"Recently our family came upon some tough times when I woke up one morning with MS and needed immediate medical help. I'm only 30, otherwise healthy, and a stay-at-farm mother to a not quite 2 year old with a very supportive husband but no other family or even neighbors near by.
While I am getting a little stronger each day and am hopeful that things will get normal again someday, things have been tough to say the least and I am terrified of what the future will bring. Both my husband and child had a terrible flu for a week straight too on top of it all and now I just don't know where to start putting things right again!
Every aspect of my life is difficult right now, even little chores like walking out to feed the chickens can be impossible in our heavy snow. I don't want to give up on our small farm, much needed home repairs, more children, or my life but it can be so hard to think about what needs to be done and get a plan started.
I wanted to try and see if you had any advice for others in circumstances like this. Even something like a broken bone or illness can cause chaos in a home and it is important to find a balance again."
Dear Thesesa, reading your email made me feel so sad knowing what you're going through with a young child to look after. I had to look up MS and it says there are many different forms of the disease, but in the most common form you have a severe attack, preceded by a viral illness, you slowly regain your strength in varying degrees, but attacks occur very year or two.
You say you have no family or neighbours close by but I wonder if you have a family member who could come and stay with you for a couple of weeks while you get back on your feet again. If you know the illness will be in the acute state again, you'll need to set up systems in your home to deal with that and maybe when you're in an acute phase, you'll need someone from the family staying to look after you, to help with your child and to do your chores. It sounds like you're in the US or Canada, are there any support groups for MS there? Do you have community nurses? Do you belong to a church that could help?
I expect you've thought a lot about your illness and maybe you've already thought about what I'm about to suggest. If you have the strength to do anything, it should be to look after your child, then daily food, then laundry and general house work - in that order. You'll have to develop an attitude of acceptance - accept that you cannot do what you want to do, and be happy to do what you can do. Don't fret over housework not done - accept it as a side effect of your illness. You, your child and husband come first, always. If all of you are okay, leave the rest.
I really hope one of your relatives can come and stay for a while. If someone can, ask them to set things up for you to manage when they're not there. So, for instance, get a feed hopper for the chickens and a water container that won't tip over. That will cut down on the number of times you have to go out to feed them and haul water out. If they can feed themselves, you can go out every couple of days for a visit with your child, then slowly come inside again. If you're making bread, get a breadmaker. Buy a slow cooker so you can fill it in the morning and have a meal ready at night. If you don't have a stockpile, now is the time to start so you don't have to shop for groceries or feel bad because you can't. Set your kitchen up so that the things you use a lot are within easy reach. Do the same with your child's room. Get an open topped toy box that all the toys can be dumped in - by your child, so you don't have to be constantly putting toys away. Keep books on tables for him/her to read and favourite toys within reach so that when you're not feeling well or strong, he/she can get those things. This is like being prepared for a disaster that you know will happen.
You have to look after yourself and not stress out about not being able to do what you used to do. If you can organise your home for times when you have no strength or when you feel too ill to do anything, it will help you cope, in a small way, with your illness. Once the home is organised, you should be able to cope alone and with the help of your husband.
I hate asking for help and if you're the same, put that aside because you need help now. Tell your family you need someone to come and stay for a couple of weeks . Make lists of what needs doing to help you cope when you're alone. And let go of all thoughts of having a perfect home. You are the priority - your health and well being come before dusting, vacuuming and picking up. Accept there will be days when you can't do much at all, other days when all you can do is feed yourself and the family, and days when you can do much more, and be happy with that.
I expect your husband is working on the farm, and out of the house most of the day. You'll need to set up some sort of system so you can contact him if you become ill. Maybe a cell phone would work if you also have a landline. Suggest to your husband that he talks to a friend, doctor or counsellor about your illness. Even though he's not the one with the disease, he'd be feeling confused and anxious about it and he needs to talk to someone other than you about that.
There will be some good suggestions in the comments, I just know that, so let's open this up for discussion. You may have this disease too, or know someone who has, so if you do, tell us your experience. If you have any tips, write them down. Don't walk away from this. Even if it's just to wish Therese well, please leave a comment so she knows that even though we might be miles away and not know her by face or name, we acknowledge her pain and send kind thoughts.
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