A small pillow with stylized hives on the surface holds two rings, one of which is a diamond engagement ring. Marriage, sickness, and health

In Sickness and in Health and Hives

I remember my wedding day nearly 34 years ago. We were both so young. My hair was so big! And other than an occasional migraine I was pretty darn healthy. My husband certainly was. Truth be told, his hair was kind of big too. Our vows were traditional and we promised to be there for each other in sickness and in health. We had no idea what the future would hold when we said those words.

It was a second marriage for me. I had 2 small children and my husband raised them as his own. We both worked full time, I went to college part time to complete my degree and we tried to keep up with our energetic and active children. I can hardly remember what it was like to have that energy; to be able to take a power nap of 20 minutes and feel refreshed and ready to keep going the rest of the day.

My husband

Did I mention my husband that said he would love me in sickness and health really meant it? He was and is my best friend. We are so fortunate to have the kind of marriage in which we rarely have a fight. We may disagree at times but easily talk things over. That's not to say we have not had our ups and downs and hard times, but we don't like conflict, which is good, because stress is never good for illness. Especially chronic hives. It took 4 doctors before I finally got a diagnosis and treatment in 2014 for my chronic hives. Thank goodness my husband helped me through the months of frustration, tears and itching.

My husband is not what one would consider a romantic guy. He has bought me flowers on occasion but that is not something he does often. He is a quiet man. He doesn't shower me with love notes or poetry. He shows his love in more practical ways. I have only had to put gas in my car less than 5 times in our entire marriage. If I need medication or special food or drink at any time of day or night he will make it happen. He will go to appointments with me and always encourages me to take care of myself. He is more of a doer than a talker.

How he helps

There is a fine art in navigating a marriage in sickness and itching. Or at least in mine. I don't want my husband to get tired of hearing my complaints, so I try hard to limit them. However, when it comes to hives and itching that is something he notices. While I don't always have a lot of big visible hives like many people, he can visibly see me scratching and tell I am miserable. He will tell me to go home when I am trying to be at a grandchild's outside event and I am red and itching. He makes sure the car is cooled down before we go somewhere. And he doesn't make comments on my "lovely loose" outfits I wear around the house in the summer.

Communication

And as with any relationship and illness, communication is so important. No one can read your mind and know your thoughts. While people can not truly understand what you are going through if they have not experienced it, you still need to take time to explain it to your spouse. You need to share how it makes you feel and explain your frustrations. We often have feelings of no control when it comes to our hives. We need to talk about that. If we are having a bad day we need to say that. We cannot expect them to know just by looking at us. But just as we communicate about our hives and illnesses it is also important to converse with your spouse about their feelings too. Ask them how they are doing. Take time to give them attention. It is so important to talk about other things than our illness.

I wish that everyone could have a spouse or friend to help them navigate through their chronic hives. I am blessed to have a wonderful friend in my husband. He is so supportive of my advocacy work too. He is retired now. We have more time together, or he can escape to the garage if needed! Our hair is no longer big and it is sprinkled with gray. We don't have as much energy anymore and I take a long nap everyday.

I am currently on my second go around with chronic hives. They are different this time and my doctor and I are working on getting improvement.  But whatever happens I know I have a partner in this thing called marriage and itching.

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