By Wendy Burnett
I wish I’d had this book years ago! When my husband and I met, I was in a period of remission and low stress, and even though I did my best to explain what it would be like if (when) that ended, it was still a shock for him when the flares started again.
I didn’t have the words (or the knowledge) to be able to give him a picture of what the partner of someone who is chronically ill goes through. This book is unique, because it’s the only one I’ve read that is co-written by the caregiving spouse (and even better, that spouse is the husband. Although that situation is actually pretty common, it’s much less common to find a resource that provides the perspective of the male caregiver.) It’s a great resource for BOTH partners; because it gives the patient insight into their partner/caregiver’s experience; as well as providing support, validation, and acceptance for the caregiving spouse.
A Husband, A Wife, & An Illness: Living Life Beyond Chronic Illness
by Dr. William July and Jamey Lacy July is a must have resource for any couple facing a debilitating chronic illness. Not just a “feel good” book, it’s full of practical tips and advice for both the caregiving spouse and the ill partner. Part 1 is written by William, and is full of chapters like:
- Whatever happened to that nice family on the corner?
- Ready or Not, Your Life has Changed Forever
- No Health Insurance?
- Money Matters
- The Platitudes
- The Critics
- Is Your Doctor Hazardous to Your Health?
- Don’t Let Them Kill You with the Cure
- Her Tears in the Night
- “In Sickness and in Health”
- Take Care of the Caregiver
- Let Somebody Help You, and
- What Works for Us
William gives us honest insight into the world and worries of the caregiver, as well as direct, useful tips for coping with all the thousand and one issues caused by, but not directly related to, the illness. His head on approach to the difficult topics of the physical, emotional, and financial problems that go with being married to a chronically ill person is refreshing; and his matter-of-fact style eases the guilt for both caregiver and spouse. After all, he implies, the way we feel is normal and natural; and as long as we’re not using our feelings to make our partner feel bad there’s no reason to feel guilty.
Part two, the “survival handbook” is Jamey’s contribution, and gives us a window into the difficulties of living with multiple chronic illnesses. Jamey lives her life with grace, perseverance, and love; and her ability to do so in spite of severe, debilitating illness is an inspiration.
For the patient, Jamey provides validation, a sense of “I’m not alone in this,” and an open discussion of the physical and emotional impacts of chronic illness. She reassures us that what we’re feeling is not only normal, but acceptable and understandable as well.
For the caregiver, Jamey’s open discussion of the fear, despair, and agony of chronic illness gives insight into why their partner acts as they do and eases the confusion that comes with such a major change in the person they know. It can also reassure them that the changes are not their “fault” and ease the “survivor’s guilt” they feel.
More than anything though, Jamey and William provide hope that our OWN relationships can survive the horrendous stresses and strains of chronic illness. Many relationships are ripped apart by the impossible strains put on them by the financial losses, emotional upsets, lack of understanding, and guilt that come with severe chronic illness. Jamey and William are proof that with love and the willingness to work through issues, a relationship can not only survive, but become stronger.
William and Jamey are continuing to share their story as it develops on their website, CouplesFacingIllness.com, where you can order a copy of their book, read their blog, or find links to other resources. Their experience is, like the experience of every couple facing illness, both common to all of us and unique to them; and I am grateful that they have chosen to share it in all its ugliness, and its beauty.
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- Happy Marriages for those with Chronic Illness (marriagegems.com)
- Why Caregivers Need Care, Too (webmd.com)
- The Universal Worries of Caregiving Spouses (psychologytoday.com)
- “The Invisible Magic of Caregiving” is the Theme of Healings in Motion’s 4th Annual Caregiver Symposium, Benefiting All Those Caring for Others in the Central Valley (prweb.com)
- Tips to Help You Care for Your Sick Loved One at Home (theepochtimes.com)
- An Open Letter To Those Without Invisible Disability Or Chronic Illness (that1chickk.wordpress.com)