Living On Oxygen for Life
I met my future husband when I was 18 years old when we both worked at the same place. He was vibrant and he exuded an energetic sense of life and happiness. I felt drawn to him. He was interesting and he was kind to me which was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life. I had been using oxygen at night for a little over a year and wasn’t allowed to drive because I had problems with blackouts while driving. My parents wouldn’t let me drive for a whole year after I totaled my car when I was a Junior in high school. So, when I finally got a job where my future husband (let’s call him “K” to keep things simple and private) I started to blossom into a new me. A cheery person who was ready to reach out and cling to life with a passion.
When my 19th birthday was just a day away, K asked me if I had plans to celebrate. I was new to the area because I moved from where I went to high school to another state. I told him that I didn’t and he decided he was going to take me out and show me the town because no one should have nothing to do on their birthday. Oh my gosh! I was so very nervous. I even had my sister take me shopping for something nice to wear for this “birthday date.” He picked me up at my mom’s house and off we went. We had no real destination but that was ok with me. I just started talking and talking and talking. Out came the news about my health and everything that I’d been through and my fears of my future. He quietly listened to all of what I had to say. It wasn’t until later that he explained that he liked me because I was honest when I was talking with him.
Over the years, since that conversation and us getting married, there have been some serious challenges. He’s had to cope with the major changes that my health has brought to our lives. It wasn’t just me who had to deal with all those health declines. My husband watched my physical abilities fade over the years and he chose to adjust his life to accommodate my needs. It wasn’t easy for him. I realize that now because what happens to me doesn’t happen only to me. It affects him too. What once was a vibrant young woman that he knew and loved, is now a woman who he assists getting out of the car, who he pushes in a wheelchair and helps with the grocery shopping. But throughout the last 24 years, we’ve filled our time together with as many memories as my health has allowed. So, even though it takes a little extra effort to travel by car almost completely loaded with my medical equipment and suitcases (yes, I’m a woman who needs to coordinate my attire!), arrange my oxygen refills on the road, and longer vacations to allow time for us to go at my pace (slow!), it’s been worth all that we’ve been through together. Sure he sometimes needs to be reminded to walk slower. There are times where he is walking off one way and I’m going the other way not remembering that we are connected by my oxygen because he’s carrying my tank!
It’s been a learning experience for both of us. I just feel so lucky to have found someone who has the patience to stay by my side.