I have other plans for “M” so this post goes here. And since marriage isn’t an equal right *yet*, it is unfair to put this post in that category.
Chronic illness wreaks havoc on one’s love life. It played a pretty major role in the devastation of my first marriage. I think I would have eventually figured things out, but my diagnosis definitely helped me see his true colors a lot sooner. So in that case it was sort of a mixed blessing.
With my second marriage, my husband knew me in all stages. Pre-illness #1, pre-illness #2 and he has loved me and stood by my side as a friend or lover through all of them. I remember talking to him on the phone while hospitalized during illness #1 (while married to husband #1). He was puzzled why my husband at the time wasn’t there talking to me. That should have given me all the answers I needed right then. Not once during that hospitalization or subsequent ones did he EVER stay more than an hour or two in the hospital. Including the birth of Sunshine and HER brush with illness when she was three months old. Some people just don’t do well with those types of situations. You find out who they are after a life altering diagnosis.
But this isn’t a “bash my ex” session, I have another blog for that.
Relationships are difficult by nature. Just look at the divorce rate. Add in the stress when one (or both) parties are sick and that divorce rate can skyrocket. It happened to me. I was told after we split “I fell out of love with you when you got sick”. And that is a direct quote.
I am lucky that a friend who has been by my side FOREVER wanted to be more than a friend. I was lucky that he accepted my illness that I had at the time and still wanted to marry me even AFTER I got yet another diagnosis. I was diagnosed with the autoimmune in my eyes literally days before our wedding.
It isn’t always hearts and flowers. Right now we live with my parents because I couldn’t work for 18 months. My meds are expensive. When I was on steroids my mood swings were legendary. My migraines are horrific. I gained a tremendous amount of weight on the steroids that I’m still trying to work off and for awhile I resembled Shrek. Our first year of marriage mainly consisted of doctors visits, eye injections, chemo injections every weekend, nausea and weeping thanks to the dreaded steroids. We didn’t even go out to dinner for our first anniversary because we couldn’t afford it.
So many times I was terrified he would say “I can’t deal with this bullshit. I’m gone”. I even told him right before our wedding that he didn’t have to go through with it. That he deserved to be with someone healthy, that he had a free pass and we could still be friends. He still married me and he has stayed. He has been everything I ever wanted in a partner. He is (mostly) calm, very compassionate, very intelligent and inquisitive about what is going on, willing to help out with everything that I can’t do. He understands my limitations. He doesn’t expect too much from me. He actually asks how I’m feeling, he knows what exhausts me. He encourages me to rest ahead of activities that he knows drain me. I’m very lucky.
Is it perfect? No. Do we argue? Yes. Do we get sick of each other, of the situation, of everything? Yes.
What helps that he is a scientist. He has a degree in chemistry. It is in his nature to understand my conditions and to understand why I am taking what medication and when and what it is supposed to do, what its side effects are. He even read up on my conditions when we were friends and when he had absolutely no intention of spending eternity with me. That was just because he wanted to understand me better as a friend! He gently reminds me to take care of myself. He knows I forget to do that because I’m a nurse, it is in my nature to take care of everyone else first. I will forget my meds, forget to call in refills, forget doctor’s appointments. So he makes sure I take care of myself.
He goes to most of my appointments with me. He is my advocate. I forget things that he might mention and he sees things that I may miss. I may be an awesome nurse, but I am an awful patient. My husband will likely mention something to the doc that I have forgotten and it usually makes a difference. And it is so wonderful to have him there as a support.
And when we do get fed up (especially now living in such close quarters), we talk about it. Usually over text. Communication seriously is the key. I know it sounds cliche but if he knows I’m acting a certain way because I’m late on meds (again) or because I’m having more pain because I’m not sleeping, that helps him more than him thinking I’m mad at him for no reason.
And I know that for me personally, having someone that dedicated and committed to me and my well being is paramount to my health, emotionally and mentally. And that in turn helps me physically.
Maybe all you need is love after all.