Category: #alzheimers

When you assume, be prepared for the boom!

Have you ever asked your care receiver what they need the most?

January 19, 2022

You have guilt. They have guilt. But, neither of you is talking to the other about those feelings. In fact, neither of you has talked about much of anything with regards to being a helper and being a care receiver.

I always remember the word, assume. When you assume, it makes an ass out of you and me. Ass/u/me. I have been an ass, quite a few times and not always by assuming. But, a lot of times, I have assumed, and I was so very wrong. Don’t let that happen to you. Assuming does cause misunderstandings. It does cause heartache. It can even cause hurt feelings.

How could my assumption be so wrong?  I made the best decision that I could. My heart was in the right place. I know this person. Why was it so wrong? Everyone does not think like me. Not everybody has the same wants or needs as I do. They don’t have my life experiences or the same goals that I have.  I’m perplexed. I’m a little sad. I feel a little unappreciated for my efforts. I am a little pissed.

Have you ever felt that way, you make decision, and it did not turn out as you had planned? It flopped. It was bad. It made more of a mess.

The key is, “as you had planned.” You didn’t ask anyone else for their input. You didn’t ask your loved one what they wanted or needed. We assumed. The decision blew up and caused hurt feelings. We misunderstood. But we are not going to admit we were wrong. We will double down on our interpretation and beliefs. Hello, ego and pride. You can’t back down and admit you messed up. Even when the other person tries to clarify what they wanted … our stubbornness or rather our pride bows up and will not listen.

The ways that we know about something, or someone are:

  1. The things that we know for sure
  2. The things that we do not know
  3. The things that we think we know

Think about it this way. You are having a conversation and somehow your loved one tells you that they like flowers on the table. In your mind, they like roses because you like roses. You didn’t ask them what kind of flowers they liked. You assumed they liked roses and you bought roses for the table. Instead of getting the praise and acknowledgment that you think you deserve, you get a “those are nice.” In your head, you are going off. You say something like, “I thought you liked flowers for the table.” They respond, “I do, I prefer tulips because they are my favorites.”

You are the one that assumed roses. You did not bother to ask what kind of flowers are their favorites?

You are sent on an errand to get loaf bread, peanut butter, coffee and milk. There are no brands listed and you didn’t bother to ask. Each of you assumed that the other knew what brand to get. How do you think that worked out? You got white bread, Peter Pan peanut butter, JFG coffee and soy milk. Why? Because that is what you use. Bad move. They wanted whole wheat bread, Jif peanut butter, Folger’s coffee, and 2% milk.

See what assumptions do? Everybody is mad. Each of you is blaming the other one for not “knowing” what to get. To avoid all of this anger, frustration and hurt feelings, take a minute to ask a few questions for clarification.

Communication and listening for understanding would have gone a long way in preventing this mishap.  Making assumptions is asking for problems in any relationship. None of us are mind readers.

We all make assumptions even when we don’t know that we are doing it. We view things thorough our own perceptions, and they are not always accurate. We have biases both known and unknown. We think that our experiences are the same as other people’s experiences. We don’t challenge what we think we know to be true. Maybe, we heard it and accepted it as true. It was not true. Check your facts from trusted sources. What if we are stuck using information from a past experience?

Hang on, what comes next are short, informational blurbs. Things to make you think. Things to help you understand.

What if the helper and the care receiver would communicate better? What if they could each state their needs and their wants while working together for the best outcome possible? If you cannot talk to each other without getting into a fight, maybe try writing it down on a piece of paper. Listen for understanding. Take 10 seconds to think or process before replying. State back to them what you heard and ask if that is correct?

As the helper or care giver, do you know how your loved one or care receiver feels? Give up your need to control. You are the helper. It is hard enough on the care receiver to admit that they need help. For them to realize that they are no longer independent is devastating.

Take a breath. Talk with them about the past, the present and even the future. Talk with them, do not pepper them with questions. As the dementia progresses, you will need to give them two choices, but at first, you let them decide. Offer to help the care receiver. Sure, they move slower, but take them with you to the grocery store.

If your loved one has been a giver their whole life, it will be hard for them to be the receiver. They are not used to receiving. It will be a learning process for them. Remember, everyone wants to be useful and feel useful. Imagine how you would feel if you could not do everything for yourself and you had to depend on someone else’s help. Will you be angry? Will you rant, rave and rage against help? Will you be open to receiving help, with gratitude? To realize that there are some things that you can still do for yourself. Our identities get wrapped up in what we do for a living or our role in our family life. Who are we if we are not a __________?

We all must answer that question. Be kind to yourself. You are loved, appreciated, and admired for who you are as a person. Not what you do.

The feeling of becoming or being a burden to our loved ones, makes all of us a little crazy. Almost all of us will help without a second thought, when needed. We do it and never think a thing about it. However, when it comes to us receiving help …that is a horse of a different color. Nope. We are not having it!

We all want our dignity to be left intact. We deserve that our dignity be left intact!

Helping or care giving is full of contradictions and even competing thoughts. It is the same for the care receiver. Mixed emotions abound. Can your personalities coexist?

Some people are not cut out to be the “hands-on” care giver. They can make sure that you have “hands-on” care givers to help. They may provide support and help to the family “hands-on” care givers. As I have shared before, I am not the “hands-on” care giver type. I learned the hard way. By trying to do it for my mom. When it comes to personal hygiene, toileting, grooming or transferring, I am not the best person for that. I am not good at it. I could do other things such as, taking her out to eat, to the doctor, to the store or the mall. Do laundry, cook a meal, mow the lawn, pay the bills, talk with her and just be with her to watch TV and play Jeopardy. I felt guilty that I could not do it all. I love her and want the best for her. I had a full-time job, three boys and a partner. I did the best I could. I wished that I could have been there more for her and daddy. Daddy was her primary care giver, and he had both medical and non-medical care giver help a few days a week for a couple of hours. My brother and I could not convince him to get more help. Mama did not want to be a burden to any of us and told us to place her in assisted living when we needed to.  It was never about her being a burden. My mama was never a burden. Daddy was not having any of that and he kept her at home. He had modifications done to the house for wheelchair access and a roll-in shower with a large bathroom area.

Mama was a very strong and independent woman. Everyone in my family can say what they think. We can have discussions, disagree, and even work together. The one thing that we can’t do is read each other’s minds, not that we had to. No one was afraid to express an opinion. When she was diagnosed with MS, she soldiered on. We could always talk about what was going on and the MS. Over the years, she got weaker, and her legs got to where they just wouldn’t work, and she used a walker and eventually a wheelchair. She always did whatever she could still do. I am sure she was frustrated. I never heard her complain nor did I ever hear her say, “why me.” She always faced everything head-on and we moved forward. We adapted, modified, and kept on going. One of my mom’s favorite sayings was, “Do the best that you can do and forget the rest.”

While she had MS for years, she did not need any help until she was about 62 years old. She died at 65 from kidney failure. Other families are care givers for much longer and some shorter. You never know how long it will last. While it is hard and sometimes frustrating, it is also rewarding. You get to help someone you love when they need help. You don’t even see yourself as a care giver. You are helping your mom, dad, spouse, or partner.

If you want to avoid hurt feelings, anger, resentment, disappointment and miserable outcomes due to making assumptions, ask for input/options.

Don’t assume:

  1. That things will go exactly as planned
  2. That help is not necessary
  3. That you are being judged by what you do or don’t do
  4. That you know what your loved one wants
  5. That no one else can care for them properly
  6. That you know everything about your loved one’s conditions
  7. That your care receiver cannot tell how you really feel, they sense emotions
  8. That the care receiver will act the same way as your friend’s mom
  9. That they are not too bad, as they can have social conversations …different lobes of the brain control different functions

Take a look at this information from Mayfield Clinic

https://mayfieldclinic.com/pe-anatbrain.htm

It shows you what part of the brain is responsible for what ….

Lobes of the brain

The cerebral hemispheres have distinct fissures, which divide the brain into lobes. Each hemisphere has 4 lobes: frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital (Fig. 3). Each lobe may be divided, once again, into areas that serve very specific functions. It’s important to understand that each lobe of the brain does not function alone. There are very complex relationships between the lobes of the brain and between the right and left hemispheres.

Figure 3. The cerebrum is divided into four lobes: frontal, parietal, occipital and temporal.

Frontal lobe

  • Personality, behavior, emotions
  • Judgment, planning, problem solving
  • Speech: speaking and writing (Broca’s area)
  • Body movement (motor strip)
  • Intelligence, concentration, self awareness

Parietal lobe

  • Interprets language, words
  • Sense of touch, pain, temperature (sensory strip)
  • Interprets signals from vision, hearing, motor, sensory and memory
  • Spatial and visual perception

Occipital lobe

  • Interprets vision (color, light, movement)

Temporal lobe

  • Understanding language (Wernicke’s area)
  • Memory
  • Hearing
  • Sequencing and organization

Language

In general, the left hemisphere of the brain is responsible for language and speech and is called the “dominant” hemisphere. The right hemisphere plays a large part in interpreting visual information and spatial processing. In about one third of people who are left-handed, speech function may be located on the right side of the brain. Left-handed people may need special testing to determine if their speech center is on the left or right side prior to any surgery in that area.

Aphasia is a disturbance of language affecting speech production, comprehension, reading or writing, due to brain injury – most commonly from stroke or trauma. The type of aphasia depends on the brain area damaged.

Broca’s area: lies in the left frontal lobe (Fig 3). If this area is damaged, one may have difficulty moving the tongue or facial muscles to produce the sounds of speech. The person can still read and understand spoken language but has difficulty in speaking and writing (i.e. forming letters and words, doesn’t write within lines) – called Broca’s aphasia.

Wernicke’s area: lies in the left temporal lobe (Fig 3). Damage to this area causes Wernicke’s aphasia. The individual may speak in long sentences that have no meaning, add unnecessary words, and even create new words. They can make speech sounds, however they have difficulty understanding speech and are therefore unaware of their mistakes.

Pat

How many times this past week have you felt enervated?

January 12, 2022

Have you ever had a cold that really kicked your butt? One that has left you so tired that your eyelids are heavy and you just want to sleep? But, you can’t lie down because you can’t breathe. Friggin’ congestion! You want something to drink but nothing tastes good.

You try to do your work and get on with your day, but you have about two hours and that is it. No more energy to think and work. No more energy to walk around. As my youngest used to say, “pillow, blankey, go night night.” What a great idea, but you can’t, too much to do. Besides, if you try to lie down, you can’t breathe. Friggin’ congestion.

In trying to do this blog, I could not find anything interesting to write. I am tired and I have no more mental energy and no real physical energy. “Pillow, blankey, go night night.” Nope, I have to finish my work. Besides, I can’t lie down … I can’t breathe. Friggin” congestion.

I was going to do mental energy versus physical energy and when they are spent what happens. Maybe, another day.

I found this word, “Enervated.” I was curious and had to find out more about it. I know what innervated means, but what does enervated mean? According to Thesaurus.com it means exhausted or worn out. That’s me, I am exhausted and worn out from this cold.

So, how many times this past week have you felt enervated?

What is zapping your energy? It doesn’t always have to be an illness that makes you feel enervated. It could be feeling like you have too much to do. It could be that you haven’t been sleeping well and you are physically tired. When we figure out what zaps our energy we can decide to do something about it or let it ride and always feel enervated. A cold will last 7 – 14 days and then it will be over. Not everything is self-limiting, but we really do have the power to set boundaries, conserve our energy and feel better.

Don’t manage your time, manage your energy for a better day. Think of the things that zap your energy as either energy zappers or energy vampires. Make a check-off sheet and see what are your true energy zappers or energy vampires.

Get a sheet of paper and across the top, label Energy zapper, Physical, Mental, Emotional

Draw lines from the top of the paper down to the bottom. Now, when something zaps you, write down what it is or who it is and then mark the appropriate box on Physical, Mental, Emotional box.

After about four days, you will have a pretty good idea of who and/or what is zapping your energy. Then you get to decide what to do to conserve your energy. Do you need help? Do you need to take a break? Do you need to be a better manager of your energy? No judgments allowed. You are on a fact-finding mission.

I look forward to hearing what your energy zappers are. If you find a person to be one of your energy zappers, please give them a code name or a false name.

The only person that you can change is you. You can change how you react or deal with a situation. You cannot change another person. The only person that will set boundaries for your own good, is you. When you are sick with a cold, you will have to take care of yourself ‘cause no one else will. Maybe, you will need to take a couple of days off from work AND from other responsibilities to let your body rest and heal.

Now, my mental ability is spent and I am not sure that the previous paragraph even makes sense. It did to me, at the time. I would go lie down, but, I can’t ‘cause I can’t breathe. Friggin’ congestion.

Pat

How can I tell people what I need? (Hint, you cannot be subtle nor can you use telepathy.)

November 17, 2021

It would be so much easier if other people just knew what you needed and wanted and did it! No one can read your mind. No one can really understand what you are going through. Even if they have helped take care of a loved one of their own, their needs may have been completely different from your needs.

Communi-friggin’-cation! It is the key to everything. That is my own word for communication. Did you know that other folks communicate totally different from you, well, maybe it is the understanding that is different? You know what you need, inside of your head, but how do you communicate that need so that others will understand?

Are you one that thinks …
Well, if they knew me…they would know what I need?

I have told them how tired I am and I need a break.

Well, if they could help me, I guess they would.

I talk about how hard it is, all the time. It has taken over my whole life.

No, I’m good, I can just handle it all.

Hey, I need you to be here on Saturday the 8th from 9 am until 6pm.

I need you to do the laundry, change the sheet and provide dinner on Sunday.

How many different styles of communication are there? Four major ones. Body language is another style, but that is for another day. We are talking about being verbal and asking for what you need or want. Wants are okay to ask for too.

Passive

Passive communicators go with the flow and are sometimes seen as wallflowers. No muss, no fuss. Sometimes they may be unaware of their thoughts or feelings, but more than likely they ignore their own feelings, wants and even their thoughts. They may seem to be easygoing, but underneath anxiety rules. They fear disapproval.

Passive communicators bottle things up. They hardly ever fight and usually cede everything. They stuff and they stuff their feelings and wants. You can stuff things for so long, but they will eventually bubble to the surface. Resentment, here I come!

Aggressive

Aggressive communicators dominate the conversations and state their opinions often overriding others’ opinions. They use direct eye contact, leaning forward, staring at you and moving towards you sometimes.  They are very poor listeners and use a harsh tone, even if they don’t mean to be using a harsh tone.

Aggressive communicators are not quiet and yes, they are the ones that yell. They almost never back down. Your feelings will not be considered. Think more of a “win” type personality and not the “win-win” type.

Passive-Aggressive

A passive-aggressive communicator will confuse the hell out of you. Why? Because they cannot get all of their thoughts, and meanings outside of their heads in a cohesive manner or in a way that makes sense to others. They may be easily frustrated. They can become quite irritable and resentful. They will use sarcasm, talk to another person instead of the person that they need to be talking to. They will criticize others. I don’t get this one, but I have seen it happen. They show oppositional behavior. They will be the one that states, “I will help.” They will help and they will Complain the Whole Time. These folks are angry and their words do not match their body language. Gritting their teeth, making their hands into a fist all the while either being indifferent or smiling.

Passive-aggressive communicators are angry and they know that they are angry, but will deny that they are angry or that anything is wrong. Sarcastic barbs coming your way or maybe you will get the silent treatment.

They silently seethe and the other person has no idea what in the world is wrong.

Assertive

An assertive communicator is confident. They are open to discussions and clarifying whatever may be unclear or confusing without being an ass. They are usually calm and will state what they want or need without imposing their requests on others. This type will look for a consensus, if possible. They usually listen and seem to care about others. You may have healthy and loud discussions but it does not feel like you are having an argument. They will share their thoughts, opinions and how they feel about something. They are open to you doing the same. Not only are they able to listen, they are able to hear.

What communication style to you have? What communication style do others in your life have? Can you see how things get all messed up when everyone is talking and no one is listening or hearing?

We have all heard it before, seek to understand first. Understand where the other person is coming from, try to put yourself in their shoes. You may not be able to fully, but try as best you can. We all have our own peculiar ways. We are different people with different experiences and we look at things differently. It isn’t wrong, it is just different. Search for common ground. What can you agree on? What is best for the care receiver? What is best for all involved as care givers? Each of us have strengths and each of us have things we don’t do very well.

Let your empathy and compassion for others help you in moving towards being an assertive communicator. A good sense of humor helps too.

What strengths help you become a better caregiver?

  1. Resilience – The ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions; I can negotiate for what I need and navigate systems.
  2. Patience – The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
  3. Flexibility – Ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances; accept what is happening in the moment.
  4. Compassion – The ability to translate empathic feelings into action (desire to alleviate suffering).
  5. Optimism – Expect a favorable or positive outcome.
  6. Confidence – Sure of one’s self and one’s abilities.
  7. Organization – Methodical and efficient in arrangement or function.
  8. Ability to Laugh – To easily see and appreciate the humor in the situation.

Use these to rate yourself on the above strengths:

1 – Always

2 – Sometimes

3 – Hardly ever or Never

Be honest and help yourself to know what you are good at and what you are not so good at… Hopefully, you will find that others have different strengths than you and will be a good helper.

To identify and acknowledge your personal caregiver strengths, set aside a few minutes for personal reflection. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What gives me energy?
  • What am I good at? What do I do best? What do I do well?
  • What am I naturally good at? What comes naturally to me?
  • What are my best character traits?
  • What things do I look forward to doing?
  • When faced with challenges or adversity, what strengths do I bring to these challenges?
  • What do I handle well?

When you ask for things, be specific. Have a list at the ready. You may need things done at your house instead of at the care receiver’s house. Be as flexible as you can. You must agree to a day and time or it will not get done. Never a “whenever” or a “sometime next week.” Pick a day and time, negotiate for another day and time, if necessary. Keep a running list of things that need to be handled. Heck, place it on the refrigerator for folks to sign-up.

Headings for the list include: What action or Task, Where (care receiver’s house or care giver’s house), What day, Alternate day, Who will handle this

You will have to be direct. Not an ass, but state what your Mom/Dad and/or you need their help. Are you willing to step-up, pitch-in and help? If they say yes, then pull out the ready-made list and get to work. If it is a task that takes time and they do not have time, then by all means suggest a less time-consuming task or request a specific amount of money (be fair and reasonable) to hire out the task. If that doesn’t work then ask them what they can contribute and shut your mouth until they begin figuring out things, Yes, it will be uncomfortable, but just be still and quiet. Be open to brainstorming sessions. Try to make your “ask” into statements. For example, instead of saying, “Can you do some things for me?” state that “I need XYZ from the store today.” “I need you to provide dinner on Friday.”

What if you ask and get told “no” to your direct request? You may even get brushed off or told off, where do you go from there? You still need back-up and help. It is going to suck, but you will move forward as if you are an only child. You may need to hire outside help, ideally with the care receiver’s money.

I have seen a family of 4 siblings work it out to care for their aging parents at separate times.  They all stepped up and did whatever was needed. They were all professionals and very busy with their careers, but they made their parents the priority. They communicated, worked together, had a list and each of them used their strengths to the fullest. Their parents we never alone.

I have also seen a family with 3 siblings leave it all to one sister. No help, no money, just bitching and “trying” to run things. It was horrible. That one sister realized she would have to handle her mom on her own. She did and her mom was well cared for. It did take some of the sisters’ own money, to help with outside care, but they managed and she had a good experience with her mom for the time her mom had left. She also told me that she had no regrets and that her conscious was clear. She is civil to her siblings, but not really much of a relationship with them now. Of course, it wasn’t much of a relationship before either. 

Maybe you will have to say your piece to those that will not contribute in order to let go of your anger or resentment at them. Do let go of your anger, you don’t have the time or energy for it.

There may come a time when you have to say “No” to caregiving.

You may find that you must set limits on caregiving responsibilities. You are exhausted, overwhelmed and your own health is suffering. It most often happens to those that do not take care of themselves during the care giving process. You do count. You do matter. Add your needs in to the mix.

What does saying “no” mean to you? Could it mean that you leave the loved one to fend for himself?

 Maybe it means that you are tired, isolated and depressed and you have to stop, possibly “no” means that you need to take a breather and you realize that some things will have to change if you are going to proceed and help as a care giver. Boundaries is not a dirty word. Emotional limits are reached quickly when either a crisis happens or you have taken no breaks.

Practice your “I” statements to work on your boundaries.

  • “I can no longer drive you to all of your medical appointments due to my work schedule and my limited time off. I know this will be a change for you. I suggest we look into other transportation options such as the Busy Bee Medical Transport Service.”
  • “Mother, I am unable to continue with the responsibility of cleaning the house weekly. I want to spend my time with you on other matters. I know it’s hard to let newcomers help, but I think it is time to hire a homemaker service you would be comfortable with.”
  • “Dad, I can no longer assist you down the outside stairs. I am worried about your safety and mine. I believe we need to build a ramp for easier access to your home. I have found a carpenter who has reasonable rates for construction.”

In each of the above statements, there is a presentation of what the speaker cannot continue to do, an acknowledgement that the change will have a consequence for the elder and a suggested solution. No attempt is made to make the elder feel guilty about the effort the caregiver is expending or the caregiver’s stress level. It is understood the elder knows the caregiver is working hard.

Setting the boundary is the caregiver’s responsibility. Deborah Colgan, MA, M.Ed., NCC

You can state what you need. You can be direct. You can set boundaries.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings … Oopsie! That did not work, now what?

November 10, 2021

You worked and you thought and you worked some more. By golly, you have a plan. It is a good plan. You are so proud (and relieved).  Now, it is time to work the plan. I mean you are so excited and you just know that this is the right plan and the “right way” to do this thing. Granted, it was all in your head of how it would all play out, but still, it worked.

Then reality set in. A few fits and starts at the beginning, but you were still on your way. And then, out of nowhere whoa, the brakes get slammed on … hard. What the hell? Why all this resistance? Why is this not working? Why the melt downs? All of these things are running through your mind. You are replaying what happened. You are confused. This should have worked. I saw it work in my mind. We Are Trying This Again!

You do and the brakes get slammed on again. Hmmm, are you ready to look at what did not work? Are you ready to ask others why this did not work or are you still the Lone Ranger?  Are you ready to accept that it might not have been a good plan? If you aren’t, then look up the definition of insanity, you know, the one that states that you keep doing the same things over and over again, in the same way and you expect different results, 

This scenario plays over and over again in all of our lives. At work, at home and with loved ones that we are helping. Think back to your own experiences at work when you had the most brilliant idea for a way to handle an issue. I mean it was win-win for everyone. You had everything in place and began implementing the plan. It was okay and there were a few folks that balked, but you were determined to push on. Soon, the plan was not working as you had envisioned and the situation became more unstable and somehow it was not a win-win for everyone. Dang it! What happened? Maybe, you did not have buy-in from the start from the others that were going to be impacted by the plan. Maybe, the plan was not fleshed out enough for consistent implementation? Maybe, you had one or two people that did not like the plan because they were not consulted on something that would impact them? What do you do? Do you scrap the plan and start over? Do you look at what worked well and make adjustments on what did not work well? Do you bulldoze over others objections? Do you seek input from others who will be impacted with the plan?

What a pickle! Can you see how these things happen in caregiving or helping others? I can. I have a plan and I think it is the greatest plan to help all involved. But, I did not even talk to all involved to see what they thought about the plan. I only thought about what I thought would work the best. My own perspectives, my own wants and my own…everything. I did not realize that at the time, I just thought that I knew best. I did not know best. How can I make a plan for others and not include their wants, needs or ideas?

I felt that if I was handling things, then I get to decide everything. That did not work at all. You talk about stress, strife, fighting, anger, even a lack of trust. I only thought that I knew best. I didn’t know jack. I had to realize that we needed to work together to make a plan that would work for all of us. All Of Us! Not just the care receiver, but the care giver, too. It was not easy to realize that I did not have all of the answers. I had the knowledge and I had the contacts, but I did not have my mom or dad’s perspective. Don’t make the same mistakes that I made. It was much easier than I had anticipated. It was so much easier once I knew what they needed and wanted help with. It was so much easier to work around my schedule when I shared my schedule with them. I am all about less stress and more effective ways of doing things. I am a life long learner and I like learn new things. One of the new things that I learned is that it is okay to be a recovering perfectionist. I learned that progress beats perfection every time. So much less stress too. Perfection keeps us stuck. We don’t have time to feel or be stuck.

What if you could provide better care AND get your life back? Sometimes, you can do it on your own and sometimes you will need my services.

When making a plan involve all the people that will be affected by the plan. (There may come a time in a dementia patient that they can no longer participate, but while they can, let them participate.)

  1. List the issue
  2. List who may be impacted by this issue
  3. Does this issue need to be done/handled at a certain time?
  4. Who can best handle this issue?
  5. If this does not work, what can be tried next?
  6. Brainstorm – write everything down (pare down later)
  7. Reevaluate and update, if needed
  8. Be flexible
  9. Come to a consensus or an agreement
  10. Implement the plan

The above tips will help to keep you on track. If you are a person that goes to worst case scenarios then you must act as if the worst has happened and make a plan for what you will do, you have to move past the worst-case scenario into what you will do next.

Remember, you only have so much brain energy to use on difficult situations every day. It is about two and a half hours. If it is important enough to make a plan then it is important enough to be at your best when your make the plan. Sleep, eat, and hydrate.

One thing that I want you to realize is that there will be important and urgent things and there will be not important and not urgent things. Don’t let yourself waste your time, efforts and energy on the things that are not important and nor urgent.

Handle only three things at a time, that is all you will be able to handle well anyway.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings … How can I know if my medications are working?

November 3, 2021

Have you ever wondered if the medications that you are taking or someone that you love is taking are helping you, hurting you or even working at all? Have you ever wondered if you are having an unexpected reaction or side effect to your meds?

What is pharmacogenomics?

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. This relatively new field combines pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to develop effective, safe medications and doses that will be tailored to a person’s genetic makeup.

This definition is from the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Basically, your genes affect how and if certain medications are metabolized in your body. And why is that important? Because you need a medication to be therapeutic (to do its job well). Some drugs, called prodrugs, are inactive when administered (taken) and then they are metabolized into the active form to provide benefits. What happens if you cannot metabolize that medication into its active form? It will be like taking water. It won’t do anything because your body cannot change it into its active form. What if you take a medication and your body rapidly metabolizes it too quickly? You will not get the benefits of an Effective therapeutic dose. You are burning through it too quickly. What happens if you metabolize the medication very slowly? It can build up inside your body and cause more and more problems along with more intense side effects. Most medications are metabolized in the liver and excreted through the kidneys.

Metabolism, liver, kidneys, liver enzymes, excretion rates, inactive and active metabolites, metabolism rates, phases of metabolism, blood flow, changes in liver volume, etc. all of these things come in to play. What I want you to know is that you can find out how you metabolize certain medications and you and your doctor can decide what medications are best for you and your particular needs. You can also find out if you need more or less of a certain medication. Do the test once and use the information the rest of your life.

What are some of the benefits to having this test?

Helps your doctor find the medications that may work best for you

Helps you to know which medications to avoid

Helps you to know which medications dosage may need to be increased or decreased

Severe drug reactions can be reduced or eliminated

Stops the trial-and-error method that usually takes months to see if it helps or not

May help decrease opioid dependency

May increase pain relief

Bothersome side effects may be decreased or avoided

Do it once and use the information the rest of your life

Who can truly benefit from this test?

If you have been diagnosed with:

Depression

Anxiety disorders

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Dementia

Autism

Insomnia

ADHD

Schizophrenia

Pain

Lipid disorders (high cholesterol)

Alzheimer’s disease

Parkinson’s disease

Multiple Sclerosis

Breast cancer

Epilepsy

Cardiovascular disease

Asthma

HIV/AIDS

Autoimmune disorders

Check-out the Medications that are impacted by your genes.

To see the medications list, go to WWW.EmpoweringHealthOptions.com

Click on the Products tab

Go about midway down the page and click on the blue bar that has the RightMed® Medication List

**Remember, some physicians prescribe medications for off-label use, which means they are using it for something other than what the medication is approved to treat. **

My own experience with pain medications has led me to encourage others to take this test. I had arthroscopic shoulder surgery in the early 1990’s. They sent me home with Percocet® (Oxycodone and acetaminophen) and Phenergan® (promethazine). I get home, ice and take my medications. I am out like a light in about 45 minutes. Now, I had never had any type of pain medications before and I don’t remember having any anti-nausea medications as an adult. After two hours, I am apparently whining in my sleep. I am awakened and I am hurting, but I am so sleepy. The promethazine is kicking my ass and I cannot wake up. The pain is fairly intense. Over the next 24 hours I am taking my pain medications as directed and only taking half of the promethazine. I do believe that the only thing that was helping me was being knocked out by the promethazine. I called my doctor and told him that the Percocet® was not working. He told me that was the strongest that they have. I know that’s a lie, I am a pharmacist. I understand that doctors are concerned about drug seekers, but hell, I just had surgery the previous day. He called in Tylenol#3 (acetaminophen and codeine). I took that and guess what? It did not work either. I knew that I was screwed and would have to deal with this on my own. I iced, I breathed deeply and I took a half a tab of promethazine every 8 hours and Ibuprofen 800mg every four hours. I am thinking that I never ever want another surgery in my lifetime! After about 5 days, I could stand it. Then came physical therapy. You do what you have to do. I cannot imagine what I would have gone through if I had anything other than an arthroscopic surgery.

As a pharmacist I knew that not every medication worked for every person. We all knew that; we just did not know why. We knew it had to be something inside our body make-up, but what? We knew that when Ultram® (tramadol) came out that it worked for some people and it did not work for others. I believed people when they told me that certain medications were not working for them, and I would have them ask their doctor to try X, Y, or Z. Just because something is “supposed” to work does not mean that it does work for all people.

Funny how when we don’t really have the answers, that we tend Not to believe it could be happening. We doubt the person and not the medication. Well, no more! Now we know that some medications are impacted by our genes. I now know that I cannot metabolize Percocet®. My body cannot metabolize Tylenol#3® nor can it metabolize tramadol. They are pro-drugs which means they need to be converted into the active form inside the body in order to work. So, I was taking sugar pills for my body. I have a genetic “defect” for CYP-2D6. But, by God, I now know what will work for me and the dosage that I will need. I have the tests to prove it for all the skeptical physician’s worried about drug seekers. My primary care physician has a copy of it in my records and now I tell them to call him for the results, if they want.

So, if you are going to have a planned surgery and you don’t know what pain meds work for you, it might be worth it to have this test. I know that it is expensive and it is going up after the first of the year (in 2022).  Only you can decide what is of value to you. It was valuable information for me and I can use it the rest of my life. No more waiting and hoping. No more wondering for months on end. No more wasting money and time. 

Have you been diagnosed with depression? Have you been started on a medication? What did your doctor and pharmacist tell you? Hopefully, they told you to take it at the same time each day, do not miss doses and give it 3 months. You do. It doesn’t seem to have helped very much, maybe a little. You return to your doctor and he or she takes you off of that medication and you begin again with another medication for 3 months. Nope, this one is not helping and you are now dealing with sexual arousal dysfunction. You return a third time, maybe or you stop going back and just suffer. You are 6 months down the road with no real results to speak of. Six months of your life that you will never get back. You tell me, what is that worth to you and your family?

Are you a chronic pain patient that want the best quality of life possible? Let’s find the medications that will work for you and not wipe you out. Let’s find the right combination to help you to get back to living. I know that you will not be pain free, but you have every right to expect it to be manageable.

Everyone deserves the best quality of life possible for them.

Do it now, before the price goes up in January 2022.

Most HSA’s and Flexible Spending plans allow coverage for this in-home test.

Pat

The 5 different types of metabolizer status are described below.

  • A person who is a “Poor Metabolizer” for a medicine will process that medicine very slowly. The medicine might not work if it is processed slowly, or it could put them at risk for side-effects.
  • A person who is an “Intermediate Metabolizer” for a medicine will process that drug slowly, but not as slowly as a poor metabolizer. This means that the normal amount (or dosage) of certain medicines may not work for them, or may cause side-effects.
  • “Normal Metabolizer” for a medicine usually benefits from the normal amount (or dosage) of the medicine. This means the metabolizer status does not put them at increased risk for side-effects.
  • A person who is a “Rapid Metabolizer” or “Ultrarapid Metabolizer” for a medicine can process the medicine very quickly. A medicine might not work if it is processed very quickly, or it could put the person at risk for side-effects.

Wednesday Wonderings … How to rest, relax and recharge without taking a break?

October 20, 2021

It started out as a few hours a week. An afternoon here. An evening there. A Saturday or two. You handled whatever arose. No big deal. You love them and it was manageable. It happened so slowly that you did not even realize that you became a caregiver. You were helping out. Funny how when we are in the big middle of stuff that we do not realize how long it has been nor do we have any idea how we got “here.”

“Here.” Hmmm, where is your “here?” Think about it for a few minutes. How long ago did it start? What did your life look like then? What does your life look like now? How many different things are you juggling? Partner, spouse, kids, work, career, friends, community activities, church functions, or even your own health care needs? How many things and people have you neglected?

Are you a caregiver that feels you must always be on call? Are you a person that feels you must always be reachable or be close, just-in-case? It isn’t just caregivers that feel that way. I have found that if you are or feel you are responsible for someone or something you think that you “need” to be available and ready at all times. You must be Superwoman. You must be Superman.

When you feel that way and act that way you have no freedom. You have no down time. You have no “me time.” You probably don’t have much family time either. It sucks. You want to rest, relax and recharge. You want to turn off your brain and just chill. You don’t want to be tied to your cellphone. You want to go out to eat with your family. You want to enjoy sporting events, plays and church. You want to enjoy those around you. But, how can you do all of that? How can you do that and be “on call?”

You can handle most anything, for a while. It is the continued drain on your time and energy that will wear you out. Have you figured out how to rest, relax and recharge without taking a break, yet?

You cannot rest, relax and recharge without taking a break. A mental break and a physical break are required. You will feel guilty. Accept that you will feel guilty. Don’t ask for permission from the person you are caring for. Take a break BEFORE you are so worn out that it takes you a week to recover. Even four to six hours once or twice a week is better than nothing. It would be best if you could take one or two days off every week.

Can other family members help? They probably will if you tell them a day and time. Do not leave it up to them to decide a day and time because they won’t. It is not mean or ugly to have a day or time picked out. If they truly cannot, go on to the next person. Keep going. For some, it may be easier to have a set time or day every week. You may have to hire outside help. I get it, it isn’t cheap. What is your physical and mental health worth? You can always check-in on the care giver/companion.

If your loved one has a dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease you may have to be subtle with adding in-home help. You may need to use other words and phrases. Do not use “Sitter.” You may not be able to use the word “caregiver.” You may have to use “your helper around the house, or help with meal prep, even help with light housekeeping.”

Other emotions may pop up too, so don’t be surprised when shame or fear show up. If you are feeling resentment, anger or burnout you NEED a break NOW. When your “give a damn doesn’t give a damn anymore,” it is past time for time away. Caregiver fatigue and burnout are very real and they can lead to your own set of illnesses.  I want you to take care of yourself. Breaks and time away help you to be an even better caregiver.

However, if you notice these signs of caregiver burnout, it’s time to take your health seriously and give yourself a well-deserved break:

  • Feeling “trapped” or hopeless
  • Losing patience or compassion for your loved one
  • Overreacting to small accidents
  • Resenting or neglecting your loved one
  • Withdrawing from your personal hobbies and friendships
  • Oversleeping or not sleeping enough
  • Overeating, not eating enough, or eating a lot of high-sugar foods
  • Having health problems
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Having thoughts of suicide
  • You are impatient with your care receiver
  • You are making mistakes (medications, appointments, etc.)
  • You feel lonely
  • You have snapped at your care receiver
  • You feel exhausted most of the time
  • You are bored
  • You are experiencing memory problems
  • You are experiencing signs and symptoms of depression
  • Your own relationships are declining

Design a plan that works for you and your family. What are the needs and who can fulfill them? Take some time to think.

What do you need? Be specific. Three hours off twice a week? 24 hours completely away? A regular day or night off to be with your spouse? A night off to be with your friends?

What does your loved one need? Meals prepared? Laundry? Shopping? Personal care? Haircut? Daily walks? Help with medications? Companionship? Light housekeeping? Taken to doctor appointments? Yardwork?

Who can pitch-in? Tell everyone what is needed. Have a sign-up sheet. Have a day in mind, but try to be flexible, Maye they can’t help on Wednesday, but they can help on Thursday.

Sometimes, you may have to have a family meeting or as I like to call them. “A come to Jesus meeting.”  If you find some family members unwilling or unable to help…help them write a check for respite care or handle some of your things at your house that needs to be taken care of while you are away from your own home.

Look online for Respite care in your area.

Look at in-home care, non-medical for companion care.

Check out your local area’s Office on Aging.

Search for Adult daycare facilities in your area.

What are the benefits for taking a break from caregiving?

It can prevent you from having an emotional breakdown.

It provides you time to take care of your own personal business.

Having other people ready to take over should you become ill or have to be away.

It may provide you with a different perspective.

You are better able to make necessary decisions when you are clearer headed.

You will decrease your stress, which will improve your own health.

You get to re-engage with your own spouse, partner, children or friends.

You will be a better caregiver and manager for your loved one.

You catch up on rest.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings… How to decide what to do, what to delegate and what to mark off the list.

October 13, 2021

What do you do when you have multiple “To do” lists or your “To do” list has a “to do list?’ Do you get laser focused and start at the top? Do you put it away? Do you do the most important thing first or do you do the one that takes the least amount of time first?

What criteria do you use to make decisions at work? What about, at home with your family? What about with your friends? Hang on… your head may begin to hurt in a little while. What criteria or values do we use to make decisions? What about our intuition and gut instinct?

The average adult makes about 35,000 decisions every day or so we are led to believe. I don’t think there have been any studies on that but the point is…we make a lot of decisions every day and we get tired. I did find one study that was documented by Cornell University that we make about 226 decisions every day about food. The biggest decision about food is where to go eat. Talk about back and forth.

At first I was just going to help pare down the number of decisions made per day, but, no, it always gets more complicated. I did find some information to make it easier on you to make decisions. Think about what is going on inside your mind when you are thinking about a decision that needs to be made. What are all the parameters or guidelines must you deal with? How do you decide what is the most important decision to make, right now? Hell, how many decisions do you have to consciously make on this one problem?

Habits are good for us. They help us to save brain function energy. How many things do you do on automatic? What have you put into your morning routine? You no longer have to think about it, you just do it. It does not use your brain energy. By the way, you only have so much focused brain energy per day. I believe it is about 3 hours. Remember when you were learning to ride a bicycle? You had to listen to instructions, process them in your mind, think about each and every step, in order, to pedal and keep your balance. After crashing a few times, you learned to keep peddling and turn before you went off the side of the road and down the bank. You kept practicing and you kept getting better and better. Soon, you could jump on that bike and ride for hours. You got to the point that you just knew what to do and how to do it. You no longer had to concentrate, think, remember and do the steps in order.

Driving to work. It took a while, but you learned the route. Uh oh, the road you usually use is blocked off. Now what are you going to do? Some of you are going to cuss. Some of you are going to use the alternate route that you already know, because, you know that you need to know 3 different ways to get somewhere. Others are going to have to use their phones or other travel route providers. How tight does your jaw get when you don’t know where you are and you are not sure that you can find your building going the back roads. How much time and brain energy does that one little mess up cause you? Probably about 20 minutes plus a cortisol dump that you will have to contend with and calm down from in order to actually focus at work. That is probably another 30 to 40 minutes. You cannot think rationally right after a cortisol dump, it is physiologically impossible. Now you are down to 2 hours of focused energy for the day. Hmm.

It is always the “new things” that pop up that cause the problems. The new things to learn that take time, effort and a lot of energy. We look for ways to decrease our energy expenditure and having habits or routines help us out with that. Issues to decide upon that we have never had to think about before. Those issues take time, effort and energy. Don’t forget about everything else that is running round in your mind that you “need” to deal with too. If you can compartmentalize, maybe you can give yourself enough of a break that you can deal with one situation at a time. There again, how do you decide what to tackle first out of that list of 10 things to be done?

What is important to you? What are your core values? The principles that you use to live your life. Your own judgement of what is important in your own life. Do you have a standard of behavior that you expect out of yourself? What would your life look like and how much easier would your decision making be if you truly searched for your personal core values and used them in your decision making? You could make better decisions and save brain energy. Win-win!

How do you find what your core values are? It is a process and you will be glad that you did the process. Once you know your 10 core values you will always be able to make easier decisions that line up with your belief system. When you make decisions that line up with your belief system you feel more at ease, more comfortable and even relaxed.

How to Identify Your Values – Ask yourself the following questions

  1. When were the times that you were the happiest?
  2. What makes me happy?

What is the common theme or thread behind the last three positive decisions you made? What gives you true happiness in your life? What were you doing?

  • What makes me feel proud?

Why were you proud? An achievement, met a goal, exceeded expectations

  • What have I done that makes me feel happy and satisfied with the outcome?

A personal success usually relates to making a good decision. Maybe your decision provided great results for someone else.

  • When was the last time that I felt fulfilled or complete?

When you satisfy your values, a sense of fulfillment or a feeling of completeness usually follows.

  • From the list below or from your own list, choose your top 10 values, in no particular order. Then you are going place them in order of importance and maybe even get rid of a few. Sometimes we do have situational ethics, (an “it depends” kind of issue) and there are some things that are deal breakers. You may find you have two or three absolutes or maybe five or six. If you have trouble putting the values in order of importance, look at them two at a time and ask yourself, “If I could satisfy only one of these values, which one would I choose?”

https://thehappinessplanner.com/pages/list-of-core-values

You may find other lists online as well.

It may be hard to narrow down your list, but do so for your own good mental health. Some of the values listed can be placed under an umbrella term also on the list.

What happens if you have conflicting values? Which value is more important to you at this time? What might things look like if you could honor both values?

Your values are formed by your thoughts. You have been thinking, adjusting and growing in your thoughts since you were born. A word of caution, be sure they are your own thoughts and values and not what you have been programmed. We all have unknown biases. We have all grown up accepting things and now that we can think for ourselves, we are supposed to question what we were told or taught and we are supposed to figure out “stuff.”

Are the decisions that you make in line with your own values? When a choice makes you feel uneasy, be still and think about why you are feeling that way. What is you gut telling you? Intuition (gut knowing) is as important as facts and good data information. That is an article for another day.

You want to know what is important to you before a crisis hits. Have you gone against you values or principles before? How did that work out? How did you feel? Prioritize your top 3 most important values.

  • Do these values make you feel good about yourself?
  • Are you proud of the top 3 values you have chosen?
  • Do these values represent things you would support even if it puts you in the minority?

Making a decision may not be easy, but it will be easier.

I like the Eisenhower Matrix (box) to help folks to figure out what is urgent and important. Urgent and unimportant. Not urgent but important. Not urgent and not important. Using this box can make you life easier. I would suggest that you use the box a few times to get used to it and then you will probably be able to do it in your head.

Other tips:

Work from a “To do” list with only 3 things on it. That is all you will have time to focus on anyway.

Consider decision making criteria

  • Your purpose
  • Your strengths
  • Your skills
  • Your values
  • Your effort and energy required
  • Your cost
  • Your acceptable risk levels

If you are having a rough time or do not feel well, it is fine to wait on an important decision. My hope for you is that you prepare a plan or make most decisions ahead of a crisis. If you need some help with this, let’s talk and see if I may be of service to you or your loved one.

Pat

865-684-8771

Wednesday wonderings … Why does a fear of failure stop us from trying?

October 6, 2021

Do you believe that failure is an event or one that has failed?

Do you believe that you are a failure? You are not! You may have failed at something and felt the shame and embarrassment of that event, but you are not a failure. That is really the crux of it all isn’t it… shame and embarrassment.

I wasn’t there for my mom, when she needed me, and she fell, laying on the floor for three hours until she was found and helped by my uncle. The phrase “when she needed me” goes straight to the heart and the mind starts racing with all these thoughts. The “I shoulda.” “It would not have happened,” “I coulda.”

After this incident with my mom, I beat myself up for a long time (years, actually). The reality is that I was not supposed to be there that day. But in my mind, if she needed me for anything then I was supposed to be there. It did not have to be logical; this was my mama and I love her dearly and will do anything and everything that I can to help her.

What comes to mind for you when you think about a fear of failure? Now, go back and think about it logically and realistically. Was it an accident? Was it something that you did or did not do? Don’t even go to the “I should have predicted” place. Do you realize that it was an event and not you?

Go back and replay it in your mind and if you can make changes for the future, then go ahead and make changes.

Have you wondered what causes fear of failure? It is usually your own thoughts and feelings.

  • You worry about what other people will think of you
  • You worry that some people may not like you anymore
  • You worry that you are not smart enough or capable enough
  • You worry that you will never reach your goals
  • You worry about disappointing people whose opinion matter to you
  • You procrastinate
  • You are reluctant to try new things
  • Your perfectionistic tendencies arise
  • You will be embarrassed
  • You will be humiliated
  • You feel shame

All of these things come up when we have a fear of failure. We never ever want to feel shame, embarrassment or humiliation. We are our own worst critics. We catastrophize.

Failing means we are trying to do better. To get better. To be better. Yes, we will mess up sometimes, but we are moving forward and trying again. We learn what did work and what did not work. Failure is a chance to learn.

  • We learn that baseball players that bat 0.300 are stars. That means that seven out of ten times they strike out.  
  • Albert Einstein did not start reading until he was seven.
  • Dr. Seuss’ first book was rejected 27 times.
  • Vincent Van Goh only sold one painting in his lifetime.
  • Katy Perry’s first album sold 200 copies.
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job for being unfit for television.
  • Vera Wang failed to make the 1968 Olympic figure skating team.
  • Thomas Edison’s teachers told him he was, “too stupid to learn anything.”
  • Steve Jobs was fired from his own company.

All of these people, and many more, kept trying. They kept learning. They kept moving forward.

“Fear of failure is the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reaction to the negative consequences you anticipate for failing to achieve a goal. It is the intense worry, the negative thinking and the reluctance to take action you experience when you imagine all the horrible things that could happen if you failed to achieve a goal.”   Theo Tsaousides, PhD.

There are things you can do if you have a fear of failure.

  1. Acknowledge that fear of failure makes you feel fear and shame. Explore those feelings, if it is safe to do so. What are those feelings trying to tell you? Remember, all feelings are trying to keep us safe. Is it your 5-year-old self that is trying to be in charge?
  2. Anxiety is not all bad. We need some anxiety to get us excited, or to move forward and to be aware of danger.
  3. Prepare, practice, learn new things
  4. Identify what you can control and focus on that
  5. Learn how to relax, take a break and recharge
  6. Go through the possible outcomes…all the way through
  7. Learn to think more positively. We are hard wired to go to negative consequences.
  8. Worst-case-scenario – it may really be a disaster and it may be a reason to fear failure…just know that this is a rare occurrence.
  9. What are two small goals that you can set and do, right now?
  10. Have a contingency plan, in case Plan A, B, or even C does not work out.

What negative self-talk do we say to ourselves when we mess up?

  • I have let my loved one down.
  • I have failed and now I am stuck.
  • I have failed and so I must not have what it takes to succeed.
  • I can’t learn new ways or new things.
  • I have royally screwed up and now everyone knows about it. I am so embarrassed.

Stop it! All you have to acknowledge is that you messed up and what you will do to fix it…if it can be fixed. Do better next time.

Maybe the shame and embarrassment is causing the fear of failure. We like to learn and try new things. We do love our spouse and families. Remember when your kids began to learn how to play sports? Take T-ball, for example. They are 5 years old. They have the uniform, the glove, the cleats, the hat and yet, they still cannot run to first base without being told where to run. They are in the outfield and they are looking up at the plane flying by or the train that is passing through. Don’t forget about the butterfly that just lit on the grass and now the whole outfield is over there squatting down and watching it. Fast forward 4 years and now they are 9 years old and in Little League. It is all serious now. The hits, the strikeouts, the runs, the wins and the losses.

What happened during those 4 years? They got older, they grew and they practiced. They learned. They are still learning. They are perfecting their swing and their ability to see the ball as it is pitched. They are learning to get that glove on the ground and squeeze that ball in the glove. They are getting better at knowing where to throw the ball. By the time they are 12 years old, they have the basics mastered and now those functions are muscle memory. They have to put in the time, they have to be coachable, they have to be willing to learn new ways and new things.

The same thing happens to us as adults. We learn, we grow, we mess up and we learn some more. I have had folks that were very good at their jobs try to be a care giver. They have even said, “I can manage my company” or “I can do this and that.” But, I cannot understand why I cannot manage my mom’s needs. I smile and nod. It just so happens that this medical stuff is not your area of expertise. The other things at your job you can do in your sleep, but not this. There is a huge learning curve. That is why I do what I do, to help families like yours.

I know what it feels like to have your pride hurt. I know what it feels like when your ego gets bruised and beat up. I know what it feels like to feel shame and embarrassment. It sucks! It is hard to learn some lessons. It is hard to realize that you are causing your own suffering by believing the untrue negative self-talk. It is hard to move forward when you keep beating yourself up. It is in the past and all we can do is to move forward and be better than we were yesterday.

I found this paragraph on shame and want to share it with you.

“Shame is a psychologically toxic emotion because instead of feeling bad about our actions (guilt) or our efforts (regret), shame makes us feel bad who we are. Shame gets to the core of our egos, our identities, our self-esteem, and our feelings of emotional well-being. The damaging nature of shame makes it urgent for those who have a fear of failure to avoid the psychological threats associated with failing by finding unconscious ways to mitigate the implications of a potential failure—for example, by buying unnecessary new clothes for a job interview instead of reading up on the company—which allows them to use the excuse, “I just didn’t have time to fully prepare.” “Guy Winch PhD

You will not fail, you cannot fail. It is too important to you. Keep adjusting. Keep trying. Seek help when you need help. Are you smart enough to know when you don’t know?

Things that make you go, hmmm.

Pat

Wednesday wonderings … Why do you believe you have to handle everything?

If you are a control freak, you may be a part of my tribe.

September 29, 2021

If you are anything like me, you handle it because that is what you do. See the problem, figure out the solution and handle the problem. That works great if it is just your problems you are handling. What happens when it is another person’s issue? Yeah, I know, I figure out a solution and handle the problem. It has gotten me in to a lot of trouble though. You would think that I would learn to not do anything unless asked. I am a work in progress. I am better than I was, but I have quite a way to go.

What makes us like that? Some of us have been this way since birth and it just seems natural to identify the issue or problem, find a workable solution and handle the issue or problem. If the solution does not work, then we try something else. We are problem solvers by nature. Where we get in to trouble is when we haven’t been asked to figure something out or to even help. My failure is in assuming that if you are sharing something with me, then you want my opinion or help. I have to tell people, that if you are venting, please let me know or I will be trying to “fix it.”

What I found out as an adult is that I am a control freak. I like order. I like to have a plan. I am perfectly fine with changing or updating a plan, but I have to have a plan, I do not do well with “flying by the seat of my pants.” I have perfectionistic tendencies, just add it to the list of things I am working on.  Don’t worry, we will be getting to you and your tendencies very soon. When the control freak tries to take over, I have to stop and figure out what is driving me? Is it some kind of fear?  Maybe, it is because everything will fall to pieces. If I don’t stay in control I might be seen as weak.

So, what makes you handle everything? Is it your nature or could it possibly be a few other things? What fears do you have?

A moderate amount of control is a good thing for all of us. The problems arise when we find ourselves forcing our will on other people or situations. Sometimes, we do not know we are doing that. Sometimes, we don’t want to be still and think about what is really going on inside our own heads. Other times, we are in a crisis of some sort and are reacting. If you have ever read about the underlying factors of needing to be in control… you probably thought “that is not me.” Some of it may not be you, but some of it, is you.

What fits your pattern?

Traumatic experience

Abusive experiences

Anxiety

Trust issues

Low self-esteem

Fear of abandonment

Your beliefs, values or faith

Fear of experiencing painful emotions

Perfectionism and Fear of failure

Self-centeredness

Possessiveness

Mood swings

Sense of entitlement

Personality disorder

Learned behavior

As you see, there are many things that can keep your “need to be in control” on high alert. Most of us are able to figure out what is causing our need to be in control. If you are not able to figure yours out, it may be time to see a talk therapist for a few visits. Why a talk therapist? They can help you to identify your triggers and they can help you with coping mechanisms and skills to help you keep yourself in check.

Here are some questions that I found to ask your control freak self.

7 questions control freaks could ask themselves:

  1. How are you helping others grow?
  2. Is this worth your time, attention, and energy (TAE)? Control freaks squander their talent by getting involved in trivialities.
  3. How much of your TAE is spent on things that AREN’T working?
  4. How might you choose personal growth and development when you feel like controlling others?
  5. How are you putting long-term organizational interests ahead of your own?
  6. How would you like people to interact with you?
  7. Do you want compliance, contribution, or commitment from others?

Bonus: How much do you like loneliness?

Are you willing to let go of your illusion of control? Are you willing to accept and notice things as they are, right now, without judgement? The without judgement part, may send you over the edge, but hang-on you will feel better and actually be better.

You do not have to feel hopeless. You may actually have more hope once you get out of the muck and mire and see things, the way they really are. You can take a breath, relax and make better choices. You think that being in control keeps you safe, it doesn’t. Focus on your adaptability. That is what really keeps you safe. We can take situations as they are and we can find a way forward, make adjustments, & adapt. You have done it before and you need to go back and remember those successes. Learn to rely on your ability. That knowledge may help you to realize when you need help or when you need to let it go and let it be, as it is right now. Things will never be as they used to be and that is not always a bad thing. It is just different. You are learning something new. You are learning a new way to cope. Be kind to yourself. You are a work in progress, too.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings… Am I broken?

How do you know when you are broken?

September 22, 2021

What was the first big obstacle that found its way right in the middle of your path? You know, the one that kicked your ass. The one that made you doubt everything that you though you knew. That situation that you did not think you would survive. You got a punch to the gut or maybe a rabbit punch that you did not even see coming. It happens to all of us.

How long do you need to catch your breath and get your legs back under you? Yes, you got knocked down and it hurts. You waller for a little while or a long while, but eventually, you do get up and move forward again. It is only when you stay down and waller that you feel broken. Notice that I said, feel. We all know that our feelings can lie to us. Our thoughts mess with our minds too. Just who is in charge here? You learn to go with what you know and not how you feel. It is simple but it is certainly not easy. You keep having conversations or fights inside your mind.

Nothing that you try is working for your loved one. Doctors are not helping. A decline is happening and you don’t know what to do next. One thing after another keeps piling on. Your shoulders can’t take much more and your knees are beginning to buckle. What do you do next?

If you are smarter than the average bear, you take a time out, rest and recharge for two or three days and then look at things with fresh eyes. Maybe you call a meeting of the minds and brainstorm for options. Maybe it is time to call Pat and get a plan of action with options to access when you need them. Yes, that was a shameless plug for my services.

Making decisions under stress is a set-up for failure. Sure, it may work for a few days or even a week, but eventually, you will be dealing with a much larger problem and much more stress. Managing by crises is exhausting and you never get rested. When you are under abnormal stress your body dumps cortisol and the other stress hormones. This dumping of hormones activates the fight, flight, freeze or fawn types of reactions. You cannot physiologically make a rational decision. Your brain has been hijacked. You can make a decision or choice but it will not be a rational or logical one. You are really reacting to a perceived danger and will do whatever it takes to feel safe in the moment.

Regret. The feeling that you feel about 30 minutes to an hour later. You find yourself trying to reason out what in the hell has just happened and what is going on now? Oops! You don’t have the time to ponder that. Something else needs your immediate attention. Off you go. Your brain has been hijacked again because of another stress hormones dump.

Why do you feel broken? Have you failed at something? Are you beating yourself up for either making a mistake or not having good information? Are you just exhausted and running on auto-pilot? Maybe, you feel that you are only existing. You are not in control of anything and you cannot seem to get a handle on things. This expands to your whole life. Everything is running together and there are no clear boundaries anymore. Overwhelmed is what you are. You are not okay. You are grieving. You need permission to not be okay. Will you allow yourself too not be, okay? Will you tell someone that you are not, okay? Will you accept yourself as you are or will you still fight it? Will you let yourself feel your feelings? Yes, be still and feel your feelings and emotions without judging them. Let them be how ever they are. It is one of your body’s defense mechanisms to protect itself. You don’t have to solve anything, right now. Now is the time for accepting yourself just as you are. Maybe you feel broken because you are heartbroken.

Crap is changing and we do not like change. It is hard to change. It is hard to accept change. Acceptance of what is, right now, is one way to begin moving forward. If you have ever lifted weights, you know that it is hard to build muscle. It is painful. It is time consuming. You must give the muscle rest for it to grow and get stronger. It is the same way for us as care givers. We must learn new things. We must accept things that we do not want to accept. We must rest, accept and recharge to get stronger.

Sure, you can fight feeling your emotions and fight changes and even fight accepting things as they are now. You can stuff that shit down. Eventually, all that pressure will keep building up and escaping as a little steam (ranting and raving) until you are completely overwhelmed and explode leaving a damaging and sometimes un-survivable blast radius (relationships, job, friends, kids).

Tips for being more resilient:

Get more comfortable not knowing everything. We all want to know “why?”. There are times we will never know “why?’. Always wanting to know “Why?” will keep us stuck. When there is a feeling of being stuck, you will not move forward. Carl Yung says, “What we resist, persists.” So, stop resisting and learn your lesson, then move on.

Can you find some joy in what you are doing? Do you know “your why?” Learn to refocus on what truly matters. Learn to refocus on who really matters. You learn that you don’t have to give in to every whim of your feelings. Feelings can change quickly.

Feeling broken is an illusion. We have biases both known and unknown. Our feelings will lie to us and our emotions will fuel our beliefs. Our beliefs are linked to our perceptions of what is or what should be. Our beliefs determine how we interpret and feel about the events that happen in our lives. I don’t know where I read this or heard this, but it seems to be true. Once we form our beliefs, our mind has a natural tendency to search for the evidence to prove them right. It is not what happens to us in our lives that creates the experiences that we have, but it is our beliefs about those events that have happened. Basically, you can change how you view stuff if you challenge how and why you believe what you believe. Stop telling yourself, “I am broken,” “I can’t,” “I will try.”  Every time I hear the phrase “I’ll try,” it reminds me of the character Yoda that says, “There is do or do not, there is no try.” I also heard it from a counselor that stated if you say “I’ll try” you are giving yourself a way out. So, do it or don’t do it.

When your give a damn, can’t give a damn. Find three things that you are grateful for every day and write them down.

Become more aware of when you are susceptible to feeling broken.

You are tired.

You are frustrated.

You feel nothing.

You begin beating yourself up.

You feel the “woulda, shoulda, coulda’s”

You feel shame, guilt or anger

When things become uncomfortable, you shut down.

When you feel some of these things, remember your goal or set a new goal. You need something to focus on. Something to bring you back to center. I am not saying stuff your emotions, I am saying do not let them get in control and hijack your brain.

Responsibility and discipline. They can be scary words and even scarier to accept and work on.

You are responsible for yourself and your own feelings. No one can make you feel anything, you get to decide. Discipline is when you decide what you will or won’t do.

You may be a little bent but you are not broken so stop trying to “fix” yourself. You just have some feelings that you need to deal with. Set a small new goal. Be consistent and achieve your goal. Keep going. Set another goal, and another and another. Keep growing. Keep getting better and better. Stronger and stronger. When you get knocked down, take a breather and get back up and move forward again. You don’t go back to zero, you begin where you left off. Give yourself permission to let go of old hurts. Give yourself permission to let go of the need to always be in control. Fuel your body with good nutrition. Hydrate. Move your body. Have compassion for yourself.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings… What are the feelings you are dealing with as an adult child helping a loved one?

Emotions, Feelings and other things that mess us up!

September 1, 2021

Do you love someone that has a chronic disease such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Migraine, Depression, Arthritis, Cancer, Asthma, COPD, ALS, and more? Are you one of the ones or maybe the only one that takes care of them or you see to the daily care of them by someone else? Congratulations! You are a caregiver. Yes, even if you do not provide the hands-on care day to day.

Last week I told the story of why I do what I do. I gave you the nuts and bolts of what happened. This week it is about the feelings and emotions that I experienced. When I let myself deal with them? This is the story that I did not and do not want to write. It is hard. It is messy. It makes me feel weak.

I wanted to start out by showing the Robert Plutchik wheel of emotions and do some explaining. Why? Because it would have been an easier way to describe and show emotions, feelings and how every thing connects. It is a good graphic. You see, it is much easier for me to teach you something. It is much easier to show you something and how things are intertwined.

Emotions get messy. Feelings are all over the place. They sometimes do not make sense and they rise up at the most inopportune times. They do not follow a straight line nor are they in order. There will be some cussing in this article. I can only promise to do my best in telling you what I have experienced, dealt with and other crap. It may be disjointed and out of order with regards to the timeline of my mother’s MS diagnosis, the things I dealt with through the years, and my mama’s death and the years that followed.

Some of the feelings –

Anger – Things are messing up my plans and I don’t like it! Always remember it is really not the person causing the anger, it is the situation.

Rage – Too much crap coming at me all at one time and I will be taking it out on those I love and are close to me. The ranting and raving will cause very unkind words, the throwing of objects, or even complete shutdown so as to not let things fly.

Disappointment – In yourself, your abilities to take care of things. You know, failure. The one thing that you cannot abide. You must not fail, you cannot fail, this is too important.

Ostrich time – When you stick your head in the sand and think, “If I don’t see it, then I don’t have to deal with it.”

Do it all – Are you being a martyr? You know perfectly well that others can and will help, if you would only let them. Have things for them to do and help you with. I have met some people that want the accolades and “oh, you poor dear.” They want the attention from others. It happens more than you know.

Frustration – This is a biggie. You feel like you cannot fulfill needs. Too much uncertainty and insecurity. You feel out of control and you hate that feeling most of all.

Irritated – minor things start building up and when you don’t accept things as they are…you start moving into the Anger and Rage.

Anxiety – Things are out of control and you don’t know how to bring them back under control. This is actually your early warning sign that something is not right. You may be feeling the urge to run away or cry.

Boredom – You don’t get to do anything that brings you joy or happiness. You are existing. This is the time when you realize that you need some “me time” or respite care.

Depression/Sadness – These two are together because prolonged sadness can lead to depression. You are under tremendous stress and that pumps cortisol and other hormones throughout your body. Brain chemistry can and does change over time. Maybe, it is time for you to see your doctor.

Disgust – Having to help someone toilet or bathe may be too intimate for you to handle. It can be very uncomfortable or unnerving to help with these types of private issues. Think about changing a baby’s dirty diaper. Now, think about changing an adult’s dirty diaper.

Embarrassment – Yes, even embarrassment. Some folks will not bathe. They will not change their clothes. They just stink. I am grateful that we did not have to deal with a bathing or changing clothes issue. Occasionally, it may be a feeding issue and food or drink goes everywhere. Here you are out in public and a big mess happens.

Impatience – You have all of these things that you want to accomplish today and your care receiver can’t even get up and get dressed much less eat breakfast before that 10:00 appt. Notice what is happening here – it is about you and what YOU want to accomplish. It is no longer about you. It is about them. It will take three times a long as you have planned to do anything. Take a break or a time out. When you begin to force them, you are beginning to abuse them.

Loneliness – You are isolated and you don’t have your support network to be with or sometimes even to talk to.

Crankiness – Because you are so tired. Your sleep is disturbed. You can’t fall asleep, you can’t stay asleep, your care receiver gets up at all hours of the night, etc.

Resentment – You did not choose this. Maybe you have brothers and sisters that are not helping out, or maybe you are an only child. Every family puts the “fun” in dysfunctional. It is the situation.

Feeling unappreciated – Learning to accept help is very hard. None of us wants to be dependent on anyone else. We may even push those trying to help away. I wish I had a fix for this, but there isn’t one. You will have to pat yourself on the back. The care receiver will not see or acknowledge what you are giving up to help them nor will they thank you. So, you can accept this for what it is or you can keep getting your feelings hurt.

Guilt – the feeling that we have when we have done something wrong. The guilt will come in many forms. Over not having done enough to have prevented “X, Y or Z.” Guilt over your impatience or how you have treated them sometimes. You feel guilty for thinking about your own well-being. Any number of things may cause you to feel guilty. Will you giver yourself permission to forgive yourself for not being perfect? Will you forgive yourself for the “shoulda, woulda’s, could a’s?” Will you accept that you are doing the best that you can and that is good enough?

Fear of failure – This is the one that smacks me right in the face. I cannot fail. I must not fail. I will not fail. I can only do my best. What if something happens? How will I cope? Will I feel guilty? All of these scenario’s race through your mind. The “might happen”, the “what ifs.” All those do is to keep us stuck from dealing with what is happening, right now. This is where having a contingency plan in place is very helpful. I like contingency plans. While it may not cover everything, it will cover most things. Ahh, some sense of control. Now we can rest and recharge.

Grief – Watching them decline hurts. Sometimes it huts too much to deal with at the time or if you are like me, you don’t even know it is happening. You just stuff shit and soldier on.

Who are you? What is your natural tendency during regular times? What are your tendencies during stressful situations?

What is Pat Collins’ basic temperament and usual state of being? I am content. I am usually positive and hopeful, even when things do not go as planned. I do like things to go my way. I am a bit of an ass. If I think something is right, I will choose that. I am open to others’ ideas and opinions, usually. I will do what I think is best for my family and not just me. I deal with whatever situation is happening at the time. If I make a mistake or what I tried did not work, then I figure out something else to try. I am open to trying things that are science based, but no “woo-woo” stuff. I am confident in what I know and others see this as cocky sometimes. I am caring and want the best for folks. I hate people that mistreat or hurt others, especially those that cannot care for themselves. I have faith in God.

My mom was diagnosed with MS in about 1990. I did what research that I could at the medical library. Remember, this was pre personal computer days. Not much was written about it. I prayed to God, “just don’t let my mama die.”  That was the first emotion. Fear of my mama dying. Only think and feel this at night while alone.

Get on with everyday life. No personal emotions allowed during work. Learn to compartmentalize. Apparently, I did learn that and learn it well. As the weeks passed, I became more relaxed about my mom’s condition. I had done my research. I had talked with her neurologist, and we were good with the treatment plan. I knew that my mama’s life would probably not be shortened by MS. We would have to make adjustments, but we could handle that.

None of us talked about the eventuality of her becoming disabled and needing 24/7 care. We always thought that time was way on out, if it happened at all. Mama was the one that brought up going to a nursing home. She was the practical one. Daddy would not hear of that; he was determined to keep her at home. You would think that me, my brother and my dad would talk about the future needs. I am a pharmacist; my brother is a physician and my dad was still working full time and so was my mom. But, no we did not. There was no need, right now.

Life was pretty normal for five years or so. My brother and I had careers, families and our own things to do. You know, the everyday things that you deal with. Work could be stressful with some patients/customers. Work could also be stressful with budgets, hiring, training, ordering, inventory control and filling prescriptions I would be aggravated, angry and just plain tired some days. Oh yeah, throw in the sports practices, games and homework along with eating dinner, bath time and bedtime. All of these “mini-crises” can take a toll too. You don’t realize that though. It is just a day in the life. Everyone has them and you handle it and move forward. My decompress time was reading the newspaper in the evenings after I got home and checked on everybody. I worked 9 am – 9 pm shifts, every other day and every other weekend, unless I filled in at another pharmacy. That extra was more often than not. I was always hyped up from the day of work and it would take until midnight or 1 a.m. for my thoughts and brain to settle down. They weren’t bad thoughts, just thoughts of the day (the replay), situations or whatever had happened. The thinking about what was coming up, etc. Just stuff.  I would lift weights and walk regularly. See, I did have an outlet for stress. I never liked the taste of alcohol and so when I was drinking in high school or college, it was to get drunk. I have tried different drinks after pharmacy school, but I did not like any of them. I am not a fun drunk anyway; I just want to go to sleep. I would rather have an iced tea, water, or a soft drink in a social setting.

Moving on to the late 1990s to early 2000s. Things are beginning to get more time consuming on the mama front. The boys are getting older and into more specific sports which require more practice and more practice days every week. Oh, and now they are beginning to have social lives with parties, sleepovers and playdates. Their lives are way more active and social than mine. Hmm, 

I am getting tired and pissed at being summoned down to the house to deal with mama and daddy because it seems as though they are acting like children. What was really going on? Nothing, if you ask them. Just the same old same old. Bullshit! I have mama upset and wanting to divorce daddy and I have daddy telling me he doesn’t know how much more he can take.  Yep, everything is good, until it isn’t. Mama had begun having mini-strokes by now and they were affecting her behavior and so was the MS. I was mad at her for smoking, in the bathroom all these years. She never did smoke in front of us. I tried to get her to quit, but it never happened until she was diagnosed with beginning emphysema. We get to deal with the aftermath of her poor choices is what I was thinking. How can I love my mama so much and be so mad at her? The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy, you just do not care anymore.  I don’t have the luxury of being mad right now, I have to fix shit. That is what I do, fix shit. I am observing and talking with both of them, separately of course. Listening for clues as to what is really going on. I love my daddy, but he can piss me off in a New York minute. If daddy, has it in his mind that something is or is not “right in his way of thinking” then he will not listen to reason or change his mind. Mama has declined and it is not the normal MS decline issues, other things are impacting her. I suspect depression and probably more mini-strokes. She needs to see a psychiatrist. I make that suggestion, and daddy is not having any of it, because he does not “believe in that.” He told me that I could make the appointment and take her, but he was not going to do it. Let’s recap, I have mama and daddy in a pissing match, I am working full time and helping with the boys. My partner is having severe migraines and is out of commission for most of the time. Now, it is all on me to handle. I handle it. I handle it all. I handle everything but my own needs. My wants and needs are pushed to the back of the line. I do not yet realize that as I am in “fix it or handle it” mode. I don’t yet realize that I am a bear to work with at work. I am short and curt in my speaking. I have no tolerance for any little mistake. My mind is elsewhere. I do what I have to do. I get the boys to where they all three need to be and by when they need to be there. I have to leave work, which stresses me out, for 20 minutes to take care of my partner’s needs. I get others to help me run the boys’ places, if I can.  I send my tech out to take a child somewhere. I am doing management by crises and I don’t like it at all. Right now, I don’t have the luxury of being able to plan ahead. I am in the middle of it and I am just surviving. I am certainly not thriving. I am mad, angry, upset, frustrated and I keep stuffing all of those feelings down. I would not be able to express those feelings without exploding on someone. When pushed, I can and will explode. I don’t like myself when I do that. I do prefer to talk about things before they get totally out of hand. I am not known for taking a time out first and it would be better, if I did. My preference is to deal with whatever arises when it arises and then be done with it.

What happens when I stuff my feelings? Some of this, I did not know or realize until others pointed it out to me.  I was mentally exhausted. You cannot unhear what you have heard even though you know it wasn’t really the person, but the disease or condition. Increased tension headaches and migraines.  To the point of daily tension headaches. Stomach problems and in my case cramps and diarrhea. I would blow up at small things that never would have bothered me before. Leaving others to deal with my wrath and wondering what they had done to deserve that? They did not deserve it; I was too busy not dealing with my negative emotions that they just kept bubbling up and were always right under the surface…waiting to explode on anyone and everyone. I had a difficult time experiencing joy and happiness during this time. My neck and shoulders were permanently tight and knotted up. At one point, I thought I was having a heart attack, until I realized that I had forgotten to take my Prilosec® for the past three days.

The rage and anger that I felt. It wasn’t at my mam or even God. It was at the MS and how our lives had changed. It was not what any of us had planned. Fear of the unknown. Not being able to plan things. I am a planner by nature and when I have to go with the flow…that is hell to me. I was mad. I loved my mama; how could I be this mad? Because, my life was impacted. My days off were being taken over. I missed my partner, my boys, and my time. I did not have a choice and that made me even madder. Daddy would not do what I asked of him and that pissed me off too. Yes, I felt like giving up and throwing in the towel. Saying, fuck this shit, I’m out. The hurt that my heart felt when I would hear my mama say some things that were not like her. I know it wasn’t her, but damn, it hurt and I can’t unhear what she said. This is where you have to know what you know. You have to know who your mama is and who she is not. The mama I had grown up with was no longer here. The funny, loving, smart woman was no longer here. She had changed or rather her mini-strokes, depression and MS had changed her. Not all of her, but quite a lot of her personality. I can’t explain it, it is something that you feel, you know and you understand.

Stuffing emotions and feelings. I was very good at it. I was not good at dealing with the slip-ups or the aftermath. I had to go back a few years after my mom’s death to see what had happened and how I coped. I did not realize that I was grieving my mom’s death way before she died. What had I done to my partner? What had I done to my boys? Work? What had I done to myself? Buckle up, it ain’t going to be pretty.

I felt lonely. I felt isolated. I felt like I was the only one trying to take care of shit. I felt anxious and on alert all of the time. I could not relax. I did not work out or walk and that made me feel worse. I thought I did not have the time nor the energy to work out regularly, I had too much going on. Too much that needed my attention. I was so wrong. I would have been much better off emotionally and physically if I had kept up working out and walking. It is probably a good idea that I do not like the taste of alcohol. A lot of folks do use alcohol to cope.

I didn’t know that I could feel the emotions or feelings and just let them go without putting an attachment to them. Those thoughts and feelings go through our minds all of the time and really all we have to do is acknowledge them and wonder why this is showing up? I did not know that I could be curious about a feeling or emotion and why it may have gotten triggered. Yes, we all have buttons that can be pushed. Our family knows all of our buttons and they push them so well. We have to relearn how to engage or NOT to engage. It can be done and you will not longer be triggered. Guess what? That trigger has no power over your anymore. That is beyond the scope of this article.

Every felling has a message. It is trying to tell you something. It is best to deal with them as they arise and not let them build up pressure to an explosion. If you are an empathetic person some of the feelings or emotions you may be carrying around are not yours. You may be picking up on others feelings and emotions. I know that it sounds weird, but energy is energy.

I wasn’t available to attend to my partner’s or my kids’ emotional needs. I was in survival mode. I was not the hands-on caregiver to my mother. My daddy was. I was doing my best to get her to the doctor that she needed to see and the medications that she needed. I cannot imagine the stress that the hands-on caregivers are under if they have their own career, spouse, kids and home to take care of too. I know the stress that I was under. I know the hurt feelings that I caused my partner, my kids, my technicians and my patients. You can never apologize enough. You can never make up for it. All you can do is do better and be better from now on. I hated the distance that was between me, my partner and my boys. My oldest was still in high school when my mom died. They are all grown now and doing well. My partner and I are no longer together.

There are physiological changes that happen when we are under stress. It affects your body in such a way that you cannot make good decisions. The following was stolen, I mean borrowed from Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response

The stress response begins in the brain (see illustration). When someone confronts an oncoming car or other danger, the eyes or ears (or both) send the information to the amygdala, an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing. The amygdala interprets the images and sounds. When it perceives danger, it instantly sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus.

Command center

When someone experiences a stressful event, the amygdala, an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus. This area of the brain functions like a command center, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that the person has the energy to fight or flee.
Happening in the brain

The hypothalamus is a bit like a command center. This area of the brain communicates with the rest of the body through the autonomic nervous system, which controls such involuntary body functions as breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, and the dilation or constriction of key blood vessels and small airways in the lungs called bronchioles. The autonomic nervous system has two components, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system functions like a gas pedal in a car. It triggers the fight-or-flight response, providing the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers. The parasympathetic nervous system acts like a brake. It promotes the “rest and digest” response that calms the body down after the danger has passed.

After the amygdala sends a distress signal, the hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system by sending signals through the autonomic nerves to the adrenal glands. These glands respond by pumping the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) into the bloodstream. As epinephrine circulates through the body, it brings on a number of physiological changes. The heart beats faster than normal, pushing blood to the muscles, heart, and other vital organs. Pulse rate and blood pressure go up. The person undergoing these changes also starts to breathe more rapidly. Small airways in the lungs open wide. This way, the lungs can take in as much oxygen as possible with each breath. Extra oxygen is sent to the brain, increasing alertness. Sight, hearing, and other senses become sharper. Meanwhile, epinephrine triggers the release of blood sugar (glucose) and fats from temporary storage sites in the body. These nutrients flood into the bloodstream, supplying energy to all parts of the body.

All of these changes happen so quickly that people aren’t aware of them. In fact, the wiring is so efficient that the amygdala and hypothalamus start this cascade even before the brain’s visual centers have had a chance to fully process what is happening. That’s why people are able to jump out of the path of an oncoming car even before they think about what they are doing.

As the initial surge of epinephrine subsides, the hypothalamus activates the second component of the stress response system — known as the HPA axis. This network consists of the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands.

The HPA axis relies on a series of hormonal signals to keep the sympathetic nervous system — the “gas pedal” — pressed down. If the brain continues to perceive something as dangerous, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which travels to the pituitary gland, triggering the release of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This hormone travels to the adrenal glands, prompting them to release cortisol. The body thus stays revved up and on high alert. When the threat passes, cortisol levels fall. The parasympathetic nervous system — the “brake” — then dampens the stress response.

It is not just emotional. Stress impacts your brain and your body. I am not one to talk about my feelings or emotions. I do know that I have them and I do feel them. I am a work in progress. I get better every day. I don’t want others to have to deal with all these negative emotions and feelings that will hurt them and their loved ones. I may not talk about it a lot, but it is my primary purpose in starting my business. Every relationship is different. Everyone has different feelings and emotions that are triggered. I can relate to what you are going through because I have been through it. No one will ever know exactly how you feel. We are all unique. We have different relationships with our loved ones. I know how to lessen the stress, anxiety and burden that you feel when you have to handle a loved one’s health care needs. Imagine how you would feel if you were a better manager for your loved one. Imagine how you would feel if you had a plan to access when you needed. Things will happen. We don’t know when. Are you prepared? Do you want to be prepared?

Let’s have a chat.

Pat

pat@EmpoweringHealthOptions.com

865-684-8771 (leave a message, if I am unable to answer)

We will discuss more about Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions.

Primary: The primary level circle indicates the basic type of emotions: trust, surprise, joy, sadness, anticipation, disgust, surprise and anger.

Opposites: Now understand, every primary emotion has a reverse emotion. Such as fear is reverse to anger, ecstasy is the opposite of grief, anticipation to surprise and so on.

Combinations: As you can see the faded petals [no color] it represents combinations of two primary emotions. For example, disgust and remorse gives remorse, similarly joy and anticipation offers optimism.