What does one do after receiving a diagnosis of RA? Well, first you Google it, study everything you can about it, and then brush it off, tell those closest to you that it's no big deal, you will be fine. Then after you are done reassuring your children that you will be around until your older than dinosaurs ( depending on their age, they may think you are there already and begin to compare you to the age of dirt...lol) And then it happens, just you and your spouse are finally alone. Your mind races with thoughts of, how is this going to work, will they stay, will they still love you, will they care for you on your darkest days...
This is my story of my journey with RA and the effects it has on your partner( at least my partner) The first time you have to admit to your partner that this dreaded disease is never going to just go away, like the flu or a cold, that it is going to impact your lives until death...it is like being slapped into reality. It's scary, painful, emotional...all those things you hold inside when putting on the good front.
After raising 3 daughters (2 which were part of the package deal), being married to a headstrong wife, and owning both a female cat and dog, most people begin to sympathize with my husband. If they only knew the real obstacles he has had to face in our short 20 years together, they would paint an S on his chest and give him a cape!!
About 2 years into our life together, I began to suffer from extreme fatigue. I was barely able to stay awake on the weekends. We thought it was from having had a late in life baby, moving to a new home, sleepless nights, and working 70 plus hours a week. Not to mention running for the older girls activities. I went to see my pcp. After many tunes of blood, multiple scans, x-rays, pokes, prods, and jabs...I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I have no idea what this is..so, I spent that afternoon scouring the Internet looking for any and all info on this unknown life robber.
I sat my husband down and explained to him the best I could what all this craziness was. Unprepared for the response I got, I cried. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, " I'm not going anywhere. We can handle this." And life went on. Life continued to be crazy. I began setting an early bedtime for myself on the weekends in hopes it would help with the tiredness that consumed me. I drank coffee, pepsi, tea..anything that would help. As time went on, we talked less and less about the illness and focused on living.
When I was diagnosed with RA, I just brushed it off as being like Fibro. Trying to hide the real facts and pain from my family. How could I explain this to my husband....tell him that the " in sickness and in health" part of our vows was going to be tested to the extreme. But he knew me better than I realized. He asked questions without my knowledge seeking answers from friends, Dr's, and yes, even our own daughter who is a nurse.
Living with me has not been easy...trust me I know...lol (see above mention of S and cape...lol) My husband has been a rock. Telling me not to worry about the house, the dishes, the laundry...ummmm hello...dust bunnies the size of small boulders under the couch, dinner served on paper plates, and laundry ( not even going there...he is a guy after all) He has seen me at my lowest...and still loved me. Even when I was angry at myself, this disease, the whole life changing situation that consumed my every waking thought, my fears, my tears, my hate of this ugly illness that changed me from who I was to who I am....not once did he ever think about leaving, walking away, giving up.
I know how fortunate I am...how lucky I am. I have been blessed beyond measure with my husband. I have read story after story of partners who have walked out because things are too hard, they can't handle the illness, the changes. I am one of the lucky ones. But if you ask my husband, he will tell you he is the lucky one, that I saved him. May you find that special partner that loves you as you are, not as they wish you were.
Much love to those who read this. Gentle hugs and prayers for a cure.