There are parts of a separation that are tough to get through; the nights spent alone with the other side of the bed remaining cold, the emptiness of your home, the glaring lack of your best friend by your side. These are tough, but manageable. These are the things that military spouses learn to adapt to quickly. But how do you learn to deal with something bigger, something that will impact every day of your life from now on? How do you deal with a health crisis?
Let me share my story…
My husband is currently on BMQ; what was meant to be a 14 week course is now going in to its sixth month due to an injury. Approximately four months into this separation I awoke one morning with blurred vision in my right eye. At first I figured it would go away on its own, but after a week of no improvement I went to my optometrist.
After a thorough eye exam I was told that my vision was fluctuating, often a sign of blood sugar problems relating to diabetes. So I went to my doctor, had blood taken and was assured that I don’t suffer from diabetes. So I returned to my optometrist for a second thorough exam. All they could tell was that my vision was deteriorating in my right eye but with no apparent cause.
The next morning I noticed a dramatic decrease in vision so I went straight to the hospital. After more tests, more appointments, and an MRI, I was diagnosed with swelling of the optic nerve. I was also told that I have somewhere in the range of a 50% chance of getting a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in the next three years. As I am writing this, I am waiting to have my first appointment with a neurologist.
So the question is, how do you deal with something like this while your soldier is away and unreachable? I have come to the realization that there is no easy answer. I have been searching for one for the past month and a half and I find that no matter where I turn for help, it’s never the same as having my husband there; waiting for the doctors’ appointments with me, holding my hand and telling me everything will be okay.
I have found ways to cope though. First and foremost I have an amazing group of friends and family that live in the same city as me. My mother often accompanies me to appointments and my father, who waited two plus hours at the hospital while I had an MRI, often takes me out to my favorite restaurant.
I’ve come to learn that the most important thing is to take care of you. I brushed that responsibility off for a long time. I thought that work, my puppy, the cleanliness of my house were all priorities. I let my diet and exercise slip; I went from eating very healthfully and living an active life, to a sedentary existence on the couch with junk food. This only led to worsening of my symptoms and an overall feeling that I would relate perhaps to depression.
So if any of you out there are dealing with a similar situation, gather your friends and family, accept help when offered, take care of you and most importantly know that whatever happens, you will make it through. After all, aren’t we military wives just about the toughest ladies around?