Love is best expressed in silent actions than flowery words. In the past 15 months I’ve had 5 surgeries which included 3 total shoulder replacements. I’m aware the math doesn’t work – since I only have 2 shoulders. Needless to say, it’s been a hard year. While I’ve written many posts on what RA has taken, with the right perspective, you can see beauty in what people give when you need them.
Chronic disease is hard on a marriage. 8 surgeries in 6 years is like throwing kerosene on a fire, if things were bad before, they are only getting worse. Imagine your spouse tomorrow tied their right arm behind their back for 6 weeks and you have two active children aged 9 and 11 years old. It’s like adding one-third the work to your day and reducing your help by 50%, but throw in some free babysitting. Irritation on both ends is a strong possibility, as are high emotions from the frustration. It’s not always pretty. But I think if you ask John, he would say our marriage is stronger for going through this together. He’s picked up some skills along the way. He can now expertly put my long, curly hair into a bun or a ponytail and we were just getting to braids (ok, kidding on the last one). He can hook up an IV to a PICC line. He is an expert a pillow “nests” for my shoulder. He’s my arms and hands when they don’t work and hold me up when the world seems to be falling around me.
My parents set an example for the kind of parent I aspire to be. In December 2014 they moved to Ottawa to be closer to me and my family. They recognized that I would need more support in the years ahead, given my declining health. Their actions show true love – parenting is leading by example, and they have set high bar for me to follow.
My friends are a mix of “new” and old. I have very good girlfriends from 20 years ago at university and friends that I’ve met through my professional life and the moms of my kids’ best friends. They all support in different ways – taking me for groceries, running errands, coming over for a visit, feeding my Starbucks Chai latte habit and sometimes just listening to the apparent never-ending story of my RA struggles.
My RA journey isn’t solitary; it involves people in my life. My husband, parents, kids, friends, colleagues. I’ve been on a Death Cab for Cutie (yes, that’s a band name) binge lately. Their song “What Sarah said” is a haunting story of the despair of the hospital which puts into sharp focus who is important in your life, with the pivotal observation: “Love is watching someone die”. I have found throughout my RA and most recent surgery journey, that I am surrounded by love and friendship. For that, I am grateful.