He woke up screaming. The pain medicine does that. Those medicines have changed his sleeping patterns. He talks in his sleep, dreams more vividly, and on occasion, has nightmares. He’s no longer on the hardcore medicines, but he’s still on powerful drugs.
It happened out of the blue, but has been brewing for days. The Mr had a huge meltdown yesterday. In all fairness, I don’t blame him one bit, but I have to admit, it did scare me.
“A meltdown is a state of neurological chaos where the brain and nervous system overheat and stop working properly. It’s called that because it’s the body’s equivalent to a meltdown in a nuclear power plant, in which the fuel in the reactor core becomes so hot that it melts and releases energy.
Sometimes it gets so hot that it causes an explosion, and the energy is released outside of the core. It’s this explosive reaction (crying, yelling, lashing out) that most people refer to when they talk about behavioral meltdowns, but that’s just the bit that you can see.”
Since the damage was done at the inside of the quad muscle down to the outside of the knee, he has to wear, always, a leg brace that goes from the top of his thigh to his ankle. He can’t put pressure on his foot or bend his leg. When he gets up, he has to use crutches. That leaves him with very few, if any, options to do things on his own.
He has been confined to the upstairs since his release from the hospital. Day in and day out, for almost three weeks, all he has seen is the bedroom and the bathroom. He occasionally looks out the window, and that’s been the only change of scenery for him. Apparently, he had had enough. The nightmare was just the thing to send him over the edge.
My husband briefly turned into a child, who was unable to articulate how he was feeling. I think I’ve seen the Mr cry a handful of times in the many years of our marriage. Yesterday was one of those days. It broke my heart. Deep, deep sobs, with words I barely understood. He screamed at me and pushed me away. He was tired of being in bed. Tired of being upstairs. He felt helpless, trapped, frustrated, and wanted the freedom to move around that for now, he can’t have. I totally understand how he feels, now. He is dependent on me, and others, to do some of the most basic things. Taking a shower requires a lot of preparation, and he can’t do it alone. Getting out of bed and dressed requires help. He can’t walk to the refrigerator to get a drink, or make himself something to eat. Things that you and I would never think about are off-limits to him at the moment. Mentally and emotionally, he had reached his limit.
He wanted out of bed, to go downstairs, and just be normal for a bit. And, he wanted to do that NOW. He took a shower (he insisted on doing most of the work, even though I was standing in the shower helping him). I changed the bedding, helped him get dressed, and then we tackled the stairs.
I was terrified about the stairs. Our friend, the rehab nurse, said he should scoot down the first set of stairs, and then use the railing with one of his crutches for the second part of the stairs. The part that got him from the bed to the floor worried me. That and the fear of him falling and my inability to catch him fast enough, terrified me.
My part in his meltdown was loud and clear. I had inadvertently trapped him upstairs with my fear of getting him downstairs. There are no words to express how bad I felt, and still feel.
Triumph! Getting down the stairs was easier than I thought but still scary.
We went out on the deck and there he sat, finally relaxed, drinking in the afternoon sun. The relief on his face and his body language was palpable. I felt so bad that it was all I could do to not cry.
We had a lovely dinner out on the deck – the first real meal we’ve eaten together in weeks. After spending a considerable amount of time downstairs, which did him a world of good, it was time to get him to bed. Getting him back upstairs was considerably easier than when he first came home. I wasn’t as afraid, and he was determined to get upstairs under his own speed.
Today he sees the surgeon in Reno. Getting him into the car will be interesting, but I know it can be done. It’s going to be a long day for us, but I think we’ve conquered the hard parts. Anything else that comes up will be a piece of cake, right?