Wednesday, January 16, 2013

in sickness and in health...Brookes story

I wanted to introduce you to my sweet friend Brooke, she has an incredible story. A story of finding your soulmate, falling in love, having a family and enduring through unexplained illness. Her story resonates with my heart because Brooke has been one of the few friends that truly understands what it means to be married to someone you love who has an unexplained illness. 

Here is Brookes story....

I usually keep things positive and pretty sugar coated. I like to highlight the good in life without denying the bad. I use my blog as a happy place. I post pictures of my daughter, my recently enjoyed things (mostly food), I talk about my pregnancy and soon to be second daughter. I post about things I think are cool whether they're vintage or new while trying to remind myself to keep life simple and less cluttered. My blog is for me, and my family who read to keep up with our day to day life. I try to avoid getting too deep or introverted and keep it classy. So I hope you'll understand why I'm taking this opportunity on Jess' blog to go somewhere else today. Somewhere I try not to dwell in my everyday life even when it forces it's way in without my permission. I met Jess through the Internet and have yet to meet her in person but I feel so connected to her already. Connected as a friend, a woman, a mother, but mostly... as a wife. Early in our friendship Jess and I both shared with each other that our spouses struggle with health. While I wont go into her story, I can share a little bit about mine with you today.

Travis is my husband - the love of my life. My soul mate. We met first in high school. He was a grade younger than me but we shared some elective classes in a very small high school. As quiet as he was and even though I had a boyfriend, we eventually spoke and became friends. Travis is handsome, reserved, incredibly intelligent, laid back, and super creative. His hands can do beautiful things. In our years together I've seen him draw, paint, craft, build, carve, sculpt, tattoo, and welcome our baby into this world all with his own two beautiful hands. We stayed in touch throughout our classes but as I graduated it would be some time before I saw him again. I went around the world and back for what felt like seven different lifetimes before finally settling into Brooklyn NY. After years of a long term relationship and numerous rebounds I was finally single. I took a much needed break from the city and drove out to my hometown with a friend. Showing him my small town we randomly ran into Travis. I was flustered and feverish without explanation. We continued on our drive east but returned later that night for a party that Travis had extended an invitation to. I mingled with old friends and enjoyed the night. I had no idea Travis held any romantic feelings for me but I could feel them on the back of my neck that very night. In a casual conversation a slightly drunken friend of his spilled the beans about his long time crush and I was immediately nervous and back to the city I drove. Weeks later we moved in together. A year later engaged, and months after that we married, solidifying our union before god and all in attendance.

Here we are 3 apartments, 2 houses, 2 cats, 1 dog, our Luna, another any day now just 8 years later. I jokingly refer to the last few years as the dark years. I know that sounds so grim considering our growth as a family - but maybe you'll get it with some further explanation. As a girl when you dream about your husband you don't picture him sick. You can't foresee the possibility of struggle. You don't know what it feels like to be on a different page physically from the person you share your soul with. As you stand on the alter, hands entangle to recite the words "for better or for worse, through sickness and health" its never clear how soon that can come. I feel selfish even typing these words out. I'm not the one physically suffering and in pain. I'm just the one grasping to understand and support it. The one trying to cure my husband of something apparently no one else can put their finger on and figure out. I don't want to this to turn into a medical report so I'll just leave it with a few terms we exchange so often between us as husband + wife: Night sweats, stomach pain, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, vertigo, and pain that can only be described as someone stabbing you in the eye with an ice-pick. Some doctors say cluster headaches. Some say Neuritis. Some say blood toxicity. There are further physical complications that I wont divulge however much they effect his everyday life. He's spent the last 3 years slowly getting worse, researching, and eventually dying every single day. Some days he will only have one headache. Some days its six. He can only sleep a few hours at a time if at all. There have been prescriptions, experimental treatments, surgeries, and lots natural remedies. Neurologists, General Practitioners, Chiropractors, Naturopaths, Acupuncturists, and Internists. Every week we try something new. We delve into nutrition and possible allergies. We restrict and identify over and over without any relief. While he's climbing his proverbial Mt Everest on no sleep for the past 36+ months I struggle with watching him morph into someone I almost don't recognize. There are mood swings, irritability, and obvious physical changes and emotional pain with no end in sight. Like I said, when you find your soul mate you never know things can change like this. In our society we are so familiar with infidelity, separation, couples driven apart by addiction, or irreconcilable differences. We see it highlighted everyday in Hollywood and broadcast on gossip tv news shows. But sickness? Lack of health and answers in modern medicine we are much more hush about. You don't realize the weight of your love until something you can't feel with your own hands wraps its wrath around your significant other. I hear him in pain. I see his will to live clouded by the unknown. He wakes up every morning to face a day of unknown pain and struggle. In turn I wake up not knowing what to expect in my husband.

Its hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel but I still have faith. Our dark days may have turned into months and then into years, but we're still here. We're still together. We are more in love than ever before however driven apart we may be by this sickness. Even if this is his battle to face I accept the challenge that the universe has put on me too. I must stay by him and support. I try to help research and bring relief. I lay in bed at night on my iPhone on message boards reading what others with similar ailments are trying for relief. I continue to work to support us and carry our health insurance. I try to continue our life with some normalcy to distract him from this nightmare. We're not putting life on hold. We're still making babies, taking trips, and planning our future together. I'm so proud of him for how he has pushed on with his personal goals in his own work too. Despite being so sick he watches Luna most mornings while I'm at the office. He continued his career as a tattoo artist full time and even opened his own Shop last spring. He has submerged himself in meditation and yoga to help distract and relieve his pain, something I always wanted him to join me in before the dark years. He may not be the laid back, quiet, shy kid I met in high school but he is doing as best as he can. I've watched his personality traits change because of his physical pain. I know my Travis is still in there somewhere deep down and I have faith that he'll feel better one day. It could be a few more years, or ten, I'm not sure. I don't expect him to return to who he was when we met - that would be insane. Who among us would stay so rigid throughout life and not grow through this journey? I'm excited to see the man that emerges from this battle and call him my husband. As much as my patience and understanding may waver some days, my love is unchanged. I have faith that we are going through this separately and together, for some reason beyond our current comprehension. I trust the universe and its paths for us. We may have separate schedules, bodies, and been forced apart by physical illness leading to emotion distress - but our souls bonded what we spoke on that twilight lit September evening: "For better or for worse, through sickness and through health".

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story Brooke! It's amazing how much closer the tough times can bring you as a couple. Both of your strength really shines through. I'll be saying a few prayers for you guys. Every little bit helps, right?

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I already commented on Jess' instagram... but in reading what you shared, it also made me think of this incredible, moving post from Mockingbird Ministries. I think you both (Jess and Brooke) might enjoy it as well: Blessings! love, @hawleywould ;)

  3. Ahhhhhhhhh, This brought me to tears. So beautiful. Brooke you are such a strong woman and you both are so lucky to have each other. I hope you find the doctors and help that you need and that Travis gets on the road to "recovery" sooner than later.
    Thanks for sharing this with us Jess!
    Xo Natalie

  4. This is beautiful story, thank you for sharing. I'm going to check out her blog now :)


  5. Incredible story by one of my favorite mama's!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing. You are strong, you are capable and you are both amazing. Physical health is something that we all take for granted. I pray that healing comes and unity is strengthened, that love abounds and rules are broken. I also pray that your birth for number two is absolutely beautiful! Keep on keepin' on :)

  7. Thanks for sharing this story. It brought me to tears. I can see how the toughest things can change us but bring us closer in love at the same time. I pray for you and your husband, brooke. Keep the love flowing. Thats the best medicine!


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