Life, love, relationships… It’s all difficult enough without adding stress. That stress can come in any form: job loss, money trouble, stress at school, stress at work, kids… These are all stresses that people face regularly. Toss in a flu here, strep there, and you have life! My guy and I were fully prepared to face these types of stresses together! No problem… Easy peasy.
For M and I, life has been a little bit different… From car accidents, to sickness; from root canals to surgery, we have packed in plenty of stress in our almost 6 years together! We have seriously “done the time”. Yet, we know that there is more to come. We have hurt, we have yelled, and we have laughed. Most importantly, we have loved. We have learned. And we are ready for just about anything!
When someone has a chronic illness, or illness of any kind, really, sometimes the face of the sick is the only thing we see. But it is so important not to forget about those ever so important and supporting partners on the other side of illness. Often times, these partners are the bread winners, sometimes they are equal partners, and in some instances, they are equal sufferers. No matter the case, dealing with a chronic illness takes a serious toll on a relationship.
Although M and I are learning to cope and deal with each situation one day at a time, it wasn’t always this way. For a long time, it was tense. Neither of us understood what was wrong with me. I thought I was crazy; he thought I was crazy. I ended up paranoid that everyone could see the “crazy” written on my face! I was constantly tired or nauseous, and although this was tough for me, M started to become frustrated that I was no longer the active Cheerleader and fun-loving girl that he met. I’m sure he was convinced that I was depressed or just anxious… I know it crossed MY mind more than once. All I wanted M to do was understand! If he would just understand how poorly I was truly feeling!
He not only knew how I was feeling, he was freaked out because he knew I wasn’t okay. No… He didn’t know if I was really sick or really crazy, but he knew I wasn’t okay. And being the “fixer” that my husband is, he was angry that he couldn’t just make it better for me. Being selfish and completely focused on myself, I never even considered that M might be worried or frustrated or scared. I thought he was being a jerk. After one fateful appointment, during which Brandi (mentioned previously as my godsend) mentioned that there could be something going on with my heart, I delivered the news and my frustration to M and that was when I saw it for the first time: He was so not okay with what was going on. Things were stressful and tense while we waited through this test and that test to finally receive a diagnosis, and our relationship was changing. Being just engaged, I knew that if he could stick by me through all of this now, we could make it through just about anything! Finally, after I received my POTS diagnosis, we were married and ready to take on the world. Through our first year of marriage, we faced enough of a challenge in adjusting to just being married! After struggling and all the tension, my POTS seemed to finally be under control.
Then… It started…
The twitches, the spasms, the pain…
It didn’t all start suddenly, or out of nowhere. It was all very gradual. Some days, I would have a spasm in my arm that would last a while, but didn’t seem to be bothering anything. I figured… People spasm sometimes. Muscles work hard all day long. Sometimes my eye would twitch, but I figured my eyes were tired; after all, I never wear my glasses like I’m supposed to and I’m on the computer a lot. As the days and weeks went by, the twitches and spasms would last longer and longer and I would feel what I can only best describe as “bone pain”. I’ll admit that I’m not the best communicator, especially when it might lead to my vulnerability or show my weakness. So, when I decided to alert M of my new symptoms, I waited until my arm was in the middle of a pretty intense spasm and tried to make light if it, even though it had been going on all day and I was seriously freaked out. I simply said, “haha… Check that out! Been doing it all day. THAT can’t be good! Haha!” So, I don’t know why I was so surprised when M replied with, “huh… Weird” and then turned back to his T.V. show. And with the pain, I wasn’t much better in my communication. So, I don’t know why I was so surprised when M looked at me and said, “it can’t be that bad”. I had dug my grave. If I told him the harrowing truth now… That I wanted to scream with pain when I woke up every morning, and that my twitches were intense and making it difficult for me to do certain things, of course he was going to think I was crazy! Finally, I told him I was going to the doctor. It should be of no shock that he responded out of anger. “Why didn’t you tell me it was that bad!?” I was preparing to go on a trip to visit a friend… “If it’s really that bad, maybe you shouldn’t go tomorrow.” I responded with anger right back. I saw this as a challenge. I went anyway. Even though it was a wonderful trip, in hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have gone. I’ll never know. All I know is that I wasn’t fair to M.
I think that, a lot of the time, when a person is sick, that person expects his or her partner to just deal with it quietly, while sitting on the sidelines. I think we tend to push our partners away, by trying to make light of the situation instead of just being real about it all; being vulnerable and honest that we really are kind of terrified. For those of us who are incredibly lucky, our partners stick around anyway and MAKE us communicate. As a lucky one, my M has not only done this, but he has found a way to incorporate this part of my life into his; he has learned new ways of reading me. Now, he can tell just by looking at me if I’m having what we zebras call a “painy” day or a “POTSy” day. Even still, it’s not always easy. Even still, I live in the land of denial and swear that there is a lighted, flashing, glittery sign on my head reading “crazy” and show girls in straight jackets doing the can-can next to it. The simple fact that I have thought this image up might be disturbing in itself, but I hope you enjoyed it!
Well… This brings me to the end of our 6th encounter. I hope I have enlightened you all a little bit, but I will admit that I have a limited perspective, for I can only report what I have experienced from my perspective. If you want to know everything… You will have to talk to M.
Zebra love and hugs to all!