February 8, 2018
When I met my wife Kathleen on December 6, 2009, I had found my perfect match. A beautiful, vivacious blonde that was full of energy and ready for adventure with me and my 8-year-old son. We played as a family every time we had my son. We wrestled, played baseball, football and every form of game we could think of to play. We hiked, swam, walked and jogged together. We were a fun-loving family.
I married my wife in September of 2011. We continued our adventures together and filed for custody of my son which we were awarded in July of 2013. My wife and I, often accompanied by my son explored the country. We went all over Boston, Chicago, St Louis, New Orleans, parts of Florida and took a two-week trip exploring Western US all the way to California and back.
Sometime after we were married, my wife stopped taking birth control on the advice of her doctor. She was supposedly in a post-menopausal state. Almost immediately my wife began to have issues with her health. We began going to doctors to have her various conditions checked for whatever was going on. Some symptoms were menopause like and some were not. Hot flashes and sweating were almost “normal” for her age but there were times when her body was so sensitive that she felt pain when she was touched. For a person like myself, that was an issue. I would have to ask my wife how she was feeling before I could touch or hug her. Physical contact became as issue with us.
In December of 2012, my wife had her first surgery putting a plate on her neck to fuse 3 vertebrae together. This plate caused her several issues. She had to learn basically how to function again. Even eating became an issue. Any bite too large and she would choke from the pressure at the back of her throat. Also, about this time, her issues with her body became worse. I jokingly asked the doctor if we could put her back on birth control to see if the symptoms would cease. He said that would only greatly increase her odds for getting cancer, so no. After seeking other opinions, my wife was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. We knew very little about the disease except that most people disregarded it like they used to do with Crohn’s. When we told people what we had found out, we were dismissed by most.
My wife’s symptoms got progressively worse while the doctors tried one thing after another. Along the way, my wife was found to have degenerative disc disease in her neck and back. This caused her intense pain and the condition was treated by very painful shots to the affected areas to avoid having surgery again. We also found out my wife had restless leg disorder. A condition that would cause her to wake frequently during the night and aggravate her other issues.
Osteoarthritis followed that one. More medicine, less mobility. Our activity outside the home ceased. My wife could barely stand going out to watch my son play in football games at school. We no longer did anything as a family outside. My wife could only direct my son and me doing things she used to love to do. Planting flowers or playing outside were off her list. The pool that had come with our house sat unused.
My wife’s mental faculties also began to suffer. Ever the quick wit and in the top of her field in her profession, she began to slow down. In frustration, she would often not take needed pain medication to allow her to complete tasks at work. Her employers began to take note of her decline and she was fired from her first job as a Senior Accountant for a multi million-dollar organization. Refusing to give up, my wife searched and found other employment. She became the controller for a local group of companies. She relished in the challenge and worked countless extra hours at home to make up for her diminishing abilities at work. In the end it wasn’t enough, and she was released from that job as well. A pattern developed. My wife worked a series of jobs, each one with less duties than the last. For a proud, stubborn accountant, she was being relegated to being no more than a book keeper. Forced to do jobs that she could have done while in High School with no formal training at all. Each subsequent job brought her working from home more often. She was working longer hours each day but could work at a slower pace and stop to lie down when necessary.
We asked doctors about changing medication to make her brain and body function like in the past. The tradeoff was made clear to us. Either take the medication and be able to have some body function or not take the medication and be in extreme pain all the time. That’s not a choice.
Now my wife stays home. The doctors recommend as much rest as possible for her. She is unable to do simple housework. She has stopped cooking except for times when she has someone to help her lift and do things for her. She can’t clean house, dust, or sweep the floor. She can sometimes help fold laundry if I put it on the bed. She is unable to perform her old job duties for any company. The last one fired her for poor performance. A terrible blow to her ego. I even did our taxes this year. Most days, my wife moves from our bed, with it’s heated mattress pad and blanket, to a recliner with built in heat and a heated blanket to cover her. The heat seems to make her more comfortable. She can’t stand cold and can’t get in the sun due to other issues with skin cancer. She beat that one thank God, except for a nasty Keloid scar on her chest. The same thing that prevents the doctors from fixing her carpal tunnel issues. My wife walks to one side now with a shuffling gait. We found out that this is from a cyst they found on her brain.
This past weekend I got my wife out to go see some work that had been done at my Father’s house nearby. I waited while she took a shower and dressed. She was so exhausted from that little activity, we had to wait a while for her to recover. We made the short drive to my Father ‘ s and as my wife was getting out of the car, she started to fall. I instinctively reached for her and grabbed her arm making her cry out in pain. She didn’t fall, but it made the other people present jump and wonder what had happened. You just can’t reach out and grab a person with Fibro. It’ s like you punched them.
My wife also has this cute purple cane we got for her. She is embarrassed and humiliated to use it, but it keeps her from falling and beats having to be stared at for using a motorized cart. My wife still has immense pride in herself. She still has desire to do the things she once did. The difference is that now she is trapped in the body of a person that can’t do those things.
Our dreams of exploring the rest of the country and even the world are gone. We can only hope that when I retire in five years, we can spend as much time together doing what we can, while we can. In the meantime, we have had to cut back where we could. Canceling memberships to the local YMCA for our son. Canceling cable television. Cutting back on expenses. We stopped paying on our time share since we have no hope of ever using that to take vacations. We can’t afford the fees anyway since we are down to one income.
The bottom line is we lost what we had. My wife has been changed fo rever by the things that have happened because of her condition. The doctor has already hinted that he will soon take away her driving privilege. If not for modern technology in her vehicle, he already would have done that.
We would love to go back to those times just seven short years ago and relive them. We would love to take it all away with a snap of the fingers or a wiggle of the nose. That’s not reality. The reality is we have to make the best of each day. We pray for a good day where my wife is in less pain and able to walk in a store like others take for granted. Even though she has to walk holding onto my arm, she fights using those carts. She fights to be normal. She fight s every day to be the person she once was. She fights to be a Mother to the son she accept ed into her life. It’ s a losing battle and in the back of our minds, creeping ever closer, is the thought that the day is coming quickly where my wife will no longer be able to function and will have to be in constant care.