Sunday, October 10

Caring for Your Narcoleptic Spouse - When YOU Get Sick

So last week, I got sick for the first time in a long time. It started with our 3-year-old feeling crummy one day, coughing and congested, and then just 24 hours later, she was back to normal. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of our household dealing with a bug that's been going around. 

It was just a few days ago, when it took me two hours to make a cup of hot tea, that I thought - hey, I'm really sick. I hate to admit it to you dear readers, but I slipped up. I fell back into my old thinking patterns and I got angry. 

Here's what happened:

I was already tired. Taking care of a sick toddler is not much fun, lemme tell ya. Even if the toddler is an awesomely easy patient like our daughter. When I started feeling ill, I told my body, "Hey! We do not have time for this! Don't you dare get sick right now!" Maybe I shouldn't have tried the tough love approach because the next morning, I was in bad shape. Taking the day off was not an option. Yes, I work from home, but that doesn't excuse me from meeting my obligations. It does have great perks though - like working in your robe when you're sick.

Because I work from home just a few hours a week, our routine is that my husband cares for our daughter during part of that time. This particular day, his sleep attacks kept him from doing that as well as he usually does. The attacks weren't his fault, of course, but taking care of our daughter, working, and trying not to pass out at my desk really put a damper on my day. By that afternoon, I'd had enough. 

I was angry. Although I sigh now, and roll my eyes in embarrassment, here were my exact words that day:

"You know, our lives revolve around your illness. The one day out of 500 I get sick, and I get no help at all. This isn't fair."

I didn't yell, but I didn't have to. The look on my husband's face told me how much my words hurt. At that moment though, it didn't register. I was mad, steamed, hot, - literally - I had a fever of 103. I attribute my sudden callousness to a fever-addled brain. The next day, when my temperature was normal, I was able to apologize and mean it.

But I think the damage had already been done.

That's the thing about changing your mindset. You can't just change the way you view things on one topic. It has to be all-encompassing. I can't agree to forgive my husband's forgetfulness because of his narcolepsy, changing my mindset from him just being careless, but not change my mindset when it comes to his ability to help me when I'm sick. It's going to take real effort to remember that narcolepsy is always behind the scenes somewhere. I was disappointed in myself for treating my husband the way I used to, before his diagnosis. Then I realized something. I'm imperfect. I'm going to make mistakes every now and then, but I can use those mistakes for our benefit. The next time I get sick, I know not to push myself to do my regular chores, and to call someone for help if I need it.

Then no matter how badly I'm feeling, I'll remember that my husband is not to blame.


  1. Your post really hit home. Thought about how my mother went through the same thing with my dad. I'm grateful that our family and friends always stepped up when needed.

  2. Thank you so much for your comment, Gary. That's the thing, we have friends and family who would've been there to help out - and they did later - but they can't help if we don't ask! I'm going to remember that next time...

  3. I agree with you about saying hurtful things, even if we apologize later, it doesn't take the hurt away.
    But no one is perfect, and you shouldn't expect it of yourself.
    Now you are aware that you can work harder at changing your thinking about your husband. And he is aware of the challenges you face. Those are not bad things.

  4. Thx Susan - such a positive outlook! I actually didn't even think about him being more aware of the challenges that come up for me - great insight.
    Thank you!