In 2006, our lives dramatically changed forever, my husband received the diagnosis of Osteomyelitis and told he had three months to live; his health was already compromised by the effects of heart disease and diabetes. We faced innumerable decisions regarding treatments, surgeries, financial stress, family relationships and so much more.
Once our heightened emotional state had calmed down a bit, we readied ourselves for my husbandís partial amputation surgery, his lengthy recovery and the possibility of his impending death. Thankfully, the surgery was a success and he only had one toe amputated. Antibiotics quelled the infection and he was on the road to recovery, or so we thought.
The next seven to eight months was a rollercoaster ride of doctorís appointments, tests, and an ample supply of medications. Slowly, we saw improvement, my husband returned to work; but the damage to his overall health was evident. His diabetes and heart disease became more uncontrollable over the next few years. A daily battle ensued to keep his blood pressure and glucose levels in check, landing him back in the hospitalís CCU for multiple visits.
Our relationship went from husband and wife to caregiver and patient, sometimes blurring the lines of our marriage vows. Our children and family were overwhelmed with a variety of emotions and responsibilities that were previously unknown.
In 2010, our once financially stable lives became a teeter-totter balancing act, as my husband was no longer able to work and faced a permanent disability. He was no longer able to walk without the assistance of crutches or a wheelchair. The emotional toll he endured was excruciating to watch and I felt helpless to control.
Finally, in January 2011, we made the difficult decision to move back to Oklahoma after being away for almost twenty years. Through the generosity of my brother, we had a house waiting for us to move into and make it a home and an extended support system set in place. The search began to find new medical specialists to care for my husbandís needs, as we learned to adjust to a new way of life and reacquaint ourselves with family.
Change is never easy and especially when you have a family member with a chronic illness who needs specialized care, there is a sense of urgency that never ceases. While still holding onto a sense of normalcy and stability we are faced with the challenges of our daughterís senior year of homeschool extended, my doctorate put on temporary hold, a husband in constant need of care, extended family responsibilites, and the care of a larger home & property.
Facing a chronic illness put everything into perspective, when your family always faces the possibility of end-of-life decisions on a daily basis. You cherish what is important, discard the frivolous and find strength within yourself that you never knew existed. You hang onto your faith, set your face like flint to the wind, choosing to be thankful for every moment and create incredible memories despite an impossible situation.
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