The Imperfect Caregiver

ill wife husband steps up
A husband tells his side of the story.
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When I met my wife, I was 18, fantastically incapable, and emotionally unstable.

(You can read Andrea's article here: http://www.youandmemagazine.com/articles/have-faith-cushings-syndrome )

Despite this attractive combination, she met me, loved me, and wed me.

I did not know how to repair anything, balance a checkbook, articulate my feelings maturely, or make toast without burning it a degree even my neighbors would smell.

However, my wife Andrea loved me through the years of my near Sisyphean rate of maturation.

About 6 months after the births of our 4th and 5th children (boy and girl twins), Andrea was beset by something no one plans for at 38 years old.  Generally a woman of her age has her beauty, wisdom, and grace cresting into full bloom.

She came in after cutting grass in July of 2009, and was in severe pain throughout her body, and could not move off the couch for 3 days.

Andrea was eventually diagnosed with severe neuropathy, due to the manifestation of Sjogren’s disease throughout her neurological system. The woman who cut hair for 13 hours a day, with a 6 week waiting list for her clients, was no longer able to wield a knife and fork on a reliable basis.

Her condition of Sjogren’s disease was treated, improperly, with a rollercoaster of prednisone doses, which resulted in Steroid induced Cushing’s Syndrome, which carries a 5 year mortality rate.

Most couples do not have to worry until their golden years of what to do when one of them is beset by a serious and long term health issue.  Yet, before my 35th birthday, I became the trophy wife unprepared for my love’s battle against a deadly foe she did not choose.

There are polite prayers one prays…”Thank you for this food”, “Thank God you weren’t hurt!” etc.  The only thought I had was that my wife has been stricken, and I am not capable of running things as she has, or raising our 5 children, or managing our affairs. I had no resume, no skill, only an abundance of shortcomings laid at the feet of God.  “Please make me able to be whatever you need me to be for her”. When your wife is fighting for her life, is the ending of polite prayers. I pled the mercy of God; I had nothing to fight with, save the faith that He would meet me in our greatest time of need.

Undeservedly so, He transformed me into a man I had for so long only hoped to become.  I was blessed with being able to cook, and knowing what to cook when she could barely eat.  I did the bills, staving off financial destitution. I cleaned, I found a school for our kids, I was not able, but He made me able.

But the prayer I did not ask was answered. 

Everyone who falls in love hopes to not fail in love.  I have not succeeded in any professional or personal endeavor in my life, before or after Andrea became sick. 

But the highest aspiration, of everyone who has been in love, is to be there when you are needed most.

And an inexhaustible list of shortcomings, articulated clearly and often by my dad, teachers, and acquaintances dimmed at the blaze of mercy I was afforded.  I have had the privilege of taking care of my wife, when she needs me, and there is no better life I could choose, or have chosen for me.

For however fantastically incapable, and emotionally unstable, we as imperfect caretakers are privileged to attain the highest aspiration, of every movie, story, poem, or romance known to all of humankind. To be there when you are needed most, by the one you love the most. 

 

 

 

 

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