If I had to pick a person who inspires my chronic resilience, without a second thought, it is my husband Chris. He is the person that cares most about me in the whole world. From dawn to dusk he is thinking about me. He has organized his life so he can be there for me when I need him. He’s my rock.
Aimee & her husband, Chris, are in the center with the "Sick 8 Years" poster.
I am suffering from Chronic Lyme Disease. I have gathered up several other diagnoses along the way (fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue) but the Lyme seems to describe the source not just the symptoms. My husband has come with me to almost all of my dozens of doctors’ appointments over the last 8 years of being sick. When we got married 7 years ago, he wrote in his vows that he would “comfort me while I am ill”. At the time I was suffering from chronic back pain. Little did we know that it would turn into chronic all-over body pain and fatigue among other symptoms. We enjoyed our wedding and honeymoon together as I was able, but unfortunately pain would stop me many times.
When other people in my life either ignore my illness, are confused by it, or push me to do more despite it, Chris knows my personality and that I tend to push myself hard. So he seeks to give me balance by helping me realize when a task or activity is too much for me. But he also knows I’m incredibly stubborn and to step aside if I am very determined to do something that seems out of my reach. For example, next week I have a trip planned to see a friend two hours away and I want to drive. But driving causes me a lot of leg pain. He offered to drive me there. He usually does drive me most places. But he also knows I have a need for independence and to also test my limits physically. So this time I hope to go alone. But I know if I have to, I can get help.
He is supportive if I take on a project and can’t complete it. Because I have a drive to do things despite low energy and pain, I can sometimes start things and fall short of finishing. For example last night I took out the eggplant and was going to bake it, but had to go rest before I could put it in the oven. Without discussion, he put the slices in to bake and eventually I came over to enjoy it with him. Because our end goal is the same: to eat and be happy.
We enjoy the good moments. There are some awful moments where I am crying in pain or emotionally distraught. But when things are going well, we take time to laugh, wrestle with our dogs, bird watch, and enjoy chocolate. The little things are what help us get by. Sometimes it seems like a cloud of doom is taking over my life. But I can look at Chris and know he understands that it’s only temporary and that the worst moments will pass. And if not, he’s there with a pain pill or Lidoderm patch to help me get over that hurdle. He knows when it’s too much for me to bear.
When it comes to our future together he does not pressure me. He is open to what it might hold and never has implied that I have let him down. I feel sad that I cannot have children but he is content with being child-free for now. He never pressures me to get back to work, despite funds being tight, and was supportive of when I needed to quit my job because he saw how it was tearing me apart physically to keep it up. The thing we both know is that our future will be together and that is what matters.
So when that dark part of my mind tells me that I would be better off dead, free of pain and suffering, I push it away because I think of Chris. He makes me happy and despite my flaws, somehow I still make him happy. It is my most cherished role in life, to be his partner. I have had to give up a lot due to my illness, but not the love of my life. He keeps me going day by day. Love you, Chris.
By: Aimee Ward, honoree in the Chronic Resilience essay contest.