A Valentine's Day with Chronic Illness

10:47 AM

I'll try not to be too cheesy, but this is my first Valentine's Day as a married person and with (diagnosed) chronic illness. I don't really make a big deal out of the holiday, but over the past six months, I've been overwhelmed by the love Andrew has shown me just by being supportive and constant throughout my condition. 

So I thought I'd dedicate my blog post today to Andrew and his ever-present love and affection. Even if I'm sore and crabby and I don't feel like going anywhere, even if I've been in pajama pants with no makeup for three days, even if I drag him to another doctor appointment at another hospital, he never complains, never makes me feel inadequate and always has faith in me.

I found this poem on an endometriosis support group that definitely sums up my feelings. While not every single line relates to my experience, I love how it shows that while chronic illness changes many things, the important things remain.

Love Is...

Love is staying in, instead of going out.

Love is venturing into the night to replace a broken heating pad at a 24-hour drug store, 30 miles away.
Love is take-out dining and canceling long awaited reservations with gentle compliance.
Love is bringing home emergency chocolate.
Love is patiently explaining to family and friends that the pain & fatigue are real, time and time again.
Love is declining events and parties at the last minute without fuss.
Love is gladly stopping to use the restroom 4 times during a 2 hour car ride.
Love is saying scars are sexy.
Love is being okay with snuggling, when anything more intimate seems painful and terrifying.
Love is never making your partner feel weak or guilty.
Love is also eating gluten and dairy free.
Love is worry, fear and uncertainty.
Love is crying together through loss and infertility.
Love is a knowing glance across a room during a public pregnancy announcement.
Love is holding hands through seemingly endless doctor visits.
Love is being there for countless procedures, tests and anxiously waiting for results.
Love is long, tearful kisses goodbye before lonely walks to the waiting room/operating room.
Love is hoping and praying for good news from surgeons.
Love is seeing your partner unconscious, green and ghostly-white and hoping she'll be okay.
Love is wondering what you would ever do without her.
Love is holding a vomit bucket and rinsing it out repeatedly.
Love is helping to maneuver a catheter bag and IV stands.
Love is helping to shower, dress and feed.
Love is engaging in more conversations about poo than you ever imagined.
Love is long tearful hugs of despair and endless encouragement.
Love is understanding the anxiety and depression that comes with being ill.
Love is one day at a time.
Love is helping to heal.
Love is being there for many surgeries and knowing there could be more.
Love is trying to be brave, while always worrying.
Love is late night emergency room visits and advocating to ridiculous medical professionals.
Love is wanting to take all of the pain away, but accepting you have little to no control over it.
Love is sometimes just being present in a quiet, gentle way.
Love is always accepting where your partner is at, at that given time and knowing it can change in an instant.
Love is faith in the relationship during difficult times.
Love is being grateful for the good times.
Love is coming to terms with trading in dreams of the past and sharing excitement in revised hopes for the future.
Love is accepting that even with the best care, endometriosis is a chronic illness with no cure.
Love is knowing that even with all of the challenges and losses, you feel incredibly lucky and will never meet a stronger, more beautiful, more loving woman.
- Casey Berna

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