It has now been over four months since I received a diagnosis for my newest chronic illness. It has now been over eight months since that illness began. It has been over 15 years since the diagnosis of my first chronic illness. Most days, I can manage my conditions. Today, I found myself, once again, leaning on my husband for support.
When he married me not so long ago, my husband knew that I had Mitral Valve Prolapse and Rheumatoid Arthritis. He knew that sometimes my breath was taken away by the blood flowing backward through my heart. He knew that sometimes I would be unable to get out of bed or walk or button my shirt for days on end. He (nor I) was not prepared for Rumination Syndrome, where I regurgitate every single thing I eat. That has been an experience we have learned together and one that we continue to learn daily.
Today, we went to get breakfast, and I took my medication as I usually do, walking into the restaurant. This medication requires 30 minutes to work, and at most restaurants, that is enough time between walking in and receiving our order. However, this restaurant moved more quickly and had our food at the table in less than 15 minutes. I decided to go ahead and eat because, honestly, who likes cold pancakes? And I promptly had to run to the restroom to throw up my food. This was the first time in a couple of months that we had run into this situation. My husband asked if there was anything I needed, and all I said was, “Make sure the waitress doesn’t clear my plate. I’m not done!”
Diary, my husband has been so amazing at helping me to navigate this most recent chronic illness.
When it started, before we had a diagnosis, he made it a point to scrub the toilet daily. Can you honestly imagine doing this? Most people don’t wash their toilets weekly, much less daily. I never asked him for this act. But he knew that every night, without fail, I would throw up my dinner, so he made sure I had a clean toilet to do so in. He researched and offered new ideas of things to try and eat. He was by my side in the hospital for 48 terrifying hours as I bled out, almost dying, all while also starving. He has handled my “hangry” mood swings because honestly, who wouldn’t be hangry after throwing up all their food for four months? He has stuck by my side through thick and thin, hunger and pain, and everything in between.
I honestly don’t know that I would have survived all of this without this amazing man beside me. Let’s be real here, Diary. Many marriages fail due to something so much less intense. Last September, I was told by a stranger that there was no way our marriage could fail now – we were married in October 2019, I took on a husband AND two full-time daughters, then went into quarantine March 2020, and fell so terribly ill August 2020. If we can survive this, we can survive anything.
Diary, I see so many people struggling with their marriage due to chronic illness, and I hope so much they make it through to the other side.
I know that it is so hard to (as the chronically ill person) feel you are putting such a burden on your spouse and (as the spouse) to carry some of that burden for the one you love. But honestly, Diary, I hope that people know it *IS* possible to do both things. I hope people realize it *IS* possible to come out the other side more potent together than before. And I also hope that people know it is okay if it just *ISN’T* possible to come out the other side together. I hope those people who do not have a husband like mine know that it is also okay to come out the other side alone, that there is no judgment in that.
Diary, I am so eternally grateful for this man I love and chose to marry because his actions through my chronic illnesses make it clear that I would marry him a thousand times more.
Until next time,