I have lost about 25 lbs since my husband died in April -- that's okay -- I could stand to lose a few more, I suppose.  Of more concern is this stupid rash on the backs of my hands -- little blister-type bumps that itch and turn into rough dry patches.  I suppose, maybe stress-related. It's been hanging around now for about two months and is just a nuisance.   I could see my doctor about it, but it just doesn't seem important enough -- though, irritating.    My doctor was also my husband's doctor and I just hate going there -- not blaming the doctor, but we spent so many weeks trying to find what was making him so ill -- 

Also, I have started smoking again.  Had quit for years.  My husband was a non-smoker and died of the kind of lung cancer the doctor said was associated with smoking -- doctor's comment was, "Doesn't seem fair, does it?" 

Anyway, wondering if anyone else has experienced physical changes or illnesses after losing a loved one.

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Hi Barbara ...

Yes, I have experienced many physical changes. First, I asked specialist about trauma of losing a spouse and they said that our brain chemistry as well as hormones are all over the place (that includes men!  Our bodies are in sheer stress with little to no reprieve with the exception of crying and sleep a great deal which is the best thing one can do.  It is not hard to understand how much a caregiver goes through and the many faces we have to produce to keep things on an even keel for our spouses while we are slowly dying inside.  We don't notice the pressure that happens during this time as we feel useful helping our spouses and it isn't until they pass away that health issues can rear their ugly heads which includes weight gain, weight loss, insomnia, sleeping too much, vivid unpleasant dreams to nightmares, panic attacks, unexplained rashes, etc. 

When my Ernie was in hospital dying of pancreatic cancer I weighed a good weigh 140 lbs., and when he passed away April 27, 2011 and two weeks later I had his Celebration of Life, I had lost 15 lbs.  Of course I was in a fog-like state during the first year and I ate, but certainly not properly and felt exhausted wishing I could have gone with him.  I was shocked at in 4 months I went down to 90 lbs.!!!!  I am now 94 lbs., eating far better and eat like a logger, but the weight doesn't stay on my body.  I've had spasms all over my body especially in the arches of my feet or the calves and the odd itchy rash, bruising very easily, losing muscle mass, loss of hair and on and on it goes.  It's the reaction associated with the release of the stress of looking after our spouses, but now we are faced with a new journey of grieving over our dear ones. I feel I've aged 10 years or more.

I too am a smoker and my smoking level has gone up from stress (stress smoker.)  I have begun to cut-back fairly drastically as I know I'm asking for trouble.  I haven't had a cold or flu for years and caught the cold or flu bug just recently, but slowly getting better although I worry I'm headed for Bronchitis.

Whether one smokes or not people still pass away and some doctors will blame second-hand smoke and not take into consideration the environment in general, the foods we eat, where our spouse may have worked that could have caused the cancer.  My husband use to be smoker and quit for 4 years until his death and he built yachts for a living and I begged him at age 40 to change his line of work because of the toxins he worked with, but he loved his job. He was 65 years old when he died.  I am sure this had something to do with his cancer as one other friend of his at work had pancreatic cancer at the same time and another kidney cancer.

What you are going through Barbara is normal believe it or not.  Do what you have to do to get through the bad days, but at least try to pace the cigarette smoking and if you feel things are getting out of hand talk to your doctor for anxiety medication or to be put on short-term antidepressants (it will not completely get rid of the grief and it's best to go through it, but it will help make life a little more tolerable.)

I'm praying for you girlie and big hugs

Marsha 

Barbara ...  sorry forgot to tell you things you can do for aches and pains.  Epsom Salts (one good cup with boiling water to dissolve) in body temperature bath water soaking for 20 minutes to half an hour is extremely good for sore muscles, sunburn and rashes.  Also Aveeno lotion is excellent for the whole body and is pure (I use it.)  If you get cramps anywhere in your body or aches use A535 and it's my savior and I don't need pain medication.  Hope this helps.

Hugs

Marsha

Dear Marsha -- Thanks for responding.  Yes I suffer from aches and cramping in various parts of my body -- especially if I allow myself to get too tired.  A couple of months ago, my doctor gave me something to help with sleep, but I rarely take it.  The rash is still with me -- and it is only on the backs of  my hands -- I have been using OTC Cortisone -10 which relieves the itching, but it doesn't  make the rash go away.  I think I will try the Aveeno lotion, though -- I know it is a good product.  

What is A535?

I was only a caregiver for a few months -- that's all the time we had.  The doctors gave Chris 3 - 8 months, and we actually had only 4 months.  He tried so hard to live.  He was so brave.  

Selfishly, I want him back -- but, in fact, I am so grateful that he didn't suffer longer.

Thanks for your help.  Hugs, back!

Barbara     

Marsha H said:

Barbara ...  sorry forgot to tell you things you can do for aches and pains.  Epsom Salts (one good cup with boiling water to dissolve) in body temperature bath water soaking for 20 minutes to half an hour is extremely good for sore muscles, sunburn and rashes.  Also Aveeno lotion is excellent for the whole body and is pure (I use it.)  If you get cramps anywhere in your body or aches use A535 and it's my savior and I don't need pain medication.  Hope this helps.

Hugs

Marsha

Dear Barbara ...  My girlfriend told me when I get calf cramps to put a little salt on the tip of my tongue.  I thought 'oh yes, another old wives tale' but it works!  I have no idea why.  You and I sound the same and not much into to taking to many medications.  If the doctor has not told you the rash on the back of your hands is Psoriasis (red, scaly and itchy) then you have an allergy to something you are using and if you wear rubber gloves at all the rubber in the gloves often can cause this.  I like to do my dishes by hand and wear rubber gloves and I'm OK with that, but many people who are allergic to rubber can find rubber gloves that do not cause allergies.  Perhaps soaps you use for doing laundry or washing your hands could be doing it.  My mother passed away in 2004, she had diabetes and was complaining of itchy skin and I bought her Aveeno lotion and it got rid of the itch.  It has an oat base. 

A535 is a muscle rub (sore muscles) and works so well (got my girlfriends on it) and often Canada's medications or rubs are under another name in the States so ask your pharmacy as they will know the U.S. name for A535.  I rub it on my shoulders (helps with the tight shoulders and neck from stress.) 

I am so sorry you didn't have longer with your husband, but in ways it's a blessing.  My poor husband became ill 7 years before he passed away.  He was 6' 6" tall and the picture of health and seldom sick and out of nowhere he began not to feel well.  The long and short of it is that for months that he was losing weight (went from 225 lbs. to 156 lbs) until I raised holy hell with the doctors had him admitted into hospital where they tested him he had Celiac Disease.  The poor guy went through so much all those months and it was not necessary.  Within two months he was back up to his original weight and we thought we had won the war!  The next year he complained of a sore throat and saw the doctor and was told it was Strep throat and when he came home I looked at his throat myself and saw it was swelling so immediately took him to the ER because his airways were closing off.  It turned out he had cyst under his tongue the size of a walnut.  It was at this time that I saw my love lose the light in his eyes and the bounce in his step and he told me he was so tired of all the strange things happening to his body each year and inwardly I couldn't blame him, but we were not prepared to find out he had a cyst on his pancreas.  The wait list for having the Whipple surgery (he may have survived if taken earlier with only a 70% quality of life; wouldn't be able to work) was so long that by the time he went in on April 1st, April Fools Day (that was a cruel day) the cancer had spread to the liver and later I found out throughout his body.  Oddly enough I kept hoping he'd survive this and I was researching like crazy and now realize that I always knew he wouldn't survive and so did he.  I had to watch him become thinner and suffer and I gave him permission to go and that I'd be OK.  I will be honest In saying Barbara if I could of I would have gladly gone with him.  I had told him as much and he told me he knew I would.  I miss him so much just like you and others miss your spouses.  My husband was so brave and always tried to put a smile on his face until he gave up the fight.

It's not selfish to want him back and every single day I want my sweetheart back, but know it won't happen.  I get angry at God, the doctors then angry at my husband for leaving me and back and forth I go, but that's part of the grieving process.  I am so lucky that my husband told me he knew I was doing everything humanly possible I could do for him.  I was OK as long as I was helping him and he was alive, but now, I don't know what my future is at my age (retired, no children and a small immediate family along with many old friends who have deserted me.)  I don't know if I have the strength or time on this earth to reinvent myself once again.  Each day is an adventure and sometimes it's a reasonably good day and sometimes not.

We do want our spouses back, but yet we loved them enough to let them go instead of suffering.  I still talk out loud to him in the car or at home as if he were still here. 

I am happy if I can help you in any way Barbara.  Keep on moving and keeping the faith as much as you possibly can

Hugs

Marsha   

Dear Marsha -- So much of what you wrote informs and helps me -- but the one sentence that strikes such a true note is : "I don't know if I have the strength or time on this earth to reinvent myself again."  As I look ahead (and, I admit, it has only been just over 5 months, for me) I see -- nothing-- I cannot imagine a purpose for my life.  

He was my purpose and I was his.  We enjoyed our time together.  We shared everything.  We loved each other and were devoted to each other.  I don't use that phrase lightly -- we truly devoted all our time and energy to each other.  

People say, " Oh, but you have children and grandchildren."  Yes!  Yes, God blessed me with family -- four daughters -- but, they have their lives to live -- they have each other and husbands, children, friends -- and purpose.  I am grateful for them, but  I don't wish to be a hanger-on in their lives, either.  

I wish I could CARE about something, anything, to create purpose in my life.  

As I go about my daily routines -- I ask myself, WHY??  What difference does it make?  

I know I am less sad when I keep busy, but it all seems so pointless, sometimes.

I feel I am just waiting to die and go to be with Chris.

Every now and then, I kick myself into some kind of activity or interest -- but it feels like I am just pretending. Nothing seems to matter very much.  

Thanks for your help and understanding, Marsha -- I will try to keep moving and keep the faith, at least for today.

Hugs

Barb

Marsha H said:

Dear Barbara ...  My girlfriend told me when I get calf cramps to put a little salt on the tip of my tongue.  I thought 'oh yes, another old wives tale' but it works!  I have no idea why.  You and I sound the same and not much into to taking to many medications.  If the doctor has not told you the rash on the back of your hands is Psoriasis (red, scaly and itchy) then you have an allergy to something you are using and if you wear rubber gloves at all the rubber in the gloves often can cause this.  I like to do my dishes by hand and wear rubber gloves and I'm OK with that, but many people who are allergic to rubber can find rubber gloves that do not cause allergies.  Perhaps soaps you use for doing laundry or washing your hands could be doing it.  My mother passed away in 2004, she had diabetes and was complaining of itchy skin and I bought her Aveeno lotion and it got rid of the itch.  It has an oat base. 

A535 is a muscle rub (sore muscles) and works so well (got my girlfriends on it) and often Canada's medications or rubs are under another name in the States so ask your pharmacy as they will know the U.S. name for A535.  I rub it on my shoulders (helps with the tight shoulders and neck from stress.) 

I am so sorry you didn't have longer with your husband, but in ways it's a blessing.  My poor husband became ill 7 years before he passed away.  He was 6' 6" tall and the picture of health and seldom sick and out of nowhere he began not to feel well.  The long and short of it is that for months that he was losing weight (went from 225 lbs. to 156 lbs) until I raised holy hell with the doctors had him admitted into hospital where they tested him he had Celiac Disease.  The poor guy went through so much all those months and it was not necessary.  Within two months he was back up to his original weight and we thought we had won the war!  The next year he complained of a sore throat and saw the doctor and was told it was Strep throat and when he came home I looked at his throat myself and saw it was swelling so immediately took him to the ER because his airways were closing off.  It turned out he had cyst under his tongue the size of a walnut.  It was at this time that I saw my love lose the light in his eyes and the bounce in his step and he told me he was so tired of all the strange things happening to his body each year and inwardly I couldn't blame him, but we were not prepared to find out he had a cyst on his pancreas.  The wait list for having the Whipple surgery (he may have survived if taken earlier with only a 70% quality of life; wouldn't be able to work) was so long that by the time he went in on April 1st, April Fools Day (that was a cruel day) the cancer had spread to the liver and later I found out throughout his body.  Oddly enough I kept hoping he'd survive this and I was researching like crazy and now realize that I always knew he wouldn't survive and so did he.  I had to watch him become thinner and suffer and I gave him permission to go and that I'd be OK.  I will be honest In saying Barbara if I could of I would have gladly gone with him.  I had told him as much and he told me he knew I would.  I miss him so much just like you and others miss your spouses.  My husband was so brave and always tried to put a smile on his face until he gave up the fight.

It's not selfish to want him back and every single day I want my sweetheart back, but know it won't happen.  I get angry at God, the doctors then angry at my husband for leaving me and back and forth I go, but that's part of the grieving process.  I am so lucky that my husband told me he knew I was doing everything humanly possible I could do for him.  I was OK as long as I was helping him and he was alive, but now, I don't know what my future is at my age (retired, no children and a small immediate family along with many old friends who have deserted me.)  I don't know if I have the strength or time on this earth to reinvent myself once again.  Each day is an adventure and sometimes it's a reasonably good day and sometimes not.

We do want our spouses back, but yet we loved them enough to let them go instead of suffering.  I still talk out loud to him in the car or at home as if he were still here. 

I am happy if I can help you in any way Barbara.  Keep on moving and keeping the faith as much as you possibly can

Hugs

Marsha   

hi Barbara. Pretty name! my 18 year old beautiful daugther’s name is “Sarah Barbara” after my mother, Barbara.

I dont sleep well. I dont want to eat well. I am low energy. I kind of over consoled myself with Hagen Daz to make up for the lack of food (makes no sense i know)

I also took up walking my dogs to deal with the grief/stress. 
I am depressed but that’s inherent...

I sleep late now too...

       missing my “Bee” (Barry) has left a huge hole in the blue sky.

Im so sorry for your loss ,and your drs right, its not fair. 

   

Hi Barbara,

I lost my husband June 2012.  I was much healthier before he passed.  I have lost over 20 pounds since he passed and I was average for my height then.  I still have barely any appetite and am trying to maintain and gain a few pounds because where I am now is not healthy.  I do get random rashes and hives which I am sure are grief related.  It is hard to remember 5 months after my husband passed (widow brain).  Our worlds have been tilted in the most extreme of ways and nothing prepares us for this lose and more importantly for this grief. 

You should see a doctor just not that one.  I am having my first physical in a few weeks and I cannot remember my last one.  I think it is also important to address the psychological impact of grief, trauma and stress - which all have a physical effect.

It is very important that you take care of yourself, when you are ready too, which will happen.  The only reason why I am starting to is because I think of my husband and what he would want for me, how much he loved and adored me - it's almost like I'm honoring him by taking care of myself - it's the only way I am capable of surviving at this point.

Take good care and you are not alone.

 

 

Dear Alisa -- No, this rash is new to me and strange in that it is only on my hands.  I have been using Aveeno lotion and that does help the itching.  Thanks for responding.

Barb

Barbara ...  You're so welcome and my pleasure. It's odd how many of us suffer such strange things such as rashes, aches, pains, sudden weight gain or weight loss, etc.  I have lost a lot of weight and even though I eat well and a lot I can't seem to put on an ounce.

Sleep is so important, but during the grieving period it's not uncommon to have insomnia or sleeping far too much.  So little is known about deep grieving that we all suffer from and only agitated by the fact those who have not suffered from the type of grief we endure is not understood.  This forum is truly a lifesaver Barbara because we all understand this pain of grief regarding the loss of our spouses.

Do try the Epsom Salts (does not sting and put a bit of boiling water into the crystals ... 1/2 cup) and then into a basin and add more water so it's body temperature. Soak your hands in this.  It works wonders on many things.

Remember Barbara no matter how difficult it is to understand for us our spouses were brave to try to hang on and the greatest gift of love we could give them was allowing them to let go and move on in peace and without pain.  I know these words won't help you right now, but in the future it will give some comfort.

Bigs hugs

Marsha
 
Barbara Sullivan said:

Dear Marsha -- Thanks for responding.  Yes I suffer from aches and cramping in various parts of my body -- especially if I allow myself to get too tired.  A couple of months ago, my doctor gave me something to help with sleep, but I rarely take it.  The rash is still with me -- and it is only on the backs of  my hands -- I have been using OTC Cortisone -10 which relieves the itching, but it doesn't  make the rash go away.  I think I will try the Aveeno lotion, though -- I know it is a good product.  

What is A535?

I was only a caregiver for a few months -- that's all the time we had.  The doctors gave Chris 3 - 8 months, and we actually had only 4 months.  He tried so hard to live.  He was so brave.  

Selfishly, I want him back -- but, in fact, I am so grateful that he didn't suffer longer.

Thanks for your help.  Hugs, back!

Barbara     

Marsha H said:

Barbara ...  sorry forgot to tell you things you can do for aches and pains.  Epsom Salts (one good cup with boiling water to dissolve) in body temperature bath water soaking for 20 minutes to half an hour is extremely good for sore muscles, sunburn and rashes.  Also Aveeno lotion is excellent for the whole body and is pure (I use it.)  If you get cramps anywhere in your body or aches use A535 and it's my savior and I don't need pain medication.  Hope this helps.

Hugs

Marsha

Alisa ... I too have lost a lot of weight and my husband passed away on April 27, 2011.  I have yet to gain it back although I eat like a horse.  Most people seem to gain weight whether they eat enough or not, but a few of us seem to lose the weight.  I am way under-weight so went and saw my doctor.  He told me that the trauma from a loved one dying does change the brain chemistry and the hormones in our bodies and everything is out of balance.  I will be going to a dietician in mid-October to see if she can get some weight on my bones.  I am so thin it has completely taken my confidence away and yes, like you, I have had some people ignorant enough to make comments about my weight.  When I went to grief counseling they told all of us to get a good physical and I did and everything came back normal.  The energy we use to grieve is awesome and we don't realize it.  Plus, now we have to do things that our spouses helped us with and the added financial worries. Grief alone can cause lack of appetite or eating too much; insomnia or sleeping too much; lack of energy; depression; panic attacks in some people, but they eventually go away on their own; preferring to be alone yet being too lonely and not feeling like we fit into society and have no idea where this grief is dragging us to and that can be frightening, but grief is necessary and we do get better and eventually find out where we fit into this world. 

I am glad to hear you are going to see your doctor and please write down any questions you have for him.  I wish you luck gaining some of that weight back.

 

Barbara, I can relate to what you wrote. I started a walking  routine for me to lose weight in August because I felt so bad with my weight gain. I was going to work  and coming home to play nurse to my husband. I started walking the dog once or twice a day and had lost enough weight to go down 2 pants sizes. He was so proud of what I had donel Since he passed away on Thanksgiving this year I have lost more. I don't feel like eating most days but still walk the dog since she insists. I went to a family Christmas in North Carolina with my daughter and her husband for his side of the family. I did eat there but it was with encouragement from them. Now I am back home and almost feeling guilty for eating and enjoying the company of others. My stomach also is not the same. I get so sick during the day. It usually hits me by mid-morning. I am afraid to eat sometimes because of this. Some say it is just nerves. I find it irritating. When I look in the mirror I think that I have aged drastically in this short time. My eyes used to have a sparkle to them, now they look dull and lifeless. My husband smoked for over 40 years, quitting several times. I tried a couple of times to learn how to smoke but did not. I am glad after watching what happened to him.  I went the other day and had my hair cut and colored. That guilt of changing my hair now bothers me although he would love it.

Dear Cynthia -- My weight loss has leveled off, now, and a few weeks ago I started being able to sleep better -- longer, though I am still usually up at least once at night.

I finally went to the doctor about the rash and she prescribed a cream -- but it has been about four weeks and the rash is still in evidence.  It seemed to clear up a little, but flared up again right at the holidays which has been pretty stressful for me -- so, once again, I am calling it stress-related.  The Aveeno lotion that someone on here recommended has helped the itch and softened the dry, scaliness, so its not so bad, now.

You mentioned feeling guilty -- and, it's a little strange that I was thinking about guilt today.  I was talking to Chris, in my head, as I sometimes do -- and I was thinking about over the many years we had together, how many hours were wasted in petty arguments.  Now that he is gone, it seems that any hour that we weren't being kind to each other, or enjoying each other, was wasted time.   But, I decided that I wouldn't allow myself to feel guilty about that -- we were never mean or cruel to each other -- just normal married-people spats, and everyone has those.  I would definitely feel guilty about a few things though -- for example, I would never allow anyone to go into his workshop and mess about with his tools -- and, I would feel guilty if I allowed myself to neglect repairs to the house -- he was always so careful about those two things.  

Recently, when I got my hair cut (pretty short) my first thought was, "Chris would not like this."  But I didn't feel guilty at all.  

My point is -- it's funny the things we allow ourselves to feel guilty about.  We knew them so well -- knew what they cared about and what was important to them -- and, even though they are gone, now, we still want to please them.  It means that they are still alive, in our hearts, doesn't it?

Wishing you peace, strength and comfort in the coming new year.

Barbara

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