21 Little Things Partners Have Done for Their Loved Ones With Chronic Illness


Sometimes all it takes is a simple gesture from someone you love to help you feel a little bit better.

We asked people who live with chronic illnesses to share one (seemingly) small thing their partner has done for them that touched their hearts.

This is what they had to say:

1. “[My partner] reminds me daily I am wanted and needed and not just a burden.” — Ally Small

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2. “I often feel bad that I can’t do ‘normal couple things’ with him like walking or standing much, going out when our friends do or even holding hands properly, so we often struggle to find ‘things’ to do other than just hanging around (which is lovely in its own right). One day he suggested we could go to the local nature preserve and he could wheel me around. He didn’t suggest we go for a walk (which would either make me feel bad because I would have to tell him I can’t walk that much or we would both know that ‘walking’ really meant ‘rolling’), but actually used the proper wording. He didn’t know how much that simple syntax meant to me until a few weeks later. It was in that moment I realized that he just ‘got it’ and understood me more than either of us thought. It was the perfect example of automatic acceptance.” — Katie Taaffe

3. “My husband is a research scientist. We were together 11 years before I got my diagnosis. When we finally had a name for what plagues me (severe rheumatoid arthritis) he read all of the medical literature available and [now] attends all of my medical visits including exams, but doesn’t say a word unless I ask him for his opinion. I once joked he was more of an expert about my illness than I was and he dropped what he was doing, wrapped me in a hug and said, ‘You’re my hero. I’m just your biggest fan.’” — Joy Hanford

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4. “My boyfriend came home from the marines when I was admitted for fistulas, and he slept on the floor the whole week so he could be with me in the hospital.” — Grace Shockey

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5. “My boyfriend has been my partner for going on seven years and caretaker for four years. He gets my medication for me every night. He brings juice and keeps track of all of my different pills for different nights.” — Katelyn Burd

6. “My partner does little things every day. He helps me keep my dignity by not [making me] have to ask for help when I need it most but am too stubborn to ask.” — Emma-Jayne Tucker

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7. “I have ulcerative colitis so spend a lot of time in the bathroom. My husband wanted to give me something I could put all around the house to look at and feel better and know he’s there for me when I’m not feeling well. He bought a dozen little jars with a piece of chalkboard on the front. He wrote our initials on the chalk and put a folded up copy of the lyrics to our wedding song inside each bottle. There is now a bottle in ever bathroom, the kitchen and all the bedrooms. It makes me smile every time.” — Heather Hecht

8. “My husband comes to every appointment with me to get a better understanding of how my illness really affects me. When he knows I’m nervous, he says something to make me laugh, and when he can tell I’m scared, he reaches out to hold my hand. His little gestures touch my heart every time.” — Rebecca Lalk

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9. “I live with multiple sclerosis, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My [husband] goes to work long before I wake. Before he leaves he often texts me links to funny or cute animal videos on YouTube to cheer me up in case I am wakened by a nightmare or an anxiety episode. It feels like his proactive strategy for keeping me laughing when I often want to cry.” — Shannon Gardner

10. “He calls me every day on his lunch break. If he knows I am having a rough day (or he just senses it) he will either text or call me at least every hour.” — Shelly Jones

11. “I suffer from chronic migraines, and at times I live in my dark, cold bedroom for days at a time. My husband of 19 years has done numerous little things that have touched my heart during my attacks, however, the one I love the most is when he climbs in bed and holds me. He doesn’t ask me how I am feeling because he already knows, he doesn’t try to fix my pain because unfortunately he cannot… he is simply there, loving me unconditionally.” — Robyn Eastwood

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12. “We’d been walking for a while, and he realized by the end of the walk I was starting to lean on him. I try my best not to most of the time, but I just didn’t realize it that night. When he felt me putting my weight on him, he asked if I was OK. I brushed it off, but he could tell I was really hurting. He picked me up. I vigorously protested because I was so embarrassed. I never wanted him to see my weakness. Not only did he accept me, but he didn’t look at me any differently. Not even for a second. He carried on the conversation we were having and carried me all the way home.” — Destin Shyann

13. “He told me, while I was mid-migraine, that he was not leaving. He said, ‘I need to make sure you are going to be OK.’” — Kristin Marie Kaskeski

14. “When I was hospitalized for the first time my husband packed me a picnic tea party complete with a teapot, my best tea cups and even a pretty tablecloth. We also wrote letters to each other every day and exchanged them at night during visiting hours. He’s also done really hard things for me too. Like when I would call him on the first night of my hospitalizations begging for him to take me home, weeping, and he would say he loves me but no, it breaks his heart, but I have to do this. Through all of this he’s my hero.” — Claire Nieuwoudt

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15. “I recently had one very good day where I had managed to shower, dry my hair, get dressed and put on makeup. I joked, ‘I’m pretending to be a normal person today.’ He wrapped his arms around me, kissed me on the forehead and said, ‘Just be a normal you.’ It told me he accepted me for who I am, illness and all.” — Jen Keating

16. “He lets me ask for help. He knows it makes me feel bad if he swoops in every time I struggle to open something or pick something up. He’s there when I need him, but he lets me make that call and that means so much.” — Emily Matejic Souders

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17. “He gave up school and a fantastic job to be my 24/7 caregiver — riding out each seizure with me, carrying me to the bathroom, bathing me, taking me to each appointment, etc. He’s given up everything to fight for me.” — Melody Hitzeroth

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18. “[My partner] washes my hair and ties my shoes when I don’t have the energy. I have multiple sclerosis (MS) and am seven months pregnant. Small things add up.” — Jordann Chitty

19. “He will just hold me. Any time I am symptomatic he will just hold me and it’s enough to help improve my mood and make everything seem tolerable and manageable. I don’t know if I would be doing as well as I am without him.” — Hallie Ervin

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20. “[My partner will] ignore it, but not me. I’ll be doubled over, and she’ll ask if I’m good, and if I say, ‘Yes just dealing,’ she’ll leave it at that. She won’t hover or get in my way. She just keeps on about her business, still talking and interacting as much as she sees I can stand.” — Loretta Woods

21. “He believed me and helped fight for answers.” — Jennifer Peterson

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