By Brittany –
It’s the week of Thanksgiving here in Canada, and I have an abundance to be grateful for. I live in the most beautiful country in the world, I feel safe every day, I have incredible health care, benefits, and I’m surrounded by endless support. I have the most amazing family and friends spread across our great country. Today, I’m especially grateful for the unconditional love and support of my spouse, my partner in crime, My Love.
We met online on my 25th birthday. It’s been three and a half glorious years that he’s been in my life. When we started dating, I was perfectly healthy. I was working full time, teaching yoga part time and a continuous ball of energy, as was he.
One of our favorite things to do was cruise around, singing at the top of our lungs to blaring music. We were the crazy couple at the red light, car-dancing and belting our hearts out. And if I wasn’t singing, I was laughing hysterically at him belting out some old school rap.
Six months into our relationship, I had a slip and fall outside his house, which was the cause of my chronic migraines. That night, I was taking him homemade chicken soup to help him get over a nasty cold. I loved doting over him — making him food, helping him study, just being there for him whenever he needed me. That night was the beginning of our role reversal.
No one could have predicted that our life would be what it is today from that accident. Days and weeks went by, filled with hope that the post-concussion syndrome would soon dissipate and life would go back to normal. But that never happened. We’ve had to learn to adjust to a new normal, and it hasn’t been easy.
I miss those car-dancing and singing days. We still drive around, and instinctively turn up the music to jam out when an epic song comes on, only to have to turn it back down and sing quietly. More times than not, he needs to go out with friends without me, or have a backup plan for when I need to go home, on the occasions I feel good enough to actually go out.
A few months ago, we got the opportunity to move across the country for his work. I’ve always wanted to live in a bigger city so it was a no-brainer to make the move. My migraines were to the point that I could no longer work, and my doctor gladly referred me to a top specialist in the world here in Toronto. We were hopeful that moving to a different part of the country with more stable weather would also be an asset. There was a lot of hope for healing with the move, and it’s proving to be the right decision for my health.
My family and friends were apprehensive about the move and having a lack of support around me. My little sister (who is one of my best friends) had a hard talk with My Love, telling him he better be prepared to be all of my best friends and family combined, because he was all I would have out here. He assured her he was up for the challenge, and I was confident in his ability to care for me.
I don’t know why his never-ending support still surprises me, but I honestly couldn’t have asked for a more supportive spouse. This is what his support looks like.
He drives me to all of my doctors appointments (which have been almost weekly for the last few months). He comes into every appointment, has an incredible relationship with my medical team, asks questions and clarifications concerning my condition, medications and medical procedures. He holds my hand through the whole process.
He prepares me food, wakes me up to the smell of fresh coffee, and let’s me sleep as long as I need to. He cleans, does the laundry, walks around grocery stores patiently with me while I indecisively meander down the aisles. (You know that scene from The Notebook where Noah is asking Allie “What do you want?!” That’s what grocery shopping with me is like…or really when it comes to eating in general.)
He lays my head on his chest, resting his hand on the back of my neck as I sob uncontrollably in pain. He reminds me daily that I’m not a burden, that he loves me, that he’s not going anywhere, when my anxiety and pain tell me otherwise. He works full time, checks on me multiple times during the day, and comes running in an instant if I need him.
A week ago, he rushed me to the ER at 5:00 am with a new kind of pain. I had unknowingly been having gallbladder attacks for months, and my body finally said enough is enough. We were in the ER for 9.5 hours before a bed was available for me in the surgical ward. I spent almost four days in the hospital having tests run, countless rounds of antibiotics, having a scope procedure done to remove a gallstone and surgery to remove my gallbladder. He was by my side the whole time, and not once was I scared, because he was there.
Those nights were sleepless for him, but he wouldn’t let me see it. Laying in the hospital bed with me, he continued to make me laugh. He makes me laugh more than anyone ever has before. With four incisions in my abdomen, it’s so painful, but so worth every laugh. I tell you, if laughter really was the best medicine, I would have been healed years ago!
My journey of chronic migraine and pain hasn’t been easy on me, and it hasn’t been easy on him either. We’ve stumbled through together, learning about migraine, chronic pain, anxiety, depression and panic attacks. A lot of the time he feels helpless, like nothing he does helps and he’s better off giving me space. I remind him that having his hand to hold does more than he’ll ever know.
Living with chronic migraine is a continuous uphill battle, but My Love makes every single day of it so much more bearable.
If you’re a spouse or loved one of someone with chronic pain, you likely feel helpless a lot of the time too. I can’t imagine the pain of watching someone suffer and not being able to do something to alleviate that pain. I can almost guarantee though, that sitting with your loved one and holding their hand, or just holding them, will help the pain. Verbally wishing our pain away doesn’t make it any easier, and know that we don’t expect you to fully understand what we’re going through or need you to make it better. Your presence alone means more than words could ever express.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone in my support system. Although we’re thousands of miles apart, I still feel your love, support and hugs on a daily basis. You make living through chronic pain so much more bearable and enjoyable.
And to My Love, Derek, you’re my rock, my hero. I thank my lucky stars every single day that you were sent to me. You may say I saved you in a lot of ways, but I believed you saved me, and you continue to do so every single day.