A bitter pill — dealing with sickness alone

I’ve had health issues most of my life – Type 1 diabetes at nine; ulcerative colitis at 17. These two challenging, genetic autoimmune diseases don’t make for a storybook childhood or an easy adolescence. They didn’t respond well to the robust partying of my 20s and 30s either. But I coped with them – albeit feeling like crap a lot of days.

Meanwhile, I’ve managed to live a full, productive life. Health challenges haven’t held me back from much. I’ve had a decent writing career, traveled extensively, had a lively social life and raised two children who are now fine, young adults. But I did a good deal of this for almost 30 years with Tom at my side. He would point out how well I was doing when I was feeling down. He ran to the pharmacy when I needed meds, and had juice or candy at the ready when my blood sugar plummeted in the middle of the night. When I felt like I just couldn’t cope with the day-to-day challenges of these miserable illnesses, he emphasized the positives in our life together and said I was doing better than most with my medical history. Sometimes when I was feeling sorry for myself, he’d ask me who I’d like to change places with. With all the people we know, I seriously couldn’t think of anyone, which weirdly comforted me.

His steadfast encouragement and positive thinking got me through two successful pregnancies, an emergency appendectomy, and a few other unexpected health trials. The comfort of a significant other during illness is priceless. I was lucky to have it for so many years, and I knew it too.

So when Tom died, I prayed my health would continue on a positive trajectory. It has for the most part. I know everyone has their ups and downs, and you have to be prepared for dealing with health challenges alone, especially as you get older. I’m crossing my fingers that I can cope with what is ahead.

 

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About Marti Benedetti

I'm a longtime writer and a widow. I want to share my thoughts and experiences of being single in my 50s and beyond after being married to the same man and raising kids for 28 years. It's not the journey I signed up for, but the one I'm living with. I hope I can offer up some thoughts, chuckles and comfort for those in a similar boat.
This entry was posted in being sick alone, grief, living alone, new widow, single middle-age woman, widowhood. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A bitter pill — dealing with sickness alone

  1. Hello Marti, I am so glad I found your blog – you are a superb writer and have touched on so many aspects of grief. After my husband was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, he had 2 stem cell transplants. The first was scary, but we were lucky he did so well with recovery. 6 months later just as he was recovering from the second SCT (tandem), I was diagnosed with ST IV metastatic breast cancer. I truly believed that Hugh willed himself well in order to be by my side through over 9 mos of grueling treatment. We became even more incredibly close with mutual incurable but treatable cancers – closer than I ever dreamed possible. We excelled at living in the now, and enjoying every gift of even simple ordinary days. A number of weeks passed after my treatment, and we both were scheduled for all the tests and scans that would show the results – and we were both overjoyed to be declared NED (no evidence of disease). We grabbed onto our re-invented life and lived it with gusto. Then after 9 m os,, on a beautiful Spring morning, I found my beloved right next to me in our bed, with no pulse, no respirations. He was taken to the CICU, put on life support as well and a hypothermic state along with a drug induced coma for 48 hours. He was pronounced dead when he was devented and remained unresponsive – brain dead- and I held my hand over his heart as his heartbeat dwindled to nothing in 15 seconds. I used to worry like crazy while he was alive – what would we do if we BOTH had a crisis. Plus, I was a Hospice nurse for 30 years and knew that life can present even the most unimaginable scenarios. Still, since there were no signs or symptoms preceeding, the shock and grief – well, I just kept begging him to come back and get me. Six weeks after Hugh died, I was diagnosed with another cancer – ST III uterine cancer, metastatic to the cervix. My treatment began just as we were entering one of the worst winters here, the treatment was horrific as well as the side effects – and I could not wrap my head around the fact that I had to face it all by myself. Widowhood, 2 cancers, and the aching, longing, horribly painful grief of loosing my best friend, my lover, our childrens’ father, our grandchildrens’ papa was killingly paralyzing. I am seeing a therapist weekly, being treated for PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks along with the many other losses of friends and even family members who I believe view me as their worst nightmare. Sometimes I feel so very lonely, I wish I could just have a hug, or someone to hold my hand, let me cry if tears well up. But I am grateful that I am in remission with both cancers. And I am also so thankful that I shared time being married to the most wonderful man, whom I have loved even more; one pays a price for love. And though moving through the grieving process is so hard, so unimaginable, so confusing, and unpredictable and so isolating, I would go through it all again because my beloved and I, with whom i fell in love at first sight, the love we created, and all the joy and happiness we experienced was all worth it.

    I wish you comfort and I hope that being able to write your story has given you fulfillment, knowing that you are helping so many others through their grieving.

    I send you lots of warm hugs – hope you can FEEL them!

    Gratefully,

    Karen

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