Oh how bold for me to be presumptuous enough to even consider giving “marriage advice”… but we’ve recently had some life happenings around here that snapped a few things right into perspective and I just can’t NOT share. So in a nutshell, and out of the brain and heart of an imperfect wife, what is my best marriage advice? Treat your spouse like they’re dying.
WHAT? I know. It sounds crazy. But please allow me to explain.
Last summer, Lane (my precious husband, and much better half) had a fever for about six weeks. His abdomen was distended, he was in excruciating pain, and he was sleeping like 18 hours a day. Which at the time admittedly annoyed the bejesus out of me.
He went to multiple doctors, and no one took him seriously. No one even called to go over his blood work, they just sent it in the mail. His illness continued, and we were more afraid by the day. I even went to his doctor’s office and cried in the waiting room for someone to just please talk to us and take us seriously. “My husband is sick!”, I sobbed. No one listened.
So Lane, being the clever, out-of-the-box thinker that he is, started applying for life insurance. His thought was that if a company was facing paying out $1 million if something really was wrong, then they would figure out what was going on. And guess what? They did. Well, kinda.
They found that he had an enlarged spleen and evidence of some type of infection. And they denied him coverage. Yikes.
Cut to a few weeks later and his fever was gone, but he still wasn’t right. We got on the waiting list for primary care at the Mayo Clinic here in Jacksonville. Our first appointment was in October, and then began the testing.
They started with blood tests, MRI’s, a visit to infectious disease doctors, and then more blood tests. We had just officially moved into the new house and it was shortly after Christmas when Lane got a call to schedule another appointment. Now I don’t know about you, but when I first heard the word “hematology”, my brain automatically connected “oncology”. And that’s where his appointment was. The main campus of the Mayo Clinic, Davis building, 8th floor. Hematology / Oncology. “Well what the hell do they want with us?” Turns out, lots.
Lane and I met for lunch right after New Year’s and he told me that he’d just gotten a call from his last doctor. They’d found that his spleen was still enlarged and that they thought he may have lymphoma. LYMPHOMA. Now there’s a word that will stop you in your tracks. His next appointment would be a consult with a hematologist at Mayo.
At that appointment we met with an incredible doctor who explained lots of scary stuff to us in very great detail. He used words like leukemia, lymphoma, and blood cancers. He explained that there were markers in Lane’s blood that indicated these things. He told us to be patient, and that it would take about a month to do all of the testing that needed to be done for him to figure out what was going on. He ordered more blood tests, another MRI, and a bone marrow biopsy.
We both tried to put on brave faces, not acknowledging that what the doctor had just told us could change our lives forever. It didn’t seem real. This kind of stuff happens to other people, not us. We have a new house, an almost two year old, and a baby on the way. Surely this couldn’t be happening.
The bone marrow biopsy was intense to say the very least. They made a small incision on his lower back / hip and then a nurse that wore heels for leverage (fact) came in and used a pencil-sized “needle” with saw blades on the end and a corkscrew handle on the top, to drill all the way down through his hip bone. There was nothing other than a local anesthetic given before this occurred. It. Was. Brutal. Lane handled it better than I did, of course.
And then more waiting. Despite resolving to stay optimistic, the “what-if” monsters began creeping into my head. What if the love of my life has cancer? What if my kids don’t have their Daddy? What if I had to do this life without him?
Those thoughts led to some serious reflection on the current state of our relationship. I could see very clearly that the way I act the majority of the time does not at all reflect the way I feel about this man. I love him. I chose him. And thank God, he chose me too. So why, when I think about our daily lives together, do I see myself with a scowl and a bad attitude because he forgot the upstairs trash (again)? Or because our renovation projects aren’t getting done fast enough. Or because Lila wants him to rock her to sleep, not me. I let these things that should be so little in the grand scheme, consume me, and dictate the way that I treat my husband.
What a foolish person I am to be upset by this stuff, when instead I should be elated that I have a husband who takes (more than) his fair share of our household responsibilities willingly, happily, and without nagging from me. What a waste of energy to be frustrated that our stuff isn’t getting done at the light speed which I demand, when I should be so thankful to have a loving man who busts his butt to make my dreams for our home come true. How insanely ridiculous that it would bother me that our daughter adores her father, and that he adores her even more. Just in general, what a waste to spend each day so unhappy.About this time is when it occurred to me that although I say “I love you” daily, I have done a terrible job of showing Lane how much I love, adore, and really need him. Yes, that is hard for a stubborn, independent person such as myself to admit, but it is true, I do need my husband. And for much more than just taking out the trash.
I remember saying to him through tears (on one of the nights when the hormones got the better of me and I was not doing a great job at optimism) that none of this stuff – it’s all just “stuff” really – mattered without him. The house, the plans we have, the life we’re making… none of it works without him. Period.
There’s nothing like a little bit of tragedy and fear to put our delicate lives right into perspective. This experience was a slap-in-the-face reminder that, regardless of the outcome of Lane’s tests, there is NO time to waste in this life.
With this realization it felt like a weight lifted off of me. It was like I needed some sort of permission to not get all pissed off about the little things, and turn them into big things that determine my mood every day. Instead I found myself thinking things like, “Lane works really hard, this is something I’d like to do for him.” And then I’d do it, and it made me feel good. So not only was I not wasting my time being upset, but I started treating my husband like I should have been treating him all along. Ya know, before I was terrified that he may be dying. Such a shame that it took something so dramatic to make me realize this.
I’m by no means perfect, and Lane may have not even noticed a change in me… although I hope he has. But the way I feel is different. The way I approach things is different. I’m still completely imperfect and have a long way to go, but my eyes are wide open to the time I’ve been wasting.
We anxiously waited for three weeks after the MRI and bone marrow biopsy for the results. We went back to Mayo last Thursday for the results. We were surprised when we were told that we’d be seeing a nurse practitioner instead of the doctor we’d seen on our first trip there. I was hoping that she would just burst through the door and shout, “YOU DON’T HAVE CANCER!” And dismiss us right away, but instead she carefully went through the results of every. single. blood. test. possible. She kept saying, “so all indicators here are good”, and Lane and I would move a little closer to the edge of our seat as if to say, “okay so what’s the bad news B?! OUT WITH IT!” But the bad news never came. In fact, it was all so good. The absolute best possible outcome.
His spleen was no longer enlarged, and they saw no indications of any type of cancer in his biopsy. They determined that the pain that he is still experiencing in his feet, ankles, and knees is Reactive Arthritis, brought about by whatever massive infection occurred over the summer. He was instructed to take naproxen twice a day and start glucosamine, with a possible referral to a rheumatologist if he’s not better in the next month or so. Praise. Jesus.
You may remember a few months ago when I wrote a post and asked “what makes you happy?” My family makes me happy. Our life makes me happy. It turns out that doing for them makes me happy. Seeing them happy makes me happy.
While I’m not quite selfish enough (close, though) to believe that God put us through this trial solely for my benefit, but I do believe that I will be far less likely to take things – mainly my precious husband and our time together – for granted. I’m realistic enough to know that most people don’t leave the eighth floor without having to schedule a return appointment.I will try every day to not squander this wake up call. I will try to do for my family, to love them the best that I can, to make the most of each moment that we are blessed enough to get to spend together. I will remember that it doesn’t just happen to “other” people… we got a pass, and I don’t plan to waste it.
Can’t wait to get back to some home updates and super fun projects next week! As always, thank you so much for sharing all of our adventures! xo