As I have mentioned, I read a lot of boards for my particular chronic illness. One thing that is overwhelming to me is the lack of family support that a lot of us have. It really blows my mind that when someone you love is struggling, that you wouldn't want to do everything in your power to help them.
I am very, very fortunate. I have a family that is super supportive. I can talk until I am blue in the face- and you all are sick of it- about how wonderful they are to me. Each time I read the boards, I have to stop and give thanks that I have the family that I do.
My husband, Jim, likes to see himself as a bit of a "tough guy". He has this gruff exterior and doesn't like it when someone tells him how "sweet" he is. When people first meet him, they think he is a little intense and scary and he loves it. Unfortunately for him, if you get to know him, you can see through this to the big heart he has. He is fiercly loyal to his friends and family and would give them the shirt off his back if they needed it. He is also a wonderful father to our son Josh. He may not outwardly show it all of the time but he loves Josh with all of his heart and is so very proud of him. It is when he talks about Josh that you first see the cracks in the exterior.
Jim and I met in high school and got married soon after. We have had some really, really rough times in the over twenty years that we have been together but somehow we always rally and pull through. Over the years we have formed a partnership that works for us.
Like many men, Jim had a tendancy to not be very empathetic when I would get the flu or a severe cold. His answer was "take some nyquil and knock it out" even though I cannot do antihistimines. Of course, when he was sick- the world stopped. I don't mean to generalize but I have seen this dynamic many, many times in many, many marriages. When dad got sick, it was as if he were dying, but when Mom got sick- she was expected to take care of herself and go on as if she were fine. I am not saying he would not help out- because he absolutely would, but there was just a typical disconnect there. This concerned me when I first started showing symptoms of my RA. We didn't know what was going on- only that for some reason my body was rebelling.
I should have had more faith in him. He has come through while we fight this disease in a million ways. From the little things, like automatically opening a bottle of water before handing it to me, to the big things like taking over Wednesday nights so that I can go to bed very early, he supports me at all times. He went with me to learn how to give me my MTX injections in case my hands aren't working and I can't do it myself. He reads the literature that I bring home and the articles that I find. He encourages me to take naps when I need them and to do what I can without pushing me to do what I can't. He even came by work last winter when we got an ice storm to de-ice my car so that I didn't have to have my hands out in the cold weather for that long. He tries very hard to understand what I am feeling, while knowing that he can't truely understand what constant pain and stiffness can do to you both physically and emotionally. When I get frustrated with my limits, he steps in and helps without making me feel like he is doing me a favor. Best of all, he does these things without even thinking about it and without making me feel like I am less than.
I am just crazy about my honey and I am so blessed to have him in my life. I wish that everyone living with a chronic illness had someone like him to be their partner and support system as well.