Disclaimer: Includes description of illness, bathroom activity!
In a previous blog, “It’s About Me”, I talked about being a care giver, being groomed for that role by my narcissistic mother who demanded attention and care be given to her, competing with myself and others as to who was “more sick”, whose headache was worse, whose childhood was more difficult, etc. The self-help book referenced within that blog discussed how care giver daughters often select a man as a partner who requires care giving, who is closed off emotionally. It really describes me, my mother and my husband very well.
Throughout our nearly 29 years of marriage I’ve been struggling with the same almost competitive, dynamic I experienced with my mother, with my husband. This past week has been very difficult, I feel bitter, I need to express my thoughts and feelings.
Over the course of our marriage, almost without fail, the same scenario has played out. At first I tried to convince myself it was just a coincidence, but as it happened repeatedly I had to consider other possibilities.
If I get sick, if I hurt myself, to the degree that I am unable to carry out my responsibilities, need some care, inevitably within days my husband will experience the same, or a similar malady, that requires care. When said malady affects him it will always be much worse and last longer than anything I have ever experienced. He will be flat on his back for days, expecting that nothing be asked of him, everything be done for him. On occasion, in the past, he’s even admitted to either “faking it” or exaggerating his symptoms because he didn’t want to do something that was expected of him.
For the past week I’ve been experiencing dizziness and nausea that’s forced me to lie down and rest during the day. I’ve continued to take care of the house, prepare meals, grocery shop, care for Kodiak, etc., until Sunday night. As I was eating dinner I began to experience a lot of discomfort in my abdomen. I had to rush to the bathroom where I experience diarrhea like I have never had before. It was horrible. As I was in the bathroom, pain in my abdomen intensified and vomiting began.
Between 7:00pm and 10:00pm I had vacated my bowels and stomach approximately four times. My husband joined me in bed at 10:00. At 11:00pm and 1:00am I was up again, suffering in the bathroom. By the next morning the vomiting had finally stopped, but the diarrhea continued. I was only able to keep water down.
I didn’t even try to eat until Tuesday evening, when I had a dry piece of toast. Wednesday I had a piece of toast and a half can of chicken noodle soup.
While I was incapacitated, needing to stay close to the bathroom or so worn out that I just had to rest, stretch out my tummy (I pulled the muscles in my abdomen and chest from all the vomiting), my son looked after Kodiak for me, made sure the cats were fed.
My husband took care of dinner for he and our son and did make sure I had something to drink and help if I needed it.
Yesterday morning I decided to take Kodi out for the first time in three days. I had just brought him in when the phone rang and it was my husband saying, “I’ve got it, I’m coming home.”
He came home, walking slowly and stiff. He was talking slowly, using a slurred, gravely speech, he hardly opened his eyes. He said he’d had diarrhea that morning at work, “just like you had.” BUT, he grabbed dvds that needed to be returned and left for the grocery store. He returned the dvds, bought soda and batteries for his video game controller. When he got home he put pajamas on and went right to bed, saying he felt like he’d been run over by a truck (something I had said after hours of vomiting).
I was left to the task of shoveling our sidewalks. Something I should not be doing, something that is terribly painful and I knew I would have to pay for for days to come.
I shoveled down from the deck to the main sidewalk, then to the corner, as I began to have an asthma attack and the pain in my back doubled me over. Tears started flowing as I hobbled back to the deck, using the shovel as a cane. I came in the house in tears. My husband came out of the bedroom asking what happened. I told him, he gave me some Aleve and went back to bed.
I then had to take Kodi back outside, which I did, then finished shoveling before coming in. Another asthma attack overtook me, so I had to use my rescue inhaler.
After 6:00pm my husband finally got out of bed. We had a talk. He had not experienced any vomiting, no fever, no headache and significantly less diarrhea. I asked him why he felt he had to be so overly dramatic about having the ‘runs’. He asked me, “can’t I be sick too?” Of course he can be sick, he’s well taken care of when he’s sick.
What I object to is that I can’t be sick, can’t have the rest and time to recover that I need before he is suddenly on his death bed, that he makes minimal maladies into major health events and this always seems to happen when he’s been put upon to help me, when there are things that need to be done.
Last night he came out and watched TV, played cards on my Kindle, before we went to bed at our regular time.
If it weren’t for the fact that he’s admitted to fudging the truth in the past, I probably would have simply accepted the coincidences as just that. I had never realized until years later what my mother had been doing. Yes, I tend to be very trusting. I don’t want to think that anyone would be dishonest, for any reason, about being sick.
Friends constantly chastise me for not taking better care of myself. They simply don’t understand that I’ve never been allowed to do so.