Diary of a Marriage: In Sickness and in Health.

This week, I had to decide: Nurse my ailing husband? Or stay healthy for my vacation?

I remember reciting my wedding vows and getting to the whole “in sickness and in health” part. Sure, I thought. Of course. I will help him limp to the car if he ever breaks a leg, and, should he ever get really, really sick, I will be that wife who forces the hospital to bend their visiting hours policy by sheer determination and staunch unwillingness to leave my ailing husband’s bedside.

Flash to last week. J. — who never gets sick — caught a niggling cold, followed a few days later by strep throat and a high fever. At first, I panicked, remembering hearing that strep can go to your heart (somehow) and that high fevers can cause some sort of permanent damage (which I don’t think is actually true in most cases). In any case, I became a doting wife, forcing him to go to the doctor, force-feeding him popsicles and chicken noodle soup, making sure he took his medicine.

We crawled into bed Thursday night, J. feeling like crap, and me feeling like a modern-day Florence Nightingale. And then I remembered that strep is contagious. Normally, the fear of getting sick wouldn’t bother me too much. But, the thing is, I’m scheduled to fly to Los Cabos, Mexico, tomorrow for a friend’s wedding (J. can’t make it, unfortunately — more on that next week). A case of strep throat, and I could pretty much kiss my poolside margaritas and mid-winter tan goodbye.

I’m already feeling pretty guilty about the whole Mexico-trip-without-him thing, and I felt even worse as I slid out of bed and set up camp in our guestroom for the night. So much for that whole bending-visiting-hours thing. One strep scare and I’m out.

By Saturday night, he was feeling better, and I was feeling rather proud of my nursing prowess. This was an interesting turn: usually I’m the one needing hot soup and horse pills. It was one of the few times that J. actually seemed vulnerable, and in a weird way that I really can’t even explain, it made me love him a little bit more.

That’s not to say that I haven’t slept in the guestroom since then. On Sunday night, J. started snoring — that unbearable sick-person snoring that can probably break through the sound barrier. As I gathered my blanket and alarm clock for what was seeming like my nightly move to the guestroom — feeling guilty once again for abandoning my not-quite-healthy husband in the middle of the night — I realized that the whole sickness-and-health thing may be harder than it seems.

It’s easy to get dramatic, to go to those worst-case scenarios that play out in movies. But you don’t always think about the dozens of colds and flus and sore throats and headaches and upset stomachs that you’ll have to get through. The nights when you’re relegated to the guestroom due to all-night coughing fits, and he’s making late-night trips to CVS to get you more Tylenol. But, if this is as bad as it gets, I’ll be happy. And, even if I’m not quite Florence Nightingale, I think I can deal with it.

Tell us: Have you had to deal with a sick spouse? How’d you hold up?

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