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.