A shift in equilibrium

Walking through the front door of our very old house I was greeted by the alarming smell of hot metal and something burning. As I ran into the kitchen, I discovered the metal was the empty tea kettle, which was now melting down the side of our 1940’s range and hitting a flooring product from the same decade that contained enough asbestos to just smolder rather than ignite. It was this incident that confirmed my husband of several months could not boil water. That was1988.

Things changed with the arrival of our son in 1993 as he quickly picked up the skills of making formula, which requires boiling water. Nothing like a baby to get you acquainted with the kitchen, and – as it turns out – to prepare him for things to come.
 
It’s creepy how MS subtly changes the equilibrium in a marriage. It did in mine. Gradually over time, household tasks that I was responsible for and loved to do – like gardening and cooking – fell to my husband. Fortunately, not all at once as it wasn’t the easiest transition for either of us. 
 
When we moved into the house where we now reside, I had large garden beds put in around the perimeter of the back yard. I planted and planted, never thinking that there would come a point when I couldn’t care for them. One afternoon, I was having a fit because I couldn’t safely walk out to the yard. Out of complete exasperation with me, my husband showed up at the steps of our deck with the wheelbarrow and told me to get in. I did. He rolled me to my desired destination and gently discharged me at the spot that needed my attention. I still can’t believe we did this, but it worked for quite a while.
 
The perennials have taken over the beds and Michael now plants beautiful flower boxes all over the deck. He even knows how to dead head the rosebushes.
 
Michael, once a safety hazard in the kitchen, has become a proficient cook. He knows the difference between tsp and tbsp, the three vegetables that comprise mirapoix and prefers to make pancakes from scratch. We still get frustrated by the changes MS has brought to our lives, but as a couple we are beginning to find a new sense of balance by doing tasks together. When I start to feel bad about not being able to physically do the things that he does, he reminds me that I am still the brains of the operation. What a guy!
 
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Susan

Susan Skoney, Blogger

Susan Skoney was diagnosed in 1999. She lives in western New York with her husband Michael and daughter Hannah. She worked many years in public relations and advertising, and has just started writing about her MS in the last few years.

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    10 Comments

  • SmartyPants   Oct 7, 2016 4:59 PM
    Yes it sure is a plus to have a life mate that you can shoulder some of the chores around the house. I too am a big outdoor garden fan, i still can get out and walk with my two canes out to work in the garden. I also have many potted plants which are on the porch and driveway, flat surfaces where i can put out a chair and work them one at a time. I suggest you do less bed work and more potted plants.
    Having my beloved, really helps, he's had to take on more responsibilites around the house. In fact, just today we went to Wilco and I found a half dozen half priced perennials,
  • SmartyPants   Oct 7, 2016 5:06 PM
    Part two, the comment somehow was added before i was done, anyway, getting potted plants on a porch, where you can have a chair, or table and chairs, that way you can work with the plants, earth at eye level while you sit. Of course today when we went to WIlco i saw they have half off plants and i picked up a dozen or so plants, not once did my mate make the comment that he would be the one to dig the holes. At least with the potted plants I can work on them alone. There is nothing better than having two shoulders to carry the load, in any situation. I feel lucky, thinking about all the people with MS who have to go it alone. I am blessed. Anyway enjoy your flowers, just bring them toward the door, in pots, i mean i have so many that they line the steps, and way out into the pathway. I know, with the two canes trying to get through the walkway is challenging. My mate says "I'm an accident waiting to happen" . I get so much joy moving the earth around the necks of the plants i am planting, watering, and when they bloom. Keep enjoying the yard, just move plants closer to you.
  • David Maskalick   Oct 7, 2016 7:49 PM
    As a husband diagnosed with MS in 1986 after our sixth wedding anniversary, my wife, Kathy, helped me continue my career until 2000 when I was asked to take long term disability. We used to share driving 500 miles between where we lived and worked and where her folks lived and where we met in high school. Then in 2000 we moved back to care for her folks and my wife took over all the driving. Today she drove her Mom and I to an Amish village about 100 miles away and we had a wonderful time. We are both involved in activities with our friends associated with our alumni organizations and our symphony orchestra. Even after dealing with MS for 30 years it’s still fun being friends and together. Love is wonderful! :)
  • David Maskalick   Oct 7, 2016 7:49 PM
    As a husband diagnosed with MS in 1986 after our sixth wedding anniversary, my wife, Kathy, helped me continue my career until 2000 when I was asked to take long term disability. We used to share driving 500 miles between where we lived and worked and where her folks lived and where we met in high school. Then in 2000 we moved back to care for her folks and my wife took over all the driving. Today she drove her Mom and I to an Amish village about 100 miles away and we had a wonderful time. We are both involved in activities with our friends associated with our alumni organizations and our symphony orchestra. Even after dealing with MS for 30 years it’s still fun being friends and together. Love is wonderful! :)
  • David Maskalick   Oct 7, 2016 7:49 PM
    As a husband diagnosed with MS in 1986 after our sixth wedding anniversary, my wife, Kathy, helped me continue my career until 2000 when I was asked to take long term disability. We used to share driving 500 miles between where we lived and worked and where her folks lived and where we met in high school. Then in 2000 we moved back to care for her folks and my wife took over all the driving. Today she drove her Mom and I to an Amish village about 100 miles away and we had a wonderful time. We are both involved in activities with our friends associated with our alumni organizations and our symphony orchestra. Even after dealing with MS for 30 years it’s still fun being friends and together. Love is wonderful! :)
  • Eugénia   Oct 8, 2016 4:51 AM
    The worst that MS as is the disbelief of others. Besides of our disease all around us works against recovery, because that is possible.....

    But society isn't really prepared to spend money with us, after all I believe that is the wold that gave us MS with all the chemicals to clean the house, bad food, pesticides on crops (vegetabels, meat, fish all contaminated) it seems that problem is all our but it ain't......Still the numbers says that we spend less 75% healthy than less healthy.......if we have to use this argument......and I already have used it....in my house....We have to keep our ind strong to fight all around MS........
  • Eileen ulrich   Oct 12, 2016 8:47 AM
    I loved this article and love Sue Skoney!
    You inspire me with your courage and strength as you live with MS.
    The best to you and mike and hannah❤️
  • Pamela   Oct 19, 2016 4:12 PM
    This is exactly how my life "rolled out". My husband put in a safety ramp, stair rails, started cooking better than me(!!) and took extremely good care of our girls, down to fixing their hair. Unfortunately, he passed away ten years ago, at a time when we were looking forward to early retirement and grandchildren. I have recently remarried and have a new, blessed by God, marriage and have a tremendous amount of support from him...and our grandchildren are a blessing. Thank you for posting your article.
  • Gene   Oct 25, 2016 12:52 PM
    Susan, it sounds as if your husband has come to terms with you having MS. That is really great.
  • mlchase1958  Dec 1, 2016 7:56 PM
    Susan, Thank you. I am still in transmission mode after 8 years of having to rely more and more on my spouse. My spouse is over-worked at the office and then has to come home to chores, making dinner and feeding/walking the dog. He doesn't do it with grace all the time but I don't blame him. I feel so guilty and helpless but it's good to know that there is strength in marriage.