I long ago traded my white satin wedding shoes for something more “orthotic and nurse like.” Ok, that’s a lie. But I mostly wear shoes I can push wheelchairs in and hike across hospitals in. I wear shoes to carry me through the sickness part of our wedding vows. Because that’s where we’re living.
I thought I was prepared. Maybe, I was. For: Strep. The flu. Colds.!Sinus infections, maybe even some weird virus from a foreign country.
I envisioned: thermometers, ibuprofen dosing, antibiotics, homemade chicken soup, cold wash cloths on foreheads and the occasional vomit comforting. (No body like to barf. Just sayin.)
That’s what I was thinking 28 years ago when we said our vows. “In sickness and in health.”
I wasn’t thinking: Catheters, myriad other tubes, wound care, (hard core. We’re not talking band aids and neosporin. I mean “shouldn’t a doctor be doing this? I’m not trained.” kind of stuff. I wasn’t thinking narcotics, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, hyperbaric treatments, neutropenia, transfusions, medications that cost more than our first house, more sweaty ,nervous, hand holding through consultations and appointments than I’d have thought possible without dessication, or numerous complicated surgeries I couldn’t have dreamed of existing, when I made that vow.
When you add the unending appointments and scheduling, topped off with dozens of painful ER trips long enough to read war and peace if I could concentrate that much, you get a small peek into what life is like: In “sickness.”
I miss health. I miss seeing him sleep in for no reason other than he can, and my jealousy over my inability to sleep past sunrise. I miss having the spontaneity and freedom to travel when we want to. I even miss him traveling for work when I don’t want him to. I miss health not even being a thought, just an assumption.
I miss kids who never worry if we’ll be there when they’re old.
In sickness and in health. I vowed. So did he. I doubt he ever thought of having to cut my food when collapsed discs made the nerves in my hands fire like cheap fireworks instead of an orchestrated graceful show of movement. I doubt he thought he’d have to help dress me because I couldn’t lift my arms after surgery. I doubt he considered holding my hand while doctors repeatedly shoot cortisone into my spine, or seeing me pass out on the floor during blood draws. I doubt he thought my pmdd would require intervention.
Yet, here we are. Loving each other in sickness and in health. Sometimes with me nagging him and yelling about dumb things like Jammie’s and socks left next to the hamper. And sometimes with whispered prayers and begging tears for health. Here we are, with a pharmacy of meds on the kitchen counter in place of a spice rack. With a bathroom that would cause a CSI to throw us in jail or at least dig up our yard looking for a body. (Doesn’t matter how much you clean, those CSI people can see the gross evidence. Or, maybe I watch too much Netflix.)
Maybe our sickness is a little extreme. Maybe, it pales in comparison to what you’re experiencing, but today, while we’re in the middle of it, I want you to know, you’re not alone. It’s hard. Sometimes, it’s unbearably hard. I know. But we can bear it. One surgery at a time. One treatment at a time, one bathroom apocalypse at a time. We can bear it one pot of chicken soup at a time, one sinus infection or manflu or pmdd attack at a time. With help. From each other our families and God.
I know. Because the shoes I’m currently walking in are taking me through sickness.
I’m looking forward to days of health.
And if not? I pray I can walk these miles in love and with dignity, holding the hand and heart of my beloved. As I vowed, and as did he.
And readers, if you’re in a healthy season, I’m so happy for you! Savor it. Notice the fabulous mundaneness of it. Dance, wear uncomfortable shoes, hold non sweaty hands and cuddle on your own couch. I wish I would have. Instead I kept so busy and took them so very for granted that I hardly noticed the healthy days at all.
I’m looking forward to Savoring some in the (hopefully) near future!