I am writing this in bed. A place that is both my prison and my haven. As I lie here doing very little Mr Tree Surgeon is busy doing the washing up, hoovering, cleaning out the Guinea pigs, cooking me lunch. These are all the things that my mum does for me but because Mr Tree Surgeon is still sort of ‘new’ it feels dreadful to be so unable to help. When will he be bored of having to do so much?
It has now been a whole year since I started my little dating experiment/adventure. I think it’s safe to say it didn’t go as we’d expected. A year on and the man I met on that first date is now referred to as Mr Tree Surgeon. He knows no other Anna than this one. This poorly one. And yet he has stayed. I can’t tell you how much that has restored my faith in myself, even if it does feel a little baffling at times.
This past year has seen me step well out of my comfort zone.
When we started dating I was poorlier than I am now. Our date nights often saw me unable to speak or move for minutes at a time. Smiling and laughing required energy that I rarely had. Even now there are many, many days like this. You don’t recover from M.E. in a year! Not in my opinion anyway.
Being in a relationship has been hard at times (but not because of who I’m in a relationship with. I cannot stress that enough.) Essentially there is now an extra person who I want to be well for. And I already had so many. Plus an ‘ever-helpful’ old GP pointed out that if I didn’t want to get better for myself then I should do it for those around me. “So that they can get their lives back.” That was the last time I visited that particular Doctor…
I worry about Mr Tree Surgeon getting bored. On a day where I’d hoped to do x y and z I often find myself stuck in bed and it’s likely I won’t even manage a shower, never mind a hair wash and leg shave. I want so much to be able to give more than this! But he says I am more than enough just as I am. Still… Why would you date someone who is so restricted by their health? I’m honestly not sure I could now that I know how bad it can get. But maybe that says more about me and how I’ve been broken enough by chronic illness to sometimes forget that I am still just a person worthy of happiness and love. Like each chronic illness sufferer is.
While I have Purple Time he reads or just sits with me. And my fears about that being too stimulating for my poorly brain have been unfounded. Because it’s him. And he understands on a level that only my Wonderful Mum has done. He is completely unfazed! I think it’s a blessing that he didn’t know me when I was healthy and active. The wheelchair poses no problems. We mould things to fit us and my health.
Sleep can be a problem. I get up a lot in the night to go to the loo which is something that’s happened since brewing ill. It is exhausting for me but also disturbs him and so he suffers at work the next day. Sleep disturbances are incredibly common in M.E. sufferers but if I’m hit by insomnia, I can’t watch TV in bed like I have done.
I’m just disappointed that I can’t do more. Yet. I go through periods of putting a lot of pressure on myself. More so with Mr Tree Surgeon, because unlike my family, he has the option to leave! And I don’t want him to. I don’t want to always be in my pyjamas with no make-up on and unbrushed hair! But those of you with chronic illnesses will know that getting dressed is often the stuff of dreams. I want to feel attractive not just for him, but for myself. And I so often can’t.
The same can be said of washing or showering, such simple everyday things that have almost become treats or chores, depending on the level of poorliness that day/week. I fight feelings of uselessness when I am unable to do anything to help around the house. I worry that he will get bored of me having to say no to going out for lunch, or watching something on TV because concentrating requires more energy that I have or can allow.
Sometimes these feelings last a minute or two, sometimes longer. They’re exhausting in themselves! And while they’re only natural, they’re not necessary. I fight feelings of uselessness often. That alone is exhausting. I am reassured that I give him everything he needs yet it is not nearly as much as I want to give.
Alas, we are a team. Despite the worries that swim around my head I have never been made to feel like a burden or a nuisance or an inconvenience. My health is not an issue to him. He has accepted it and he has accepted and chosen me warts and all. I am just still learning that it’s okay not to be as able as I’d like to be.
It has done wonders for me to be seen as Anna, and not Anna with M.E. I will forever be grateful to him for so much, but particularly for teaching me that I’m still a whole person and not the broken and fragmented one that I thought losing my health had made me.