I just love the image on an MS sweatshirt that popped up on Facebook the other day.
The central graphic is the orange MS ribbon flanked by a pair of angel wings. Above it are the words:
Someone said to me “I don’t know how you do it”
Below, it says:
I replied “I wasn’t given a choice”
The graphic had such an impression on me that I was considering buying one for my beloved wife Lisa. But then, the message wouldn’t match reality as she DID have a choice.
Unlike most people whose loved ones have MS, or any other chronic illness, Lisa was fully aware that I had the disease well before we were married. In fact, well before I proposed.
The majority of spouses only learn of their loved ones’ diagnosis when they themselves do. Many stay to give care alongside love but some end up leaving as the strain becomes too much.
This was brought home to me by a piece published online by multiplesclerosis.net, written by Devin Garlit.
This is the beginning of his article:
So I’m sitting here, just flabbergasted that it’s happened again. For the third time in just this month, a fellow MS Warrior has confided in me that their significant other is leaving them because of their disease.
This is not a new occurrence, I’ve had many people reach out to me with similar stories, particularly after I wrote about my own experience with the subject.
Many platforms are quick to share stories of wonderful relationships that endure despite MS, but it’s clear that many times, things go a different way. In fact, every breakup that I’ve heard about was often a “solid” relationship until it wasn’t.
Being the partner of someone with MS, especially as the disease progresses, isn’t for everyone. A chronic illness is the ultimate test of a relationship, a test that not all will pass. I’m here to remind you that it’s ok when this happens, that you aren’t alone, and that life is far from over if that test fails.
When it comes to marriage, people are quick to point out vows, and how they often explicitly mention this scenario. It’s right there right? “In sickness and in health” A vow is forever, right? Well, yes, that’s the idea. But in practice, it doesn’t always work out that way.
Let’s face it, a lot of people break vows. I’m not saying that’s ok, I’m just pointing out the reality. No matter how much you believe in vows, you can’t always be prepared for what it takes to be with someone with a chronic illness.
When you take those vows, your intentions may be great, but you simply can’t understand what life might be like. How many people have been tough guys during training but have gone to war and were suddenly not-so-tough once the bullets started flying? I’m guessing many.
What would you do?
It’s always easy to point to vows and say, “but hey, they promised”. The truth is, none of us can say what we’d do in that situation. Many of you are saying, “oh, I’d stay by them, I’d stick to my vow”.
Well, yea, I say that too, but, I also know that, , I can’t really be sure what I would do.
You can read Devin’s complete article here.
I applaud all spouses, partners or ´significant others’ for staying with their loved ones in their time of need. Likewise, I sympathise with those who cannot see that journey through.
In my case, Lisa is amazing and loving. She loves me as I love her. She gives me 24/7 care but says she does what she does for me as my wife, not my carer.
Add to that, my sweet angel not only knew I had MS but also had prior knowledge of it. Her grandfather also had the disease, and she knew how it might progress. So, that sweatshirt wouldn’t be right for Lisa. She DID have a choice. Her eyes were wide open, and she still agreed.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.
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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.