As I mentioned in the previous post, I have been a bit disgruntled with Keith over his lack of concern for his health. If you ask him about it he will tell you that he is, in fact, doing whatever he can to fight PD and keep his health in order. But if you really press him, all he can come up with is that he is taking his medication. That's it. He is taking his medication. That is all he does in the way of staying healthy.
I do not think words can accurately describe just how mind-numbingly frustrating it is to know that your husband has a progressively debilitating disease, and there are certain things he can do to slow down the progression of that disease, but he refuses to do them. This year has been especially difficult for me as I have really put forth a huge effort to make a difference for him, particularly since his diabetes diagnosis.
I spent a lot of time researching which whole foods are the healthiest and best fit his needs. I have gone to local farm co-ops and produce stands to purchase the absolute best of the best of fruits and vegetables. I found interesting recipes to try to prevent him from getting bored with eating so much "rabbit food." I spent hours each week washing, peeling, chopping and conveniently storing food so he wouldn't have to do it himself. A simple trip to the grocery store became an event that took hours as I thoroughly read each and every food label, or stood in the same isle for twenty minutes trying to decide which snack foods he could eat and which ones he should avoid. I have spent hundreds of dollars on exercise books and dvds designed especially for PD patients. I tried relentlessly to get him involved with me in my daily morning yoga routine. On my mind constantly was how can I make Keith more comfortable? or what else can I do to keep Keith healthy? Almost obsessively, I could not enter a store, any store, without all my antennas and feelers going up as radar to find him just one more item to help, just one more exercise book to try, just one more healthy vegetable. When you combine that with several years of setting up blogs, dragging him to conferences and support groups, and doing almost everything I can think of to get him involved in the PD community, I was beginning to get a little exhausted. I began to fear burning out before the really bad stuff, the nitty-gritty nasty side of PD had even set in. I was feeling very unappreciated because it was an uphill fight the entire way. If I didn't force the issue, he wouldn't bother with it. I began to think why do I have to do all the work when he's the one with PD?! I finally realized how big a problem it was when I had the thought I wish he was disabled so I can force him to be healthy. I wish my husband was disabled so I can force him to be healthy. Hmmm . . . . doesn't really make sense, does it? But to me, at the time, it made perfect sense. If disabled, he would have no choice but to eat what I prepare and participate in physical therapy if I took him. And at least then I would have a real reason for being so exhausted and for doing so much. I realized that thoughts and feelings such as those were only detrimental to myself and my marriage. So I took a step back. Actually, I took a huge leap, several leaps, back. I stopped everything and determined that I would spend the remainder of the year focusing on the new baby's arrival and our family, our marriage.
Keith and I have always had opposing methods of dealing with PD. He prefers the I'm not going to let it ruin my life so I'll just ignore it approach, while I favor the let's do every single thing we possibly can to fight it, even if it means turning our entire lives upside down method. Clearly, these two very different ways of handling PD clash. Keith insists that I need to trust him to do what is right, but try as I might, I just can't trust a guy who smokes a pack a day, eats sausage biscuits from Hardees every morning, and avoids all form of exercise like the plague. Yeah, sure. But, as has been the case with this disease from day one, I am learning as I go. I am learning to back off and let Keith do his own thing. I am learning that though I can't trust him to properly handle his health, I trust myself to be able to handle what comes of that. I am also learning that this entire ordeal, if that's what you want to call PD, is a learning process itself, and that nothing related to this disease is easy, nothing stays the same, everything changes constantly, sometimes in a matter of moments. With that I find comfort, knowing that although Keith and I may differ greatly in our methods, that too is subject to change at any given time. That knowledge offers hope, and it is hope that keeps me going.