I’ve lost myself and taken on my chronically ill husband’s life style.
I have 2 problems I don’t know how to solve. 1) I’m working late, holding off seeing how my husband is doing, because I feel so badly for him. At 65, I’m too old to be working 11 hour days, but I don’t know how to make myself stop. 2. I’ve lost my sense of “me” through his years of heart failure.
My husband has has been chronically ill for 8 years, and somewhere along the way, I’ve lost myself. I feel like an almost empty shell. My husband had severe heart failure until he received a heart transplant 7 years ago. The heart transplant saved his life, but the side effects from his medications make him very tired, so it’s hard for him to do much. I’ve taken on most of the housework, plus I am supporting us by working full time.
During the last 3 years, side effects have become much worse, and have caused pancreatitis, rabdo - which could have killed him, an ulcer, cellulitis, etc. There’s always something going wrong, and it’s very stressful. Then, 9 months ago, he developed a kind of rejection where his coronary arteries and the donor arteries meet. There is no cure for this. His body was filling those arteries with a fibrous gel. They put in several stents to open those arteries. 3 months.ago, this rejection became very aggressive, Arteries were blocked much more extensively. My husband received stents (he now has 11) and was told he is in very bad shape, to get his affairs in order, and let his family know he has up to a year left, if he doesn’t have a heart attack in the meantime. That almost gave me a heart attack! He is experiencing heart failure. He’s short of breath, his muscles ache, and he’s so, so tired. He naps a lot, worries a lot. He’ll see a doctor about an oblation this week, which might help his symptoms.
Somehow, through all of this, I’ve lost “me.” I used to love to run every day. With my husband in the hospital so much before his heart transplant, I didn’t have time to run, so I walked around the hospital when I could. Then I didn’t have time for the walks either. I adopted my husband’s life style, watching tv with him, or laying down in bed beside him. I haven’t exercised much in the past 3 years, and have gained 30 lbs. On my drive home from work, I think how much I’d love to go for a walk. But when I enter the house, and see how how tired and in pain he is, I feel swallowed up. Sometimes I’m afraid to leave, in case he needs me. Sometimes I somehow take on his feelings of exhaustion, and the desire to get some exercise flies out of my brain. I also stay after school (I’m a teacher) much too long, maybe because my stress level slows down my thinking, but part of it is to avoid seeing how awful my husband is doing. I hate seeing him suffer.
How do I make myself walk out of school at 5:00? Once I’m home, I’m glad to be there,but I dread going home. Will my husband be alive or dead?
How do I find me? The person who loved walking, biking, and being outside, working in my perennial garden? I’m already on antidepressants. My mental health doctor gave me a few low dosage tablets of clomazepam because I had a panic attack a few weeks ago.
Reading your experiences has been so helpful. Has anyone dealt with losing themself? Or becoming as fatigued as the ill person they live with?