Last evening while I was home alone, I had a moment of crisis. This was due partly to the pain, and partly due to the fact that I was by myself. And while I could have called my partner and asked for help, I didn’t.
You see, he was taking care of his mother. She has been in the hospital since the middle of last week, due to heart problems. (My mother-in-law lives upstairs from us, and her added absence is making the house feel even more lonely than usual.)
Stress levels have been rising for more than a week. First was the news, received on a Friday afternoon (right before a weekend during which not much could be done) telling us what was wrong. Then, there were the concerns about what types of treatments and procedures she would need, and how the financial expenses were going to be paid. Lastly, was her actual admission into the hospital a few days ago. (The latest news: she’s responding quite well to some of the treatments, and continues to do much better than expected!)
On top of all of these worries were my own secret worries. While there certainly aren’t any unhealthy dependencies in our relationship, there definitely is a clear division of labor that we have established around the house: tasks that require more movement and physical strength are done by my partner, and tasks that require more planning, organization, and desk-work are done by me. It’s a somewhat unspoken agreement that took us a long time (and many arguments) to figure out, but now that we’ve been using the system for a while, we both agree that it works quite well.
So as I knew that I was going to be spending more time home alone, and that I was going to have to do more around the house than I’m normally used to, I started to get even more stressed. But then I stopped myself, and told myself that all of this additional stress and worrying wasn’t going to help any, and reminded myself that I would just get through the recent and coming week day by day, hour by hour, and (sometimes) minute by minute.
And all things considered, I’m doing quite well, with an occasional (emotional) stumble here and there. I’ve started reaching out to others beyond my partner for support during these past few days; in fact during last night’s episode I called one of my sisters, who walked me through my crisis. (And I absolutely loved hearing the crys of my infant niece in the background; I will be travelling back to my home country of the U.S. in the near future to attend her baptism as her godfather!)
My partner has always supported me unconditionally, and I love him dearly for that. I know that even now I can still count on him for all of the support that I need, but I’m very aware of the fact that this plate is quite full with taking care of his mother. (In addition to being my primary caregiver, he is also the primary caregiver of my elderly mother-in-law. Some days, my heart breaks when I see him running upstairs to give his mother lunch in bed, and then running right back down to give me my lunch in bed.)
Yes, things are very stressful for each one of us in my household at the moment, but I know that–together–we will get through this.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!