Saturday, September 15, 2012

Gimme Gimme Gimme

     You know how every so often, you just have a shitty day? I mean, one of those ones in which nothing catastrophic happened and really, nothing in particular occurred to make it a bad day; it just was. I had one of those the other day, the kind that left me feeling antsy and snappish and frustrated with everything that didn't go exactly how I wanted it to go. That wanting of things to roll along exactly as I wanted them to would include my husband and his attitude.

     I assure you, rarely does he do exactly as I wish he would, but the vast majority of the time, it's a non-issue. While he can most definitely work my last nerve with some of his decisions and things that come flying out of his mouth, I have to appreciate that I'm not married to a doormat, because who in the hell wants that? The problem starts when I'm having one of those ugly, off days and I have the potential to get genuinely angry/upset over the littlest thing. Those days, I just need him to give me a little bit more than normal.

     So that's all well and good, yes? Every couple in the world has those times and that's a situation that's not unique in the least...until my husband's damn Marfan's Syndrome butts in and makes itself unwelcome. You see, I'm discovering that with something like a chronic illness sucking up space in my relationship, there just isn't always room for me to have that needy time. My husband needs a lot from me on any given day and more than I'm sometimes able to give, so nine times out of ten, I simply put up and shut up. Recently, though, I've started to see that my method of dealing with those needy days is actually a horrible plan because the repercussions are deeper and wider than I ever suspected.

     I know I've written before about how my usual operating procedure, regardless of the situation, is to essentially keep putting one foot in front of the other and march on. It's something I learned growing up, watching my parents deal with everything that got thrown at them, like Daddy's cancer diagnosis, in such a manner that it never once threw them off their game. Or if it did, they never let my sister and I see it, which is just as important to the well-being of kids that they were trying so hard to protect and care for. I admire and love them for that more than I can say, for ensuring that my childhood was as great as any I could imagine despite the challenges I now realize they faced on a semi-regular basis.

     It doesn't work, though. I'm slowly beginning to realize that what works for one can't possibly work for all (a third-grader could've come to that conclusion faster than me in this case) and it's becoming clear that my approach is probably not the right one for my husband and I. Jesus H., that was a difficult sentence for me to write, as there are very few things I loathe more than admitting when I'm wrong. Or even potentially wrong, because I don't know yet that I shouldn't retain at least a part of my methodology. What I am fairly certain of is that I need to stop singing my, "It's fine, I'll deal with it," chorus every time I start to feel the need to lean on my husband.

      Marfan's Syndrome, in addition to its various and sundry physical manifestations, also has a whole battery of psychological side effects that often get pushed to the side in the rush to stop the bleeding from beginning. I believe it's something that comes with any long-term illness or medical condition and too often is the last symptom to be addressed, but that's a whole series of posts for another day. In my husband's case, he can sometimes get the thought stuck in his head that he's less than what I need, not able to be there for me because there's always so much going on with him. I'm afraid now that I've been unintentionally feeding that monster.

     Between my own insistence on the put-up-and-shut-up way of living and the feeling that his disorder crowds out any extra from him that I might need on a given day, I think I've just been making the whole mess worse by trying to take care of myself all day, every day. By giving legs to the notion that there's no room for my weak moments, I'm afraid I've been inadvertently reinforcing the idea in my husband's head that he's less than enough for me. I so rarely go to him during my bad moments, believing that it's better for me to be strong, that I can work through it myself. No, not so much the right path to take.

     I honestly don't know if I'm going to be able to start doing what I need to do and making a change to the way I do business. Generally speaking, change is something I'm seriously averse to and I don't handle it gracefully by any stretch of the imagination, even when I'm the instigator. Combine that with my intense loathing of admitting I was wrong and you can see why this is going to be anything but a smooth transition. It makes no difference that I'm pretty damned sure that this is something that I need to at least explore as a viable option in my marriage; it's going to be really hard for me, no matter the reasoning behind it.

     I'm going to roll it around in my head awhile, because I know that something has to change and this is as good a starting point as any.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Long Way From Home

     Twelve hours and a couple of rest-area stops later, I have officially made my arrival in Charlotte, NC, my new home. It's still not real to me, that I quit my job of almost a decade and will never occupy that desk again. It's not real that these unfamiliar streets will soon become as known to me as any neighborhood in St. Louis ever was. It's certainly not real yet that in a few weeks' time, I will leave behind my family and friends and make a new life with my husband in a place so foreign to me. It's just so much to get my head around right now.

     I know I can sort out a few of my emotions from the tangle of the rest and the strongest one right now is relief. I've been separated from my husband for almost two months now and only once was I able to see him in all that time. While I'm well aware that eight weeks is nothing for someone who, for example, is partnered with active-duty military personnel who are deployed for months or years at a time, it's the longest we've ever been separated from the first time he kissed me. He's has a couple of different go-rounds with his health during this time and the frustration of being hundreds of miles away from him as he was hospitalized was unpleasant, to say the least.

     Somehow or another, my husband developed a staph infection in his elbow a few weeks ago that got so bad he had to be hospitalized for IV antibiotics. His arm was completely swollen from his elbow to his fingers, so much so that he could barely get his wedding ring off. He first went to urgent care to get it treated, but the oral antibiotics threw his INR levels so far out of whack that he had to stop taking them before the round was complete. At that point, he was still operating under the belief that it was nothing more than a bad case of bursitis. Yeah, it wasn't.

     When it came back with a vengeance a couple of weeks later, he went to see his primary care physician, who drained it and gave him an injection of antibiotics. The injection was supposed to both reach his bloodstream faster and screw with his INR less. It didn't work particularly well, even after the second draining and shot the day after the first. Finally, it was decided that the only thing that would clear it up would be hospitalization and IV fluids. When he told me that while he was en route to the hospital, I just felt awful.

     It's not that my husband is helpless; he's not, by a long shot, and I don't mean to imply otherwise. It's just that ever since we've been together, I've always accompanied him to the hospital on his many medical adventures. Even when he doesn't get admitted, I try to stay in the ER with him until he gets his walking papers. It's not always possible for me to do so, but even then we have a system in place that allows me to be his support system. For the first time, though, I wasn't there.

     I'm so grateful that he has people here in Charlotte who love him and were able to step in and take care of him, essentially doing the little things that I normally would have. Without them, I think my heart would have broken a little bit to think of him sitting in his hospital room all weekend without anyone there to visit him or talk to him. Alongside that gratitude, though, is a layer of guilt that I can't get out of my head. I should've been there to watch Food Network with him until he fell asleep. I should've been there so that I could bring his bag of meds to the hospital so that the attending physician could see what he was currently taking. And I wasn't.

     Common sense tells me that it's stupid to feel guilty for such a thing, since it's not like I was off doing my own thing and just couldn't be bothered to come be with him. I was still in Missouri, working and wrapping up what I could for my impending departure next month. And if it would have been something like another T.I.A, you bet your ass I would've been on the next flight to Charlotte. The truth, though, is that when you're partnered with someone who has a chronic illness like Marfan's Syndrome, you have to choose your battles. My husband and I both know that not everything can be treated like an emergency, because it's just not.

     I'm here now for almost a week so that we can find someplace to live when I get here for real in October. It's not a fun process, this business of trying to find somewhere to reside, and I'll be glad once we find a place and sign the lease. Deep down, though, I know my anxiety isn't entirely rooted in the stress of moving or of find a new house - a big chunk of it is because I just needed to be able to see with my own eyes that my husband is okay.

     I can't fully explain how nerve-wracking it is to hear about these medical bombs being dropped and changes being made to his medication without being there to experience it first-hand, probably because I never expected it would be. I'm a really self-sufficient person and my husband is, too, in a lot of ways. I can promise you that I never saw myself as someone who would be tweaked over what is by any standards a minor hospitalization. It sure as hell shouldn't have even been a blip on my radar, considering the things that my husband and I have experienced in the past. So to say that the realization shook me would be an understatement.

     I'll go back to Missouri on Tuesday and then I have to ride out four more weeks before I can come down here permanently. There's a lot to do in the time, including getting my resume and cover letter ready and working on finding a new job. That alone should occupy the biggest part of my brain, but I have my doubts as to how much of it will actually be wrapped up in what's going on in the Midwest when my heart's otherwise occupied in the Southeast.