In Sickness and in Health : Relationships and chronic illness

Being sick all the time is not easy – obviously for the person who is sick but also for the people who love them and take care of them. I have struggled with health issues for most of my life, starting with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 13, then breast cancer, and now Systemic Lupus. Fortunately, I have had a wonderful support system in my Mom, my friends, my spouse and even my children. I can’t help but feel guilty sometimes though, because my exhaustion, my pain, my doctor’s visits and doctor’s bills all have an impact on those around me. It’s also hard to see the worry on their faces when I don’t feel well. I can’t do as much around the house, which puts more responsibility on my spouse (who never complains – God bless!) and I often don’t have the energy to do as much with my kids as I’d like to. Intimacy is hard, because chronic pain, early menopause, various meds and sheer exhaustion are not a good mix for anyone’s libido. Relationships can be complicated enough without the strain of chronic illness. I’ve met several people who told me horror stories of their families abandoning them in their time of need or spouses leaving them when they were diagnosed with a serious illness. I consider myself very fortunate to have people in my life who have stood by me -and continue to do so – in sickness and in health – in surgery and recovery – in chemo and post-chemo – through medication changes and side effects – day in and day out – despite the difficulties of loving someone with a chronic illness.

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