Monday, September 19, 2016

My Loved One was Diagnosed with a Disability or Illness...What do I do now? ~ Spouse

If your SPOUSE is the loved one with a disability, it is quite different than if your child has a disability.  I've learned this first hand.

If your spouse is sick, it changes everything.  Depending on the illness, it may effect your income, strain your relationship, and cause your whole household to be flipped upside down.

With my children, I can make the phone calls and appointments myself.  Insurance will speak to me about anything.  I can talk to all doctors and nurses about their care.  I also drive them to the places and force them to follow all of the doctor's orders.  This is not the same with a spouse.

If your spouse is capable, sit down and have a conversation with him or her about your role in their illness.  It would be good to consider the following:

  • Will you be included in decision making regarding care? (I hope yes)  
  • Will you be able to speak to doctors if needed? (Ask your spouse to fill out paperwork at doctors' offices for them to share information with you)  
  • Will you go to appointments with your spouse? (It's often good to have a second set of ears at appointments)  
  • Who is going to handle the insurance and bills? (File for Financial Aid if needed) 
  • How will the illness effect the rest of the household? (Children, finances, household chores)  
  • Does your spouse need accountability to take medications? (Medications are often a huge key in recovery or leading a more stable life) 
  • Would counseling help us through this? (Individual or as a couple) 
  • Do you need to get paperwork in order for worst case scenarios? (Wills, Trusts, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care)
  • How much will you share with loved ones and friends? (Who will do the sharing?)
  • What care do you (your spouse) need that you aren't currently getting? (Therapies, equipment, etc)
  • What do you need from me as your spouse and best friend? (Love and support)

Because you are dealing with your spouse, it is important to treat him or her with a great deal of respect.  This is crucial in order to maintain a healthy relationship.  It is very difficult at times, but you have to remember why you fell in love with him or her in the first place.  Encourage them, stand by them, and celebrate the good moments, no matter how small.

I am amazed by how many people tell me how "inspiring" or "beautiful" it is that I am staying with Brian through his illness.  I look at them in disbelief and say, "Of course I am!"  I signed up for marriage " sickness and health, til death do us part..." and vowed before God and our loved ones.  I don't take that lightly and would like to think that if it were me, he'd do the same.

Next up...the role of a parent with your child living at home.

If this tip was helpful, check out the other posts in the series: Our StoryInternetGrieving, Learn Your Role

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