Couples will always have to deal with hard things in their relationships. Laura asked about caregivers who are also partners in a relationship.
Here's the question from Laura, Angela's friend. You can go here..., Some Personal Echoes, to read the rest of the comment, click the link by: Laura Mori
".......Another topic I would like to discuss, even if I don't have a personal experience of it, is the couple life after the MS diagnosis of one partner. I'm single and since before diagnosis I had to choose to be single after a long bad couple experience, and I think that I'll remain single, my "caregivers" are my (old) parents, what happens with a partner? - Laura"
I wanted to address your last comment in a little more detail, so this is a page about couples who have to deal with a chronic disease. As you know, Cir and I personally deal with this issue. When we first began dating or "going together" as we called it, Cir had already had a few symptoms.
We were in our early 20's then. We were married in 1982 when Cir was 23 and I was 22. He had symptoms on and off for the first few years of our marriage. Mainly imbalance and optic neuritis.
Even though we didn't know the reason for Cir experiencing the symptoms, we both knew that something was wrong. We had no idea that we would soon be faced with a chronic disease like MS. We had no idea how much it would change our lives.
Had we known that multiple sclerosis would move into our relationship and wreak havoc, would we have stayed together? For me, I know for certain if I were the person I am today, I would be with Cir. And I can say with just as much certainty, that Cir would feel the same way.
We have always felt as if we are soul mates. We connected in such a way that we can't imagine ever being apart or being in a relationship with someone else. We have always felt we were meant to be together.
With all that said, we realize that there are many couples who cannot deal with having a "third party" join their relationship. They can't deal with the unpredictableness (is that a word?) of MS. The well spouse may think that they didn't sign up for something like this.
We know of two couples where the husband couldn't handle his wife's illness. As a result, both of the relationships broke up. Don't quote me, but I think this happens more often when the couples are younger. The thought of spending the majority of your life taking care of an ill spouse, must seem very overwhelming to say the least. And unfortunately, (according to statistics) more men leave than women.
I admit, Cir and I have a better than average relationship as far as longevity is concerned. We are continually congratulated on our 27, (now 29), year marriage. Not that we haven't had our rough spots along the way, mind you. We have. But our commitment is stronger than any adversity we may face.
Out of all the couples we know who deal with a chronic illness, most of them are still together. They have chosen to accept the hand that has been given them -- together. They choose to support each other in whatever happens to either of them. In sickness and in health.
We would be very interested to know other couples experiences. If you were married when you were first diagnosed, have you stayed with your spouse? If you weren't married, do you date or are you in a serious relationship? Or have you decided to remain single?
As a spouse of someone who has multiple sclerosis, I have taken on many different roles in our relationship. Besides the traditional role as wife and mother, I am also a caregiver.
That means when Cir experiences a relapse or an exacerbation or a serious infection, I am there to help him go to the bathroom, get dressed, or any of his other basic needs. I worry about whether he will fall. I worry about not only his physical health, but his emotional well-being.
I take him to all of his doctor appointments or to the emergency room if necessary. I watch him suffer through the pain, trying to help in any way I can. Most of the time I feel helpless, wishing I could take the pain away. Wishing I could be his legs.
Wondering why it was him and not me. Why did he get it and I didn't. Could I even go through what he does and still be able to get up and face the day -- everyday? I honestly don't know if I could.
I am so thankful for the good days. When he has the energy to run errands with me. We go to the grocery store or the department store. We take our granddaughter to the zoo or for a walk around the neighborhood.
From spring to summer and early fall, we take advantage of every nice day we can. By nice days I mean every day when the weather is not too hot or too cold or it's not raining too hard. When Cir is feeling well and has the energy to get out. When everything is perfect, then we take advantage of the day.
We had dreams years ago that we have modified because of Cir's MS. We will be able to travel. We'll just have to make changes in the way we do it. The places we go will need to be accessible. Our mode of travel will have to take in to account Cir's "wheels".
With careful planning, we have every intention of realizing our dreams of traveling to all the places we said we would go. We plan on eventually having our dream home, complete with ramps and every accessible option available.
Being a couple with a chronic illness to cope with, is a difficult thing to deal with. Can you deal with it? Can you learn to cope with it? Can you still have your dreams? Can your relationship stay strong?
I believe you can. It's so much easier to face the challenges of multiple sclerosis when you have someone to face it with. Things may seem impossible to do. You can do them, you just have to figure out a different way to do them.
The planning process can be just as fun. There have been many times when we lay in bed at night or sit in the car when we get home, making plans. Sharing dreams. Deciding what we're going to do with the millions we win in the lottery.... (Well, it doesn't hurt to dream....just in case.)
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Cir & Akrista
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