Last night as I sat reading an article on The Mighty, about partners of those that are chronically ill, I was hit with curiosity. We hear so much of how being chronically ill affects us, but how does it affect our partners? How do they feel? What is this like from their perspective?? I quickly sent a text to my boyfriend, I explained I wanted to write a piece, essentially from his perspective. He said he’d love to help me. So, I sat down, typed out some questions and emailed them to him late last night. By 7:30am I had his replies.
Let me preface with this, we met in September 2011. He was there from day 1 when all of this started.
Without Further Ado,
From a Souse/Partner’s Perspective:
1) When at first when my health deteriorated, how did you handle or adjust to that?
I handled it like every other day and I don’t feel like I had to make any adjustments that I didn’t want to make on my own.
2) Did/Do you ever feel overwhelmed? If so, how did you deal with it?
I never feel overwhelmed personally, but I do feel bad that you get stuck, probed and prodded regularly by nurses, and doctors. You’re shuffled from specialist to specialist, all while hoping for answers.
3) Have you ever felt helpless? Being my partner and unable to fight off this monster of a disease.
No I don’t feel helpless because you’re the strongest person I know and if anybody can get through this, you can.
4) What is the hardest thing you’ve had to face in dealing with my health?
I would say the pacemaker scared the living hell out of me. That’s dealing with the heart, so many risks with that. It was kind of hard to handle but you amazed me with how you handled it like a champ.
5) Do you prefer when I shield you from the bad days, or disease progression? Or do you want the truth of how things are?
I want the truth about how things are, no matter what, your love and well being are my first priority.
6) What is your biggest frustration in dealing with my health?
My biggest frustration in dealing with your health is that sometimes your attitude on life gets to me. The eating/drinking issues, you won’t do it some days because you know how sick you’ll be after. So you don’t want to do it. That you won’t do the feeding tube, even though you need it. You let your family talk you out of doing what your doctors suggest. You also don’t see yourself as beautiful, you feel like the feeding tube, will make you less beautiful to me. Scars, or a feeding tube won’t make me love you any less, or see you any less beautiful and amazing. That’s really frustrating for me.
7) Being a caregiver to your girlfriend, have you ever resented the role?
I never resented the role. It’s a role that I choose to be in, because I love you.
8) If you could tell me anything about how you’ve seen my struggle with my body, what would it be??
Nothing, your body is flawless. Scars tell stories and you have a lot of stories to be told. Your never ending strength is amazing to witness.
9) What’s the most vivid memory you have of dealing with all this?What memory sticks out the most?
The day you got your walker. I felt you used it as an excuse to give up on physical therapy, of getting better, stronger.. You have problems walking yes, you tire easily, but I could see that you wanted to give up, instead of pushing through to overcome it. That was hard for me to see.
10) What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to deal with in regards to watching me struggle with my health?
When your self esteem drops. You’ve grown stronger in who you are, you’ve found your inner strength, your voice. You inspire people with your words, and your realness. However, Nothing about YOU has changed, you’re the same person you were when I met you. You don’t see the beauty I see when I look at you. That’s hard for me, that you don’t see what I see, what others see.
11) If there was anything you could change about my health or how I see things, what would it be?
Your health does not bother me, but how you see things does. Open your eyes, look around, you have a lot to live for. You have a lot to be happy about.
12) Have you ever wanted to walk away, leave?
I didn’t think that was an option. A real man or woman would stand next to their partner no matter what.
13) If you could give spouses/partners new to this any advice, what would it be?
Work hard with what you got, and above all find happiness and peace within yourself.
Reading his replies, it really put things into perspective. It made me see myself with different eyes. This man, he’s loved me unconditionally for 7 years. He’s held me as I cried, he’s calmed my fears. He was there through cardiac ablations, my passing out, losing strength to walk. He’s seen the good, the bad and the hell. He’s seen me angry, cry, and grieve over losing my healthy body. He’s talked to me as I had convulsion like episodes, he calmed me when I was upset. He reassured me when I was scared. He was my strength when I wasn’t strong. Most of all though, he’s loved me when I couldn’t love myself. He’s watched me as I slept to make sure I was still breathing. His never ending strength and love have really helped me grow as a person, it’s helped me grow into myself. He’s encouraged me, embraced me, challenged me, and loved me. He has pushed me to do things I love, to do things i’ve dreamt of. He’s my steadfast rock, my cheerleader and my biggest supporter.
It’s not easy being with someone that has many health issues, but as he said, nothing about that person has changed. Love is love. Love them wholeheartedly. Love them despite it all. Love them through the good and bad. When they feel like giving up, lend them your strength, cheer them on. I assure you, your love, strength and encouragement mean everything to us.
So to my amazing, loving boyfriend, from the bottom of my bionic heart. Thank you for all you’ve done for me, all you do for me, and all you will do in the future. Your encouragement and love mean the world to me.
Grá Go Deo,