I love my husband. He is my best friend. When we stood before God and our family to exchange vows, we made a commitment for better or for worse. Wow, what a roller coaster of a ride our last 13 years together has been!
My husband has always had unlimited energy. Friends joke that his internal switch is always set to “on”. But, after the birth of our first daughter, he spiraled out of control. He only slept a few hours at night, and never stopped running during the day. Severe situations went unnoticed, yet he obsessed over little things, like triple sterilizing baby bottles. Meanwhile, I was dealing with major health issues of my own.
There came a point when I told my husband I couldn’t live like this anymore. He scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist. We expected a diagnosis of ADD. What we didn’t expect was a Bipolar diagnosis. My husband was diagnosed Bipolar NOS. (Not Otherwise Specified) For him, this means he is hypomanic much of the time. He was put on mood stabilizers and started therapy.
A year later my neurologist dropped a bomb with a cervical dystonia diagnosis.
Being the stubborn person I am, I knew one thing for sure: dystonia would NOT change my life. I had two small children. I was working full time as a teacher. My husband and I were rebuilding our marriage. Nothing would change.
Except that it did. Everything changed.
My symptoms overtook my life. My days were filled with pain and fatigue. I dealt with bouts of dizziness that lasted for months on end. My brain struggled to form words, and each month brought a new medication. Then another. Then another. Weekly physical therapist appointments were scheduled while a deep depression overtook me. We looked at the possibility of ending my teaching career.
But I am oh so stubborn.
I was not willing to quit my job, but I couldn’t continue my life like this. Which meant one thing, I had to figure out how to live my life with dystonia. So, my husband and I became proactive. We began to track my episodes. Patterns emerged that triggered dystonia storms: weather, stress, hormones, and most of all body movements. We tracked daily for over a year, and my husband was by my side every day. Then we made changes. We changed nearly everything about our day-to-day life. And thank God for my husband!
My bipolar, hypomanic, always “on” husband, took all his energy and put it to work for the both of us!
- He learned how to massage me. I have my own daily massage therapist!
- He gets the children up and ready for school.
- He does homework.
- He cooks meals.
- He continuously runs up and down the stairs to get the laundry list of items my dystonia brain has forgotten.
- He jumps to clean up my spills.
- He spends countless hours picking up everything that falls out of my hands.
- He always makes sure I have a heated tube around my neck.
- He holds my hand when I cry and convinces me WE can do this.
What’s the best thing he does for me? He stops me when I can’t stop myself. He takes knives out of my hands when I am chopping up vegetables because he knows looking down brings on pain. He pushes me out of the kitchen and pulls me over to the couch. And he takes over the chopping.
I still do way too much. That may not change. But having a husband with limitless energy, who is always willing to step in and do what I can’t, that’s my saving grace.