Caring for a Spouse with an Autoimmune Disease

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a sad couple

The National Institutes of Health reports that around 22 million individuals in the United States suffer from an autoimmune disease. This rare and silent epidemic is more prevalent in women, with them comprising 78% of the patient population.

The most common types of autoimmune diseases that affect women in Las Vegas are thyroid problems, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and psoriasis.

Auto-immune diseases are not only life-threatening; they are also a threat to a happy marriage. Patients often struggle with bouts of anxiety and struggle with low self-esteem, intense sadness, and depression. The autoimmune disease alters a person’s mood, behavior, and personality, and you feel that you’ve lost the person you married along the way.

Your spouse can develop a negative self-image, so she might avoid intimacy and neglect her responsibilities which can take a heavy toll on your relationship. Here are some pointers for caring for a spouse with a chronic illness:

1. Educate yourself

Understanding the symptoms, triggers, and treatments of autoimmune diseases is key to becoming a better emotional support system. Education can help you anticipate the needs of your spouse and figure out the healing process. Whenever possible, go to appointments with her so that you will learn about the disease straight from a health professional.

2. Believe that the symptoms are real

woman with neck problem

Autoimmune disease has invisible symptoms such as internal shaking, severe nausea, and fatigue. Your spouse might complain of intense joint pain, but you might think that she doesn’t look like she’s in pain. She might look good from your perspective, and you might have suspicions that the symptoms are all in her head.

The signs can be sneaky, but it doesn’t mean they’re not real. When your spouse tells you she’s in pain, do not show her a confused or a skeptic look that she’s just making it up. You don’t have to say a word. Listening to her is enough to make her feel that you are there. You need to fight the disease with her because suffering alone is unbearable torture.

3. Take off your shoes

While you can’t feel the degree of your wife’s suffering, you can wear put yourself in her shoes once in a while so that you can understand her challenges. Acknowledge her situation and make life easier for her by taking over a task or a house chore when she’s feeling exhausted or in pain.

The health of your relationship is crucial to healing. If your spouse wakes you up in the middle of the night and breaks into a continuous crying fit, she needs reassurance that you are there. Autoimmune diseases are not curable, so you have to learn how to live with it. The lifelong struggle can lead to severe financial burdens and communication issues that challenge your relationship.

Her everchanging symptoms will test your patience, respect, and compassion. But whenever you feel exhausted and frustrated, recall one of your life episodes, such as that day when you declared a solemn promise that says “in sickness and in health.”

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