My husband, Taylor, and I just celebrated our first year of marriage together. It has been a year that neither of us expected. One that came with a complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) diagnosis that is still altering our lives.
We penned our own vows to each other, but both of us choose to include in different words to be there “in sickness and in health”. I vowed this, but did not expect the sickness part to arrive so soon. Newlyweds are supposed to be in their own magical bubble of love, not in emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, and hospital rooms. I vowed to care for Taylor in sickness and in health. In my mind I was vowing, as was he, to care for each other when we had a cold or the flu. I thought we would care for each other and have walker races down the hall when we were wrinkling, gray-haired, and had many more adventures under our belts.
CRPS shattered this view. Sickness came into our lives sooner than anticipated. Through out the diagnosis process I was constantly thinking that the next symptom, the next failed treatment, the next inaccurate diagnosis would be the other shoe dropping. Taylor would decide this is not what he signed up for. I would have understood. The journey was overwhelming. To be fair to Taylor, he did not have the distant sickness view that I did.
Taylor continued to hold my hand (the left one, the one without CRPS), to wipe my tears of pain and frustration, to drive me to the next doctor appointment, to encourage me when I felt that I would never heal. Taylor understood what I, as a 23-year-old bride, did not fully understand.
Being there for your spouse in sickness and in health means reassuring your spouse the pain will get better even when you don’t know. It means running all the errands. It means doing all the household chores and learning to cook so you can feed your spouse. It means adopting a dog so your sick spouse is not home alone. It means advocating for your spouse to their doctor. It means researching your spouse’s symptoms, medication, and doctors so your spouse can get the best care. It means taking off your spouse’s socks when they are in too much pain to move.
It means being there and holding your spouses hand when there is nothing you can do to take the pain away. Being there in sickness and in health means not walking away when life doesn’t go as planned and your spouse gets sick.
*Photography by Studio Lotus