Sunday, May 31, 2015

Perils of Duty

Believe it or not, my wife Laura is not, I repeat, not a fan of spiders. In particular, large, hairy spiders. So it falls upon me, as the spouse without an aversion to arachnids, to dispatch of said spiders. Fortunately, most eight-leggers taking up residence in our household do not meet this description and I can shoo them away to live another day and feast on our home’s pests. Alas, on the eve of publishing the most recent ActiveMSers newsletter (subscribe here), an LHS--aka, large hairy spider--made its presence known in the kitchen and refused polite requests to scamper. So I was called into duty and immediately holstered a shoe. But there was a problem, actually a few problems.

Problemo uno: I have multiple sclerosis. Problemo dos: I have balance issues. And problemo tres, I feel I have duties as a spouse that I want to maintain despite my disabilities and will stubbornly do things I probably shouldn’t do. Like take out the trash, wrangle vacuums, and pull weeds without sitting down. And attempt to kill spiders. On a freshly waxed kitchen floor. In socks. After a beer.

Okay, you can already see how this is going to end. BADLY. The good news: the LHS was dispatched. The bad news: in the process of cleaning up the detritus, karma collided with that fleeting sense of accomplishment and despite using my walker “to be safe” I promptly auditioned for America’s Funniest Home Videos sans the video, and, well, the funny. Out went my feet from under me and backward I went, clocking a wall with my noggin on the way down.

Fortunately, splayed out on the ice rink, er, kitchen floor, I took a broken bone count and everything was intact. No muscles were torn. Nothing hurt except for that new knot on my wet head. And then it occurred to me that it was mighty strange that my head was wet considering that I had not just taken a shower. Uh oh. A late night ER visit and three fresh staples later (staples!), not to mention an epic pout face (see above photo), I was as good as new. Well, not new new.

When you’ve got a disease like multiple sclerosis that tries to steal long-practiced spousal duties, making peace with giving up some of these duties is paramount. We want to be helpful like we were before. We want to do the same chores we used to do. We want to be productive and efficient and worthwhile. But sometimes MS makes that challenging. Whether it’s cooking dinner or dressing a child for school or balancing the checkbook or getting the nighttime water, cutting back or letting go of some of these tasks is hard and discouraging. Maddening, even. I mean, I want to be the best husband in the world to Laura, to be her knight in shining armor. Instead, realistically I would be rendered stationary wearing anything metal and my most advanced form of weaponry would resemble a New Balance sneaker.

The realization that I have to give up some of my expected duties as a husband is enough to make me want to bang my head against the wall in frustration. But, as I unfortunately and painfully discovered, that usually just leads to staples in the head. And trust me, you don’t want staples in your head. Besides, it makes getting an MRI rather problematic, you know, with all that metal and all. And I think we can all agree, with multiple sclerosis we have enough problems already!