Monday, September 9, 2013

Thought he was being an asshole, but it turned out he had Lyme disease. So really, I'm the asshole.

The last thing I wrote may have alluded to some asshole behavior I might have been experiencing. Little did I know that the asshole behavior was all my own.


However, I am almost always willing to accept responsibility for my own behavior. And so, here is my mea culpa to the blogosphere.

For about 3 weeks, I thought my marriage was over. Does that sound dramatic? It should, because I was sick about it. My husband had become another person, seemingly over night. And I did not like this new guy. It was like every article in my mother's Redbook that I had ever read as a child about "When Your Spouse is a Stranger".

Sam and I celebrate our 15th anniversary this week, and because of all of the life experiences I have had, and all of the divorces and parting of ways that I have witnessed, I figured it was just a matter of time before something happened to fuck up our happy marriage. And I was ready to fight that "something" - for him and for our family. Though I admit, I thought that "something" would involve a vagina (mine or someone else's) not a deer tick.

Sam and I get along really well. We complement each other, we share a living space harmoniously, and we rarely disagree in matters of parenting. He deals with my crazy, and I deal with everything else. So when Sam started acting really strangely, I paid attention. I paid attention so closely that I (possibly) became a total bitch. He would do something weird or annoying, and my response was to freak out. Remarkably, he kept doing weirder stuff, and my freak outs elevated to a high pitched "WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM, MAN?" It was mostly a question of judgement: saying or doing the wrong thing, being incredibly inconsiderate or acting like a total bonehead. Sometimes he was downright mean. He fell down a few times while working on the house, smacked himself in the face with a pair of pliers......weird stuff that told me he was distracted. But why? I didn't even know what to ask him. Was he having an affair? Worried about work stuff? Was it Alzheimer's? Cancer? My mind was racing, and I spent hours running through a long list of possibilities. There were no tears, no accusations, just actions and reactions that continued and accelerated and grew until, well, all I can say is boy howdy, he was not my favorite for a while there. And then one night, I slept on the couch. I have voluntarily slept on the couch maybe three times in our entire marriage, and it was because one of us was contagious. So sleeping on the couch was a huge deal. A red flag that signaled perilous times ahead.

The night that I slept on the couch, he came out early in the morning to apologize - for his night sweats.

Night sweats? That was weird. I had slept on the couch because I thought he was an asshole, not because he was sweaty. After 15 years, I'm used to the sweaty. The man is like a furnace, and I went through menopause a few years ago, which is a terrible combination when you live in Hawaii. So let me assure you it takes a lot more than night sweats to get me to sleep somewhere other than my bed.

The next night, it happened again. I went out with friends to avoid an uncomfortable evening of spending time with someone I thought was being an idiot. When I got home, he was passed out in our bed, and I could see the ring of sweat surrounding his body on the clean sheets. Rather than being angry, for the first time in several weeks I had a rational, measured reaction. I woke him up, stripped the bed and remade it, laid down a towel, and got him a dry quilt. He said he didn't feel well.

And then I started to really worry. My husband was acting weird, extremely weird, and now he was sweating like crazy. Was it guilt? Maybe he really was having an affair. But no, he's just not that kind of guy. Was it hormonal? I spent some time online that night, trying to figure out if men actually went through a physical menopause, or just used it as an excuse to buy dumb expensive cars. (Still to be determined.)

The next night, he was outside grilling dinner and being weird - which was his new normal by now, and I heard Lucy say "Daddy, what did you do to your leg?"

I stuck my head out the door. He looked down and said "Holy shit! I have no idea!" I leaned out further to get a look. There was a large - maybe 5 inches across - dark red blotch on his leg. It looked like a bruise, or a burn. At least, it would look like that to someone who isn't from Connecticut, home of Lyme, CT and the deer ticks that can ruin your life.

"Sam," I said calmly, "you have Lyme disease. You need to go to the clinic."

12 hours later, after 10 vials of blood and a spinal tap, we were home with a bottle of antibiotics and a followup appointment to create a treatment plan. My hunch was correct, and we were lucky to get a diagnosis so quickly. There is no Lyme Disease in Hawaii, you have to catch it somewhere else - in this case probably during our amazing summer vacation in Connecticut.

Silly me, I thought the worst thing we had to worry about was catching our flight home.

So now we know. And the antibiotics are working. No one is sleeping on the couch, and I told him that while I was sorry he was sick, I was glad there was a reason we weren't getting along, because I can't imagine life without him, even when one of us is a hot mess (literally). He has almost finished his course of antibiotics, and has an MRI scheduled to try to pinpoint the cause of his confusion and general poor decision making lately. I don't know if we can blame Lyme Disease for everything, but I'm sure going to try.

Happy Anniversary to us. Taking "In sickness and in health" to a whole new place since 1998. Love and marriage is no joke.

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