When you first become sick they will show you sympathy. They’ll send you cards and hope that you get well soon. The call or text to check in on you and see how you’re doing. They’ll cut you some slack because of your situation. They’ll be understanding when you have trouble keeping up with them.
But once your illness becomes a chronic condition they wonder why you can’t get better. They show impatience and frustration. They stop trying to include you in their plans. They ask why you aren’t trying harder. They just don’t get it. They just want you to be able bodied again so that you are not inconveniencing them.
People get tired of you being sick but they don’t stop to think that you’re probably tired of being sick too. They don’t take the time to think about how you would love to just get over it. They don’t care enough to realize that you did not choose this.
I’m trying to decide which can cause more damage to my marriage: the medication side effects or an unmedicated illness.
Ever since I started medication for my bipolar disorder years ago, I have secretly struggled with a decrease in sexual desire.
I could stop the meds. Then I wouldn’t have to force myself to have sex with my husband. I wouldn’t have to start mentally preparing myself in the morning so that I could initiate sex that night and make my husband think I’m all fired up.
I am, in fact, fired up. But it’s not something that instantly happens anymore. I can’t get spontaneously turned on and desire sex at random times. Not since I began treatment for bipolar disorder.
I have to spend hours working towards it. Mentally, I self talk. I do thinks to make myself FEEL pretty. Paint my nails. Or style my hair. Send David a few kinky texts at work. Texts I have already written and prepared and saved in a file. Ready for when I need them. Maybe I put clean sheets in our bed.
And sometimes I go to our “special” drawer. A place where we keep our adult toys. I hold one and visualize the things we’ve done with it. I pick up another and another and imagine what I could do with it with David that night.
Sometimes I start to feel a tinge of desire. Of longing. And I begin to get excited for him to get home from work. I lie back on my bed and all of a sudden I feel like crying.
I should not have to work this hard and I should definitely not need to prepare myself like this in order to be intimate with my own husband. So I battle with the thought of stopping my medications.
If I do that, what happens then? A completely different problem arises. The bipolar itself. A whole new kind of strain on our marriage.
Stopping my meds means the depression will surface. I won’t want to get out of bed. I’ll be very irritable and end up causing arguments with my husband over little insignificant things. Without my meds I blow up over everything.
I may become manic. End up spending our mortgage money on dog toys on eBay. I stop sleeping so I don’t even make it to bed for nights on end.
And sex? Yeah! I can’t control myself. I want to be touching him all the time. I need to be near him every minute that he’s home, often causing him frustration because I take away his personal space.
Then we argue.
We get frustrated.
And I get suicidal.
All of this because I stopped my medication so that I could be more intimate with my husband. But instead, the bipolar has made things even worse.
So ultimately, what has more effect on intimacy in my marriage? I don’t exactly have an answer to that. Living with bipolar isn’t easy and there isn’t a single area of my life that isn’t affected. I wake up every morning, afraid. Afraid that he will leave me because intimacy is so complicated for us.
So what would cause more damage to my marriage? Taking the medication or living with untreated bipolar disorder? I’m not sure and I’m not about to find out.
Because thankfully I have an amazing guy who tries his best to understand me and my illness. We communicate openly about intimacy in our relationship and I know that I won’t ever have to stop my medication in order to keep my husband satisfied sexually.
And I hope you never feel the need to do that either.
February 15th, 2018 Day 11 – Morning Its so nice to see the sun shining today. It’s an instant mood booster. It was also really nice to be able to take Zoey outside to do her pee and not be standing next to her, shivering in my boots. The cold temperatures these past few days have actually been painful. I think Zoey is finding this nice switch in weather encouraging as well because she ate a decent sized breakfast and drank a half a cup of water without me having to push her. I couldn’t help but sigh with relief. It’s not easy trying to force a dog to eat! We walked all around the garden and I’m pretty sure she had to stop and sniff after every couple of steps. When we got back inside she just collapsed on the porch mat. Her strength comes in bursts and doesn’t last long so sometimes she isn’t able to got any further than the porch so I let her rest for a while before walking her back to her bed in the living room where she’s now sound asleep. And since Buddy is also curled up napping I think I just might take advantage of this and take a nap myself.
February 15th, 2018 Day 11 – Afternoon Zoey had 30 minutes of ‘freedom’ today. I clipped her leash on and let her sit outside since it was so beautiful out. But I’m really regretting it because she got chilled. I guess with her fur being shaved and the fact she was lying on the bridge without a blanket, she got cold. I really didn’t think it was cold enough to be concerned but I was obviously very wrong. After she came in and was back on her bed her entire body began to shiver. I wrapped her up in a big fleece blanket and she immediately started to pant. I got down on the floor with her and held her as her entire body was having spasms. Of course I panicked and started crying because I felt so guilty. I had caused this to happen. I should never have let her spend that half hour lying on the patio. She’s not up to that yet. I should have known the difference!! I let a bit of sunshine go to my head. The shivering caused full body muscle spasms and it was painful, which caused the panting. Dogs pant for many different reasons and anxiety and pain are among the top ones. Which is why Zoey was shivering and panting at the same time. It was actually painful for me to watch it and knowing that it could have easily been avoided has made me feel like the worst dog mom out there. After being wrapped in the blanket and me rocking her in my arms for a while she relaxed and fell asleep. *sigh*
February 16th, 2018 Day 12 Not the best of days by any means. Zoey decided to go into full blown starvation mode and refused any and every ounce of both solid food and liquids. I had calls with an on call emergency vet from the VSCNL hospital as well as with the Gander veterinarian. If her intake doesn’t improve over the weekend she may be admitted to be hooked up to an IV. She has had 2 episodes in the last 2 days that has scared me so much that I’ve got myself convinced that she’s dying. She starts shivering so I cover her up and then she starts panting, as her entire body continues to spasm. I’m so scared at this point that I’m afraid to fall asleep because I don’t want her to die alone. I hope im overreacting …. ? Her sugars may be dropping from the lack of steady nutrition. Panting is also a sign of pain so the shivering may be painful for her which is why she pants at the same time. We also discovered a couple of reddened areas which are of concern so that’s something else we have to keep a close eye on now. Thankfully I did manage to get some food into her by supper time. Chicken broth and water (half and half) poured over some shredded chicken. All together she’s had 2 cups of fluid. Not as much as I want her to have but it’s better than nothing. I’m concerned that she’s getting depressed now too. She reminds me of eyeore. Even the way she walks is similar. She’s bored. You would be too if you were lying down all day long for 12 days straight! I’ve tried to get her to chew on bones but she turns her head. Buddy brought her a toy this evening and laid down in front of her and it broke my heart. He looked back at me as if to say “Mommy why won’t sissy play with me?” Seriously. I don’t know how much more my heart can take.
February 17th, 2018 Day 13 Today was a good day. Zoey still needed a lot of encouragement but finally managed to eat a bowl of chicken broth, water and pedialyte with shredded chicken and a spoonful of rice added to it. And we discovered that in the midst of the excitement of playing in the snow she was willing to eat a pocket full of dry kibble with no hesitation. If I have to take her outside to feed her then so be it! She was also the most relaxed I’ve seen her yet. While lying on her bed this afternoon she turned on her side and actually stretched her legs out. Big step towards her recovery!
February 18th 2018 Day 14 David was off today so it was really nice to have him home all day. Zoey loved having her daddy home. They even had a nice nap together on the living room floor. One of my favorite sounds ever is of Zoey snoring. It warms my heart because I know she’s resting and she’s content. She ate dog food for her dinner. Her regular kibble that she hasn’t eaten in a long time. And she actually seemed to enjoy it! Except she threw up afterwards. I’m guessing that it’s because she hasn’t been eating much solid food and it may have been too heavy on her stomach. She took her Tramadol (pain medication) wrapped in a piece of cheese without any hesitation. She has always loved cheese and thankfully she still does because it’s great for wrapping her pills in. Zoey has been doing really well on her legs. She can stand up from a lying position without having to be lifted by the harness. At first she had to be lifted up and then held in order to walk but now she can walk alongside of me with having to be supported. I take her for walks out around the yard and she’s doing fantastic. She walks very carefully because she’s still really unsteady but her tail wags like crazy with every step she makes. She often looks up at me looking for that bit of reassurance and when I smile at her and say “good girl” she looks so proud of herself. And so she should! She has so much to be proud of! She has suffered and survived so much pain in the past 2 weeks. She is doing amazing despite how awful she feels. And I am beyond proud of her. She’s mom’s girl!
February 19th, 2018 Day 15 Zoey continues to amaze me every single day. She continues to get stronger with each passing day. There is no doubt in my mind that this surgery was a success because she is already walking better than what she did before having this done. Her limp is completely gone. She is still very weak and her legs shake when squatting down to do her pee but thanks to her harness we are able to hold on to her so that she has that security in knowing we won’t let her fall. I’m glad Zoey feels safe with me. I’m glad that she feels secure and trusts that I won’t let her fall. I want my dogs to know that I will always protect them and that they can always lean on me whenever they are scared. Buddy has been very confused about everything that’s going on. He doesn’t understand why we are doting on Zoey so much. Why we often have to push him away when he tries to get Zoey to get up and play with him. How do you explain something like this to a dog?? God knows I’ve tried. If you only knew how much I have talked to both of my dogs during these past few weeks. I’ve sat with Buddy on my lap and as I scratch his ears and he stares at me I tell him things. I tell him how incredibly proud of how well he has behaved lately. I tell him that sissy is sick but she’s going to get better really soon and they are going to have so much fun this summer. And I swear, as Buddy listens, he is understanding. Intelligent would be an understatement in describing Buddy. Same with Zoey. She wants so bad to get up and go. She wants to jump up on the couch. And having to say no to her is so hard because she wears her emotions on her face. She is the saddest looking dog I’ve ever seen. Her eyes tell it all. But I talk to her. I tell her everything that happened in the hospital and what Dr. Bailey did to her legs. I tell her that all the pain she is in now is going to go away. And when it does she’s going to feel better than she has in a very long time. And that I am going to fill the backyard with more balls than she has ever seen before for her and Buddy to run around and play with. Then I smother her with kisses. Yes. This has been one hard road. But to be able to get to a place where my girl can walk and run and play again … that is our ultimate goal for Zoey’s Journey.
February 20th, 2018 Day 16 It was 2 weeks ago today that Zoey had Bilateral TPLO surgery and we had her in to the vet for a check up today. Dr. Goucie was very impressed with her current state. She said that many patients that come in for their two week check up and end up going home with her antibiotics and have to get some extra tests done because they aren’t healing properly. She said that many dogs that have this surgery, especially when it’s done on both legs at the same time, usually have some sort of complication along the way. She said that she has seen very few incidents where a dog gets this surgery and are able to make it through eight weeks of recovery without having some sort of bumps along the way. She was very pleased with how Zoey was able to stand in one spot for a minute without her legs giving out on her. Zoey’s ability to go from a sitting position to standing position without having to be lifted is an amazing accomplishment for the two week mark. Her fur is growing at a healthy right and all of the itching that she is currently experiencing is quite normal because as the hair grows it’s irritating her. Her ears look great. Her eyes are slightly bloodshot, which is due to her crying. Her teeth look fine and the colour of her gums is nice and pink, showing that she is not overly dehydrated. Her nose is also a healthy color.Dr. Goucie was sitting on the floor with Zoey while we were chatting and Zoey sat in an upright position almost the entire time. That is huge because it’s a position that puts more strain on her legs but yet that’s the position she chose. After about 5 minutes she laid down and the dr. looked at us and smiled because she lasted five minutes sitting up on her own. Then as we kept talking the doctor was massaging Zoey’s legs and she was pushing and pulling and examining her incisions and Zoey just laid there, letting her do it all, without showing any signs of frustration. Before getting the surgery, Zoey had to be sedated in order to be examined because she would not let anyone go near her legs. But now here she is two weeks after a major surgery, with big incisions running down each leg, yet she just lay there and let the doctor poke at her. Nothing in the world could ever made me feel any prouder than I did this morning sitting in that veterinarians office. She asked us how we were coping with it all and she shook her head and said that it looks like we are taking it harder than Zoe is. And she said that many times this is what happens. The owners suffer more than the pets do. She told us that we had to take care of ourselves and she told us that we are doing a fantastic job. She said that the proof that you are doing a great job is lying right there at your feet. She said that despite the struggles that we still have with her eating and drinking, being up all night crying, the episodes of panting and anxiety during the day, etc. We are at a place that is perfect for two weeks post op. So we left with an increase in pain medication, and 20 day supply of a probiotic to help her with some stomach issues, and another appointment to go back to get X-rays (which requires sedation). So needless to say we are really pleased here tonight.
But zoey needs me. I am needed. My beloved furry lifeline, my spirit twin, the one who has saved me repeatedly and who I am now ready to save in return. She needs me. I Have a job now. I am going to nurse my girl back to health. I am going to spend every waking minute of my days taking care of her. I have memorized care plans for when we bring her home from surgery. I am constantly going over and over and over in my head what I have to do and what I’m not supposed to do to make sure that her recovery goes exactly the way that it should. One wrong move and the surgery could be all in vain and her future will be cut short because without full recovery from this, we have been told that Zoey does not have a future. Without this surgery we would be saying goodbye to her. And I am not prepared to do that. Not now not ever.
My dearest Body,
Oh, how I have treated you so unkind. Oh, how so unkindly others have treated you. Yet, you still remain intact, bearing the physical, emotional, and psychological scars of unpleasantry for so little to see. Body, you have carried my being for years. You are much younger than I am in here. For reasons not yet completely known to me, there have been times where I have pinched you until you bled, cut you until you bled, starved you, poisoned you, and exploited you. Through all of this, you still remain with me: A young, beautiful shell carrying an old, bitter being.
Depression has allowed me to do these things to you. I never meant to hurt you. Family history runs deep within the vile rivers of disparity and self-loathing. I greatly apologize for those times I lacked the emotional and psychological ability to stop forced hate upon you. I want to blame my family history for my own past.
Rightfully so, these thoughts and actions are learned at a young age and I do not believe I would have naturally turned out this way if it weren’t for everything I have witnessed since birth.
Anger, depression, addiction, lust, and selfishness: the list continues. I have always known anger. I have always seen physical anger. These learned actions and reactions have caused me to harm you in ways I would never harm another living being. I cannot even kill a cockroach without crying inside.
My dearest Body, you did not deserve any of those things. I have taught you to stay still while I transcended into deep meditation. I taught you to stretch and run. I nurtured you with medication to heal you even when my brain maliciously told me not to. You are so incredible. I don’t tell you this often enough, but I spend long moments just staring at you up close. I love the rivets in your skin and the olive hue it gives off under its paleness. I am learning to love your eye color and your toes. I am learning how to give you what you need when you need it instead of selfishly taking and keeping from you.
With all of that being said, there is nothing I would want to change about you. Your lips are beautiful. Do not listen when I tell you they’re too thin. Your nose is perfect. Do not listen when I tell you it’s too big. Your vagina is magnificent. Do not listen when I tell you it’s not. Your nails are exactly as they should be. Do not listen when I tell you they’re too brittle.
The only things I wish to change are of my spirit. I am bitter and angry, yet hopeful and happy. I’m sorry that my mind is a bit confused, Body. I’m so grateful for you! For you have not betrayed me once. It is I who has betrayed you.
Yet, you inspire me by continuing to carry me forward!
You give me so much hope!
Thank you, Body.
Submitted by Ashley Godwin