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Contemplating Solitude and Mortality

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I know, I know. Could that...BE a more depressing post title? [snicker]

So last night John was the sickest he's been since that time he nearly died in Texas on the book tour, and I spent the hours before dawn sitting by him in the dark, changing the cold packs on his forehead, watching him breathe, and generally trying not to panic.

Today he's better. He has a bad ear infection and strep throat and tells me everything still hurts, but the fever broke at dawn so at least he's back in his right mind.

Last night that fever was so high he started hallucinating, and I found him shivering violently under two heavy blankets. 'Til then I didn't think it was all that serious; he'd been to the doctor that afternoon and started some antibiotics for a run-of-the-mill ear infection. No biggie, right? But then his teeth started chattering and he kept telling me he had to save some soldier in WWII, which I can only assume is what you get when you mix a high fever with too much Downton Abbey and Borderlands. That degenerated into gibberish: he would walk into my office and deliver an earnest, pressing speech, but none of the words coming out made sense.

I discovered it's very lonely when your spouse is konked out and helpless like that. See, I'm not really the caregiver in our relationship; John is. He prides himself on looking out for me, and I'm used to his constant presence and strength. I think that's why Texas was such a traumatic experience: I've become so spoiled that I honestly don't know how to function without John. We go everywhere together, and do everything together. The only times we're apart are when John runs out to pick up dinner - and to be honest, that's how we like it. We've worked together since our first wedding anniversary back in 1999. We tell our friends that we're "happily codependent." That may not be healthy for some people, but it works for us. We just need each other.

So in Dallas, when John was admitted at the ER, I was like a little kid lost in the big city. Things like hailing a cab or changing hotels became these huge, terrifying tasks, made even worse by the knowledge of how truly pathetic I was on my own.

I'd like to say I discovered untapped wells of hidden strength, and emerged a better person for it. The truth is those days are nothing but a blur of white-hot terror in my memory. I got through it, but not well.

Last night, all those feelings of inadequacy and fear came rushing back. Today they seem unfounded, and maybe even a bit silly, but I wanted to talk about them anyway. And since I don't have a therapist, you guys are filling in. Hope you don't mind. (I'm picturing you as a crack psychological SWAT team led by Craig Ferguson, Liz Lemon, and that sweet old guy who did Admiral Ackbar's voice. Because yes, that's my therapy dream team. Which probably proves I need a real one, but this is SO much cheaper.)

Thanks for "listening," and hug your loved ones today, guys.

P.S. Oh, and BEWARE THE CON CRUD. Seriously. Purell is your friend.

Posted by Jen at 9:05 PM Labels:

140 comments:

  1. So sorry you had to deal with that! I'm glad things are going better now though.

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  2. It's a scary thing when your spouse is ill. When my husband had major surgery and began having immediate complications, I was so scared. When he began hallucinating and telling me that people were standing in the hospital room with us, I started freaking out. When he began with the irregular heartbeats and chest pain, I was a basket case. There is nothing wrong with loving your hubby and wanting to spend time with him. The people who find fault with it are those who aren't in it for the long haul. Hope he feels good soon... so you can feel good, too. :)

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  3. I am sorry to hear that John is sick Jen! I hope that he feels better soon, and that you can start enjoying life as normal, or as "normal" as you want it to be ;) *Hugs to you* :)

    -Sarah

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  4. I'm so sorry to hear that, Jen. I tend to be a bit dependent on my guy at times and it kills me whenever he's sick. :( I'm really glad he's feeling better and I hope you will be too. Keep going strong, you guys are one of my few examples of a good marriage!!! :]

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  5. I actually am a therapist, so it totally counts. I promise I won't bill you because I already get paid in funny posts (note, this only applies to you in case some of my clients read and get ideas).

    I'm glad John is starting to feel better. But I'm sure you are taking good care of him.

    Wreck on,
    LMHC in another state

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  6. Oh Jen, I totally understand. In fact when Steve and I got married a few weeks ago my only "cold feet" were about one day having to let him go. We got married any way and agreed on murder suicide (half-jokingly). He is my rock and I'm spoiled by him. He comes running with a cold glass of cold water when he hears a panic attack start. I don't know what I'd do without him and that scares the bejeezus out of me. I don't have a solution to our problem. But at least you know you're not alone. Maybe we'll start a co-dependent commune...

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  7. Jennnnnn. Jen. It'll be OK. Your faithful Epbot/Cakewrecks followers are here to listen! Hugs and healing vibes coming your way!

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  8. I think if I were to ever sit on a therapist's couch (do they really have those?) I'd be all...soooo, how are you? But there have been countless times I've poured my heart and soul out in a blog post and it was the most theraputic thing ever. And free.

    Don't worry. We've got your six!

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  9. Glad to hear that John is feeling better! The antibiotics kicking in will make all the difference in the world! Writing and venting is good therapy! Obviously you have lots of fans who care about you, so you're not alone :)

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  10. Hugs for you and John.

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  11. Happily codependent for 16 years here! I totally get this. My husband is my best friend and my champion. It freaks me out when he shows signs of mortality. Almost as much as it bothers him when I do. If I wanted to be independent I wouldn't have gotten married.
    I hope John feels better soon.

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  12. Hugs to you girlfriend. The drawback of being in an actual loving, supportive marriage is that fear you feel when you are forced to deal with fact that we are indeed mortal.
    Dave (it's actually Dave, not Dan LOL) went away for a week with our son and it was just....weird. Depressing and weird. Yes, we are capable of taking care of ourselves....but well...we don't want to without them around. I can't imagine what Dave was really going through when I had the cancer scare and two surgeries last year.
    What's the answer? I don't think there is one except, like you said, hug your loved ones. And as frightening it is when our loved ones are ill, that the fear is the price we pay for the happiness we experience most of the time.

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  13. Aw Jen, I feel your pain! I once broke out in tears in the car just because I got so scared of losing my hubby Nate. I have seen it happen in my family, where uncles/aunts/cousins have lost their spouses to cancer. I couldn't bear to be without Nate and like you I freak out when he's ill - which he is quite often. I spent 24 year without him, but now I find it so hard to spend even a day without him. I totally know how you feel Jen. But there's nothing wrong with it, we just love our guys! It's great to be married to your best friend, ey.

    Just means I have so much more to lose too...

    Glad John is getting better now. Hang on in there :)

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  14. Jen, I'll be praying for John's speedy recovery. You two seem to be a great team and he needs to be back on his feet soonest.

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  15. I broke my leg in December, as we were moving into our new house. I just got the cast off today. For me the hard part has been letting my husband take care of me. It's normally the other way around.

    Before this happened, when he'd make a grand announcement that he just emptied the trash, I'd sarcastically remark that I would alert the parade committee.

    Now, the poor man has had to unpack, do all the cooking and housework. To add insult to injury, he's had to carry my knee-scooter up and down the stairs when we go to bed and when I go to work. And he does it all quietly and without complaint.

    I think I need to find a parade committee.

    Glad your hubby is feeling better! Sounds like we're both super blessed!

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  16. I have only been married since October 2010, but I am very dependent on my husband. We both have our strengths in the relationship, but I am neurotic enough that I worry something will happen to him and I'll be left without my best friend. I would be in a panic if Matt were hallucinating mainly because I'd want to get him to the ER but I know he wouldn't go willingly. Since he's 6'3", he would win that argument so I'd have to call an ambulance. In other words, I'd overreact because I'm so petrified of something happening to him.

    I know your post was cathartic for you, but it helps to hear that there are others that are happily codependent out there. :)

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  17. Being alone with a sick spouse is very scary. You may not have felt strong but you stayed and got thru it. Trust me, that's strength. I hope the antibiotics kick in quickly.

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  18. My husband and I are happily codependent as well. When he was rushed to the ER for a grand mal seizure about 3 years ago, I was beside myself. We tend to share the caregiving role, but that night I felt so helpless and lost. I was fortunate that they didn't keep him overnight otherwise they would have had to set up a cot in his room for me! In the 7 years we've been together, we've only spent 1 night apart and that's the way we like it! Good luck to you and I hope John feels much better soon!

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  19. My Dad passed away suddenly two weeks ago and I have been freaked out about losing my mother and hubby since then.

    When hubs goes to run an errand, I calculate in my head how long it *should* take and if he is a few minutes longer than that I break out in a cold sweat.

    The thought of being alone is so scary to me.

    Hope John feels better real soon!

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  20. So, is it possible John picked up a virus from some alien species at the Con? :) *using humor to deflect emotion*

    My husband and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary in September, and we're like you and John. Doesn't work for everyone, but it does for us. Well, and you guys. Hate being apart, lean on each other for everything...

    The saying goes, that which does not kill us makes us stronger. You may not feel stronger, but deep down, it's there. John is a lucky man. :)

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  21. I hope that John feels better very soon!

    And of course we'd be happy to be your therapist dream team. You provide us laughter/craft/cake/geek therapy on a regular basis!

    <>

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  22. ((((((((((((((((((((Jen & John)))))))))))))))))

    Don't forget to give yourself some slack when everything goes back to normal & you "fall apart" a little bit from holding up through the scary times. It's ok to not be the strong one all the time. :)

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  23. I'm so glad he's feeling better. High fevers are scary.

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  24. You are not alone. There is a huge (mostly) unseen community that has your back. You make our lives brighter, and all of us would like to be able to repay you in some small way... Talk to us :)

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  25. I have followed your blog for at least a year and this is the first time I've commented. Shameful, I know. But your post totally hit home with me, I've had my share of sleepless nights over the past few years. It seems every few months some crazy bizarre and of course hereditary disease seems to pop up in my husbands family. So far hes in perfect health, but I can't help but get nervous every time he visits the doctor. I can't imagine a life without my husband - and like a previous poster mentioned I never had cold feet but was terrified that someday I would have to face the world without him. It's nice to see I'm not alone (or completely looney!)

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  26. I think thats what happens when you can for a weekend. It was our first con and we only did Saturday. My friend Juan was not so fortunate. Next con I will be prepared with sanitizer and emergenC! Get well soon!!
    The doors always open,
    Your Therapists

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  27. ::hug:: There's nothing wrong with being happily codependent, except how terrified you can become when one half is in trouble. Hang in there, and I hope he feels 100% soon (and you don't catch it!)

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  28. At first glance I read the title as "Contemplating suicide" not solitude!

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  29. Oh Jen, you never know how strong you are until you are put to the test. And guess what-you passed! See, you are still here and ok, and John is on the mend (touch wood) and you *came through it ok*. Health scares of my family are definitely top of my nightmare list. It's horrible to feel helpless to do much for them. But you are doing all you can, and John is doing better. So get some rest and take some vitamins yourself-I don't care what the FDA says but I swear by Airborne! Hugs to you and healing thoughts for your wonderful hubby.

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  30. while not codependent, i am a mom so i've been and am at present pretty much doing the same thing. Thankfully though with out the hallucinations! I'm sure someone has said this already, but the " doctor is in" when you need " us ". Hugs to you both, lots of water still. Glad John is better and proud of you for staying calm. Its a frightening experience. Lots of love ;)

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  31. Having spent the past *looks at watch* 12 hours in the hospital with my 2 yr old...I feel you.
    My hubby is my life line...while I think he could deal quite well without me, I'm pretty much a wreck without him. Putting on the I-have-everything-together face for the kids takes everything out of me.
    I hope John feels better soon!!

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  32. Sending get-well-soon vibes to John and virtual hugs to you. (That's not creepy, right?)

    When my husband was admitted to the hospital last July for blood clots in his lungs and leg, I was really scared that I would lose him. I couldn't stay with him at the hospital, because someone had to take care of our then 2-year-old. It was super-scary, but we got through it. Last night, you were where you should have been (and wanted to be). You might not feel stronger for having done it, but you ARE, Jen. You ARE.

    So, give John some TLC, and know that once he gets well, you two will go back to being the dream team. Much love to both of you from a member of your Epbot family!

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  33. I had a few very sick days this past summer, and I was certain I wouldn't survive the ordeal. It was probably nothing worse than a stomach flu. But if ever I get some kind of terminal illness, I'm now convinced it will take me quickly. I couldn't handle the pain. The only thing that made it better was knowing that my family was looking out for me, and would bring me a bucket if needed.

    Being sick is the worst. I'm glad you guys are both feeling better.

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  34. Woman, you NEED A HUG!!
    so **********HUG**********!!!
    Hope your soldier is bac on his feet soon!!!

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  35. Oh, man. I will readily admit that I have no idea how to hail a cab. Also? I have no idea how to do ... well, anything with our home computers. And I'm afraid of the dark unless he's close by.
    Folks like to rag on codependence, but when it's done right, I call it, "A Happy Marriage".
    Sorry your guy was so sick, but glad he's on the mend. You're not weird, just happy. :)

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  36. Jen, I totally get what you are feeling. I think about mortality on a daily basis. Losing those that I love scares the crap out of me. It keeps me up at night (yes, I have some anxiety issues). My husband and I are happily codependent, too. Seriously. We both wish that he could work from home so that we could be together all day long. Like you said, I know that sounds crazy to some, but it works for us. So, you are certainly not alone in how you are feeling! Praying that John gets better and that you feel better, too!

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  37. Sorry to hear John got sick, but so glad to know he's recovering. Hang in there! We've got your back!

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  38. My husband and I have a very similar relationship and I totally understand what you go through when he is out of commission. Terrifying! I'm glad he is feeling better and big hugs to you both.

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  39. Jen,
    My husband and I have been married for nearly 20 years. 14 years ago, he suddenly developed a 'generalized seizure disorder', which means they don't really know the cause. He spent a week in the hospital, heavily sedated, and the nurses let me sleep in the chair in his room. Scariest week of my life. We had no idea if it was meningitis, a tumor, any number of horrible things. So really, generalized seizure disorder and a lifetime of neurologist appointments, daily medication and never driving again are some of the better outcomes. I work and he stays home with the boy and we are each other's best friends. Other than work, we go everywhere together and do everything together. We've only spent a handful of nights apart, and it just doesn't feel right at all. I don't really think of it as co-dependency, it's just that there really isn't anyone in the world we'd rather be with. You and John are lucky that you have that with each other and that you can work together. And if John is hooked on Borderlands, you might try co-op play with him. We played through the whole game and had an excellent time, and I'm not normally all that adept at those kinds of games. But anyway, yes, when your spouse truly is your other half, it's hard when they're not there for any reason. You both have a whole blogosphere out here to support you!

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  40. Sorry to hear that John was so sick. But isn't he lucky you were there! You may have felt scared but you stayed, you paid attention and he is getting better. You rock!

    I have been on my own since 1984 and was seriously ill and was quarantined at home for 3 weeks. 3 long, frightening, very ill weeks.

    John is lucky, you are lucky. Now go to bed.

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  41. First off, ::Hugs:: to you an John! I hope he feels better soon! I think there's no problem with pouring some emotions and problems out to the "interwebz" when you *know* you have a strong support group to listen. :) And I would have to say just by following this, and the CW blog, you *HAVE* a strong support group behind you--even if you haven't met most of us. ^_^ You're not alone by far, and I would say, never be afraid to reach out.

    Keep on Wreaking, and sharing the awesome geek stuffs!

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  42. Hope he feels better soon.
    I love liz lemon...put potato chips in your sandwiches.

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  43. So glad he's feeling better! That is the worst feeling in the world. I totally understand the happily codependent aspect -we are like that, too. We've known each other forever and I always feel so sad when he's gone! Here's to a speedy recovery and rest for both of you!

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  44. Jen;

    You've been through two bouts of your partner being seriously, frighteningly ill, and you came out the other side whole, and healthy. Those ARE your hidden strengths. Strength in adversity is not about never feeling the fear. It's acknowledging it & saying 'thank you - but I don't quite have time to deal with you right now. Would you take a seat & I'll get back to you when things are a little calmer?'

    You didn't run screaming into the night - you are strong - don't give yourself less credit than you deserve.

    I'm so glad John is doing better - & I hope this virus is one thing he doesn't share with you.

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  45. I've been there and it is very scary. My husband decided to get "deathly" sick while we were visiting his family in another state.

    I'm sorry that John is sick and I hope the antibiotics kick in here soon so he feels better.

    hugs

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  46. Happily codependent for 14 years here. It frightened me beyond belief when my husband was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma. He came through it, and I'm still by his side: but it was the scariest ride of my life. The only thing we do apart is I go to work: other than that, we're always together. It's what works.

    Glad John is feeling better: you are both in our prayers.

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  47. I'm apparently in the minority here, single, and by extension independent. Not necessarily because I want to be, but because I have to be, and I've always been single, so I don't have anything to compare it to (I think it would feel weird for me to depend on someone else at this point, at least at first).

    That said, doing things you've never done/had to do is scary regardless. And that's okay, but don't let it stop you. You *will* be stronger for it afterwards, even if you fall apart for a while (or feel like falling apart, anyway).

    Hugs and good wishes to both you and John.

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  48. D: Get better soon John! And I'm sorry to hear about your anxiety and such, Jen. I do hope you will find the strength to soldier on, I know how that feels.

    One thing I found that helps is to aid yourself with little reminders of safety/security, jsut something that reminds you that you're in control (for example I keep emergency numbers with me in case my phone dies and I can't remember anyone's # It sounds dumb, but I survived a panic attack because of this. Or carrying an object (umbrella, tennis raquet If I decide to play that day, etc) in case I get mugged...O_o not to say that happens to me! But I like knowing I *could* theoretically fend for myself) It's the little things that bring yourself ease.

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  49. Perhaps you can make your husband promise that you get to go first. I made my husband swear, I am selfish that way. Some how, when he is bad off, I like to remind him of this and it never fails to make us both feel better.

    Obviously he is going to get better because I am ok and I know I get to make the grand exit first so I know he will pull through. It is all BS of course but it does make me feel better. Big hugs!

    ~Jenn in Forest Grove, Oregon

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  50. I'm sorry. I remember the first time my husband got ridiculously sick I was planning out which hospital was the closest, which route I could take to get him there the fastest, just in case he tried to die. But it was even worse when he had appendicitis and he was acting like he really was going to die. I'm glad John is doing better.

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  51. {{{Jen}}} I'm glad John is feeling better.

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  52. So sorry to hear that John is sick! ::sends virtual chicken noodle soup:: Praying that he makes a speedy recovery and that you can get some worry-free rest! (((HUGS))) to you and John!

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  53. It seems to me that my wife and I spend way more time together than most other couples we know. There was a time when I wondered if that was unhealthy but now I don't worry about it. We have been together for nearly 16 years. It is good to know that there are other couples similar to us. There are situations that I just don't want to face without her there beside me.

    One other person said they were a therapist and I am a therapist in training, so this definitely counts as therapy! Seriously, just sharing this with your readers is obviously good for you and its been good for many of us as well. Wishing you both the best.

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  54. Glad John is doing better and thanks for sharing, hope it helped. I am fiercely independent and at the same time have become so dependent on my hubby. Not only depending on him for certain tasks (mainly tech things) but just his presence and voice and opinion. We also spend most of our time together so him not being around would make this huge cavernous hole in my life. He has some heart issues and when I think of him being gone, I just can't fathom the immense loneliness of it. So, not that it helps but I do understand and you aren't alone. Denette

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  55. Hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug!

    You can never have too many hugs, it is impossible. Know something else that's impossible? Loving someone else too much. There is no such thing as 'too much love.' So don't ever be down on yourself for panicking when your other half is sick.

    I'm single, and the greatest thing I can imagine is having a relationship like yours, full of such love and rightness--but also where conversely the worst thing that could happen is to be without my man.

    I have always believed marriage is about the matching of strengths, with no shame to either side is one is better at something than the other. That's why marriage works for some people, and doesn't for others. Some people don't need that wall to lean against when they're tired and lonely and afraid.

    But between you and me? I need that wall. I need it bad. And I'm okay with that.

    Bunches and bunches of love to you both.

    Hug

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  56. Totally with you on hating being without the other half. I'm alone every second week because of the way MadCat's shifts work, and it sucks. I've had to learn to be properly independent, which is fine, but in the larger scheme of things I'd rather spend my time with him, even if all we're doing is him watching TV and me on the PC in the other room.

    So sorry John's sick! I hope he recovers soon and you both get back to normal life.

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  57. I'm glad to hear john's starting to feel better. I get the same way when my hubby's not there.

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  58. This sounds so much like me it's scary. And my husband is a soldier, which is terrifying, because I have no idea what I'll do if he has to leave (which, thankfully, is unlikely at the moment). I'm 38 weeks pregnant now, and we went to the doctor recently for a check, and the only times the nurse was satisfied with my pulse rate were the times my husband was holding my hand. Soulmates are awesome, but a little bit scary! And I'm glad to hear John is doing better.

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  59. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 15 years now and can't last a day without him. We are completely codependent and we like it that way too. Right now he is in school and working and I am struggling my way through a depression as much as an uninsured person can. On Fridays he has both school and work so he leaves the house before I wake up and comes home after bed time. On Fridays I am a mess. He chats with me almost all day, but I just can't seem to make it throughout the day without weeping uncontrollably and trying to hide it from my sweet kids. I know this sounds pathetic and unhealthy and it is, but only because of the depression. I love every minute I get with my wonderful husband and I think we need each other equally most of the time. What I think is really unhealthy in a marriage is being so independent that you can go a week without each other and be fine with it. People need to be needed. We all need to lean on each other a little more and when you find that person that will hold you up when you can't do it yourself, make sure they never want to leave.

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  60. Will send the bill shortly. No charge for the prayer. Will be praying for John and for you! Hang in there!

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  61. Jen, You and me- sympatico! My hubby is the center of all that is awesome in this house and I just gravitate around him. I hope yours is better soon and stays that way! Tell him from now on I said wash your hands!! Purell only does so much :)

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  62. Get well soon John!

    Jen, when he's all better, kick his a*% for putting you through all this worry. And then make sure you thank him for everything he normally does for you.

    xo to you both from Canada

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  63. Oh noes! It's good at least that you're reaching out to your big support base--don't be afraid to ask for help/guidance if something comes up. And I don't mean to be morbid, but this might be a good reminder to make sure everyone's affairs are in order, in the event of a tragedy. It's useful to be realistic and sensible about this. I hope, in any case, that's not for many more Jareth clocks.

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  64. Well here and I didn't know quite what to say. I've never been in that kind of committed relationship (I'm only a young 'un so there's more than enough time for that!) but I do know how frightening it was when my Mum got sick. Someone you're so used to being strong and there for you suddenly being struck down like that is terrifying. Fortunately I still had my Dad to look after us all and he stepped up like a champ, even though he's not usually the main caregiver.

    Your blog is sometimes as cathartic to me as a therapy session. Simply having a good giggle or finding some pretties is more than enough to warrant our support when you've had a rough day.

    Tell John we all hope he gets better soon.

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  65. it is perfectly reasonable to take hallucinating people to the ER. I say this as a medical professional. Hope all is well.

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  66. I do hope he feels well soon!

    I actually know exactly what those feelings are like, maybe not to such an extreme.

    Always remember that you have a huge loving "family" who would be happy to help if you ever find yourself alone and scared.

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  67. I've never liked that phrase whatever doesn't finish you makes you stronger. I've never felt stronger after after dealing with crises, just exhausted. So I can understand why you would look back on Dallas and think you come away without anything. But - and it's a fact - you did cope. So trust yourself, you have what it takes. Sometimes it takes a flappy panic scrabble, but that's ok. Bottom line is we hope never to have to call on those reserves of strength.
    I hope John recovers soon, poor chap. And best wishes to you both.

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  68. Hugs and warm thoughts for both you and John.

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  69. I have been married for six months and recently my husband was away for work. I have been in the house on my own many times before, but it was funny - because my brain new something was different and he wouldn't be coming home that night, and as a result the house felt really empty.

    I often think that I have an irrational fear of my loved ones dying young/suddenly and leaving me it a pit of tumultuous emotions. But then, it's not irrational really, is it?

    What is important is how you deal with those feelings. Do you wallow in them, worry constantly, and feel upset at an unknownable future? Or do you acknowledge these thoughts, let them pass over, and continue being your fun, cheerful, loving self? I know how I would answer, but I also know sometimes that is easier said than done. If you need to visit Cute Overload to get the process started, then I am pretty sure that is acceptable.

    You can never know how you will cope with true loss until you are faced with it - and frankly, I am all for dealing with it then, not before when there is nothing I can do about it (aside from the obvious you know, papers in order and all, but that's just practical not emotional). My brother died rather suddenly eight years ago and I thought that I would never get through a day without bursting into tears or be able to form any lasting relationship with someone who had never met him... but eight years on, though I of course miss my brother dearly, I am a happy bunny, with a wonderful husband (who incidentally has the same sense of exteremly cynical humour as my brother, so I feel like they would have got on really well). I choose focus on all of the wonderful years I had him here, opposed to the ones where I haven't.

    So dust yourself off my darling, get John a cup of tea, and sit down and snuggle up and let him know he's loved.

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  70. Oh Jen!! ((hugs)) for you both! I'm so glad John is doing better today. And I feel your pain. After 17 years if my hubs sneezes I panic and start asking for a list of symptoms lol. I'm chronically ill with too many things to list so I am terribly dependent on him. He takes good care of me but, thankfully, he almost forces some independence on me by making me do for myself. Remember, dear heart, we are always here to listen <3

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  71. i hope john gets better soon :)

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  72. Hi Jen - Long time reader, first time poster. Sorry to hear your hubby is sick. I am sure he appreciates your nursing him back to health.

    I think you are stronger than you think you are + you've got a whole lotta folks behind you. And some of us even live in Orlando and all you have to do is sound the call and we'll come running...

    I hope John feels better soon:)

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  73. Oh, Jen, I completely understand! It's such a helpless feeling to watch someone that you love be so incredibly sick. I'm keeping you and John in my prayers!!

    And I don't think there's anything wrong with that level of codependence--- the two of you truly seem so perfect for each other, it would be odd if you DIDN'T want to spend that amount of time together. :)


    Let us know when he's well!

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  74. People ask us (my hubby and I) how we could "stand it" living in 440 square feet together for 2.5 years. Simple answer: we like each other. I prefer being with him to being alone. I want to rush home at the end of every day to talk to him or just plain out be near him. I hate it when one of us has to go away for a night or (like recently) a week. He even had to go to training for a month and it was SUPER sucky, even though we (poor grad students) spent the money to fly me out to DC and back to IL in the middle of it just so we could see each other. And being worried about him is normal. My guy has an auto-immune thing and when it acts up, it can be bad news bears. Luckily for us, it has only really given him fits once in the last 8 years or so, but it is still scary and made me feel inadequate because there was NOTHING I could do to make him feel physically better. Keep your chin up, enjoy being with Jon and live your life together the way it works for you!

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  75. Your therapy SWAT team sounds AWESOME. I would totally sit on their couch any day. Hope John gets better soon.

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  76. I totally get the happily codependent relationship. My husband and I met at work, carpool together and spend every minute of every day together. We have so many routines and private jokes that have us laughing all the time. I don't know what I would do without him.

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  77. John- Feel better soon! (And don't forget to get a sample of that ectoplasmic residue for analysis.)

    Jen- Like so many others here, I am also part of one of those beautifully codependant relationships. We just like to be together, always, everywhere. And as far as not being comfortable doing things myself(like driving on the hiway, making reservations...) I think it just makes sense! Why be able to do everything yourself when there are two of you? If you can each do half of everything well, that's plenty, right? It's just logical.
    (It does make me feel a little bit pathetic sometimes, like when I want to go to your book signing and it is so vastly improved because my hubby brought me! But then I remember that without me he would probably starve, and I feel better.)
    So keep taking good care of your fella. Soon he'll be back on his feet taking good care of you. You know he will; the Force is strong with this one.

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  78. My guess is that you are stronger and more capable than you give yourself credit for! But having someone to take care of you is always the greatest feeling in the world in my opinion. I hope John feels better soon!

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  79. Hey Jen, I didn't mean to sound like meeting you wasn't fantastic! It was! If I'd had to navigate my way there without my hubby though, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy it half as much.
    That's what I meant to say.

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  80. Looking at the comments, I think the moral of the story is that everyone in a good marriage understands. My love and I discuss our perfect scenario, which would be basically what you and John have: being able to work together from home and be together all the time. Until then we'll have to keep commuting and getting very little time together. And he has asthma, so we need his work insurance, otherwise those daily treatments and terrifying occasional visits to the emergency room would be as big a deal financially as they are emotionally. I don't think there's any shame in needing our boys; after all, the give-and-take is what a real relationship is. We're so lucky to have found each other.

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  81. I can't really relate. I'm super independent. I was down with the stomach flu earlier this week. Did I call a friend, coworker, or neighbor to go to the store for me? Nope, I put on my big girl panties and went myself.

    This is its own special kind of crazy (& kinda stupid) though, and has its own drawbacks.

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  82. It's not fun...i understand your experience and it's not easy to go through unscathed.
    I don't know if you believe in God, I do and I know that those scary times have been some of my turning points with Him. White hot terror but somehow after is peaceful in a strange way.

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  83. It can be brutal. I remember when my husband had H1N1 a few years back I was anxiously waiting for his fever to break. Luckily it did right before the 3 day mark but man was that nuts.

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  84. Jen,

    I too have struggled with anxiety and have found a supportive spouse who makes the world a kinder, easier place. Anxiety can make small things scary, and there's no telling it "ok...done with you now, I'm going to be independent and brave!"

    Having that person who loves you unconditionally and believes in you makes you feel brave, and it's always terrifying to be without that, especially when anxiety makes you think the worst "death and alone" thoughts.

    My best way to work on the "independence" from anxiety is to push my fear boundaries while my support person is well and available when I come running back with the "I DID IT!". When I grow in dealing with my general anxiety, I find I cope just a little better when the big crisis hit and I can't run to someone else.

    P.S. Super impressed with how much you travel and that you managed to cope with a crisis in a new city! There are so many unknowns and unexpected things with travel, and I don't think anyone deals well with a sick spouse, let alone when its away from home!

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  85. I'm so sorry to hear about John being sick and sorry about all the stress that causes you! I like to be codependent with my husband too. Luckily, I have found that I can be quite good on my own when I have to take charge of things - even if I hate it! It's so much easier and more pleasant when you have someone else's help when dealing with life and the crap it throws your way. We are lucky to have great guys. =)

    I'll keep you both in my prayers. (And tell John to keep taking that elderberry I gave him when you where here for the book signing in Dallas!)

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  86. Jen, I hope John gets to feeling better. Have the cats (and you!) cuddle up to him.
    Also, Chicken soup never hurt anyone.

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  87. So glad to hear that John is on the mend and that you survived the ordeal. It is your love for each other that gives you both the strength to get through the hard times. Of course, it is also your tremendous love for each other that makes the hard times SO hard. I, too, can not fathom my world without my husband. In fact, I am going to go hug him now but feel free to confide in us, your loyal readers, we have your back.

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  88. Jen, I understand. I am spoiled rotten and it scared the crap out of me when he ended up in ICU after what should have been routine. I remember getting through the days but I don't remember the rides to and from the hospital. Which is scary because it was an hour drive each way.

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  89. So sorry to hear John was sick. I had strep throat in July and had a high fever for 3 days. It is good that he had you there, even if you felt like a quivering mass of helpless jello. You were there for him. Hang in there, Jen! Our thoughts and prayers are with you and John.

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  90. It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship! It is a good idea, though (although I don't always do it) to be able to do the things your spouse usually does. My parents had friends who worked & did everything together more than any other couple I've known, and when he died of a stroke in his 50s about 15 years ago, she really suffered - hardly knew how to drive, didn't know how to do taxes (despite the fact that both were college math profs), etc. And that's without the heartache/stress that was keeping her from sleeping and so forth. Sorry to be morbid... like I said, it sounds like y'all have a great relationship.

    -jklGoDuke

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  91. I know how you feel. My husband was away the two weeks before my dad died. I handled everything by myself. I had to. There was no one else.

    And I learned that I was stronger then I thought and that I could do it if I had to.

    Then my husband almost had a heart attack the next month, and then for the next three months they couldn't get his meds right and I was terrified he was going to die.

    But I wasn't alone. I had friends and family to look out for me. And you do to. It won't be as bad as you think it will be. Remember your imagination is always worst case. You are stronger then you think you are.

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  92. My mom died a couple years ago of cancer. I was living in Germany at the time and had to take several trips back home. Even during the times when it wasn't certain she was going to die (and I'm one of the types, like her, that stubbornly "deals" with hard times), I watched the movie Up on the plane ride home.
    I can deal with my mother's passing - she was a great mother, she got to see me grow up, I enjoyed the part of my life I had with her, and while I miss her, I know she had a fulfilling life and it was simply her time and she came to peace with that.
    What I cannot comprehend and deal with is how life has continued for my father. My mom had a hypothetical life planned out for when my father might die before her. But my father? He took it for granted that *he* would die first and would never have to deal with life without her.
    And this fact pains me far more than my mother's death. He has somehow managed to continue on with life. As a whole my life is probably better for this experience and it shapes my own relationship. Every day with someone you love, no matter how mundane, is something to treasure dearly.

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  93. The same thing happened to my husband last year except the fever kind of broke something because he didn't recover from the hallucinating gibberish until they gave him medication 2 days later. I'm so glad your husband is alright. I have two little boys and driving my husband to the hospital was terrifying as well as making all the decisions for his care. My husband has recovered thankfully but it's been a process. I'll be praying for your husband not to have any complications and to recover well. I know it is scary when someone you love and do everything with is so helpless. I'm sure he is grateful and loves you even more. -Admiral Ackbar

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  94. Hugs to both you an John. Well, maybe not John until he's no longer contagious. But you get the idea.

    You are such a sweet couple and we love reading about your adventures together. The best thing about life is finding someone special to share it with. And you both lucked out and found each other.

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  95. Oh Jen! Speaking from one Jen to another, I can completely empathize. My dad suddenly started hallucinating while my mom was out of town this past July (he was later diagnosed with a severe form of dementia). I can only imagine the fear you felt. It is a bewildering, disorientating experience when someone you love suddenly is lost within themselves. You are brave and strong!

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  96. The main thing my therapist keeps drumming into my head is that I have a right to my feelings. Don't worry about whether you're co-dependent or not, just be whatever you and John are and love it!

    I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. I know it must be terrifying (another feeling it's ok to feel). We're all sending our positive thoughts your way.

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  97. I know how you feel. My girlfriend and I are like that. I am lost when my gf goes out with her friend. Weve been together every day for the last four years and I wouldn't have it any other way. It just proves you and John have a strong relationship. Feel better soon John. I love hearing about your relaitionship.

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  98. knowing that i'm not alone in being so dependent on my husband has made me not feel so alone today...thanks!

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  99. Jen,

    I have been where you are with family. You feel like you are 2 years old. You feel like the world is suddenly a very huge and hostile place.

    You are scared witless and moving foward anyway. It's feeling like you are going to have to be carted off in a washtub and still having the adrenaline to fight for a good doctor at a good hospital.

    Each time something happens, it feels like you're about to go over Niagra Falls without a barrel. It's terrifying and it sucks!

    But it gets over with and you realize you made it through. Each time something else happens you gain experience and you KNOW you can get through it.

    Not the most encouraging thing to say I'm sure, but what I really mean is.....YOU can do this too. All will be well.

    I hope John and You are both better soon!

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  100. OF COURSE WE'RE HERE TO SUPPORT YOU! *pats back* GROUP SMILE! (haha, just for you!) http://brittanyperry.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/swat.png

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  101. Eek! I'm glad he's doing better! I can totally understand your anxiety. It wasn't untill i moved out 2 years ago with a terrible roommate did i start doing things on my own. I still get very anxious when it comes to new things, but I've been trying to remember something Aslan tells Lucy in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (which i read for the first time last year): Courage, dear heart.

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  102. Plenty of e-hugs for you!

    I'm kind of the same as you with regards to not wanting to ever be on my own. It terrifies me when my significant other, who sadly has many chronic psych and physical illnesses is hurt in any way. Whether it's anaphalaxis, an asthma attack needing paramedics, hallucinations, catatonia as part of a severe depressive episode, medication side-effects, fear of seizures coming back... it's terrifying.

    So you aren't at all alone, and I think a lot of people here understand just how terrifying it can be to suddenly be without someone you rely on. I really hope that John keeps getting better, and that you can get some rest as well.

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  103. I'm glad John's doing better, glad the antibiotics kicked in.

    But now I need to lecture you, dear. A fever over 102 is highly dangerous for an adult, especially since you already knew he had strep. Jim Henson died because he delayed going to the hospital with a bad strep infection - this is serious shi - uh, stuff.

    Even though John had already been to the doctor, when a grown-up's temp spikes like that, especially along with the delirium, he needs medical intervention NOW. You were fortunate he recovered, but please, don't let that happen again. You may be used to John making the decisions, but when he's incapacitated, it's you who have to step up and take charge.

    Once again, I'm glad he's getting better. Take care of yourself and your dear hubby. We'd hate to lose either one of you.

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  104. Glad he's doing better! I can imagine that was tough. I'm a big believer in blogging as therapy. It's that whole catharsis thing, I guess.

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  105. Two mottos I live by: Keep Calm and Carry On. That which does not kill us will make us stronger.

    You are very brave, Grasshopper, very brave.

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  106. *hugs* Glad he's doing better! Such situations are always scary. And I'm honored you imagine us (=your readers) as such a badass therapy team ^^
    Now go cuddle your husband (as soon as he's healthy enough) and do something relaxing :)

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  107. hang in there, Jen! I'm a faithful CW & Epbot reader so you are sort of my therapist (I escape my children and hang out with you) :) I'm glad he is feeling better! and you, too :)

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  108. *knew, not new (It's driving me crazy... because it was me!)

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  109. Awww. I know about watching someone breathe and dealing with surprise nonsensical statements while pretending they make perfect sense so as not to scare the patient. And watching monitors and having to force myself to 'stand down'...

    I know a thing or six about panic, too, but I've been free of that for years, now (not bragging -- except on God -- but to encourage).

    I'm glad John is on the mend. It just takes a while for antibiotics to do their thing, that's all.

    Both of you have given others so much happiness, and you are loved. I pray a hedge of protection around the both of you.

    (Group hug)

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  110. Hugs and healing coming your way. My boy and I have been happily codependent for 19 years now--we can't bear to be apart for long. We work together, play together, basically do everything together. Coworkers will shift around at lunch to make sure we have two seats together (they're afraid we'll bleed to death if they break that 'attached at the hip' connection). I even have to be careful about what songs I listen to or movies I watch, because if it's about losing your best friend/spouse, I start crying uncontrollably. (Why or why did I watch The Notebook?!!!) We're actually consciously trying to develop some individual hobbies/interests, because we know it will make it easier down the road, if something were to happen to one of us. Not working so well, as Todd's totally interested in what I'm learning in photography, and more often than not I tag along to his game nights! Oh well. Just try to live in the now and don't worry too much about the future. Make every moment count and love each other. That's all that really matters.

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  111. I'm not going to read 100 comments so this might already have been written, but the next to your husband (or anyone) is running a high fever GET HIM OUT FROM UNDER TWO BLANKETS! Yes they will fight and argue and maybe even cry, but that's okay because you are doing the right thing to help make them better.

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  112. I think I caught something just from reading the comments. The symptoms are watery eyes and a stuffy nose. ;-)

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  113. Feel better John. You too Jen :-)

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  114. Hugs to you and John! You might be using your readers as therapists, but you've done a pretty good job with that yourself. Exactly one month before your Austin book signing last fall I was in the hospital waiting for my otherwise healthy 44-year-old husband to have two stents put in 99%-blocked arteries in his heart. Apparently he was very close to having a heart attack. I nagged him until he went in for a checkup with the primary care doctor, who sent him to a cardiologist, who sent him to the hospital. Obviously this was a shock. We've been together since I was 19 and he was 20, so I really have no concept of adult life without him in it. I held it together so he wouldn't worry about me and so our kids (teenagers) wouldn't worry too much. I kept telling myself that I would have a nervous breakdown in a month when everything was ok. He was in the hospital two days, then we had to adjust to his new diet, new meds, etc., while still keeping up with the kids' activities. I wasn't sleeping well because I kept checking to see if he was still breathing. A month later, I didn't have a nervous breakdown. My daughter and I went to your book signing, where we met some fun people, laughed at funny pictures, and ate cake. So, thank you. And he's doing fine now.

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  115. Jen, well done for coping. You might not feel you are coping well but you are coping and getting through and that's the main thing.

    I understand about always being together. I got married 10 months ago but have known my husband almost 7 years and we have been together for 4.5 of those years. Up until we got married we were rarely apart for more than the working day and a very very occasional evening, and we would email throughout the day while at work. We love each other's company and never get bored or need space from each other. Unfortunately my husband started chemo 2 days after we got married and he has just started a seond round of treatment as the first didn't do the job. It's horrible to see him struggle with this illness and it's the worst thing that has ever happened to us but we find out positives where we can - we have spent even more time together (sucks that a lot of it was in hospital but still) and our relationship is stronger because we really know that we can count on the other one when things gets tough. It's like establishing where boundaries are in what we can cope with together - we know we're pretty tough as a couple and we love each other so much.

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  116. I understand completely. My husband prides himself on looking after me as well and lately it's been difficult for him to do that thanks to month long stays in hospital. The worst of it was probably the bowel perforation that ended up with them removing his colon at age 30. No idea how I got through that day. No hallucinating from him, but a pretty strong, stoic guy reduced to whimpering like a puppy & telling me he was going to die was stressful enough. After that there was another long stay in hospital and trying to look after myself while going to visit him all the time. Lots of time to realise how spoiled I'd gotten & how dependent on each other we both are now.

    Knowing that it can all change in an instant hasn't really made us want to be more independant of each other though. I think we may even have closed ranks a little more to be honest, especially now that there's further health problems. It's definitely a shock to discover how dependent you've become on someone, but I think it's somewhat inevitable unless you consciously avoid it.

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  117. I love how we're your psychological team. That makes me feel like we're friends, which would be awesome if we were. And I'm so sorry that John is ill. Sending good vibes to the both of you. Good luck and get better!!

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  118. I went through all of the fear and worry when my husband was still in the working world, travelling to places like Egypt and Pakistan. I would set one of the many clocks in our home to the time zone he was working in. Thank goodness we had cell phones and could text and talk to each other. I would turn into a quivering mass of despair if I tried to call him and got voice mail, or if he told me he would call at a certain time and was only 2 minutes late...it was awful. Then my mind would go to places that are scary even now that he has retired and the farthest he goes on a daily basis is the golf course! I understand. I've been there, so accept this hug (((Jen))) from another sister who loves her man and would be lost without him.

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  119. I hope John recovers quickly, for you as much as him! I am massively dependant on my husband too, and understand completely the terror you describe. I'm very lucky in that Rich hardly ever gets sick, I don't much either but when we do we really go all out and scare the other one!

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  120. Sorry for the pain. Before my husband and I married he had a panic attack that seemed like a heart attack. I was okay in the hospital, seemed very in charge. As soon as I was home in the bedroom alone I was a complete basket case. I clutched one of his shirts and cried myself asleep.

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  121. I'm in a slightly different boat, but I get it. I'm married (14 years), but ours has been a mostly military marriage, so time apart is the norm and if we spend too much time together we tend to make each other crazy.

    Nothing wrong with being scared of loss though, I'd say that's perfectly normal.

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  122. Jen as someone who can legally practice medicine and prides herself on being "i am women hear me roar" the thought of living in my apartment alone when my boyfriend went to puerto rico for work for six months, sent me SCREAMING AND CRYING to my mothers house for 6 months. I understand. It sucks. But as for jo (which is also my bfs name) keep him hydrated and full of abx and water we love you!

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  123. I am very glad to hear that there are other couples as happily co-dependent on one another as my husband and I, it's quite a relief.

    And despite thinking you are not-much of a "caregiver" you have given so many reasons why that simply isn't true!

    I hope he's feeling better soon!

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  124. Sorry John was sick, but I'm glad he's feeling better. I know how you feel! Thanks for feeling secure enough that you could share these things with us, your faceless audience. :)

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  125. I'm mopping up my eyes, thinking about how scary last night was for you and how sick John was.

    John, be well soon.
    Jen, you are sane.

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  126. Everyone is afraid of something. Everyone.
    Glad you both made it through the night.
    We're always here to listen.

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  127. I hope you're both better today.

    -Barbara Anne

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  128. Bravery is being scared to death of something, but doing it anyway.
    And I'd be thrilled to pieces to be on a therapy team with those other 3 famous people!
    Glad John's feeling better. And especially putting all this out in public he knows for fact that he's appreciated.

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  129. I don't have to do more than think about losing Husband to freak out -- and that's without even an actual scare (beyond his daily bike ride to work and the college drivers in our town). Many sympathies. Hoping it's all better by now since I'm here late.

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  130. My husband having a fever so high that it caused hallucinations would be pure terror for me. Like you guys, we're happily codependent. Luckily, my husband is incredibly healthy ... well, except for semi-frequent kidney stones ... and those are pretty terrifying, too. Hang in there! Glad John is feeling better.

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  131. From what you wrote and the comments I'm seeing, my oft-heard saying won't seem weird, although I often get weird looks from other people when I tell them this: I plan to die, old and gray, never having spent a night apart from my husband. My grandparents only spent nights apart due to being in the hospital for illness or surgery as they got older, and I really could handle that well. I love being with my husband. He's the bright spot of my day, every day. He's the person I immediately want to tell everything to when something happens. (He was my best friend before we started dating, too.)

    People always give me weird looks when I talk glowingly about my husband, because so many just gripe about theirs, but he's the best thing that ever has happened to me in my life. And I know it. :-)

    He's been sick all this week and has looked/sounded terrible. I hate it, but try to coddle him like he generally takes care of me every other day of the year. I'm a "rah rah, go, women!" kind of girl, but there's something about having a 6'2" husband to put his arms around my 5'1" self and just knowing that he's there if I need him for anything (especially things on above our cabinets). The rule is that we have to die at the same time (hopefully naturally, of course), because we don't want to live without the other. He definitely is, no joking, my better half.

    ~Jessica (the celt)

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  132. There's no shame in love if it works for you both. And don't you just hate it when the script changes without warning? Like, oops, you're in charge now! This is life & death, missy, so snap to it and don't make a mistake! Super scary. And I can say that as the only nurse in the family who everybody turns to for guidance.

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  133. I know this is way late but as I as read your post the whole "shivering violently under two heavy blankets" caught my attention. I know this is probably redundant but I thought I'd mention it anyways. If someone has a high fever the last thing you should do is try to keep them warm. That will only raise the fever. It sucks for the person with the fever because they will FEEL cold but they're really not.

    Best way to take care of a fever is drinking liquids and they're medication for the infection. If the fever persists you can always try to have them take a shower. If all else fails the ER is your next bet.

    Again probably redundant but its amazing how many people will forget about simple solutions because they're scared or worried about their loved ones. Litte tid bit from a friendly medic. Hope your hubby feels better. ^_^

    PS - I think you guys are lucky to have each other and it sounds like you have a wonderful and fun relationship.

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  134. I hope John gets better soon. I had the worst case of recurrent strep g all through 2011 (Oh yes, there's a strep type g, and it kicked my butt pretty much monthly, the same level as John.) Finally, my doc exhausted every antibiotic I'm not allergic to and I had my tonsils out last month. Best. Decision. Ever. I'm finally feeling normal. And I don't know what I would have done without my hubby. Hang in there guys, it will get better.

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  135. That's so awesome that you guys are so close. When my hubby gets sick I send him to our room and tell him not to breathe on anyone ;)

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  136. I'm sorry that you had to have such a scary time, but I'm proud of you. You took care of your partner just as he would have you were your situations reversed. You were scared, but you did what you had to do anyway. I think that is the definition of being brave. :)

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  137. I know how you feel. I fight depression and migraines and diabetes. My husband is my rock. He took care of me when I got strep and then 2 allergic reactions on vacation. Some guys are just awesome and I'm glad you got yours and I got mine. :)

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  138. Aw, Jen! I'm actually a therapist-in-training (currently working on my Master's degree) and let me tell you: there's nothing wrong with being close to your spouse! I actually struggle with some of the same feelings of inadequacy that you do (hailing a cab- never done it, scared to try!). And you're doing the right thing by seeking out others to share your story! I'd say you're doing just fine! Tell John hello for me and have a super day!

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