Friday, February 26, 2016

Home alone

It's Friday morning. I took the day off work because I planned to go to a knitting retreat in a town 2 hours' drive away, a little 2-day gathering to knit and eat and chat and attend a couple informal workshops.

Instead I'm writing this blog post. I took the day off anyway, but I'm not going anywhere. My husband broke his wrist a week ago and it's in a cast from the elbow down.

Now I'm sure a healthy person could manage by themselves for 30 hours with one arm in a cast--even the dominant arm. But my husband is chronically ill. Adding another health crisis has him reeling. He needs help opening his medication bottles... he needs help covering himself up in the bed, sometimes.

So this is the life of the spouse of someone who's chronically ill. Holding plans lightly in case you have to cancel them at the last minute. Working around his needs.

I'm disappointed, of course. I thought about going to work, for about three seconds... but I already asked for the vacation day, and getting a day off is somewhat of a consolation. OK, I'll admit it: going to work instead of going to the knitting retreat would be rubbing salt in the wound.

Two months ago, I was asked to consider going on a six-day mission trip to teach knitting. My church has been partnering with a church in the Dominican Republic, and started a sewing ministry a year or so ago to teach poor women a marketable skill. These women now want to learn to crochet and knit as well.

My first instinct was to say, "I can't leave my husband alone for that long." And they laughed, thinking I was making a helpless hubby joke. Turns out my husband's health status isn't common knowledge at my church. But even after being informed, they were saying, "Have faith! What if someone brought him meals?" Meals are the least of my worries with him--he doesn't even eat some days. And there's always Domino's.

I started a flurry of Facebook messages with two friends at church who DO know the situation, and also have experience with chronic illness. One, who also has a chronically ill husband, said, "People just don't get it."

Our final conclusion? It's one thing to have faith, and it's another to fling yourself (or someone else) off the pinnacle of the temple and expect the angels to catch you.

My primary ministry in this season of my life is to take care of my husband to the extent he needs it. Any other ministry opportunities have to fit in around that, and also can only take up so much of my energy. I turned down another ministry opportunity more recently, even though it would have been right here in town and maybe only once a week, because I felt I didn't have the energy. I prayed about it, and did not get any sense the Lord wanted me to do it.

The Lord knew my husband was going to break his wrist slipping on the last ice of the season.

This weekend I'm going to go sit on the couch at my local yarn store for an hour or three, and knit and chat with whoever else is there. It's not the same. But it's as close as I can come right now.