Why It's Important to Have a Trusted Person Support You Through Illness


I just had a miserable experience that ended well thanks to my husband whom I trust with all my being. I attempted to go to the post office to mail Christmas gifts. The line for the counter was long, so I went for the self-service kiosk which I have used numerous times before. It should not have been a big deal.

With Christmas coming up quickly, the post office was a sea of people running here and there trying to get their packages sent off or buy stamps. Even the parking lot was a place of terror for me with a lineup of cars stretching onto the road. After navigating the lot, I stood in line for the kiosk as patiently as I could. When it was my turn, I got started as usual. Very quickly, things turned ugly. I couldn’t understand the basic questions on the screen. My mind was swimming. Two different people stopped to help briefly as they passed by handling their own affairs. It was kind, yet it made me feel rushed. When it was time to pay, I could not remember my own zip code for the billing address.

My own zip code? I couldn’t remember my own zip code! I was beginning to feel as if I couldn’t remember my own name! I wanted to turn and run, but I couldn’t bear the thought of facing the people standing in line behind me. I didn’t know what to do.

Finally, I cancelled the whole thing, grabbed the packages, and ran out. I put the boxes back in the trunk. With cars lined up wondering if I was coming or going, I stood leaning on the trunk of my car and called my husband. At first, he didn’t answer. I texted “Help me” and called again.

“What’s wrong?” he immediately asked.

I cried as I told him where I was and that I couldn’t remember our zip code.

“Tell me exactly what you are feeling.”

I answered, “My throat is tight, my stomach hurts, I want to vomit and my head is spinning.”

“Is it crowded? Are you feeling claustrophobic?”

“Yes!” Thank God I have someone in my life who knows me!

author and her husband smiling
Me and my husband, David

He talked me into sliding into the car. Then he talked me down from my emotional precipice. Within half an hour, I was at a UPS store sending off my packages where the line was shorter and the crowd less erratic. Disaster was averted, and he didn’t even have to leave his office.

Lupus and fibromyalgia cause me to overreact to so much. My husband has learned to be that calming presence when I can’t be that for myself. He has learned to help me navigate without being patronizing – well, at least most of the time.

If you have someone who is that trusted support, thank them this holiday season.

If you have a family member or friend you care about with some sort of serious health challenge, consider being that support person. It takes a patient ear and a gentle hand.

David, have I told you how much I love you lately? Merry Christmas and Happy Anniversary!

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

Tweet saying "I am #the27percent Chronic disease since age 18. Healthcare costs of >$75k/yr For me, no insurance = a slow, painful death "

People With Pre-existing Conditions Tweet #the27percent to Highlight Insurance Challenges

On Wednesday, Atul Gawande, M.D., a respected surgeon, author and the executive director of Ariadne Labs, shared a tweet highlighting the loss of coverage 52 million young Americans would face should the pre-existing conditions mandate of the Affordable Care Act be repealed. My son: One of #the27percent under 65 w/ pre-existing conditions making them uninsurable in [...]
woman taking a selfie outside in the city at night

My 10 Achievable New Year’s Resolutions for My Life With Chronic Illness

Chronic illness has changed my life more than I ever could have imagined! My yearly, weekly, and daily goals have been completely transformed. Gone are resolutions like: working out every day (I can’t at all because of my muscle disease) going on a diet (I need to eat as much as I can of the [...]
image of woman smiling next to the text 'first coffee, then adulting'

6 Tips for 'Adulting' With a Chronic Illness

Let’s all take a moment to agree that adulthood is complicated. I’m 24 and fairly new to adulthood still. I finished grad school a year and a half ago and am still participating in the whole “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy. I’m not ashamed that my dad still fills out my tax paperwork for me. On [...]

Nonprofit, Room For Joy, Redesigns Bedrooms for Kids With Chronic Illnesses

Arizona-based nonprofit, Room For Joy, provides medically appropriate and imaginative bedroom makeovers to kids with chronic illnesses. Read the full story.