For Better or For Worse

In SICKNESS and in HEALTH… 

The words SO many of us have said but hope the last parts never come to fruition. We hope we will never have to muddle our way through the ‘for worse‘ or the ‘in sickness‘parts. We hope we will be able to skip right over all that while we live happily ever after in fairytale bliss. 

But unfortunately for many of us, we are suddenly knocked out of this fairytale and awoken from the BEST dream EVER, as we are slapped in the face with something TOTALLY  unexpected…

Something we never thought we would ever have to deal with as we looked into our significant other’s eyes and said “I Do.” Not US we thought to ourselves… It will NEVER happen to US… 

BUT THEN IT DOES.

And from that moment on, Life as we know it quickly vanishes into thin air… Never to be seen or heard from again. From that moment on, your NEW Life as a battling Duo begins. 

Heres OUR story of ‘For Better or For Worse…’

What were the chances that this small town Grimsby girl would meet, fall in love with, and marry a Tennis Pro all the way from Oaxaca, Mexico?

Although I haven’t actually calculated this, I’m willing to bet the odds are a lot slimmer than being diagnosed with MS…but as we all know, anything can happen! 

It all started in August 2010, only 5 months after my diagnosis. My parents actually knew him before I did, through taking tennis lessons at our local club. It was only after my Dad suggested I take lessons myself, that this whole love story began to unfold. Just two lessons and a new racquet later…this story was off to the races faster than either of us expected. 

We new almost instantly​. We had both been in long term relationships before and when we met each other we simply knew….We KNEW life without each other was likely not in our cards. We only dated for 4 months before we confirmed this suspicion with an engagement, and then got to spend a whole year and half anticipating the life we THOUGHT we would have. 

I never kept it a secret…on just our third date I told my now husband (Joel), that I had recently been diagnosed with MS. 

A couple days ago I decided to ask him a few questions regarding what it’s like being a spouse to an MS warrior. I wanted to ensure I got HIS words and not MINE when trying to capture what life’s like from his side of the battle. 

The first question I asked was “What did you think when I FIRST told you I had MS?” to which he responded in the usual candid fashion he always displays…

“I didn’t think anything of it because you didn’t have any symptoms. You looked normal to me.”

We both read about the disease and understood to some degree the prognosis…but my husband said it best, “you LOOKED normal to me.” And I did…

I never even acted like I had just been diagnosed with one of the most debilitating​ chronic illnesses to ever exist…Because even AFTER my diagnosis, I never wanted to believe that I would be the one to end up in a wheelchair before the age of 30. 

I don’t think many of us want to believe any of the worst case scenarios we may face in life. Most of us want to remain optimistic about our future. That is until we are no longer able to hide from the new reality we MUST start living. 

After 5 years of marriage, Joel has been by my side for nearly my entire MS Journey. He has been with me since the days of mere tingling in my arms, right up until the rough patch I’m going through now.

He was with me during the days I lost the majority of function in my right arm, and still with me now as I struggle just to make it to our driveway.

He’s seen it all…and when asked what he thinks is my most debilitating symptom, he referenced an invisible one. “The nerve pain you have every day. It’s something you don’t see and it’s impossible for me to feel but I can see how much it’s killing you.” 

I can’t help but agree…don’t get me wrong, barely being able to walk while being burdened by overwhelming fatigue are certainly FAR from welcomed symptoms… But you can still learn to live a somewhat independent life by making modifications to the way you live. However living with chronic debilitating pain NEVER gets easier. It is emotionally and physically draining in every single way. It is the silent symptom that makes you want to SCREAM at the top of your lungs. 😱

But it doesn’t matter what new symptom evolves or what new attack erupts, my husband is the epitomy of ‘devoted’ and goes above and beyond his call of duty as both a husband and father every single day.  

We both agree that it’s hard only having one person who’s able to take on the brunt of the household chores, but he never complains. He is one of the most hardworking and driven people I know, and when asked if he had any advice for others facing a tough road ahead, he replied “Be the person you would like to have if you were in the same situation.”

Well, Joel, in case I haven’t told you enough… you are MORE than the person I could have ever hoped for. You are supportive, patient, kind, loving, understanding, hard-working, driven, selfless, and the list goes on…

I realize that because of my limitations, life is far from the one you envisioned as a husband and a father way before you knew I was the person who would become your wife. And even once you knew I was the one, we both still envisioned an active life. One full of tennis, soccer, walks, day trips with our son, camping, weekends at the beach, traveling and simply living free of the burden that is MS.

We have tried our very best to keep living a life full of positivity while battling this BEAST we both face. It is impossible to have the life we once pictured… Not only because of my physical limitations, but also because so much time is consumed with doctors appointments, research, trying new treatments, clinical trials and so much more. 

But despite ALL this adversity, we are still here and we are still fighting this thing together. We are making the most of the situation we have and I’m so proud of us. We may not be able to do a lot of the things we once thought we would do, but we are always trying to find new things to explore together.

June 9th marks our 5th year wedding anniversary. Wow!! 💍🍾

Throughout this time we have endured more than we ever thought was possible…but through all of this battling and hurdle jumping, I truly believe we’ve become stronger than EVER before. 

Sure there are the moments we both explode in frustration, but those moments are only short-lived because we then remember we are both fighting the same war. 

Thank you for doing everything I’m not able to do and for making my life easier on a daily basis.

Thank you for understanding how difficult it is for me just to get up and get a coffee.

Thank you for understanding how challenging it is for me JUST to grab the remote off one couch and walk to the other.

Thank you for understanding how cooking a meal takes EVERY last ounce of my energy and therefore never expecting food on the table when you come home, but being incredibly grateful for the times when there is. 

Thank you for getting Landon up every morning and getting him ready for bed every night. 

Thank you for not only providing for us financially, but also taking care of the laundry, the cleaning, and for taking me to swimming once a week because you know it’s literally the only active sport I can do. 

Thank you for coming home from work every day as quickly as you can because you know how hard it is for me to take care of Landon right now….

Thank you for realizing I will always do EVERYTHING I can to push through when Landon needs or asks for something, yet recognizing that even though I do it, it comes with more difficulty and pain than words could ever describe.

Thank you for appreciating when the only thing I’ve been able to accomplish all day is folding one load of laundry.

Thank you for all the times you have carried me to and from the car because you understand how taxing it is for me to walk those mere 10 feet.

And most importantly, thank you for still seeing ME as ME despite all the changes I have endured, and loving me unconditionally despite all the challenges my illness has brought into our lives.

Thank you for all of this!  For all of the little things you recognize and do for us. I could not be more proud of the husband you are to me, and the father you are to Landon

If there is a silver lining in all of this, it’s that we have proven why the the words for ‘Better or For Worse, in Sickness and in Health’ are part of a wedding ceremony. They aren’t just there because they sound good…They are there as a constant reminder that when life gets tough, we as a couple must get tougher, become reslient, and remain united.

I strongly believe that I will get better one day, and life will become easier for both of us…but that will only happen in time. Whether it’s sooner or later we must keep doing what we’re doing, and most importantly, maybe the hardest part of all…we MUST remain patient. 

And as the old saying goes…

 ‘Patience is a Virtue!’ XOXO ♥️

#ourlovestory #forbetterorforworse #thebestisyettocome #united #strong #reslient #marriage #happy5years #love #MSawareness #journey #fightingthefight #burnfireburn.

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7 thoughts on “For Better or For Worse

  1. Ron Mauro says:

    Hard for me to read this Gill wuthout getting emotional! You are right…Joel deserves all the praise you have sent gis way!
    Love you!
    Dad

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  2. Janet Schutten says:

    Wow, Gillian, I’ve read all your posts, and maybe being an author is your calling?! You’ve described everything so well! Thank you for allowing us into what you experience on a day to day basis. I hope and pray, and suspect you’re right, that you someday will experience improved health. But while you are in this challenging time, your positive outlook is a wonderful example for all of us! If there’s ever anything we can do for all of you, please don’t hesitate to ask. Here’s early congratulations to you and Joel on your 5 year anniversary, you are a beautiful family. xoxo

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  3. Caroline Gudgion says:

    My husband & I made our wedding vows 28 years ago. I have been unwell for a lot of that time but he has stood by me. I was eventually diagnosed almost 4 years ago. Now I know what is wrong with me I have been able to take back control & with my medical team learn how to manage my symptoms as best I can. Life is different but good. I was dismissed from work & I am now doing what I want to do & am able to plan my days & take time out to rest & recover. I am enjoying travelling while I still can. In October I am going to learn how to sail a yacht in Barcelona with Oceans Of Hope, Sailing For Sclerosis. I am raising money for the Neuro Theraoy Centre I attend through completing this challenge. It’s not easy looking after a toddler when you’re well, even harder when you are battling a chronic illness. It sounds as though you and your husband make a fabulous team. He sounds like a good man just like mine,. Hang on to him & continue to enjoy your life as a family 😊

    Like

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