couple holding hands nervously

When we said “in sickness and in health” we envisioned supporting each other through old age.

Even 64 seems pretty young these days. The world has changed since the Beatles were at the top of the charts. When did we expect to start feeling old? At 70-something? But then there’s that 96-year-old yoga instructor.

I didn’t imagine the “in sickness” would happen in our 20s.

We felt so responsible. We were checking off all the boxes for becoming adults. We unpacked all the housewares we got for our wedding into our new house and started cooking healthy meals, going out running together on the weekends, and opened up retirement accounts. We didn’t want our careers to be first, but we also wanted to climb the ladder. We talked about who would take how much leave once we had a baby, how we’d manage childcare and housework. We were planners, planning our life together.

And then one day he isn’t feeling well. Really not feeling well. So I took him to the ER, his head in my lap in the waiting room, figuring they’d send us home with some antibiotics. Instead, he was in a coma by the end of the day.

Too much was happening at once for me to even worry about anything. I was in shock.

He came out of the coma, thankfully, but not really. I guess no one comes out of a coma as if nothing had happened; they’re never the same.

He’s never going to be able to go back to the job he had, although it seems hopeful he’ll be able to go back to work eventually. It’s hard to understand that he has brain damage, since there was no accident, nothing happened. He seems like his old self, except when he doesn’t. It seems like he can manage something on his own, except then he can’t.

I don’t want to baby him and keep him from progressing and recovering. But it feels cruel to watch him struggle, flounder on his own.

It feels cruel that this has happened to us.

At night I ask myself how long I will have to do this. How long I can do this. The doctors say he’ll probably be fine on his own, be able to get some sort of job, but there’s no guarantee. Right now he is well enough to stay home alone while I’m back to work part time, except I never quite know what I’ll come home to. So far it’s just been…confusing…to see what trouble he’s gotten into. But I worry all day that he’ll hurt himself or burn the house down.

What if he’s like this forever? How will I take care of us both?

I try so hard to not be angry, to not lose patience with him. Because I’m never mad at him. He didn’t do this. I’m just angry. Angry that this is our life now, that this happened to us. But I know being angry won’t make things any easier.

Irene Martin

Written by Guest Author
The Caregiver Space accepts contributions from experts for The Caregiver's Toolbox and provides a platform for all caregivers in Caregiver Stories. Please read our author guidelines for more information and use our contact form to submit guest articles.

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5 Comments

  1. It’s hard for the caregiver as well as the person suffering. The person suffering gets frustrated with not being able to do what you want as in the past. Your mind tells you one thing and your body tells you differently. I can relate to what both you and Bill go through. Keep the faith.

    Reply
  2. I get it. My husband is 10 years older than me. I aSserted in late 30s, year and hAlf later, heart 5 bypass, he went back to work, then 2014, COPD. So sick. Disability now. He has no stamina for Anything. Tough.

    Reply
  3. Listen to the song, “Blessings” and read the story behind it. You are not alone in your struggles.

    Reply
  4. My husband is 45. He had a pulmonary embolism at 36, in 2008. I never thought it would happen to us. It’s not easy and I have good and bad days. But we’re together. And I love him.

    Reply
  5. My husband and I have been married for 16yrs.. I have been dealing with his emphysema since 2009. He has been on life support 8 times and I have almost lost him twice. Now, he has stage 4 emphysema, stomach cancer, and the later stages of lung cancer. I am scared of losing him. The Drs. can’t do any more for him except to try and keep him alive. Last year, he was diagnosed with Antitrypsin Disease. It is a horrible disease that attacked his first, then his lungs, then his liver, and now it is attacking his kidneys. My vows said in sickness and in health and I will never leave him. I am fighting squamous cell and breast cancer myself.

    Reply

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