Tough Pill to Swallow



Look at that mess of pills.  Some are shiny or brightly colored, the white ones come in different sizes.  They all go into Sean’s stomach every day.  That’s right, this is *1* day’s worth of medication.  You would think that with all these pills he’d be feeling pretty darn good every day.  I’ve seen first hand how each pill affects him, and the adverse effects when he does not take them.  I believe that (at least to some degree) they are helping him, and his doctors agree that he’s been more stable than not in the past two years.  Sean himself doesn’t want to make major changes to his medication regimen because he remembers how he felt and acted pre-medications.

2013 was a long year.  Sean had more pain than normal, experienced more periods of depression, contracted a nasty unidentified illness while in Mexico (he didn’t even drink the water) that took months of recovery, was diagnosed with gastroparesis (stomach is too slow to empty), and had more trouble generally accomplishing his goals.  We scaled way back, while still trying to participate in a few events to get ourselves engaged.  The past two months his migraines have been out of control and his pain levels over all have consistently increased.  The pain meds don’t seem to be helping the way they should.  I feel very helpless.  Tomorrow he will be seeing his doctor and I have been reviewing his daily health notes.  It’s sad to see the marked decline since October.  And scary.

I have accepted that we will have good days followed by bad days and that the cycle will continue.  I no longer panic every time he has a difficult day or a new symptom or weird behavior.  But when I see a consistent march downward, it frightens me.  Not because I fear the immediate future, but because no one knows what his health will be a year from now, or five years, or ten.  Is this a sign of what’s to come?

Last night was a particularly bad night.  Incredible pain.  Pain meds were no help.  He was up and down all night long, unsteady on his feet and needing help getting around.  He finally went to sleep around 7 AM this morning.  His poor dog was up all night, too, worrying over him and trying to let me know that his dad wasn’t feeling well.  I am praying they both sleep well tonight.

9 responses to “Tough Pill to Swallow

  • Pat Casanova

    Thinking of you both tonight, Melissa. Prayers are being said for you.

  • Debbie Sprague

    My heart hurts for you in such an intense way…because I so understand your pain. We seem to be walking down this very similar road with our warrior and their pain, their pills, and their PTSD. But that’s not enough – the health problems continue to come, and we realize that it’s only going to get worse in the coming years. And what are the options? We do everything in our power to love and support them…but we cannot take the pain away…it chips away at our heart, and puts us in a world that we cannot even begin to control. And then there’s tomorrow. Prayers that God gives you the strength to carry you through one day at a time, and wraps you in his tender loving care providing for your every need.

    • mlynnjohnson1971

      Watching my spouse who was rarely sick pre-Iraq, never called in sick to work, and in fact would scold me when I needed a sick day now struggle with his health is heartbreaking. I worry about what this will look like down the road, and what will happen to him (or me) if I need care in the future. Instead of imagining our future progressing in our careers we have an vast and scary unknown. Debbie, you and I have so much in common and I am thankful to have you here in this world with me.

  • Linda Cameron

    Praying for you both and loving you.

  • Susan Small

    Melissa, my heart breaks for you and Sean. This path is so hard, so painful and yet you never give up even when you must feel desperate and lonely, sad beyond my imagining. You are in my prayers and on my mind, loving the two of you and those most helpful puppies. Susan

    • mlynnjohnson1971

      Thank you, Susan. My poor dogs will have bare ears eventually from all the rubbing they get while I’m anxious (my mother can attest to this sensory need I’ve had since I was a child). And while most of us try to plaster on a brave smile and nod while repeating, “I’m fine,” it’s true that often we are feeling desperate and lonely and sad. It’s my hope that by sharing our story others will realize they are not alone.

  • Mario

    Great post. Invisible illnesses and wounds are anything but invisible to those affected. If you could, please email me when you get a moment. Thanks!

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