.
A friend has volunteered to learn – a genuine offer – but we have not made time for her orientation. She has a busy life. A family. A career. We will get to that someday. We promise.
Stross is more independent that he ever has been, even if not fully independent. He will never be fully independent.
Yes, we are still young and need to think of ourselves.
Yes, we know there are many good options.
Yes, we know what those options are.
Yes, we know others can take care of him, and he will be fine – even thrive.
Yes, we even know that one day it will not be us taking care of him at all, but such a time has not arrived.
We won’t wait for a worst-case-scenario, but we won’t needlessly rush when quality of life is at stake, either. Too many factors are in the air. Politicians using waiver programs in political warfare. Fluctuating finances. Uncertainty about plans that our parents, our siblings, and our other son are making about their respective futures.
As with today, negative results can mean a positive outcome.
That’s what happened this time. Thankfully.
At my doctor’s instruction, I am being more intentional tonight about rest-ice-elevation-Aleve, and more aware about a possible relationship to sciatica. The calf pain will resolve. I know my parental pain will resurface and need to be addressed as intentionally as the calf pain; it will likely present as a moment of weakness.
All in due time.