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Lie For Me

Lie For Me

In the midst of a 30-inch snowstorm, I felt a mixture of unearned guilt and helplessness. From the kitchen window I peeked out at my husband every so often as he labored in the wintery whiteness.

Glancing around, I observed an elderly neighbor to one side and young children on the other, all tackling the mountains white stuff with a vengeance. Meanwhile, I was warm and dry, but not completely unproductive. I tackled a few chores that needed attention around the house, reminding myself that I, too, was making a contribution.

The fact is, my husband specifically asked me not to help, despite my protests to the contrary. My first reaction was that of surprise that he would reject my desire to carry a share of the workload. With 30 inches of snow on the ground, I know he wants my help. So why did he lie to me?

The answer was obvious. He knew, even before I did, that my unearned guilt was talking, not common sense. He knew that in spite of the fact that I wanted to help, I would be unable to lift my feet through the densely packed snow, or to lift a shovel high enough to get the job done. He knew I might end up injured or in pain or, at the very least, extremely frustrated. He was saving me from myself. He didn’t lie to me. He lied for me.

Life with chronic illness is fraught with mind games. Sometimes what we want to do, and what we can safely do, are at odds. That’s not to say that people with chronic illness should not aspire to do as much as they can. It is just a matter of calculating risk and reward. In the case of playing second shovel in the driveway, the reward simply was not worth the risk. My husband could and would adequately clear the driveway without my assistance.

It’s not the first time that I have bumped up against this scenario, nor is it the first time my husband has filled the role of spouse/caregiver in such wise manner. Having a spouse or other loved one who has the presence of mind to speak honestly and openly with us about our limitations, as well as our strengths, is a blessing.

Once again, I am reminded of the importance of flexibility and the willingness to alter plans and perceptions when new information or opinions are presented.

We don’t have chronic illness alone. Our loved ones are also affected and are sometimes called upon to assist. To the ones who make our lives better by their presence in our lives… and occasionally lie for us… thank you.

Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to Care2.com’s Reform Health Policy blog in Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo.

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Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. She is a freelance writer and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

88 comments

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7:19PM PDT on Jul 30, 2011

My husband says the same thing to me - based on his assessment of my abilities. Unfortunately, the only things he "permits" me to do are the indoor housework chores.

7:53AM PST on Dec 2, 2010

Today is also snowfall maybe the neighbors needs help.

11:56AM PDT on May 18, 2010

Thanks for reminding me that doing as much as possible is not being lazing but practical. You show great wisdom and courage knowing your limitations. I wish I did. It seam to be always overdoing.

3:56PM PDT on Mar 15, 2010

I must admit to being stubborn myself when I am doing something myself. If something is almost impossible to do on your own, I will figure this out quickly and then ask for assistance. Otherwise I carry on anyways.

5:33AM PST on Mar 8, 2010

Beautiful article

1:35PM PST on Feb 21, 2010

THIS WORKS SOMETIME!

9:10AM PST on Feb 18, 2010

As an individual person, I try my best to help those requiring help, even under protest. I am the same when someone tries to help and I refuse. I know it makes them sad and unworthy of my friendship, but there are times when I need to do for my self.

5:38PM PST on Feb 16, 2010

very touching.. never thought of it like...

6:40AM PST on Feb 13, 2010

This article really spoke to me! I, too have chronic illness and have had my husband do the very same thing for me. Usually it is in the summer when all the yard work needs to be done...I want to tackle it but I would only be hurting myself in the long run by doing it. I have never been unable to complete things I needed to do before and it takes a heck of a lot of getting used to. Thanks for this great article...great to know...I am normal.

6:09AM PST on Feb 13, 2010

Johan I was a bit quick to correct Linda Little, what she was trying to say is: In the UK we have become a nation of legal writs! Where once we could clean, and care for our visitors and neighbours it has become the 'norm' to be sued if a delivery or postman slips on our newly cleared garden path or pavement (sidewalks). It is only considered tresspass if that person causes damage to our property, and we in turn can sue them!! Crazy because the idea of 'Suing' came from the USA? We have a saying here - When America Sneezes The Rest Of The World Catches A Cold! In other words what ever happens in your country - can be taken one step beyond in other countries? Its such a shame that someone from a country with such a standing on the world's centre stage cannot set a better example of 'Bon Homme' towards its ancestors.

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