Caregiver and lover…is that a thing? Is that a line one should be comfortable crossing? Maybe friends…maybe.
Recently I had to have an uncomfortable conversation and confront a personal fear. This fear is a deeply buried fear that I had no idea just how much it influenced my actions and decisions. Now, if you have been reading this blog, then you know that few topics make me uncomfortable. I mean, I talk about shit for goodness sake! But, recently I actually found myself very uncomfortable trying to have a conversation with someone very close to me…my husband. Friends, I was more uncomfortable than a hooker in church.
A few weeks ago my doctors added yet another shot to my medication regime. For those keeping count, that brings me to 1 weekly at home injection, 1 monthly at home injection, 1 infusion at the hospital every 6 weeks, and over 7 daily medicines (after Mayo I SIGNIFICANTLY reduced my daily meds) but I digress. Recently my husband observed me in the bathroom attempting to do my new at home injection…B12. Now, B12 itself is no biggie, but like most people I do not enjoy sticking myself with sharp objects. So, the thought of adding another shot to my regime did not make me happy. Also, if you are familiar with B12 injections, then you know that you have few options on a location for the injection. Well, given my slender build, I have even fewer selections. Fortunately, my upper arms are pretty meaty, so I was told to use them as the injection site for my B12. Fun times friends, fun times.
So, recently my husband observed me partaking in the fun that is a self-administrated B12 injection to the upper arm on a Friday night. Wild times at our house let me tell you. But, my husband sat on the edge of our bed gazing into the bathroom at me as I spent over 30 minutes trying to angle my hands in a way to inject myself in the outer upper arm. I imagine I looked like Edward Scissorhands trying to open a jar of food or something. After 45 minutes of watching me struggle, groan, sulk, and take periodic breaks to give myself a pep talk, my husband scoffed, “listen, why don’t you let me do the injection?” Shocked, by the voice from the other room because I thought I was alone, I sheepishly replied, “huh?” Annoyed at this point, my husband flatly said, “you heard me.” I quickly put the needle on the sink, and slowly moved my head towards the doorway to peek around the corner and get a look at my husband’s face.
As I slowly peeked my head around the corner and into the doorway, I mentally reminded myself “smile and choose your words carefully.” We’ve already discussed my inability to “softly reject”, but I digress. For some odd reason, time seemed to slow down and the doorway that was initially inches away seemed to be several yards away. Friends, it felt as if I was moving in slow motion…I know that’s not a thing, but it happened. As my husband’s face slowly came into view in the distance, I whispered to myself, “how are you going to answer him?” The answer, NO IDEA.
Here’s the thing. We have already covered my Type A control freak tendencies in great details, so I will spare you from reading that again. But, if you have read this blog at any point, it should come as no surprise that the thought of anyone sticking me with a sharp object sends chills down my spine. I give ZERO cares if the stick if out of medical necessity; I don’t want it! Now, while I cringe at the thought of being stuck at all…for some reason I handle it better knowing I am inflicting the pain on myself. Yeah that’s right, I am fine with ME hurting ME, but no one else. So, given this, as you would image, there are few instances in which I am ok with someone else giving me a shot. Candidly, I only go along with it at the doctor’s office because apparently it’s a health code violation to take the needle from the nurse and stick yourself, or hold the nurse’s hand to assist her in administrating the shot…possibly a few other law violations too. You’re welcome. But, candidly, control freak issues aside, it is so much more than that.
Follow me and read close friends. When you battle with chronic illness and pain, you lose so much. You lose friends, jobs, dreams (literally, your sleep sucks), control over your body, including the ability to fully control how your body looks/works, and etc. Because of that, some people (as in ME) become VERY protective of how others are allowed to see them and their battle. Said another transparent way, I have become very protective of how my husband sees me and my battle with my illnesses. Yep, you read that right. So, I have mastered the ability of only letting those close to me, particularly my husband, see the bad side of my illness and pain that I want them to see. And, no surprise I’m sure, maintaining that ability has become VERY important to me. So much so, that I go to extraordinary lengths to make sure my husband doesn’t see too much. One great way I have accomplished this is by purposefully prevented my husband from having too much involvement in the day to day management of my conditions. Yeah I know, THIS IS COMPLETE NONSENSE. But, let me explain.
See, for me, it is very important for my husband to see me as the same hornball he fell in love with. Yep, I want him to still look at me as the same woman whose bones he wants to jump any time and any place, which I thought would be hard to do if he saw the full extent of my illness. My mind somehow convinced me that seeing the full extent of my illness would make him view me as fragile. Him knowing the full extent of what I deal with would somehow transition me from his lover, to his patient, if you will. And THAT friends, COULD NOT HAPPEN. Lord, the lies we tell ourselves. It is mind boggling how fear creates a COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL train of thought. I won’t even address how wrong I was about this man’s awareness of the full extent of my battles.
So, as I walked out of my bathroom that faithful Friday night and explained to my husband why he couldn’t do my injection, he smiled and said something that blew my mind. As he gave me that smile I love so much, he said “woman, I have no interest in being your doctor. I love you, but that’s not what I’m trying to do. Honestly, you suck as a patient. I am trying to help you do this shot for two reasons. First, the faster you get this done, the faster I can make my move and we can get it in. I want some and that’s all I am thinking about right now. Second, this shot helps you feel better, which means we keep getting it in.” Straightforward and so not related to any scenario I created in my mind. I think we can all agree that I was doing some SERIOUS overthinking in that bathroom and life generally.
Friends, it is easy to let this battle with chronic illness and pain tarnish how you see everything in life. THIS is something you have to resist. Believe me, I am typing this for you and me. But, we have to fight against this. People that love us will take a role in our care, but it will not always be for the reasons we think. What we see as offers to help because of pity, may simply be offers to help out of love or efficiency…dare I even say someone being horny. So, allowing my husband to help me does not create a conflict of interest…our goal of a healthy <insert my birth name here> is the same. Friends, letting people in, sometimes lets people in. You’re welcome!