The ChronicBabe blog carnival question this time is not so much a question as a theme:
Love, Illness and Other Confusing Things.
Having a chronic illness has definitely impacted my love life. Of course it has. I was lucky enough to find a man who, because of his own health issues and his strength of character and, yes, love, was able to overlook mine.
(It seems there’s always a but.)
I know my chronic illness impacts him and his life in negative ways. I know when I don’t get enough sleep (which is pretty much always; see: working two jobs), and I get cranky and irritable and frustrated, he bears the brunt of that. When I’m hurting and short-tempered, I know I take it out on him. When I’m tired and sore and just cannot face the idea of cleaning the bathroom or taking the dog for a walk or following through with whatever plans we made, it falls on him. (Well, except the bathroom cleaning, but that’s another story.)
And so, we come to what I feel in some fashion the vast majority of days: guilt. Guilt, guilt and more guilt. I feel guilty about all the things I mentioned above, guilty when I’m too exhausted to do anything other than schlump on the couch, guilty when I think about the fact that our marriage is more about “in sickness” than “in health.”
Just writing all of this right now, I am overcome by an enormous wave of guilt; it feels like a physical weight in my chest and on my shoulders, a lump lodged in my throat and a burning in my eyes. I’m glad I’m alone right now at work. I don’t think I could handle talking to someone like a rational human being.
Guilt is a powerful emotion, and it would certainly overwhelm me — and us — if I let it. It’s a struggle everyday, but I am lucky enough to have found a man who loves me tremendously and is willing to put up with me, warts and all, in sickness and in health.
Love is complicated enough for people who don’t have chronic illnesses, but it’s definitely more stressful when one partner is sick, and may be sick for the rest of his or her life.
(Again with that but.)
Love makes bearing my PSA that much easier. When I have a rheumatology appointment and my husband says out of the blue that he’d like to come, it lifts my spirits. When I get home from work after a long day and my husband has our water foot massage machine out (best Christmas gift EVER), I know he’s been thinking about me and he’s trying to make my day better. When he just holds me and lefts me cry about all the things I feel guilty about, it shows me how much he loves me and how hard it is for me to soldier on sometimes.
Without love, I think my illness would feel so much worse than it does. So even with all the guilt that comes with it, I know it’s worth it to me. And, hopefully, for him too. He has made my life much better by just being in it.