Jim and I have been together for 8 years and married for 6 years. We married when we were both older and started our family WELL into our thirties. We both had been working and very focused on our careers when we married. We skipped the hard part that some young couples go through --- struggling to make ends meet, deciding when to start a family and saving for a 1st home. I point that out because I think those things build a foundation for a marriage -- they build character in a marriage, they help make the marriage and the couple stronger. Well, that's my opinion anyway!
We were in love, we were happy and we had the world in the palm of our hands. We loved to travel together, run together, we loved to go to Vegas and spend all night playing craps together, we could talk for hours about anything and everything. Life was easy and life was good --- we were in love and loving life.
We had 3 children in 5 years and somewhere mixed in with all of the joy of having our children we lost the joy in our marriage. It happened slowly we really didn't even notice at 1st but our primary focus became our children; not our marriage or each other. There was nothing terrible going on in our marriage but we had definitely lost that loving feeling and our ability to effectively communicate.
We were plugging along doing ok and then WHAM Nate was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on 9/17/09.
I specifically remember someone sending me an email after Nate's diagnosis that said something like 'don't forget about your marriage during this stressful time'. Ummm - yea - DELETE. I was SO not focused on our marriage at that time. Good hell -- my son was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes -- he could have DIED! I felt more like ----> Insulin and I will now be keeping Nate alive - I don't give a crap about my marriage right now!!
Before even a year had passed since Nate's diagnosis, our daughter, Sophie was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis with it looking more and more like Crohn's Disease everyday. Another huge blow to me, to Jim and to our family. We watched as Sophie suffered and I silently cried every time I thought about my sweet girl living with such a burden.
Looking back it seems like I should have listened to that bit of advice sent via email. I don't know the statistics but I do now know that having chronically ill children can doom a marriage. Our marriage already had issues and then you throw in the stress of caring for not 1 but 2 chronically ill children --- it took a huge toll.
After Nate's diagnosis I went into a pretty dark place. I was sad, frustrated, scared, angry and really, really tired. Then Sophie's diagnosis came along just as I was clawing my way out of my dark place and threw me right back down into my black hole. Jim seemed to be just taking it all in stride and that was really pissing me off!
Diabetes is a full time job. I took on that job with a passion and pretty much shut Jim out. I often felt angry at Jim for not being more involved but he was traveling all of the time. I attended all of the classes alone and while busy not sleeping I read every book that I could get my hands on to learn more about diabetes and how to better care for Nate. I can't really blame Jim for not wanting to dive into Think Like a Pancreas but still I was aggravated.
Diabetes is expensive. Even before we lost our insurance the cost was expensive. Now we have no insurance and it is down right life altering. We have had to make some serious lifestyle changes.
Now we are dealing with no communication, 2 chronic illnesses and financial issues.
With diabetes in our lives the most simple things now seem nearly impossible -- we no longer have the ability to spend a night away from our children, we rarely even spend an evening alone, and a romantic getaway ---- forget about it!
Let's see now we have no communication, 2 chronic illnesses, financial issues, and no time to ourselves.
Jim has been working in Washington DC for over a year now. The stress (and the joy) of raising 3 children on my own along with the lack of sleep and lack of communication with Jim finally took its toll. In October we both hit a wall. I literally did not have enough energy in me to fight for my marriage. I felt exhausted, defeated and overwhelmed.
It all seemed like too much - no communication, 2 chronic illnesses, financial issues, no insurance, no time to ourselves, and I was exhausted, defeated and overwhelmed.
I have to believe that it is not all that uncommon for couples living with chronically ill children to feel the same way. When Nate was 1st diagnosed we rallied and put up a strong, united front but then before long we went back to our old ways and had so many more problems coming at us from every direction. It has not been easy.
I am SO thankful today that back when we hit that wall my husband flew home early from DC and had enough fight left in him for the both of us. He came home and fought for our marriage, for me, for our children, and for our life together. Our relationship needed much work and we have addressed each issue one by one. As all marriages are --- ours is a work in progress but it feels so good to know that we are both working for a common goal. Our family.
Jim has embraced Nate's diabetes and has become very involved in his care. On his last trip to DC he actually read Think Like a Pancreas along with a few other diabetes books. We work daily on communicating better and keeping all lines of communication open. Unfortunately, Nate still has type 1 diabetes and Sophie still has UC/Crohn's therefor we still have no medical insurance but what we do have is each other and 3 wonderful children. We know that we are blessed to have our children here with us and we enjoy every moment we are given with them.
Now we share Nate's care and make decisions together. I'm still Nate's primary pancreas but now Jim is a fabulous co-pancreas!
So, sometimes a marriage starts out easy and sails along with no problems for a while and the solid foundation building comes along later in the marriage. I think right now is our foundation building time. We are are going to get through all of this and look back one day and be amazed at how we survived it all and know that we are stronger for it.
I look forward to being able to look back . . .