Through Sickness and In Health

It was a surprise to some Men

My husband was diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). Ever since his diagnosis we’ve learned that it is more common than we knew. We’ve met so many people who know someone with MS.

But for those of you who don’t know, MS is a disease that affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). It causes inflammation in the brain and spine and can prevent the nerves’ electrical signals from communicating with your brain.

Some of the side effects are loss of vision, trouble with walking, speech impairment, pain, fatigue and more. The symptoms can vary and come and go. Doctors are still unsure how people get MS and it has not been proven that it is hereditary.

When my husband was diagnosed, my entire world shifted in a way that is hard to explain. But from that point on, nothing else mattered to me but the health of my husband and making sure my daughter was taken care of.

I slept at the hospital every night (3 to be exact) and didn’t leave him unless it was to get food, get my daughter ready for school and shower.

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As my husband started to share the news with close family and friends, he got some pretty interesting responses and questions pertaining to me. And this is what prompted me to write this blog.

People were asking where I was and what I was doing now that he has been diagnosed. Of course, he told them “She’s been here by my side this entire time.” They were SHOCKED!

Now I’m not sure what kind of women these men have dealt with in their life, but from what it sounds like, they wouldn’t be there through their sickness.

When saying your vows

At the time we said our vows, neither one of us could have imagined that 4 years into our marriage, one of us was going to be diagnosed with a chronic condition.

Even though you say that you vow to be there through sickness and in health for as long as you both shall live, life will test you on each and every vow to see if you meant what you said. I understand that some people don’t pass that test for some reason or another.

But I meant I what I vowed to my husband 4 years ago, and my actions now show it.

How I handle our new life

As hard as it is to admit, our life has changed right before our eyes. It really has. All the goals and plans we had have now been shifted and some may not even be possible anymore (it’s too soon to tell).

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The biggest way I cope with life changing circumstances is to focus on finding the lessons I am supposed to learn. I refuse to believe that things just happen without a reason. I believe everything in life happens for a reason and if we pay attention, we will find out why.

Here’s some of the things I’ve learned since the diagnosis:

  • Let go of control – I’m a very controlling person (I’m working on it), but this situation has forced me to relinquish control. As wives and mothers we tend to do everything for everyone to be sure that it gets done. But I couldn’t do that this time, I mean I could have, but it wouldn’t have been good for my mental health. To fully take on the task on scheduling appointments, keeping track of medical records, managing insurance companies, education and research etc., on top of all of my other titles, I had to quickly learn that it would be too much to handle and I needed help. I have to now trust that my husband can take the lead in managing his health condition and I’m there to help him whenever he needs it. I still go to all doctors’ appointments, do research on my own time, and provide him with tools to stay organized. But he’s the driver and I’m the passenger. Boy, can I tell you it’s a relief!
  • Awareness – I blog a lot about my self-awareness and I am getting better at it over time. I am also becoming more aware of the energy others are putting out as well. I know for the black community we tend to not talk about our feelings. Or we say that everything is okay when it’s really not. I began to be more aware of when the people close to me told me they were okay when they weren’t. I was able to become aware of the tension that would arise and sometimes be able to de-escalate it before it went further. 
  • Ask questions – I mean I do this already, but I had to dig deeper. I had to ask questions that I’ve never had to ask before, just to be considerate and to make sure I wasn’t being overbearing. For three months my husband had trouble walking, speaking and processing information. He had trouble doing some of the same things he was doing just a week ago. It was easy to get up and do everything for him, but I knew he was still a man and for the sake of his mental health, I had to give him the room to ask for help when he needed it, and not just assume that he couldn’t do something.
  • Prepare to feed into yourself – My husband tells me that every morning he never knows what’s going to be working in his body and what’s not. I can honestly say I have no idea how that feels and how it can affect one’s mental health. With that being said, my husband naturally pushes his feelings aside so he can focus on the mental state of the women in his life (wife, daughter, mother, aunts, and cousins). He just wants us all to be okay. As much as I admire him for that, I have continued to encourage him to focus only on himself. If he did that, everyone else would be okay. Yes, I was dealing with my own feelings, but I couldn’t expect him to pour his energy into me when everything he had he needed to save for himself. I had to be understanding of that and pour energy into both myself and him.
  • This is a choice – Yes, I said vows and yes I meant them, but there is nothing or no one FORCING me to stay and take care of my husband. I mean people leave their spouses all the time, which is why it was shocker to some that I was still here. I’m still here because I want to be. I take care of my husband because that is the decision I choose to make.
  • Be kind to yourself – I tell myself this multiple times a day. This condition has changed our lives in multiple ways, and it requires us to grow into a greater version of ourselves. Through this process I have to learn to continue to be kind to myself when I am not as patient as I think I should be, or as helpful, or as loving.  All of this is new for everyone who has been affected and we must learn to give ourselves a break.
Photo by Git Stephen Gitau on Pexels.com

Ultimately, I am the wife I am to my husband because he deserves nothing but the best. He is a phenomenal husband who deserves to have a phenomenal wife. I know for a fact that if the tables were turned, he would do the same for me. I am proud to be his wife and I love that I am able to live up to my vows on even the hardest days.

Question of the week:

Have you experienced something like this?

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