In Sickness and in Health- Marriage and Chronic Illness

marriage

No one signs up for chronic pain, (at least I wouldn’t think anyone would). Nevertheless chronic pain showed up in my life nearly 14 years ago. It showed up and has impacted every area of my life including my marriage.

At the altar on the day of the wedding most couples repeat the vows “in sickness and in health”. A promise to be there for each other no matter the circumstances, but how many couples actually can live up to those standards? Illness can permeate a marriage changing the roles of the couple. From equal partners to one who is the caregiver and one who is sick. When suffering, pain, doctors appointments and medications become the focus, relationships can easily unravel. Guilt, and resentment can take over. My husband and I have been married for 19 years and here is what we have learned together along the way:

  • Accept that sometimes and in some ways you need a caregiver. There are some things that I just can not do anymore at all or without assistance. It’s our reality. Just like when he is sick with a cold or flu, I do my best to look after him. When I’m in a flare he does his best to look after me.
  • Communication and Appreciation:  We check in with other all the time. I make sure that he knows how much I appreciate all he does for me and our family. He acknowledges the ways that I contribute so that it lessens my guilt.
  • There are going to be hard times. Being a caregiver is tough. Especially when you already work full time. He gets tired (so do I), he gets moody (so do I) but these times will pass.
  • Reassurance: I often need his reassurance that I am not a burden. Sometimes, on bad days I need to hear it over and over again, and he needs to be okay with telling me over and over again.
  • Remember what you love about the your partner. What drew you together? Write a list of your partners qualities that you love and share it with them.
  • Patience. Kindness & Understanding. You may not be living the life that you envisioned, but you’re together. You’re a team and that’s what matters.
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Dear Jen- Perseverance- Pep Talk Needed

perseverance

 

Dear Jen,

I know what you’re thinking. Well, of course I do because I’m you. You’re thinking that life is too hard, that the pain is too much and that you feel beaten down by this flare. You’re running out of steam, out of motivation and out of  – for lack of a better work “zest”.

We’ve been here many times before. And we give in to those feelings. We give up, shut down, isolate and hide. But not this time. This time we are going to practice a word called perseverance. Which basically means don’t you dare give up. Don’t let the lack of progress suck the the life out of you. You wanted a revolution. You wanted your eyes to have that spark again and you and only you can make that happen.

You have a big and busy week ahead of you. And you can do it. You can also get back to the track, and back on track with all the plans you had this year. Because you’re worth it and we can’t let the pain win. You deserve to have a happy life. Even if that life means you’re dealing with physical and emotional pain. So to ensure this week goes smoothly, extra self care is needed. Which means doing the extra things that help us feel good. Art, writing, going to bed early and planning out each and every day. Our word for the day is perseverance.  So suck it up, because future Jen will thank you.

Dedicated to my dear friend Alan, whose voice I can hear in my head saying all these things.

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50 Ways to Take a Break

break

Everyone needs a break, I know I need many throughout the day, and this graphic is so great! Here are a few of my favourites pictured:

  1. Colour with crayons
  2. Read or watch something funny. (Thank God for Big Bang Theory)
  3. Take a bath
  4. Light a candle (or many candles, just don’t leave them unattended)
  5. Call a friend. -thank you Rebecca, Alan, Adrienne and Hilary
  6. Find a relaxing scent. For me it’s lavender.
  7. Give thanks. When I’m really anxious, I sit down and write down what I’m grateful for. It seems to help calm the anxiety.
  8. Sing (ok- I added this one-but it does make me happy)

What are a few of your favourites? What would you add?

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Disappointing Doctor’s Visit

disappointing doctor's

 

I think we’ve all been there. Even those without a chronic illness. We’ve all had at least one-(I’ve had many) A disappointing doctor’s visit. I’m always a bundle of nerves when it comes to going to the doctor. You’d think that with all the experience I’ve had with them I’d be cool as a cucumber. But starting the day before I see one I am already fretting. I always prepare.  I write down a list of concerns and questions. Write down points about how I’ve been feeling because if I went in empty handed I’d completely forget what I wanted to say.

I had an appointment scheduled for this week to talk about pain management. My pain is not managed well. Everyday is different, some days the medications we have in place work and some days they don’t. I never know what day I’m going to face when I wake up in the morning, if I’ve even slept at all the night before. I wanted to talk to my doctor about this, and the fact that I think the current med I’m on might be causing this increase in anxiety I’ve noticed.

In the waiting room, I was as patient as I could be.  My doctor always runs behind but I tell myself that its because she actually spends time with her patients. (usually she does). Finally it was my turn, I walked in, sat down, took a deep breath, got out my notes, I was ready. She comes in and asks what she can do for me and as I begin she puts her hand up to stop me and says “we’re not changing or increasing your medications”.

My breath catches in my throat and I don’t know what to say. That was the whole reason why I was there. I try to explain my increase in anxiety, she replies that its not the meds. And just like that she moves on to talk about my bad cholesterol and then the appointment is over.  I waited two months for this appointment. And just like that it was over.

I kicked myself for not standing my ground more firmly, but I find, since Fentanyl has caused this “Opioid Crisis” discussing or altering my opiate medications seems off the table. (that’s another blog post altogether)

So I’m left with another disappointing doctor’s appointment and have to cope the best way I can on my own.

What about you? Tell me about a disappointing doctor’s appointment you’ve had, or maybe you’ve had a really great one you’d like to share?

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