I dedicate this post to all the amazing people out there who have stepped up to the plate and provide support to a loved one living with chronic illness. Each and every day, you demonstrate what unconditional love means. You are an inspiration to other men and women who are trying to provide their loved one with the most support and encouragement they can each and every day.
I think it is important for those of us living with chronic illnesses, to remind ourselves that everything we are going though, has an impact on those of you who are walking every step of this journey with us. At times, especially when we are overwhelmed with our symptoms, I think we may not truly see the effects it has on those close to us. Of course, physically, you cannot feel our pain, however I appreciate how emotionally distressing it must be to watch someone you love, suffer the way those of us with chronic illnesses do.
At some point in our lives, most of us have likely experience the impact of having someone close to us who became very ill. At some point, we may have felt helpless as a result of not being able to take their pain away, or having any control over their illness.
My first major experience with this was when my Dad was dying from cancer. It was heartbreaking to see him in so much agony, and being able to do very little to ease his pain. It was absolutely devastating to watch as that horrible disease robbed my Dad and our family of his life. My father fought his battle with more courage and determination than I could have ever imagined one man could have. He suffered horrendous pain for months without any medication to help him achieve even a bit of relief, before the cancer was ever detected. Sadly, by the time he was properly diagnosed, the cancer had already progressed to the final stages. The cancer he had, was terribly aggressive. Even when the doctors told us he would likely only have another week or so left to live, he never gave up fighting. My family was devistated when my Dad lost his battle with cancer 2 weeks after receiving his diagnosis.
Regardless if you are helping to care for a loved one with a terminal illness or one that is not terminal, it is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. At times, we minimize the impact our illnesses have on those who are close to us. It makes sense that if we are blessed with someone in our lives who play a major role in our support system, that mostly every adjustment we have had to make in our lives, triggers an adjustment that needs to be made in your lives too. Or at least, this would be the case if everyone is working towards the same goals right?
Something that is commonly said by those of us who live a life with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus or any other invisible illness for that matter, is that we feel others don’t "get it". They just don’t understand how heavily these illnesses impact every single aspect of our lives. We all have people like that in our lives. We all have had the misfortune of dealing with ignorance and/or judgement from others. I am very fortunate to have some amazing friends who DO get it (as best as someone can, without living it first hand), and are incredibly generous with their help and support. We are so fortunate for the wonderful friends we have!
My husband holds the most shares within my support system. The man is nothing short of incredible. In the 16 years we have been together, we have shared the very best, and the very worst times that life has dealt. We have celebrated some amazing moments, and we have fought through the most difficult times of our lives. It has not been an easy journey for either one of us. What is most important, is that we have been able to do it together. Sometimes we have had to work through our own parts individually, but in the end, we have been able to piece the puzzle together. I am eternally thankful to have such a devoted husband. It takes someone really special to pull through, the way he has pulled through for me, and I love him more than I could ever express in words.
When my health first started down the chronic path, I really don’t think I stopped to think about how HE was affected by it all. I am really not a selfish person, and I do have lots of compassion for others. However, at this time in my life, everything was happening so quickly. Much faster than I was prepared for, or equipped to deal with. All I could see was everything I was having to deal with first hand. MY body was the one crashing and spiraling out of control. It was ME who had to face the agonizing pain every minute of the day and night. It was ME that had things I enjoyed ripped away from me because of my illnesses. It all becomes extremely overwhelming, and I would say it was almost impossible for me, at that point, to stop and observe how my health was impacting others.
Since that time, my health has not improved, but my perception of it all has improved dramatically! Especially in the last 6 months or so, we have been able to see things much more clearly from each others perspective and have been able to better recognize each other’s challenges in dealing with this beast. We each made some serious adjustments individually, to enable us to come back together and deal with this as a united front. I really feel that the process which has led us to where we are right now, has brought us even closer together and made our relationship even stronger.
I want to take this opportunity to express thanks to all the wonderful men and women who show their love, strength and courage by supporting their loved ones through the journey of chronic illnesses. We need more people in the world like YOU!
If you have a story or a comment you wish to share, I would love to hear from you! You are welcome to leave a comment, or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org
~ Gentle Hugs