From a Spouse’s Perspective

 

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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,
A

End of the Year… Reflection

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I’ve spent the last week or so reflecting on my year. My 2018 started out promising..it seemed to have spiraled a bit!

January was interesting. It was probably when I first started having doubt about getting married. By March, I was thinking of my ex boyfriend, dreaming of him more often, and really started second guessing the wedding. Though I pushed forward. My health was up and down. Dealing with Emergency laparoscopy in May, then a HUGE HIPPA violation at the hospital post-op. Which left me reeling, and extremely upset. May brought me un June, and my proteins levels in my urine were climbing, thus an emergency renal biopsy was done! This led to the discovery of my  having Thin Basement Membrane Disease. My nephrologist put me back on iv fluids, lactated ringers to be precise, 3 times a week.

The summer was busy with wedding stuff and keeping my son entertained. Dealing with my health and exhaustion. Spending time with my son. August prepared us for Back to School. August was the start of the spiral. I ended up canceling my wedding. Ending my engagement. So much has happened since then.  In, September I reconnected with someone from my past, someone whom I’ve loved for 7 years. October, November led to may seeing him for the first time in 5 years. What an emotional moment that was. It had to happen though, we both needed to see each other, say what we both needed to say to the other that we never got the chance to.  December led to health concerns, reconnecting with love, but most importantly time for reflections. It also led to my starting therapy. Therapy has been a godsend for me. It’s allowed me to really work through my emotions, and process it all. It’s a safe place for me to just unload my concerns, emotions and everything.

December also led to my son being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, High Functioning. We suspected it, having some answers has been amazing, but learning and navigating things with him is hard. I’m determined to learn all can, and find ways to help him be the best him he can be!!! We attended a football and hockey game! He’s starting soccer, he’s excited, but he’s also well aware of how overwhelmed he can get. We’re trying to find techniques for him, to make things a bit easier. It’s a learning process, we’ll get through it.

I’ve spent the last few months reflecting so much. Reflecting why I made the decision I did all those years ago. I’ve thought that maybe I should leave again, maybe he deserves someone worthy, someone not sick.  I don’t want to be a burden. I’ve struggled with depression the last few months, especially the last month. Christmas was hard, for emotional and financial reasons. There’s days I feel like a failure as a mom. There’s days I cry at all I have to deal with. Days I feel like a failure as a girlfriend. My biggest biggest thing, is my self esteem. it’s such a struggle some days. There’s times I feel absolutely stunning, and others I’m like “WTF, what does he see in me?”… He tells me every day i’m beautiful, but he said this: “It doesn’t matter how much I say it, until YOU believe it for yourself”. How right he is, no matter how much he tells me i’m beautiful, it won’t matter unless I start to see it and believe it! My depression is sinking, it’s swirling around me. I sit here and cry wondering how I left 5 years ago, how I walked away from someone that loved me so unconditionally. I’ve become stuck in that loop. Instead of seeing he’s here, he’s still loving me, i’m stuck in the why, i’m stuck on the feeling like an annoyance, feeling like a burden. I know i’m not, but sometimes, in that moment it’s hard to see past it. It’s a struggle lately, a struggle sometimes I can’t overcome.  I refuse to walk away again, no matter how string the fear is, no matter how scared I am. I can’t walk away from him again. If I do, i’ll lose him forever, i’ll lose my heart.

This year was full of struggles, full of hard decisions I had to make. Full of trials and tribulations, tears of pain, tears of laughter, tears of love. Ending my engagement, but finding my way back to someone I loved so fiercely, it’s scary.  I’m working to let it all go. I can’t control everything, I can’t control the future. What I can control, is myself, my feelings, my reactions. I control me. I am choosing to let go of my insecurities, to let go of my fears. I’m ending 2018, i’m ready to let it all go. Let all the hell of this past year go. Let the self esteem struggles go. I’m choosing to wake up tomorrow, Jan. 1, refreshed, and on a new page for the next chapter of my life. I’m choosing to live, to be happy, to be loved! I’m choosing to let go of negativity, to let go of those that don’t bother in my life. I’m choosing to surround myself with supportive, loving, understanding people. I’m writing my story, i’m sharing my soul. For I have so much I wish to do, I refuse to be held back any longer by my fears or my insecurities.

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2019 is going to be my year. My year for laughter, for friendships, for love, for inspiring others, for travel. 2019 is going to be the year I decide to move past the fear, and fully embrace who I am, fully embrace the past that I can’t change, fully embrace the future that is yet to happen. I am choosing to end 2018 by letting it all go. I choose to follow my path, be positive, happy and loved! I am choosing to let go and let God. If I don’t let go of the fear, I won’t live. I won’t accomplish anything I wish to, for the fear is holding me back.

I’m loved, i’m blessed, and without a doubt, you all are loved as well. You’re never alone. If you ever feel that way, reach out to me, I will listen. I will be here. Together we can build each other up.

Be you! Be Fierce, but most importantly, be true to yourself. Never give up your hopes and dreams. Lets all start 2019 off full of hope, full of dreams.  My story is just starting…stay tuned…

 

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My new reality…

 

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I’ve been dealing with health issues. My gastroparesis has flared to a hellish point. It’s become extremely problematic, to the point i’m hardly able to eat, and i’m living in constant severe nausea. I’ve lost weight, most haven’t noticed because i’m wearing baggy clothes to hide how much I’ve lost.

However, things have come to a head. My kidneys are struggling, my POTS is out of control, and i’m beyond exhausted. I’m malnourished and not absorbing what I need from the food I am eating. Last Monday I saw a specialist 3 hours away. My best friend Jen was with me. She held my hand, and rubbed my back as the doctor told me, I need to accept this particular procedure I need done..a feeding tube. A J-Tube to be exact. I cried, I immediately had a moment of panic.

The doctor said I’m basically starving…. Now you may ask, how did no one notice? How did no one close to me realize this?? Simple, I’ve kept just how bad things have gotten to myself. My family didn’t know, my best friends didn’t know. Only one person had an inkling, he knew something was wrong beginning of November, but I tried to seem fine, I tried to brush it off. Until I couldn’t. Now things have come to a head. Things are bad, but we can still salvage it. There’s hope, I just have to push like hell to turn it all around.

Today as I sat in my local gastro’s office, we made a plan. A new Gastric Emptying Study, another endoscopy, then we do the J-Tube. I need it done soon, before I land in the hospital. I’m scared, i’m angry, I feel so alone. My family hasn’t been very supportive the last few months. I’m basically coping with all of this and more on my own, and a few, select friends. I texted my best friend telling her this is why I walked away 5 years ago from a relationship. I didn’t want to be a burden, I didn’t want to drag him down this hell with me. 5 years ago I walked away from someone that loved me unconditionally because I didn’t feel worthy. Today, I had the momentary panic of doing it all over again. We came full circle 5 years later, and here i’m facing this hell. I’m facing my body failing me, but I can’t make that decision for him. Not this time.

Why did I panic? I felt unattractive. Realizing i’ll have this tube sticking out of my stomach, and an iv in my chest, it was too much. Why would someone want to deal with all this? Why would someone put up with all this? The answer is so simple..Love. However, I am still so scarred from  the abusive past I had, i’m still insecure in moments, I get stuck. Now though, i’m tired of it. I’m tired of letting my insecurities rule me. I’m fierce, i’m strong, i’m witty, I have amazing eyes. I’m beautiful. I’m me. No one can build me up, but me.

“You will be sexy and beautiful no matter what.”….. thats the text I got when I shared my concern with him. I’m so stuck on seeing it all as bad, he’s busy seeing me a a warrior, a fighter. He’s busy seeing PAST it all.
So, while I fear living with a feeding tube, i’m determined to own it. I’m determined to rock it like a damn pin up model. I’m determined to let go of my insecurities and live life, and love life. More importantly, to love myself and my body. I’m determined to find a photographer to work with me, and rock some pictures. Some might find it odd. Me? I find it empowering. This feeding tube is literally my lifeline right now. I need this, I need to let go of my fears, my insecurities and do what I need to feel confident. Having a feeding tube doesn’t make me unattractive. It doesn’t make me less of a person. I think as patients we can’t see the good, we can’t see our beauty. We’re too focused on the bad, too focused on what makes us feel bad, unattractive.  Let’s break the cycle. Let’s silence those thoughts. Let’s lift each other up, lets build ourselves up. We’re worthy, we’re beautiful and amazing. We’re so much more than our health. We’re warriors, we’re strong. We deserve all our hopes and dreams.

So dream, love and live!! Let’s work together to let go of the negative and embrace what we do love about ourselves… Lets create a community of being empowered.

Be+Empowered

What do I love about me??

  • Fierce
  • Strong
  • Independent
  • loyal
  • Caring
  • Supportive 
  • Witty
  • Funny
  • Inspiring 
  • Ambitious
  • Hopeful
  • I’m beautiful.
  • I’m me.

Be Fierce..Be Strong, Be YOU!!!

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Self Esteem Struggles

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  As I scroll through the many dysautonomia groups i’m in, I notice a recurring thing.. Quotes, concerns and just venting about relationships, self esteem, sex. So many of us go though relationship break ups, marriages, fertility issues, hard decisions regarding dating, or just to have children. We all look to each other for support and guidance. However, i’m noticing a distinct lack of community for these topics, and it’s disheartening.

Lets really delve into this. Being chronically ill, we deal may deal with fatigue, wheelchair use, mobility aids, allodynia, hair loss; many others things that affect our self esteem. We may have had horrible dates, or our partners leave us. Guess what? It’s their loss! You’re a warrior, you’re stronger than you think! Most importantly, you are NOT alone. We’ve all been there.

I’ve struggled with self esteem issues for years, i’m not ashamed to admit that. I struggle to like my body, weight or smile. I’ve struggled to see what others see. In the last year, through counseling and the amazing support of my family, I’m starting to see what others do. I used to worry I wasn’t skinny enough, or pretty enough for some. I always felt I had to overcompensate for it. I hated dating, and the inevitable questions like: “Do you work out?”; “Do You work?”, or my personal favorite “So you just read all the time?Like you sleep all day? That must be nice.”   No, no it’s not nice to be so bone tired all the time! It’s not nice to take a shower and then feel like you need to nap!

Dating was anxiety ridden hell at times. You know what though? I had faith that at some point, it’d be worth it. That there is someone out there that was willing to be my cheerleader, rock and partner through all this. It didn’t happen overnight for that realization to come to me, it took a while. That shift in outlook isn’t overnight. It takes time. Time to realize that you, my darling reader ARE worth it. You  deserve all the happiness. Your health doesn’t make you worth less!

Sex… yes sex.. We can all chuckle at that for a minute! With our lack of energy, self esteem, and health greatly affects our sex life. Let’s not hide, or not discuss it. We need to discuss it. We are all adults here (at least I hope everyone is). We want to feel that intimacy with our partners, the desire. Though, I can guarantee you, that there’s times you feel it’s a chore. No! Don’t think that. This is a way to increase intimacy snd strengthen your bond with your partner. It’s important to find ways to do this. Difference positions, are important. Communication is key. Communication is vital in a relationship. We’ve all felt less desirable at some point due to our health, don’t hide it. I’m a firm believer, though I know not everyone is, that sex is important in a relationship and maintaining intimacy. Communicate this with your partner, more importantly, listen to them. Adjustments, trial and error are vital in finding what works best for you as a couple!

 

Kids.. some want them, some don’t. I have a son. I’ve always wanted one more. Learning that your illness is so debilitating, that having a child would be difficult is heartbreaking. I’ve been there. Some choose not to have a child due to their health, some choose to try for one. Some experience heartbreaking fertility issues. It’s not easy. These aren’t easy decisions to make, easy things to experience. I’ve had 6 laparoscopies for endometriosis. One oophorectomy-right side. 4 cardiac ablations,. I have mobility issues, GP, POTS, OI, endo, IST/SVT, migraines, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, EDS and Nephrotic syndrome.  I’ve spent the last year with my doctors, discussing everything about a pregnancy, the what ifs, plans, good, bad and ugly. I’ve been told brutal truth, to where i cried. I was in therapy to help in the event I made the decision not to have another child. I was in therapy to process my emotions. To process feeling like a failure as both a woman, and future wife.

I’ve wondered, and cried thinking about my son having a disabled mom. There’s times i’m upset that I’m not a soccer mom, but honestly I still feel blessed and happy to have him. I know my limitations, and I do what I can. We have a very open communication with him about my health. He loves our movie days. He actually pushes me to use my walker or wheelchair more. Though I know some wouldn’t agree, but I think my son growing up as he is, is learning to be more compassionate, caring, empathetic and understanding. He has a heart of gold, and is such a helper. As much as I struggle, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I know i’ve made comments about feeling fat, or ugly. My family hates when I put myself down. The self deprecating comments, we’ve all said them. We’ve all dealt with all these issues at some point in time. We feel there’s no one to talk to about all this. That no one understands,. You’re wrong. There’s so many just waiting on a community to forge this support! There’s men, and women that struggle. This isn’t just a woman problem. We’ve all struggled. Living with an illness that affects us so much, that has us disabled, or not, we all experience these issues. It’s up to us to build that comity with each other. I see on facebook, people tearing each other down. That’s unacceptable. Be the light! We, as a community should be lifting each other up, not tearing each other down.

Personally, I absolutely refuse to let dysautonomia destroy my goals, hopes and dreams. I won’t let it control me, I won’t let it rob me any more than it has.

 

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