Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Take Your Pick

I have posted about this in the past, and I am sure I will post about it again at some point. I just can't seem to wrap my mind around it.

There seems to be general consensus among the middle-aged to elderly age group of women who are care partners to husbands with PD that had they known their spouses would be stricken with PD, they would not have married them. Certainly not all of them feel this way, but I have come across a large number that do. In fact, most of the ones I have met feel this way. While I don't fault or judge anyone their own feelings, I can not fathom that I could ever feel this way. I can understand how, at that point in the disease, they would feel overwhelmed and burned out. Their husbands are in the later stages of PD and can do very little, if anything, for themselves. For me, this begs the question: would I be willing to trade places with them in exchange for more time with Keith?

I know a lady who has been married for over 30 years. They were blessed with a happy marriage, two children and several grandchildren. Her husband is now completely disabled and she has said to me several times that she wishes she had never married the man. Her words, not mine.

Could I trade places with her? Would I be willing to give up less time with Keith, who is slowly progressing but still in pretty good health, for more time with him, even though it would mean his health would be far worse?

I admit that I have thought many times of doing so, if it were possible. It is no secret that Keith and I have time working hard against us. I am often envious of these same women because they have had an entire lifetime with their husbands. They have raised their children together, seen them grow into productive adults. They have held their grandchildren, planned retirement; they've have lived a full life together. They have something Keith and I may never have - a pre-PD marriage. It seems so sad to want to throw it all away because of a few years of bad health. Those long years of good health are very tempting, though.

But I have had something they will never know - foresight. Now, I'm sure at this stage of the disease they know what to expect. But what about in the very beginning, when they were blindsided by the diagnosis of PD? Would they have preferred to know ahead of time, as I did, what to expect? Would they be better able to deal with PD had they had more time to prepare? We can only speculate about how we might feel given a certain situation, but I suspect these women would have run in leaps and bounds away from their prospective husbands had they known what was to come. I, on the other hand, am eternally grateful for the advantage of knowing in advance about PD. Keith did not choose to get PD, but in a way, I did. I chose PD. I chose to  marry and have children with a man suffering from Parkinson's Disease. If knowledge is power, then I definitely have the upper-hand, because that power has not only prepared me for what is to come, but it has helped me to realize how precious our lives together really are. So as much as I would like more time with Keith, more healthy time with him, I have chosen this life, and I wouldn't change it for anything.


One Life said...


I run into this over and over again, and am still appalled by the concept. I could not and would not choose anything differently if I had the choice to do over again, no matter what.

For better or for worse (and OH we have seen our share of worse. Do vindictive exes and children's medical crisises count?);

...For richer or for poorer (from raises and promotions to that zombie debt that crops up when you least expect it, that simply must be dealt with TODAY);

...In sickness AND in health (when we're both doing good or when one of us is sitting in a waiting room somewhere, hoping against hope that the doctor has something encouraging to say);

...Till death do us part (and that part is the one I can't bear to even contemplate.).

No regrets. No looking back. Every day is our tomorrow. Keep the faith. We are fighting the good fight, and it is so worth it.

Mary said...

You are exactly right. I took those vows and I meant them.

I would expect him to honor his vows were the roles reversed. I can't imagine if I had PD and he left me or even if he stayed but wanted to leave.

You said it well - no regrets, no looking back. And yes, it is SOOOOO worth it!