Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sending my Love

Four years ago today, I married my true love.  We knew on the day we said our vows that "in sickness and in health" already was a reality.  But, I demanded that Tyler marry me that day, whether he was released from the hospital or not.  He spent the week before the wedding at Stevens Hospital, recovering from pneumonia and getting his white blood cell counts down.  We canceled our honeymoon cruise, but still had the big party and officially joined our lives together.

Initially, we kept Tyler's diagnosis a secret from the many people coming to join us at our wedding.  We wanted our wedding day to be one of joy and celebration at the fact that we LOVED each other.  With apologies to the many loved ones who joined us there, I still think that was the right thing to do.  Our wedding day was filled with joy and love.

Tyler started to share the following week, which prompted a great deal of shock as people heard the word "cancer".

One of the things that amazed me over and over again as we fought this battle was the outpouring of support that we received.  We could never have fought this battle on our own, but had friends and family who went above and beyond to help.  People visited us in the hospital.  Coworkers from both of our jobs made it possible for us to visit doctors together, regardless of the impact to their own workload.  Friends and family helped us to raise thousands and thousands of dollars to fight this disease.

And through it all, we had each other.  When I stop and think about how much I have lost, I can't stop the tears.  Tyler loved me and knew that I loved him.  In that one fact, we were very, very lucky.  Although he often felt like he wasn't living up to what I needed in a husband, I would not have traded one day of our time for anyone else.

I would have happily sent the leukemia packing, but know that if I had to take CML to have the blessing of Tyler, it was well worth it for me.  I just hope that he believes me now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


February 19th is the 4th anniversary of Tyler's diagnosis with Leukemia.  Especially now, I can't help but wonder if getting in to the doctor earlier might have helped him enjoy marriage a little bit longer...  Tyler had been experiencing several symptoms that, in retrospect, we now know were signs that something was wrong.  Number one in my memory were the chills that he got after exertion.  Because Tyler and I were soccer addicts, we were out on the soccer field 1-2 times each week.  For the 6 month period before diagnosis, Tyler would play soccer and then shake and shiver violently for a long time afterwords.  Tyler just thought it was a part of getting old, but I thought it was a bad sign.

If you have any of the following symptoms, please make an appointment with your doctor.  It probably ISN'T leukemia, but wouldn't you rather know?

  • Fever or chills
  • Persistent fatigue, weakness
  • Frequent infections
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Tiny red spots in your skin (petechiae)
  • Excessive sweating, especially at night
  • Bone pain or tenderness
 Who knows where we would be today if we had caught the disease earlier?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Missing my "Dude"

This is the one month anniversary of Tyler's death. 

It's still hard to believe that he is gone, although I feel like I have been learning to live without him a little bit each day.  Some things are definitely easier than others.  Working is usually okay, as I am incredibly busy just keeping up with my day to day tasks. The quiet moments and home routines are the hardest ones, as those were times that I treasured with Tyler.  I miss our personal routines and the little inside jokes that we shared.

A loved one recently admitted that she didn't know if she should bring up Tyler's death when she sees me or avoid mentioning it altogether.  I can't speak for everyone that is grieving, but I prefer it when someone brings it up.  I might be sad or have some tears, but will change the subject if I get too uncomfortable to talk about it.

Also, there isn't a right thing to say to someone who is grieving.  A heartfelt "I'm sorry" or a comment about some way that Tyler touched your life is the most comforting things that people say to me.   I don't have any right things to say in response either, but do appreciate that people care enough to acknowledge Tyler's passing and the void in my life. 

Thanks to the many people who have supported me throughout this battle, and especialy over the last month.  The many offers for evening activities have helped me ease into this new phase of my life.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Missing the "We"

One of the really great thing about being married to Tyler was that we had a solid partnership.  As I make this transition, I find myself saying "We like this" or "We do that" and then I stop and realize that I am supposed to just talk about me now. It's strange to realize that two really did become one in our marriage.

Many people may not realize the work that Tyler and I put into our marriage before we ever walked down the aisle.  As we were first dating, I admitted that I had trouble communicating.  Although I have learned LOTS from my darling husband (who would share anything with anybody), I still struggle to share some of my innermost feelings.  In order to build a solid foundation of communication, Tyler and I decided to learn more about how to communicate better.  We read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
and found that understanding the concepts in the book really helped us to communicate better about our relationship needs.  Tyler's primary language was Quality Time, so he just needed to remind me of that when I would get too busy with other things.

The other book that we used to develop our communication and highly recommend to other couples was The Hard Questions: 100 Questions to Ask Before You Say I Do.  This book had questions on all sorts of topics, such as what is your dream house like and how many kids do you want and how do you feel about religion, and anything else that could be helpful to discuss.  Tyler and I would answer all of the questions in a chapter independently and then get together and talk about our answers. We were lucky in that so many of our answers matched the other person's, but we also found ways to understand what was important to each other as we worked through the chapters.  This book certainly isn't for everybody, but I do recommend to anyone who wants to work on comunication or wants to go the extra mile to build a strong partnership.

Just my two cents on something that really worked for us!

I miss Tyler in little twinges throughout each day.  For example, it has been hard to watch American Idol this year because that was something that Tyler LOVED to watch.  We have a DVR, but Tyler could never wait to start the show late. He was just so excited to hear the songs and see the performance. 

I hope that each of you will hug your loved one today, just remembering that things would be much different if they were missing from your life.