Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

     By now, I'm sure people have realized that my husband has to call into work more frequently than the average person. He was born with Marfan's Syndrome, a degenerative genetic disorder, and the lovely array of health issues it causes make it necessary for my husband to take far more sick days than he's technically allotted. His boss has never had a problem with this and in fact is quite sympathetic to his situation. This attitude is something I'm grateful for every time he calls in, as I'm sure our company (my husband and I work together) is in the minority with regards to their approach to sick employees. I've heard many a horror story about various employers that don't give a damn if your leg is hanging on by a tendon, you BETTER NOT CALL IN!

     Any sane person would take this as one less thing to worry about and be glad, 'cause God knows there are enough other things to worry about to keep my head occupied for days. Note that I said any sane person - I must clearly be lacking in the sanity department, because I have instead turned this into something else to get all neurotic and worried over. I know, what the hell is wrong with me, right? Believe me, if I could answer that question, I would've, long time ago. See, instead of just relaxing about the whole sick days thing, knowing full well that my husband has an understanding employer who has never once given him hell over calling in, I turn it into something that I have to make up for. Makes no sense, does it?

     Through absolutely no fault of his own, my husband has had to miss quite a bit of work recently, more than he actually has sick days to cover. I, on the other hand, am a fairly healthy creature and rarely call in. (I don't even do that thing where you call in, but you're not really sick; you just want a day off to do whatever. I'm too paranoid about getting caught and I actually like my job, thank you. Plus, there's that whole honesty concept.) It occurred to me, however, that the one time I was legitimately ill this year, I felt bad about it and tried to go back to work before I was actually ready to. It's another one of those things that I hate to say out loud, because I know when my husband finds out it'll make him feel guilty (which he shouldn't, because it's my issue, not his), but the reason I push myself to not take a sick day is because I feel like I have to make up for his absences.

     Before I go any further with this, let me say that I don't know that this would be the case but for the fact that we work together. Therefore, I don't know that this issue applies to someone who is partnered with a Marfan's kid, but doesn't share an employer. I could be wrong about that, but I can only go on my own experiences. I'm not sure if it's that I'm afraid one day our boss's patience with the sick days will give out and so I try to be super-employee to compensate or if it's something else, something deeper, but it's definitely there.

     In my head, I liken the situation to my eyes. They're both pretty bad, but one is worse than the other, so the "better" eye automatically compensates for what the weaker one can't do. I feel sometimes like I pick up the slack for the things my husband can't do, both at home and in our professional lives. Some of it I do without thinking, like when I refuse to take a sick day, even though I've got the damn things stockpiled. Other things, like mowing the grass because pushing the lawnmower might send my husband to the ER again, I do resent, just a little. It's ugly to think that and uglier still to say it out loud, but it's true.

     What it boils down to is that I sometimes feel like I have to make up for my husband's medical shortcomings. God, there's just no nice way to say that, is there? Obviously, those shortcomings are not his fault and it's not fair in the least that the places in life where he struggles to keep up have to be so painfully obvious to the world. Everyone, and I mean everyone, struggles to keep up in some area or another, but it's usually something that's able to be confined to their head. My husband has no choice but to display his for everyone to see and make judgment on.


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