Growing together through illness
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness not only affects the person with the diagnosis, but the whole family. See Kate’s story below of how it affected her relationship.
I’ll never forget the day he got diagnosed. At first it was relieving, like they finally figured out why my husband was so tired and in pain all the time. And it seemed like things might be okay, like things could go back to normal once he got the right treatment. And things did get a little better after he changed medications, at least for a while. It was relieving to feel hope again, after feeling frustrated for so long not understanding why he couldn’t do things he could do so easily before.
But even months after getting the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, or MS, things still weren’t the same. Even after cutting back his hours at work Josh still struggled to find the energy and motivation to do much around the house. That’s when I noticed it started to affect us. There were times when I could tell he still did things even though it was hard for him, which I appreciated so much. But other times I found myself wondering if he was really trying to pull his weight at home and in our relationship. I started to worry he might be depressed. I tried to talk to him about it but Josh isn’t much of a talker. I know it has to be hard for him to go through this, but it’s not exactly easy for me either! We had so many plans and dreams, and now a lot of that is on hold.
Josh was skeptical about seeing a counselor, but it has been a godsend for us! I learned how to express my own needs without making him feel bad, and it opened up communication about how his health challenges are affecting both of us. We can actually resolve problems without spiraling into an ugly argument, and now I have a better understanding of how difficult all of this change has been for him, in so many different ways. He doesn’t seem to feel as bad about asking me for help, and I’m more than happy to oblige...most of the time ;) And Josh is actually great at being understanding of how all this has affected me, even though he is the one going through everything with his health. It’s amazing how much more willing I am to help now that I know that he knows how hard it can be for me.
We did have to give up on some dreams we had that were no longer realistic...but we are working on our other goals and even dreaming some new dreams. Living with MS is something we definitely did not plan on, but if it weren’t for Josh’s diagnosis I’m not sure we would ever have understood each other as well as we do now. And even though it is limiting in some ways, living with MS has taught both of us how to value our relationships, savor the small things, and love one another better.