When A Wife Has To Question Her Marriage Vows

More than five years ago I married the love of my life. I can honestly say that he’s the love of my life as I’ve known him since I was 9, my first kiss when I was 11, and wrote his name on every notebook I had. We had a break-up of over 30 years, but we found our way to each other again and married quickly, knowing it was right. We stood in front of family and friends and made promises and vows to…

…to have and to hold
from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
all the days of our lives.

We always believe in the better, richer, health and love and cherish; but what happens when the “sickness” takes over. Shortly after we were married I began to feel really lousy. I thought it was a pretty standard UTI aka bladder infection. I’d had a kajillion over the years, so it was no big deal to me. It was however a big deal to my favorite Nurse Practitioner. She saw some unusual flags in my lab work and immediately requested more labs. Fast forward several weeks; I’ve met my new doctor, a nephrologist; a kidney doctor. It has been determined that I have Chronic Kidney Disease; a progressive disease. Simply stated, my kidney function is declining, and will likely continue until failure. It could be decades until that point, if ever; but some life style changes are needed immediately.

Together, my hubby and I, took a realistic look at my future and what it may mean; dialysis or transplant. We have been realistic and he’s amazingly supportive. He’s my Jiminy Cricket, he helps to keep me positive and on track. We have been transparent when people ask why I can’t have ‘brown pop’ or a big fat steak when we dine with friends. Yes, there are cheat days when I just ‘need’ a Diet Coke or sneak a bite (or 5) of hubby’s medium-rare steak. He’s not a chronic-cop, but he helps to keep me in check.

Here we are, after five years of marriage, facing another medical hurdle. For months I’ve been wrestling with multiple issues. Random weird, things; a rash on my face, extreme fatigue, horrific pain that was come and go, and ridiculous sleep patterns. Doctoring for independent symptoms, mainly because they seemed to have zero connection. At the end of April, I had such crippling chest pain that I went to the ER. Long story, longer; I was admitted to the Heart Hospital with ‘inverted T-waves’ on my EKG. My experience was less than favorable, but that’s another blog for another day. During my follow-up visits, I felt as though they though I was nuts or over reacting. I was told my chest pain was Acid Reflux and my fatigue was part of my Depression. I’ve battled depression/anxiety for decades; I know the difference.

I’m not sure if it was a quest to prove my sanity or just to prove the doctor wrong, but I kept pushing for more tests and demanding action. It seemed as though more medical professionals were scratching their heads and rolling their eyes. It wasn’t until I was referred to a Rheumatologist that I got some answers. Her answers were actually questions, questions no one else was asking. She connected dots and pursued more options. Today, I’m readying for an MRI to prove/disprove a diagnosis. As of now we have some answers, none of which are catastrophic, but not something to cheer about.

It’s in the waiting that I have such unrest; I’m not a patient, patient. It’s my husband that keeps me grounded. Perhaps part of his easy manner is a thread of naivety or disbelief, but he’s not one to dwell on my illness. I tend to be the one to dwell, roll around and be miserable, in my illness. I feel guilty for my illness, I want more for my family. I want to be more for them. I don’t expect them to be the Web MD freak that I am, and know each symptom and prognosis. It’s on days when I feel as though I can’t move, I have terrible pain and want to be a pitiful puppy that I question my marriage vow. Not necessarily my vow, but his.

I know that my husband professed before our friends and family that he would love me in sickness and in health, but neither one of us signed up for this. Husbands are amazing creatures, and have pretty similar natures; they are fixers. When I say that I’m having a tough day, he asks why. It’s not as though he doesn’t know why, but he’s wanting to now why so that he can fix it. His kind and loving nature wants to keep me from experiencing the ugliness. It’s in those moments that I get angry for the years I ‘wasted’ and lack of gratitude. It isn’t fair that the best years of my life, prove to be the most unhealthy.

But this is where faith steps in, the belief in something that is unseen. Our future is just that, unseen. No one knows or can predict what tomorrow holds. In sickness AND in health, we aren’t promised a tomorrow. It’s in that promise that I made, MY vow to love my husband in sickness and in health, that I understand that it wasn’t a promise of his sickness or his health or mine. We promised. WE have sickness and health. WE have better or worse. We promised.

It’s on that promise, that I will stand – or lie down in this instance – to pursue my sickness. I will take my 2 Xanax and cowgirl my way through an MRI, that I dread!!! I will seek answers and pursue treatments as my promise to him. No questioning my vows, but answering the call to love, all the days of my life.


Hearts and Hammers

Recently, I took off on a solo adventure… to Ikea™. Now that might not sound like a grande adventure to you, but for someone (like me) with Chronic Anxiety it was grande on multiple levels. I tend to get overwhelmed quite easy and a place like Ikea could make even the Mona Lisa twitchy. I was on task! ONE dresser, that’s it!! I had the item number, aisle and bin number on my iPhone. Easy peasy, right? [[Never]] A delightful girl helped me find my destination, as we chatted about jade nail polish and tattoos. We found Aisle 5, Bin 5 with ease, but I decided to wander off. [[Like my brain often does]] I meander and stroll, I want this and am sure I need that. I text my hubby for reinforcement. “Please tell me that we don’t need more dishes and that we have enough pillows.” He knew I was teetering at the edge of temptation and an overdraft and talks me off the ledge. I march myself back to first floor, and my dresser. Ugh, crap, I’m wearing a dress and I am the least ladylike broad you will ever meet and I’m going to load these boxes onto a flatbed cart…by myself…in a dress. This is likely going to end up in swearing and my dress run amok. With great pride and very little swearing, I was able to load the aforementioned boxes onto my cart AND load them into the backseat of my car. Yes, there was a gusty breeze and I’m sure someone got more than a giggle. Let’s just leave it that.

As hubby and I are navigating the directions and parts and mayhem that ensues when one puts together Ikea furniture; it dawns on me… If a couple can survive assembling Ikea furniture together without you throwing a screw driver at the other person and the furniture piece is assembled to perfection; you can survive your relationship!

Welcome to “Couples Counseling Strategy ala Ikea”

Relationships are complex and beautiful, difficult and rewarding. The catalog of qualities to choose a partner is overwhelming and often times we aren’t even sure what we are looking for. You’re pretty set on the Hurdal but then the Brusali catches your eye. You can see the qualities you admire in both of them, but the choice is tough.

Once you’ve settled on your pièce de résistance, you realize that it will take some steady navigation to get it to a safe place. You are quite proud of your choice and unveil the contents in all their glory. All of this. Oh, my. Paralyzing. Fearful. Feeling as if you’ve made a huge mistake. You realize the directions aren’t clear and so many different languages cloud your eyes. The illustrations help, but it’s only in communication that you are fully able to identify the components and tasks. You talk it out, even if it’s only to yourself.

Some Assembly RequiredIt is imperative to take each step in order and with great intention. It is easy to think you know more than a silly photo and decide to bulldoze forward. It’s only as the pieces don’t fit or it becomes unsteady that you realize your error. Your pride wants to scream, but you also know that you’ve made this a much tougher process. You must attempt to undo all that’s already done. You are hopeful and slightly skeptical that you can back step without damaging any of the parts. You also realize that there are items that seem to have no bearing on what you’re doing, it’s as if they are meant for someone else. This is meaningless and irrelevant to what you’re going through right now. This shouldn’t be so damn hard. The more you stomp and get angry, the less you want to see this project succeed. It’s sooo tempting to throw the screwdriver and kick over the panels. But this doesn’t solve any problems, it only creates new ones. It’s easy to just say “screw it, I quit” but you have made an investment and it would indeed be a waste. You’ve come this far, you can see it through.

A deep breath, an exhale of renewed purpose of building something beautiful. The moments of doubt pass and you can step into a new objective; taking this rubble that is scattered everywhere and make it complete. The task at hand is literally IN your hands. As with many tasks you’ve trampled through, it is sometimes better to complete it as a team. Going it your own way can only get you so far, you’re better, together. As a dynamic duo you develop a language of hopefulness and delight in your achievements. Each of you taking a component and making it ready for the other person. The two of you begin to move forward as if it were orchestrated by a composer. The flow and fit seem to be making beautiful progress. The items that were once stubborn and ill-fitting now move with the gentle glide of a well oiled hinge.

Sure, it could have been easy to set this mass out to the curb. But no one said it would be easy. Someone else would then discover the bounty and with patience and diligence see its beauty and claim it as their own. Yeah, no one said it would be easy. Most things that are the biggest joys in life rarely are. 18304790-couple-moving-in-new-apartment-renovatingSteady, with hurdles and hiccups, move on to the next step. It is with great revelry that you take a step back and marvel at the beauty that you’ve created, together. Ok, so the drawer sticks a little and maybe you scratched the finish in a couple of places. But it’s in those places some of the best stories are born. Where one day, you will retell your story and laugh, “remember the time I nearly stabbed you with the wrench thingy?” “Oh, yeah, and then I dropped that bolt in your bra?” Oh yeah, good times. Good times indeed!

I’m pleased to report that no spouses were harmed or maimed in the making of this passage and we are now the proud owners of a beautiful Tarva dresser. {{and the top drawer sticks}}