On July 3, 2011, my husband and I exchanged rings and threw a big, beautiful, expensive party to celebrate our marriage in the company of family and friends. Much has changed for us since our wedding day. Not due to significant career shifts, dogs, kids, major acquisitions, etc., but rather because the mystery of the “fainting episodes” that began while my then-fiancé was away in North Carolina for his bachelor party was finally solved, the diagnosis leaving in its wake confusion, relief, worsening episodes, months of reprieve.
Weird as it might sound, I consider us lucky; though epilepsy has certainly complicated our relationship, it has also strengthened it. In the process of adjusting to new constraints and challenges, I’ve had to learn how to be vulnerable, and he’s had to learn that sometimes it’s OK to take control. We’ve come to appreciate the importance of making major medical decisions together, understanding that the physical and mental health of our individual selves intimately affects the quality of our mutual existence. We laugh about the exploits of postictal “Seizure Kathleen.” We’re different people—slightly older, a little more protective of each other, and much wiser, at least as far as ER protocol, AEDs, concussions, and first aid are concerned—than we used to be.
How I had the tremendous fortune to fall so deeply in love with a man whose devotion knows few bounds is beyond me. When I first met a jet-lagged, blurry-eyed American ginger six years ago in a dorm room in Germany, I couldn’t have predicted that four years later we’d say our vows and formally acknowledge the profound bond that we had already started to cultivate, nor could I have imagined that it would one day be routine for my summer crush, now sporting a purple epilepsy awareness bracelet, to time my convulsions, prevent me from biting my tongue, and wipe the sweat from my brow. More often than not the first responder, he’s the face I see when I gain consciousness after a seizure. He strokes my hair and holds my hands while I recover. In my insecure moments, he reassures me that I’m more than an epileptic. He reminds me to take my pills, helps me evaluate my medical options, and pesters me to eat better and rest more. Even if I’m objectively a burden sometimes, he doesn’t make me feel like one.
That, to me, is the definition of truly compassionate and committed love. And on our second anniversary, I want my husband to know that I notice and am thankful for every little thing he does for me, for us, and for our present and future.
*The content of this post bears no connection to the Flannery O’Connor story, though it’s a favourite of mine.