For those of us married, we’ve uttered those vows. We don’t really think too much about sickness, especially in our 20′s and 30′s. The last year in our house has lead to much sickness and in many ways it has strengthened our marriage.
Last year, I got MRSA (nasty staph infection, as detailed here: AMD MRSA). We were both scared (loss of life and all) and my wife was a real trooper during that time – shuttling two kids to and from the hospital. She was a good and attentive and empathetic trooper about the whole thing. I loved her so much for that.
Now I’m trying to return the favor. Let’s say I’m not exactly Florence Nightingale on the bedside manner. When Holly went in for her surgery on Monday I was scared. You just never know — anesthesia doesn’t put me very much at ease. She ended up fine (hip surgery – at 38 yrs old) but had a lot of pain, was drugged up, and obviously on crutches. I’ve been helping her for the last few days, making sure she’s ok. I’m not a very doting nurse, but I make sure she has what she needs and try to keep other people like the kids or her mom out of her hair. Just like she took care of me, I am taking care of her in the ways I know how. I give her food, drink, some love, but I am not real empathetic – it’s a personality flaw of mine. I have to help her to get dressed/undressed, taking care of entertainment, kids. Wake up every few hours to make sure she’s taking appropriate medication, checking her ice machine and temperature, all that stuff. I do it because I love her and she has done the same for me, no questions asked since marriage is the ultimate team.
It’s very difficult to see a loved one injured or ill. It puts me in an emotional place I rarely go as things are completely out of our control, and as one who likes to manage most details in their lives and have control over them, it’s very uncomfortable. I also talked to my dad tonight, and found out my mom was in the hospital having a second heart stent (the first was a few years ago). I could tell he felt helpless in the situation and we talked a little about my mom’s health. My dad eats pretty healthy and takes care of himself very well, even doing run/walk half marathons the last few years. My mom eats like shit, and digs in her heals when you tell her she needs to change her diet. My father feels helpless against this, and hopes she changes, but it’s not his choice. He loves my mom and they’ve been married forever, and sickness or health he’s in it for the long haul. But I think it’s very selfish to put that burden on someone when general health is very much in your control through simple diet.
There are good times and bad in all marriages, and we sometimes need to forget all about ourselves for the benefit of your lover. Sacrifice, even small ones, help strengthen the bond, and really doing things like this unconditionally isn’t a sacrifice.
So that’s where we are at these days as the kids start their summer vacation. The good news is that it solved her problem, the surgery was a success, and after a lengthy rehab, she’ll be pain free and back to normal. Though the next month to six weeks will especially suck (crutches) as she literally tries to get back on her feet.