wings and things

When the carer gets sick

on February 26, 2014

It is now a few weeks since I was first afflicted with pompholyx on my hands and I have now seen three doctors (well, four, if I count Dr Google) and I now have all the antibiotics, steroids and ointments I should need to get rid of it. The blisters on my hands have now been replaced with peeling, bleeding skin and I am finding it painful to do everyday, normal things like turning a tap on and off, prepare a meal and even holding the steering wheel of the car hurts. I’ve read heaps of articles about pompholyx and seen some gruesome pictures that look just like my own hands, so I feel quite knowledgeable about the condition now.

A few days ago I noticed a few blisters on my left foot too but, like an idiot, I just kept hoping they’d miraculously go away, but this morning I woke up to two very swollen feet, with all of the toes on one foot covered in sores and one on the other foot too. (I think my feet must have been scratching each other in my sleep!) The left foot was so painful that when I jumped out of bed to take a closer look, I got a shock when I could hardly walk.

My first thought was how could I take Anthony out for afternoon today? That was my plan and I had told him yesterday when I had two normal feet. As usual my incredible mother came to the rescue and visited him and I spoke to him twice on the phone, the first time quite tearfully but the second time (my mother rang me from his room at the nursing home) more cheerfully.

There are a lot of mixed opinions about pompholyx but one thing I have found in almost everything I have read about it so far is that it can be caused by excessive perspiration. This makes a lot of sense to me because, despite the fact that I have always had a problem with this during our Australian summers, it has never been as bad as this year. In fact, a few weeks ago, I joked with a friend that I might have to get botox to stop it (I had read about this treatment and this was just before the pompholyx hit me). It turns out that this may well be a necessity for me if the pompholyx doesn’t go away with all the other stuff I’m taking for it. I could get my frown lines done too – haha!

On the scale of diseases, this is certainly minor and I know many people and friends who are battling much more severe health challenges, diseases, chronic pain and, yes, grief. So I feel a bit embarrassed to be so upset about what has suddenly happened to my hands and feet, but the main reason I am so upset is because it is obviously going to stop me from seeing Ants for awhile.

Ming, who did a whole bunch of errands and other jobs for me today, said (during one of the Home and Away commercial breaks), “I’ll do anything you want me to, Mum – just give me a list!” Then we had a conversation about stress:

Ming: You must be really stressed – look at your foot!
Me: I am now twice as stressed as I was before you said I must be really stressed so shut up!
Ming: Why can’t you just have fun, Mum?
Me: I can’t really have fun with this thing with my hands and feet.
Ming: I could take you out for lunch, to the movies even – popcorn? Pizza? I’ll do anything!
Me: Could you do a load of washing, vacuum the house, wash the dishes, do the groceries, visit Dad and bring me some panadol tomorrow?
Ming: Oh – okay. That’s a lot of jobs and you haven’t given me much warning.
Me: It’s called initiative, Ming.
Ming: No, no, no – you know I hate that word!
Me: Well guess what – I hate the word stress!

The hardest thing about getting any sort of sick when you are caring for a loved one with a proper disease (Anthony) and another one who has just had a second lot of spinal surgery (Ming) and all the other people who you care for, is the feeling of utter helplessness that you can’t help because you are sick too. For me it is, hopefully, just a temporary sick but it may go on and on (pompholyx tends to do that).

Apart from the spasmodic asthma attacks that began four years ago, when I was still working at the university, Ming was still at school, and Anthony’s health was beginning to deteriorate, this is the worst diseasy thing that has happened to me. I’m a bit scared I guess because I’m the carer – I can’t get sick! I am needed!

To those bloggers and friends and relatives who know this feeling, I salute you for your courage and honesty in talking so openly about these things. My empathy has grown a thousand-fold because of this pompholyx thing.

70 responses to “When the carer gets sick

  1. My mom has been caring for my dad and recently she slipped on ice and broke her dominant hand. She has expressed similar concerns about how she is needed and feels useless. Hang in there lady!
    Diana xo

  2. lensgirl53 says:

    OH Julie, I have been reading your posts about the blisters and know exactly what you are going through. When I first got married 43 years ago, I developed blisters that oozed and were so painful that I woke myself up by my own moans in the night. My fingers would literally stick together. OUCH… I had to wear rubber gloves and even that hurt, and my neighbor shampooed my hair for me. I went to a dermatologist who told me it was nerves but really had no clear idea of what it was…he gave me some ointment (think it was called Kerotin) that seemed to do the trick. I don’t remember if he gave me steroids or not…so long ago. I remember how useless I felt…being a newly wed and into my domesticity. LOL….It went away and came back a few times more. I have not had it in a long time. I don’t know if it is the same thing you are experiencing but it reminded me of it so much.

    I empathize with you. I pray you get better and can get back to your normal routine. You are blessed to have your lovely mom to help you. xo dale

  3. I have a feeling that Ming is about to ‘step up to the plate’ so to speak and will have a period of real growth in thinking of your needs more than his own.. because you have been such a support to him with his recent health and legal issues especially. And you need to allow yourself to just do what you can and not feel guilty or worry about what you can’t just now, do. It is was it is and there’s no rushing the recovery. You are a care-giver to the ‘tenth’ degree and now you need to allow yourself to be ‘cared for’.

    I think even Ants will understand in his good times.. and at the other times I think your mother and Ming and your calls to him, will see him through…. and I hope my prayers help a little too… Feel better soon friend… Diane xoxo

    • jmgoyder says:

      Yes Ming is definitely stepping up to the plate – he has done the groceries today, is about to vacuum the house and do washing and he saw Ants. Phew! Thank you for your prayers – hands and feet slightly better today – gonna take awhile I think.

  4. mimijk says:

    I just hope that this awful condition begins to improve quickly – stress and sweat – two things that are impossible to avoid when it’s hot and one is under stress. Feel better Jules..

  5. Thank goodness for your mother 🙂 Ming is funny. He is going to be a world of help and it will do him a lot of good. I know that being the care giver doesn’t stress you out to the degree that being unable to do so is right now is, so hang in there and give the Botox idea a go, it does help but be prepared for the perspiration to come out in other places. Perspiration will find a way to exit. Bih Hugs Jules

  6. niasunset says:

    Oh dear Julie, I am sorry to hear your hands… Do you know, this is an allergy of metal things… Especially nickel! With sweat makes an allergy… I had once and I can’t use anything on my wrist… I pray for you and I hope and wish eveerything to turn normal running again. Love, nia

  7. FacetsofLucy says:

    Deep cleansing breaths here. Your lovely son is doing what he can, and worrying (I didn’t use the word STR**S) won’t make it heal any better or faster. Do what you can until you’re better and be kind to yourself. I’ve never heard of pompholyx and I got my medical degree from Google Medical School, haha. I am really sorry for your health issues at a time you have so many other things to deal with.

  8. bulldog says:

    This sounds terrible… I am of the opinion that certain perfumes can also bring this on, I also heard that certain moisturizers help, but I wouldn’t stick my neck out on what I’ve heard, just know someone that suffered from it and it seemed to come and go… she also found when stressed it seem to appear more… but good luck with shaking it off… maybe immerse your hands in cow poop, a friend use to do that for some kind of skin irritation he got, maybe it was just the thought of doing it that kept the irritation at bay… lol…

  9. susanpoozan says:

    Poor, poor you, I am so sorry.

  10. Rhonda says:

    damn that sounds awful. everyone is right…you can’t rush it, you can’t change what’s happening, and worrying will only make it worse. take ming’s advice, let him take you on a date or two, let him be the carer in training, and between the phone, ming, and your mum, ants won’t be neglected. when you can go to him, you will. please take care of you jules…xo

  11. Time to lean on those willing to help, Ming, your mom. It sounds like you have wonderful friends and family to support you here. Take their help. More-ask for their help! Admit you need some relief for now. We all need a break from constant tension. Sending you hugs and thoughts of healing from across the sea.

  12. OnTheWay... says:

    Thinking of you and sending you all my good wishes for you to recover quickly. Love xx

  13. Oh Jules I truly wish I was but a few kilometers away…I would be right there to help in whatever way I could. I have no idea of what you are going through but I know I feel extremely bad for you and pray that the things that are causing this hand and foot disease to go away quickly. I like the others think Ming will step-up and if he doesn’t well just kick his rear end….DON’T do that until your feet are healed. Love and hugs my dear friend.

  14. janeslog says:

    I developed a skin rash a few years ago which I couldn’t explain. I thought it might be the liquid soap I used ijn the washing machine but it was okay.

    I mentioned to the woman who sat next to me and her daughter had almost the same skin condition. We had both used some home made soap sold in the local shopping centre. Turned out that when we both stopped using it the condition disappeared. The ingredients in the soap were too strong and this was causing the rash.

  15. I had to google pompholyx just so I could see for myself how your hands and foot look and then all I could think was oh how painful and sore they look now I feel for you more than I did before. I hope Ming is a big help for you with the housework and visiting Anthony

  16. Terry says:

    I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. I sure hope you heal quickly!! hugs

  17. Oh no! I am sorry to hear it is getting worse. I work with many many folks who are caregivers or have caregivers. And we always discuss the well being of the caregiver-because so many don’t pay attention to their own needs. Or get so stressed they then become ill. So I’m glad you are paying attention to it NOW.

    And Ming makes me laugh. I love how he will do ANYTHING, well….almost anything! 🙂 But he is right….it would do you, and he, a lot of good to see you have fun.

  18. tootlepedal says:

    It is never good to be told that you are stressed. You need to stress that to others.

  19. Yes you are the carer. However, you need to block that thought and take some times out and care for yourself.
    And I am sure Ming will come to the rescue and do some of those things on your list, if not all.

  20. ksbeth says:

    i hope you are feeling better very soon. you have so many challenges you are dealing with right now, you deserve a break. hugs, beth

  21. Professions for PEACE says:

    Julie may all the love we are sending you help you heal quickly. I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but may you very soon be ‘right as rain’ again. Hugs, Gina

  22. Not what you need right now. Take care of you. Sending good thoughts.

  23. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    I just did a search on Google images, Julie, and it looks…….well…….frankly…….bloody awful and incredibly painful. Sorry to hear that it’s gone to your feet.

    Being without the use of feet & hands is bad enough for yourself, let alone to help Ming & Anthony.

    I’m still a great lover of Lavender pure essential oil for all things imaginable….and it’s also calming, healing, anti-bacterial……….and did you know that the Lavender field workers didn’t get the Plague in the 1600’s due to the therapeutic effect of working with the stuff ! LOL. Seriously, when all else fails, coat your hands & feet in Lavender oil and put clean cotton gloves & cotton socks on overnight to hold it in place and see if there’s any difference in 24-48 hours. It can’t do any harm.

    The other thing I’d try is Bach’s Rescue Remedy cream. Chemist or Health Food Store.

    Either remedy will act on the mental and emotional level as well as the physical level.

    Neither will do any harm (unless you’re allergic to Lavender of course). The brand, IN ESSENCE, is a reputable one. Some of the cheaper essential oils are not pure and have been extended or adulterated in some way. I also use Macro Vitamin E cream for healing. Which reminds me that it you prick a Vitamin E capsule and squirt the Vitamin E oil over your skin & cover with clean cotton gloves overnight, that might dilute the perspiration moisture (as well as healing broken skin & painful raw spots).

    Yes, the heat this last summer has been the very worst imaginable – I’ve had a few areas of red skin where my legs or waistband have rubbed (that I don’t normally get in summer). I perspire heavily in summer, which is actually a good thing as it’s the body’s way of cooling you down.

    But when perspiration turns into…… Sweating Like a Pig, it’s a real problem for us delicate, fragile, pale-skinned ladies.


    • jmgoyder says:

      Ming got me some cotton gloves today and I have my feet in socks now – I will investigate your suggested ointments once I’ve exhausted all the other ointments I have + meds. Thankfully, it is slightly cooler here now so the perspiration isn’t so bad. I can’t believe something so seemingly tiny has become the bane of my life at the moment – thank you so much for this reply xxx

  24. viveka says:

    Stress is big cause to many of our health problems today – and stress increases problems too.
    You should go with your foot to the doctor – because it can be a blood cloth or bad blood circulation. I suddenly got swollen foot and toes .. and I had lymph fluid. Please, check it out!!!!
    Blisters are very much stress related, had a couple of colleagues that have been suffering from it – they all went to Chinese Medical Centers and was cured, but it took a couple of months. Take care of yourself.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Thanks Vivi – have been to drs – going to skin spec next week – already got drugs and ointments so all should be well – I tend to get a bit melodramatic – sorry! Jxxx

      • viveka says:

        Julie, you have to look after yourself – better going to the doctor one time too many than coming to late.
        If your medicine doesn’t work .. go to a Chinese medical center – they truly make wonders and without any pills.

  25. Lynda says:

    On the surface the problem seems so simple., but I doubt that any of the rest of us could deal with it any better than you are, and we have less on our plate. Use of our hands and feet are essential to our ability to get around and get things done. We take this fact for granted until it is taken away from us. And not to ignore the theme of the comments from many of your other dear friends:

    You need to start taking better care of yourself. Make more time for Julie and rest.

    End lecture. 😉
    Love you, Julie!

  26. jatwood4 says:

    I am so sorry — how awful you must feel. You are in my thoughts, and I’ll light a candle when I get home. 😎

  27. FlaHam says:

    Julie, 1st off your ill so please don’t down play it. We understand, we care, and have great concern for you. Patience is what you need now. Clearly Ming has “manned up” because he has such wonderful teachers. Mom stepping in and chatting and visiting with Ants is a great assistance. Now your needs much focus on you. You need to continue following the instructions as provided by your doc’s so you can mend. Please take care, Bill

  28. Trisha says:

    That blistery thing (I forgot how to spell the word already) sounds awful! I would be upset by it too. I hope it heals quickly for you and I hope that Ming is more helpful than my teenage boys are when I get sick.

  29. i have heard this kind of thing from chris in just the past few months. my feeling is we should never compare our suffering to someone else’s. there will always be someone who is suffering more than you. you can not stop their suffering nor diminish yours by this formula. the only way to be a truly great care(taker) is to take care of yourself. show some of that care and kindness you have for others for yourself. big warm hugs and kisses my friend

  30. Denise says:

    What a kid you’ve got there – and I hope you’re feeling a bit better.

  31. I am so sorry. It sounds so weird. Good grief! One thing after the other.

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