In Sickness and In Health...A Ten Year Reminder
When I met John Mark I am pretty sure it was love at first sight. We met in Mr. Puhse's biology class the first day of college at Missouri Baptist University. I thought he was the most gorgeous guy I had ever met...and he is still pretty hot, if I don't say so myself. We had a long, year and a half engagement, tying the knot May 10, 2003, two weeks after we graduated college. We went on our honeymoon and less than two weeks later moved to Louisville, KY, where we now reside.
|We Were SO Young!|
Another reason was because he had such a servant's heart. He wasn't too "manly" that he wouldn't help out in the kitchen. He went with me twice a month to my grandparents' house to help me clean for them (they did pay us, but he didn't need the money.) And he was so cute with them. He always knew how to make an elderly man or woman feel like they were the only person in the world. My grandparents were huge fans of his as a result.
My mom always told me while we were dating that it was important to marry someone who would serve you and your family. And who would love you in sickness and in health. (It didn't hurt that he laughed at her corny jokes.) I thought I understood it then, but as our marriage progressed I realized I had no idea what commitment I was asking him to make.
In 2006 my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Doing the only thing I knew to do, I packed up my bags and every 2 1/2 weeks I drove to and from St. Louis to take my mom to her chemo treatments (during that time my grandma, her mom, also passed away). John Mark never questioned my actions, fully supporting me all the way. During that time I began to have symptoms of what I thought was a bladder infection. This was a very scary time for me. I was in severe pain that kept me from sleeping at night and the doctors began to tell me there was nothing wrong with me. Eventually they sent me to a urologist and I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (IC). My body was in a pain that I could not understand and I had been told it would last the rest of my life. I pushed my family away, I pushed God away, and the only person I did not push away was John Mark. And he stood by me. I remember going to Whole Foods for the first time and reading almost every single box in that store, with tear filled eyes I told him, "I can't eat any of this". But John Mark memorized my diet list, found new recipes that I could eat and let me cry when I needed to cry. There were nights when I was sob into his arms and say, "You did not sign up for this," and he would assure me, "I love you. I'm not going anywhere."
And he didn't. He stood by me through my tantrums, through my cry fests, through my self pity and through my fear. As my on-line community of IC friends grew I realized what a blessing this was, because unfortunately not all partners stay by someone who has been diagnosed with a chronic medical condition.
Before we were married, John Mark and I imagined that we would have at least 4 or 5 kids. As time went on, and I was working full time with IC, I was in a constant state of exhaustion. We realized that was most likely not in the cards for us. We would be happy with one or two. About four and a half years after I was diagnosed with IC we decided that we were going to try and have children. We had no reason to believe it would be more difficult for us than anyone else, so we tried. Six months, 1 year, 18 months, 2 years passed...and nothing. Seeing all of the birth announcements and getting invited to friend's showers was probably the most difficult thing I had to face with infertility. It reminded me that I was lacking in something. John Mark stood by me all the same. He didn't try to point fingers or blame, he did start eating more green stuff (which was a huge sacrifice for him). Most importantly, he listened to me and let me cry. It wasn't until almost 2 1/2 years later that we got pregnant.
The pregnancy was a difficult one because of my IC. I had a lot of cramps, which I didn't realize at the time what they were from, and I was even more exhausted all of the time. John Mark cleaned the house, made dinner (which he had been doing since we were married) and made me rest. He coddled me like I was a newborn babe myself.
|Our Sweet Girl Today|
I gave birth to a wonderful, healthy baby girl, Alexandria Kathleen Inman. We had been married a little over eight years then and thought we understood what this whole marriage thing was about. Our world was rocked. John Mark's servant heart was not though. To this day he changes every diaper when he is home and lets mama sleep in on the weekends. He let me swim 2-3 days a week and at least once every other week I meet with my accountability partner in the evenings. He encourages me and shows his love for me. He even planned a trip for the two of us for our ten year wedding anniversary.
I was so excited about the week we were going to have together in North Captiva Island, Florida. I had my bags packed and knew it was going to be such a relaxing time. First, Alexandria and I were going to fly into St. Louis to help my mom prepare for my dad's 60th birthday party, then Alexandria would stay with my parents and JM and I were going to fly out on Sunday. Friday morning I woke up with a terrible pain in my throat. I took out a flashlight and saw that my right tonsil was swollen. To make a long story short, I went to the urgent care in St. Louis and was diagnosed with tonsillitis. We went out for our anniversary Friday night after Alexandria had went to bed and everything was perfect (aside from my throbbing face). I felt pretty crappy, but i reminded myself we were going to be in Florida in two days. After we got to Florida, it was obvious that the medicine that I had been given was not working. My throat felt terrible, I couldn't eat and it didn't seem like my tonsil was shrinking at all. And I wasn't sleeping.
After a night of hardly any sleep at all, Tuesday morning I got up at 6:00 and tried to plan how we were going to get to an urgent care that day. I was in so much pain and felt so terrible that I was ruining our trip. After a long ordeal, by boat and taxi, we made it to the doctor and he said I definitely had tonsillitis and it was abscess. They gave me a shot in my butt (it was as glamorous as it sounds) and we had to go fill my prescription at the CVS across the street. Eventually we got back to the island (I will spare you the details of the taxi and boat trip back, but it wasn't pretty). I spend the entire day nauseous and in so much pain. I cried (as I had been doing). I apologized for the umpteenth time to John Mark. I asked him why this had to happen to me? Why did this stuff always seemed to happen to me?
Later that evening John Mark asked me if I wanted anything to eat. I knew I had watched him make dinner, clean the dishes and basically wait on me hand in foot since we had gotten to the island, but it was at this time it all set in. I believe everything happens for a reason. I don't always understand it, but I always try to find the silver lining. After ten years of marriage I think I had began to grow accustomed to John Mark's servant heart. And to be honest, take it for granted a little bit. It wasn't until I got sick on this trip that I was reminded what an amazing man I had married ten years ago. One who didn't complain once that his ten year wedding anniversary trip was ruined (because frankly he didn't see it that way), one who didn't make me feel bad because I was so sick, and one who adorably found the challenge of making creative meals of all of the food we had bought because I hadn't been able to eat any of it.
While on this trip I read a book about Joni Eareckson Tada and her husband Ken. She is a quadriplegic painter/writer/singer/speaker. They married late in life, after she had been paralyzed from the neck down since her teen years. There was a part in the book where James Dobson, a Christian writer/radio personality, was interviewing Joni and Ken. He made a comment that really struck a chord with me. He said that Joni didn't have a choice of all of the maladies that she had been given in life. She had been given them and she had to learn to live with them. "But Ken Did! He willingly chose this path, willing chose the hardship and suffering it would involve." (pg 158) Just like Ken, John Mark made the same choice. And for that, well, it makes me the happiest, most thankful girl in the world.
I heard the song by Phillip Phillips, "Gone, Gone, Gone" awhile back and with our pending anniversary I felt it summed up our marriage thus far pretty well. I imagined John Mark singing to me, "I'll lie, cheat, I'll beg and bribe To make you well, to make you well...Your hope dangling by a string, I'll share in your suffering To make you well, to make you well." I knew if John Mark could, he would do those things. But listening to it again another verse stuck out to me, "Give me reasons to believe that you would do the same for me." And then later, "I surrender honestly, you've always done the same for me." The singer is pleading with his wife that she would do the same for him. So I guess I just want to end this blog by telling John Mark thank you for all you've done for me. You have been the most amazing husband a wife could ever ask for. Thank you for standing by me, fighting for me and believing in me when I couldn't believe in myself. I hope you know that I will do the same for you. I'll love you long after your gone, gone, gone. (In at least 100 years or so please). Love you baby. Happy Ten year anniversary. This is definitely one for the books.
|Celebrating 10 Years on North Captiva Island, Florida|