Why I am dating my husband and what that has to do with anxiety.

 

 

Some of the time I live in Sydney with my husband and the rest of the time I live in Canberra with #3 son.  This is an odd situation but when has anything in my life been standard.  The final 2 years of high school in Canberra are different to the rest of the country.  A separate campus all to themselves.  No uniform, teachers are called by their first names, responsibility is placed completely on the student.  It’s like a mini-university experience.  This is the experience sons #1 and 2 had and it’s the one son #3 very much wanted.

Four years ago, we returned to Sydney for my husband’s work and because he’s an only child and his parents are important to us. We wanted to be there for them.  We moved with son #3 who only knew the nation’s capital as his home.  He left everything he knew and two brothers behind and it was a lot of change. What is this strange place you call Sydney?  This isn’t home.  It’s not hot enough, cold enough, there are too many people, there is too much traffic and it’s not home and no one understands me.  He’s was right. No one understood him. I had always understood him but Sydney made me doubt myself. I think there is something about the very anxious that makes other people nervous and what we don’t understand we tend to fight against. They wear the worry of the world for everyone to see whereas we stuff it down with food, drink, laughter.  He is not afraid to wear his mood.  He does not pretend, he just is.  That’s difficult for many people. I get that.

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So, we moved back to Canberra, #3 and I.  There are people who think we are genuinely crazy and there are people I didn’t tell.  I just moved. Didn’t say a word. Why you ask?  I’m introverted to the extreme and while I do not suffer anxiety to the extent my son does, there is a little bit of me that avoids being judged even when the judgement is made up in my head.   “You’re leaving your husband to accommodate the wishes of your child?  But he’s a child, he has to fit in with you!”  Yes, I know all that, but he’s my child and you’ll never understand so I’m not having this conversation in my head with you out loud, have you done that or is that just me?

It’s just me?  Okay then…

We had kept our family home, rented it during the 4 years – that’s a story in and of itself –  and we put the possessions we could fit into our car and drove home.  The smile on his face began at the major freeway that would get us there and fully emerged as we pulled into the drive and unloaded our things.  I had not seen that smile in a long time. I had to brush away the tears.  He started to joke with me. He bantered again. He talked again.  Good lord, doesn’t this child know I am anti-social and how do I shut him up?  It’s like 4 years of not talking came out of his mouth in the first 4 days

But what did you do with your husband?

man in a box

I put him in a box. There are air holes and food and water.  He’ll be fine.

No, not really.  DH is in Sydney, in my beautiful apartment in Sydney – I’m not bitter- because his specialist is in Sydney and he needs to have regular check-ups for the cancer.  Multiple myeloma is a sneaky thing. It never really goes away, even after treatment.  One other major reason why he stayed in Sydney is –  he works.  That amazing man works so I can read and #3 can come to Canberra so he can smile again. As I told you before, my job is reading and I do it philanthropically. No one pays me to work this hard at reading.

Now as much as son #3 loves Canberra, I love Sydney.  I love Manly.  But this is my child and he has a dream and I am the facilitator of his dream so here I am in Canberra, dating my husband.  We meet on weekends and have dinners and in some crazy messed up way, it’s actually working.  We face time and try not to giggle when one of us asks the other “what are you wearing tonight?”   Absence does make the heart grow fonder.  I’ve always enjoyed his company.  His detailed, bossy, in control company, but now I look forward to his company.  Plus, he knows how to change a washer and the tap upstairs is dripping.

Son #3 is old enough to leave on his own for a few nights and that will grow to a week every now and then so I can slip back to my happy place and sleep in my other bed.  It’s not that I don’t like Canberra, I actually do.  But I love my husband more and that’s where he lives.

It’s two years I tell myself. It will pass in a heartbeat but when your husband has a very serious cancer two years is a lifetime.

 

But wait! I still haven’t told you what I read.

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That was unexpected

It’s complicated!

What do you do when your husband is diagnosed with an incurable leukaemia, your anxiety-ridden son is desperate to return to his hometown, you decide you need to sell your house and you want to spend your 50th year in bed reading?

You do it all of course.

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Misbehaving cells . “Wikicommons”

Multiple myeloma, you are a bitch.  I’d use a stronger word but I’m a lady.   We were not expecting you. I thought turning 50 would mean more time to read.  In the year of my 50th birthday, I sent up a wish that I might spend it reading, drinking coffee and wine and salute the first 50 years off with a trip to Europe –  in that order.  I got my wish. Well, some of them.   I read in doctor’s offices, chemotherapy wards and isolation rooms. I drank hospital coffee and wine at home alone while my husband lay sick from a stem cell transplant.  When my 50th rolled around in July, instead of Paris,  I was sitting in a lovely room at Royal North Shore hospital reading about Paris by his bedside. He was so sick he didn’t know I was there.  At least I got the reading part right.  I really should have been more detailed when I made that wish but details have never been my thing.  That’s his job, the sick husband that is. He took the year off to be an absolute superstar patient and left the details to me.

That was a mistake.

He’s always been the one who knew when the bills were due. He even paid them. On time! I was under some illusion that the lights stayed on through willpower and a little bit of magic.  I had no idea how a direct deposit worked.  I know how to order books though. I’m fantastic at that. However, ordering books online doesn’t fill the fridge.  You see my job was to read. Yes, I keep the kids alive with love, a clean bathroom and put enough washing through so that you can see the floor of the laundry –  and I write when the inspiration hit me.  Reading is my main job. Unpaid mind you. I do it out of the goodness of my heart. My loving husband accepts this. My introverted, anti-social oddness was endearing and he handled the details of our life so that I could get on with the business of being introverted, anti-social and odd.

Until January 2017.

In what was supposed to be an uncomplicated foot issue,  dependable husband – from here on known as DH, went to the GP after his loving wife, me of course, nagged him into it.  He doesn’t do doctors.  No one in his family does doctors.  It’s a thing.  They don’t need doctors.   “My leg looks like it’s falling off?  I’m sure I’ll be fine with a cup and tea and a band-aid.”   “This lump on my head?  That’s been there for years.  Don’t worry about it.” I’m serious. They don’t do doctors.  Who in their right mind doesn’t do doctors?  So I tormented him until he went to the doctor and because he hadn’t been to a doctor since the early eighteen hundreds, the doctor did all manner of tests.

One of those tests came back with news we didn’t expect.  He has leukaemia.  Multiple Myeloma.  Multiple what,  I said.  I’ve never heard of it.  I was soon to learn all about it.  There is no cure.  It’s rather serious and he’ll need some serious treatment.

The serious treatment began soon thereafter.  A bone marrow biopsy ( why don’t they knock a person out for that – it’s so painful.)  A double femur implant to stabilise both legs where cancer had weakened the bones and left its mark ( we call him Wolverine.) Chemo. More Chemo. Stem cell harvesting. More chemo.  Stem cell replacement. Recovery.  And here we are.  Over a year later but of course life goes on while your husband’s body is making other plans.  You still have a family, children to love, coffee to drink and books to read.  The world doesn’t stop when you get the news, though it should.  Everyone should look and feel as horrified and afraid as I did but they didn’t.  Everyone should have stopped in the middle of a car park and said out loud “how  would I cope without him?”  On one should have honked for me to move.  “Don’t stand there love,  you’ll get run over.”  No one should have needed to say that because the most dependable man on the face of the earth has been diagnosed with leukaemia and that should have stopped the world.

It stopped me.   What would I do without him, I wondered?  He pays the bills, he reminds me when we need food, he puts petrol in the car even though I use it the most – to go and get books.  He gets me out of the house to have breakfast on the weekends.  He patiently listens to the plot line of the book I am reading and the one I am trying to write.  Who else would I want to do that for me?  How on earth would I survive without him?  Who would love me as much as he loves me?  I couldn’t think of a single person who knew me so well as DH.  I absolutely refused for that to change.  I still had that laundry floor to deal with and a teenager with a severe anxiety disorder whose beloved dad was sick as a dog before his eyes. That dad who had always been dependable, strong and took care of details was bloated from steroids, bald and throwing up.  That is not something your son’s psychologist orders for his anxiety disorder.  “Mrs May, go home and conjure up cancer, it’s just what the boy needs!”  No,  that wasn’t the wish list. I checked it twice.

This son,  this beautiful, bright, quirky, introverted magical boy had asked to go home to Canberra where we raised him.   The moment we landed in Sydney on the eve of his entry into high school four years ago, he was miserable.  DH and I are from Sydney.  We love it. It’s home – but it’s not his home and as the mum of every socially awkward brilliant kid knows,  change is hard.

So what do you do?

I became a nurse, therapist, cleaner, organiser, bill payer, health advocate, researcher, dietitian, pill dispenser, needle giver, declutter and minimalist who lives in two states and tries to please everyone.   Oh,  and I  put a house on the market.  Did I read?

I shall tell you.

 

The good stuffs out the back!

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I’m only using it for soft skin, I swear Mr Turnball.

In my attempt to eat well and therefore be healthier and more productive, I’ve come across some interesting, I’d even say alien like foods.  A lot of blog reading and research has taken me down some strange gastronomical back alleys and I have to say I like it. I feel like a foodie spy getting access to things previously unknown.  Like activating my sprouts and nuts!  Who’d have thought?  Did you know there is a yeast that smells and tastes like cheese? I kid you not.

I gave up dairy quite successfully and with great results. I’ve been eating much less meat and I’ll eventually do away with it all together. I don’t know how anyone can watch Cowspiracy and not be moved but I digress. I have been making a very delicious smoothie with pea protein and when I ran out I had a chat with a lovely lady at my local health food store. I asked her if I was on the right track or was there something else I should be trying.  She looked left and right then left again and leaned in close. Her voice dropped to a whisper.

“Come out the back “she said…

I looked around with her, expecting her to open her cardigan and ask me if I wanted to buy a watch.

In the storeroom she closed the door but her voice remained conspiratorially soft.  “I’m not allowed to sell you this as a food product,” she said, handing me a bag of something squishy with swagman and a thumbs up on the front.  Anything with a thumbs up must be great but if its hidden on the bottom shelf in a storeroom it has to be even better.

“What is it?” I whispered, looking at the door for a quick getaway if she turned psycho on me.

“Hemp,” she said, her voice dropping to a level only dogs can hear. “I can only sell it to you as a product you use externally.” She turned the package over and sure enough, a sticker covered the nutritional chart. Instead of telling me how much to drink, it was telling me how it made an amazing body scrub.

“The rest of the world can drink it, but we’re not allowed?”

“Okay-”

“But it’s perfectly safe. Very high in protein.”

I had read about hemp power, oil, seeds, milk, but I had no idea it was so temptingly illegal in my own country.  I admit, this made it even more appealing.

After making sure no one was listening in the back of the storeroom, she told me how to prepare a smoothie ( i.e exactly the same way every other protein power is used) and since she was showing me the good stuff out the back, I felt obliged to be amazed.

I left the store with my stash placed in a paper bag. Even the receipt said “for external use!”  I really do live in a nanny state, huh!

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The green countries are allowed to consume hemp. The red ones have to scrub themselves healthy.

I’ve been using the hemp power every day, expecting a government official to knock on my door each time to check I was scrubbing myself only.  I’m flaunting the law every morning I guzzle it down. I like it better than the pea protein. There is no real flavour and it’s not as thick. I like my smoothies a bit runny.  I’ve also switched to half coconut milk half almond.  The all almond had a funny aftertaste.  Let me know if you have a milk you prefer and I’ll give a go – that is if the Australian Govt thinks I’m responsible enough to consume it.

I returned to the heath-food wonderland with its magical storeroom today and asked for non dairy cheese.  Alas, that’s legal here. I can’t wait to use all my hemp and return for another.  Espionage is so exciting. Perhaps they have hemp oil I can pretend to spray on my squeaky bike wheel.