Outlook: Enrichening or Depressing Experience?

Readers of this blog are aware that my spouse remains ill with an ongoing, persistent, chronic set of physically debilitating conditions caused by an infection that can’t be beat. So far, medical treatment, change of diet, consultation with allied health professionals, and much more have not resolved these problems and he remains in bad shape.

A close friend of mine was asking about him, and said, “I’d find that depressing to deal with day in and day out.”

Like a “glass half full or half empty” outlook,…

I choose the “half full” approach.

Sure, I could easily become miserable and depressed when each day, my spouse can’t eat much, is so fatigued that I have to assist him to walk, and is confused and sometimes angry about why he is so ill. Each evening as I hold his hand, I feel his warmth and tenderness, but also his palpable fear that he will never be well again.

When we talk, we occasionally share dreams of excursions to far away lands that we’ve always dreamed of visiting. We discuss things we want to do and things we want to see. We dream… then reality sets in with, “not while I’m this way.” Boom… the dream bubble bursts again.

We have great medical specialists that we work with, trained at some of the top institutions in the country. We have good quality medical insurance. He has a health care advocate (me) who contents with bureaucratic insurance company “first answer is ‘no'” people. We cannot say that there are fears or worries about money for medically necessary and appropriate testing and treatments. So no real worries there.

Yeah, it could be real easy to wallow in despair and frustration when I gaze into my spouse’s eyes and see his pain. When I pull him up out of a chair and hold him as he walks. Help navigate the way to the bath and bedroom. Just help him do daily functions of life.

But I think very much about the lessons that I learned when caring for my elderly uncle and aunt through their slow declines in health until their respective deaths. Each died with dignity and honor, and it was my cherished experience to have cared for each of them so closely.

That experience enrichened my life. I learned more about my own spirituality, my thoughts about human dignity, and my faith. Caring for my uncle and aunt tested my faith regularly, but faith prevailed. I saw positive light, and felt such deep honor and love. I have to explain that my feelings of faith are not directed by organized religion, but are much more personal and direct.

For 24 months now, excepting about a six-month remission from April – October 2013, my spouse has been seriously ill. But the experience in caring for him, loving him, attending to his needs, fighting for him with bureaucrats and negative noodles, learning to cook all sorts of foods that only rabbits would eat — all of this is truly an enrichening experience to me. Not depressing whatsoever.

Life is short: Providing positive support, guided by faith, led by love, makes me richer for the experience.

2 thoughts on “Outlook: Enrichening or Depressing Experience?

  1. I am happy to read that you are looking at this experience in a positive way. Although I am a glasses half full type of person, I don’t think I could have handled doing what you have doing to help take care of your spouse since I am not a patient person.

  2. Over, under, around and through. Your ability to use your cognitive abilities paired with that Italian heart creates a blog worth visiting. Hope this Easter and renewal of Spring bring continuing support and healing to the two of you and all of your extended family (those elderly folk who are so fortunate to know you up close and personal). Ken

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