Being in a relationship can be hard work. Being in a relationship with a chronic illness can be harder work.
When I met my husband, I was (relatively) healthy. I was working part time at a hotel, on my feet 16 hours a day, studying at university. I was just like any other 19-year-old girl. I knew the moment I met him that there was a spark between us. For me, there could be no one else. Very quickly, our friendship seemed to bloom into something more, something deeper. He understood me and really got me – he was unlike anyone I’d ever met before.
I fell, hard. I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else.
3 years in, we were engaged. I was lost in the craziness that is ‘planning a wedding’ when I was first rushed to hospital. The pain was so bad, I can’t describe it, even now. When all the tests came back normal, I was sent home. This was the start of a love/hate relationship with my local Accident & Emergency Department, one that lasted over 6 months. In and out, in and out; discharged without answers every month. But despite all my drama, all my issues, Nick was there, by my side through it all.
4 years and 3 surgeries later, I am still dealing with the flares of Endometriosis. I have lost jobs, friends, an ovary and some parts of myself. But what remains is Nick, and the relationships that matter the most. The people I am closest to, who have all seen me at my very worst. They have seen me balled up in pain, they have seen me cry out in despair and sob at the unfairness of it all. The relationships I have now, and I don’t just mean the one I share with my husband, have held me together in my darkest hours; they have helped me fix my broken heart when I thought I’d always feel shattered.
But It is difficult to watch someone you love go through something so awful, to be in such pain and it’s easy to forget the impact that chronic pain has on the ‘bystander’. My husband is the love of my life, but he is also my carer and it has not been easy to see him upset or see myself, broken, through his eyes.
I am so thankful that despite the Endometriosis, he loves me unconditionally. The relationships I have with my husband, my parents and siblings, family and friends and my colleagues, are all so important to me.
Each time I look at this necklace, their faces fill my head. There is a piece of them all in that delicate item of jewellery; the heart to signify my love for them and the life they share with their loved ones, the infinity symbol which shows that you will be there for them as they are for you and how it is all tied together. A neverending bond; a perfect knot in an imperfect moment.
Every single person that has helped me through the pain of Endometriosis deserves this beautiful necklace; not only my family and friends but also the online community of fellow ‘Spoonies’ – it’s easy for people to empathise, to say, “I know what you mean, I know what you’re going through…” But few people actually know. So to my Endosisters and Spoonie friends, I know you know and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
You’re all incredible and you inspire me every day.