Donna's blog - in sickness and in health
In sickness and in health... well, I guess I took that one a bit literally?
Nine years into our relationship, I started to have a very aggressive relapse - my first - which led to a diagnosis of aggressive Relapsing Remitting MS six months later. During that six month period of uncertainty, my husband developed a new role in the relationship. I refused to label it ‘carer’. I was 26; I absolutely did not want a carer! I wanted a husband.
We chose that I would stay at home after having our first child, and we went on to have another. I’d always been the homemaker and carer to our two young children. It was a role I enjoyed immensely.
So when this ‘illness’ (virus as we were first diagnosed by a GP) struck, and I could no longer walk and care for myself, it came as a huge shock to my husband. As competent as he was at running matters at work, it did very little to prepare him for taking over the management of a house.
Combining housework and a full-time job
He was tasked with caring for two children under seven and a sick wife - in addition to working a 40 hour week. I still cannot imagine how mentally and physically draining this was for him (he says the first was much harder to deal with than the second). He did it, and did a marvellous job.
We don’t have a huge amount of practical support from family; my mum was born with spina bifida and is moderately disabled herself. My father died when I was thirteen. I have no brothers, sisters or in-laws - it fell down to us.
The importance of laughter
It was (still is) the most difficult thing to ask him for help with intimate personal care. We share everything, but there are some things you really do NOT want to ask your husband for help with. Toileting is a high up on that list. As is shaving my legs. Thank heavens for mobile beauty therapists and hairdressers.
We have learned to laugh our way through things; even the most distasteful jokes have their place in lightening what would be an otherwise mortifying situation. Yes - I suffer from incontinence during bad relapses.
Husband and best friend
There are rare times when we both snap at each other. Well, maybe more me...but when things are bad, we are under an incredible amount of pressure – it’s expected, no?
I complain that he isn’t ironing right, or cleaning as I would do it. I have the utmost of respect for him not telling me to do it myself. Then I normally sit and stew for a few minutes, and apologise. We both know it’s born from frustration that neither of us can do anything to change the situation. But we can’t, so we deal with it, as I’m sure many, many others do.
He does things that I should never have to ask of my husband, but he is also my best friend, so I know I can.