Thursday, June 23, 2011

Soul Meets Body

     On Saturday night, my husband came home from work and sat down in his computer chair, which is right next to mine in our rec room. I was quite literally in the middle of a raid with my World of Warcraft guild (If you really want to know, I can explain it to you. Otherwise, suffice it to say I was playing a video game on my computer with lots of other people and we were at a pretty important part in the game.) and not really able to pay much attention to what he was saying as he started talking to me. I actually started to shush him, because the raid leader was busy explaining what we were about to do, when my husband got my full attention by looking me straight in the eye and telling me, "Jean called - my grandpa died yesterday."

     As soon as it registered with my brain what he'd said, I turned back to my computer and apologized to the rest of the people I was playing with, telling them I had to leave immediately. I told them why I was leaving them as I was logging out and of course, they told me to go, that I needed to be with my family. My husband now had my full, undivided attention. He told me what had happened, that his mother had been trying to get ahold of him all day, but had been calling his work cell instead of his personal cell, which is the one he keeps on him when he's not on call. When he got off work that night and was able to return a phone call from his sister, he found out what had happened.

     My husband loved his grandfather and even though they weren't extraordinarily close, I could see that he was shaken by the news. Granted, his grandfather was ninety and his health had recently been less than great, but it's never an easy thing to accept. As I mentioned before, I immediately quit what I was doing and gave my husband my full attention so that we could discuss what had just happened and what, if anything, we needed to do for the family. I wanted to make sure, first and foremost, that my husband was really okay with his grandfather's passing. (As okay as anyone can be with the death of a loved one, I mean.) He can be all kinds of "yeah, I'm fine" when it comes to major things like this when the reality is that he is actually no such thing.

     I'm writing about this now because I can't help but wonder if the stress of the events of this past weekend didn't exacerbate the Marfan's to some degree. It probably wouldn't even have occurred to me that that could happen, except for the fact that Sunday was very painful (physically) for my husband and Monday was still bad enough that he had to call into work. While it's been known to happen that way on occasion, it's not the norm for him. He's worked longer, harder doubles at the pub and still been able to go into his regular job come Monday morning. I think the emotional weight of the his grandfather's passing had a physical effect on my husband's body.

     As usual, when I looked for information about a possible link between emotional stress and worsened Marfan's symptoms, I came up empty-handed. It's still such a source of frustration to me that in this day and age, when information is practically vomited at you from all corners of life, that I can find so little information on this disorder. So all I have to go on are the various studies that say yes, emotional stress can have a physical effect on a person and can heighten the symptoms of a preexisting condition. None of these mention Marfan's syndrome by name, so I'm taking liberties here and making a semi-educated guess that if it can happen to someone with fibromyalgia, it can happen to someone with Marfan's. (And yes, I know the two are not related - I'm simply using fibromyalgia as an example.)

     While it didn't take any sort of big-brain reasoning for me to figure out that there's a potential issue with the stress doing bad things to his body, I'm having a significantly more difficult time deciding what, if anything, we could/should do about it. My husband, while not the best at dealing with his emotions in a healthy way, has at least never been one to shy away from bad things happening. By that I mean that he doesn't hide his head in the sand or pretend the badness isn't happening; he'll face it head-on. (Whether he fully processes his emotions resulting from those happenings is something else altogether...) So trying to keep him in the dark when potentially stressful things go on is not an option. It's not in his nature and truthfully, it's not in mine to be able to do that to him.

     We're partners, on every level that you can be partners with another human being. As much as I may want to prevent the ill effects stress has on his disorder, the fact of the matter is that I need him to be with me during the bad parts of the movie, you know? I can do a lot of things on my own, but I don't necessarily want to. I want us to be in it together, for all of it, and I know he feels the same. Actually, if I were to be completely accurate, I would have to say that my husband would prefer to shoulder the bulk of the emotional load for both of us when it's necessary. I'm big on equal opportunity, though, so that doesn't really fly around our house; we share.

     My husband can't live in a bubble, no matter how potentially beneficial it may be to his physical health. He wouldn't stand for it if I tried, and I'm not going to live that way in any case. You can call me selfish (you'd be wrong, but you can do it if you feel you must), but dammit, he's my husband, my partner in crime, my perfect match and by God we're going to suffer together if there's to be suffering. I fully believe that the heart rules the body and though that occasionally results in negative consequences, it can't be any other way. I feel like if we start to do that, to move into avoidance of life's unhappy moments in an effort to curb the effects the resulting stress has on his Marfan's, then we're letting the disorder gain a foothold in an area it has no business being in. Which means...I've just talked myself in a circle and still don't have a clear idea of how to proceed with this stuff from here on out. I love it when that happens.

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