To the woman who has suffered silently behind these two meaningful words, I am with you. To the woman who struggles to keep it all together, in the hope that God will always provide a way to stand on top of the obstacles within the vow you’ve taken: To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, through good times and bad, till death do you part, I am with you. To the woman who has a husband who strives to be his best self, yet somehow always discovers new stumbling blocks, I am with you.
I do, because I am living it.
Fourteen years ago, on a cold December evening, my younger self would never have guessed that she would be searching for answers to early andropause, chronic gout, eosinophilic esophagitis and what the heck autoimmune disease even means, and food allergies to see if all were symptoms of a more severe root cause for her future husband.
(Shane & me, the day before our wedding, 6-15-06.)
Here I am, 10 years of marriage, four beautiful children, and a whole mess of medical problems that both Shane & I, along with a plethora of doctors over a span of 13 years of research, cannot seem to figure out.
My husband is amazing; he is my rock and the head of our domestic church….but time has come again that I am the stronghold. I love him unconditionally, and he is my absolute best friend. I am desperate to find out what is going on in his handsome body.
Let’s take a flashback to when our troubles began….2003.
We were dating, and loving every minute we got to spend together! A new budding romance; we were both head over heels in love with each other. Shane had me rush him to the er one night and he was diagnosed with GERD.
That was his first bout of much trouble.
We learned that this was chronic acid reflux and he was prescribed medicine that, in time, we’d realize would do much more damage than we were told.
Fast forward a few years. I started diving into the world of alternatative medicine, holistic approaches, and living a more natural and simplistic lifestyle.
Shane stopped taking the reflux medications around the time of our wedding in 2006. We then began changing our bad habits after the birth of our first son in 2007.
Every year since I’ve known this man he has spent time in a hospital or doctor’s offices for odd reasons. The first few years it was for GERD, then Gout (a form of arthritis), ulcers, pneumonia, and finally his esophagus. That’s when things started to get very rocky.
How I loathe to even look at those numbers. 2011. The Lord was carrying me that year through the sand. He had to. He sent His lovely Mother, my heavenly mother, The Virgin Mary, to be with me as I was with child during that most difficult year of my life.
It started after a car accident in December of 2010.
January came; Shane was distant. Unloving. Apathetic.
February rolled in. I was four months pregnant with our third child. Will was almost 4 and Aiden had just turned 2. We were in store for a roller coaster of instability from the head of our household, and not ready for what God was going to use our family for in His Divine plan.
Shane became more isolated. He didn’t want to talk to his friends, family, or coworkers. He complained about everything. He yelled so much during these months. He acted like he hated us. We felt as though he did. The boys and I were on eggshells when he walked in the door. I tried so hard to be loving to him. Have you ever endured this? Truly, it’s so hard to be loving to someone when you feel that love is not reciprocated.
I prayed that Jesus could give me the grace to love my husband again. I asked Him to love Shane for me, so that I could work on loving and forgiving him.
April 2011. This, I believe, was the worst month. However, I also reached a level of intimacy with Jesus that I believe I had to endure the suffering here on earth in order to achieve this heightened spirituality.
(Our growing family April 2011; no one knew the struggles we had behind closed doors. The sadness and the tears hidden behind these four smiles)
Shane got very sick. He ended up in the hospital for a couple days, test after test, ruling out Crones Disease, Celiac Disease, and other common (and not so common) GI issues. He had endoscopies and colonoscopies and had biopsies taken of everything.
I feared that his diagnosis would be cancer. I made my focus to pray that I could let go of my worries.
That was so hard. But God always provides a way to stand on top of our trials. This was when I became an Elizabeth Minister. I thank the Lord for providing the friendships and sisterhood of those that entered my life at that time. They were instruments in keeping me focused on Christ during the most difficult year of my life.
Fast forward to November, and he was officially diagnosed with Low Testosterone. We thought with a diagnosis, our life would begin again.