My first brush with profound illness occurred 10 months into my first experiment with marriage. I was 23 years old when I got sick with a lovely intestinal bug that is common in hospitals. At the time I was working night shift in the ICU. I caught the new and improved strain that was more deadly and harder to treat. I was hospitalized with extremely painful abdominal cramps, dehydration, and other symptoms that I do not want to mention. I was sick for 9 months. I couldn’t work because I was contagious. I lost 30lbs. I eventually lost my job. The docs actually approached me about removing my intestines, I was that sick.
It was during one of my hospital stays that they diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. At age 23. Those symptoms of muscle pain, fatigue, fog, were just awful.
My former husband…well…he was less than supportive. I remember being alone a lot. He never went to any of my appointments with me. I honestly don’t think he ever believed that fibromyalgia was a real illness. I just couldn’t work, and as I made more money than him, it was a problem.
There were more problems with that marriage than just me being sick…but my illness certainly didn’t help matters.
Chronic illness can either strengthen or destroy a marriage. In the case of my first marriage, it was the latter. My ex husband actually told me, after we separated: “I fell out of love with you when you got sick”. Yet, he conceived a child with me and remained in a loveless marriage with me for 4 more years without mentioning his feelings.
Fast forward to the present. My husband and I have been friends for 15 years. I’ll probably post our love story soon. He already knew of my struggles with my health since I was a teenager. In fact, I was talking to him on the phone during many of my hospitalizations.
After I moved to Texas, many of my fibro symptoms were minimized. I don’t know if it was the weather, the decrease in stress after leaving a bad marriage, or coming off of some of the medications I was on while in pgh, but overall I was doing much much much better. I was even working full time, which was something I hadn’t done since initially getting sick with the intestinal bug 4 years prior.
My husband relocated to Texas 9 months after I moved here. He became accustomed to my occasional fibro flares and migraines. He became familiar with the medications I took. A complete change to what I was used to.
And then I started feeling sicker more often. Over a nine month period I had low grade fevers, more fatigue, more migraines, feeling like I had been hit by a truck. I thought it was just me working too hard. Until my eyes exploded. See my page “All in the family”.
My husband, who was not yet my husband, was completely amazing. He just jumped in there and became my rock. Taking me to my appointments, holding me, holding my hair back while I puked, putting me to bed. Taking care of me. I realized “oh, this is what its all about”. He asks the docs the tough questions. He makes sure that I rest.
We got married two weeks after my eyes exploded. The very same week that they came up with the sarcoidosis diagnosis. He still married me knowing that I have not one, but two chronic diagnoses. One which could be fatal if the sarcoid decides to attack my heart or lungs. As much as we would like to have our own children together, after this latest diagnosis, we both know that a pregnancy for me might not be wise or even possible.
Yes, it gets stressful. I can’t do things. My limit right now is about 20 minutes of sustained activity. I can’t pitch in with the household chores. We are broke right now because I can’t work. My parents are helping out with bills. My medical bills are putting us into debt. He has a plethora of issues in his own life that he is going through. But overall he cares. Overall he is doing his best.
I feel so fortunate to have him in my life. I don’t feel so alone as I did with my first brush with illness. I truly have a partner this time around. And for that I am grateful.