When you live with someone who has a lot of health problems, and you don’t, it can be uncomfortable. It sounds strange, but true. Especially when you realize that there are subtle and not-so-subtle messages all over the place encouraging you not to be (or at least not to feel) particularly healthy.
The messages are often confusing and paradoxical. For instance, commercials touting various drugs come in between commercials for high-fat, high-sodium foods. Tear-jerking plugs for heart walks and breast-cancer walks are followed by ads for things that are known to be bad for you. Things like diabetes meters and rolling scooters are offered “at no cost to you” if you just fill out the necessary paperwork. The underlying message in all of this is that no matter what you do, you’re going to get one of these conditions sooner or later, so you better just suck it up and accept it. When you don’t, the internal discord can sometimes be quite strong.
Of course, the great majority of G’s physical problems stem from her injury that happened in 1991. Before that, she was a body builder and in excellent health. Even today, she doesn’t test positive for diabetes or high blood pressure or any kind of coronary trouble, even though all of that runs in her family.
Still, with PTSD, depression and the physical debilitation of the accident, her bad days often seem to outnumber the good. Some days she just can’t move. Some days, the nausea threatens to overwhelm her. Some days, she gets a migraine. On those days, I go about my usual routine, but I also hover (probably more than she’d want me to). I remain hyper-alert for the sound of a “thud” from upstairs, letting me know she’s missed the couch or stood up too fast or her blood sugar went nuts. Whatever.
I don’t mean to imply that she’s an invalid. She’s far from that. She’s probably the strongest, most determined, “grittiest” person I’ve ever known. But everyone has a limit and sometimes you have to give in to the symptoms.
And here I am, the outward appearance of a doctor’s nightmare, a middle-aged fat woman, who never gets sick. WTF is up with that? By all accounts, because of my weight (per the “experts”), I should now have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, “dyslipidemia” various vascular or arterial circulatory conditions making it too painful for me to walk, a bladder that won’t let me move 10 feet from a bathroom and a whole host of other things.
I have none of them. I get up around the same time every day (5 to 5:30 am). I drink coffee, sit a lot for work, but try to stay active otherwise. I don’t take any prescription meds, and honestly, I don’t take many supplements either. I try to eat good food and not overindulge too much.
I feel pretty good most of the time. Yeah, my neck hurts some and my hip hurts occasionally, and sometimes I’d rather loll on the couch and watch Netflix than walk 5 miles. Sue me, I’m human.
But feeling this way all the time when you’re watching your beloved in agony sometimes just sucks. I know it doesn’t make any sense for me to want to feel bad when she does, but sometimes I think my “robustness” must be an irritant. Like she’s tossing her cookies and I’m eating whatever I want with no worries. Sometimes, I don’t even want to eat in front of her.
I’ve worked on this. My goal is to feel good. I DO feel good. I love the way my body is coming along with this current exercise stuff that I’m doing. I’m really looking forward to the weather warming up so I can walk more and ride the bike on the road. I like feeling good. I LOVE the strength I feel when I cut through the water lap after lap. I try really hard not to hide my own feeling good when she’s feeling rotten, but that can be hard, too, because it feels like I’m “flaunting” un-asked for health in front of someone who had it, lost it and would give anything to have it back.
It’s just difficult because she WANTS so badly not to feel the way she does. She is a 100% get out and go hard girl. She doesn’t know the meaning of the word slacking. That’s part of her trouble, too. She really does not know how to pace herself. It’s all or nothing and that often gets her into trouble. She has a couple of good days and thinks, “Oh, I can now lift a truck load of bricks today.” And then she wonders why she’s flat on her back the next day.
I can’t fix any of it. I know this. And I know, really, that it doesn’t need to be fixed. I just have to keep focusing on my feelings, realizing I didn’t cause any of the problems or symptoms, and work on being my best “me”. Because that will ultimately be the best thing for both of us.