It can be all consuming to deal with one's own illness. What happens when both partners are sick?
Cindy had been living in a cloud of ill defined, mercurial symptoms for years. Sometimes she felt too exhausted to comb her long brown hair. Sometimes moving or being touched made her retract in pain. Sometimes she ran a low fever for days without any apparent reason. In fact none of her symptoms had an apparent reason to her doctor. He prescribed Prozac, exercise, and a referral to a psychiatrist.
Cindy suffered her symptoms with fear and bravery; but her doctor's negation of her reality, his condensing it into a ball of dismissal and tossing it to a shrink crushed her. It was her husband, Bob, who mustered the energy and rallied Cindy to keep searching. They did, and found the right doctor who could give a name to her condition - fibromyalgia. Being taken seriously was as important to Cindy as was finally having a treatment path laid out for her. Cindy focused on taking care of herself, while Bob loved and encouraged her, did most of the chores, and worked full time. Things seemed to be working out for the first time in 4 years.
Then Bob got injured on the job. A piece of heavy equipment fell on him and he suffered serious injury to his back. He had two surgeries and grueling sessions of physical therapy. His love was there for Cindy, but his energy and ability shifted to attending to his own care.
Cindy and Bob did well when only Cindy was impaired. Now that they both had serious limitations and pain, their world bounced off its axis, and there was no one else around who could reposition it properly.
House chores were undone. Laundry, dishes, and all kinds of clutter filled the rooms that used to be tidy and inviting. Luckily Bob still received disability payments and insurance from his job.
Pain and fear made them both short tempered, and the only target for the spillover was the other partner.
Eventually, a friend suggested they consult a care manager to help them put resources in place - home health aides, visiting nurse, meals on wheels. This friend also organized a visitation rotation list among members of her synagogue so that twice a week Cindy and Bob were visited by someone who could bring new social energy into the house.
Cindy and Bob still struggle. They miss their old life and bemoan their current one.
Do you have any suggestions or advice for Cindy and Bob? Have you been in the situation where both partners were ill? What was that like for you?