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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sick Daddy

My husband is sick. By sick, I mean throwing-up-seven-times-in-one-night sick. I'm not sure what's going on with his health, but he's been sick nearly every two to three months for the last year or more.

I try to do all the things a good wife should do for a sick husband. I tell the kids to be quiet (or take them out) while he sleeps, I pick up Gatorade and crackers (or Nyquil and zinc lozenges) for him at odd times of day (or night), I stroke his forehead, tickle his back and kiss him gently on the cheek. He's no wuss, nor does he act like he has a man cold. But, he is visibly sick.

I don't let myself express how I really feel. I'm worried. I notice, though, that I distance myself emotionally from him when he's sick. Lying in bed next to him as he sleeps, my mind races. Will I be one of those women who have a chronically ill spouse? Is this how it is going to be from now on?  Is he going to die before me? Am I going to have to raise four daughters by myself? Is this all happening because of our age difference (he's 13 years my senior)?

Pushing out fatalistic thoughts gets harder and harder to do...but, I don't want to tell him. My kids say things like, "Why is Daddy sick so much?" and "I bet you wish you'd married someone closer to your age, huh?" How do you respond to that? Am I overreacting? I know he doesn't want people to pity or look at him differently.

My father-in-law had leukemia for twenty years before he died. In that time he lost his strength, shrunk down to 150lbs (at 6'2 he was a stick) and became quiet. My husband says his dad's personality  changed. He used to be strong, husky and a doppleganger for Robert Wagner in his prime. Illness changed him so much that, my husband tells me I "never really knew him."

Is this what I have to look forward to in my marriage? I'm sure plenty of couples deal with this...but, I didn't expect to have to deal with this for another 20 years. How do people handle illness in their marriage without totally losing their sanity? The person they love...robbed of good health. Scary...and sad.


  1. This is a great post Pam. Raw, real. I sometimes feel that with our husband even more than our children we are out of control. It's such a paradox, the person we are most tied to in the world, and yet...the person whose life we can't even begin to tie up in a bow.


  2. Wow, Pam. That's a lot to handle. I think your thoughts are normal, but I would take care not to dwell on them too much. I don't have to tell you (good yogi that you are) that staying in the present is the best way to keep your spirit, mind, and body healthy. You are doing all of the "right" things, but don't forget to take care of yourself. Don't forget the instructions from the flight attendant: Make sure you secure your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs. Hang in there. xx Stacy


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