Matchbox Twenty Singer Rob Thomas Reveals What It's Like to Watch His Wife Battle Lyme Disease
While promoting his upcoming performance at the Global Lyme Alliance’s New York Gala, Thomas described Marisol’s Lyme disease as a “weird little alien” that moved into their house and inhabits her.
“The first couple of weeks you’d be f**king freaked out, but after a while you’d name it and it would just be there,” Thomas said. “Sometimes she’s just not herself. Watching the person you’re closest to become someone other than herself is so [hard].”
Marisol has been dealing with health challenges for 14 years, which were initially diagnosed as everything from multiple sclerosis to lupus. Though one doctor explored the possibility of Lyme disease years ago, she wasn’t tested and diagnosed for it until 2015, after she had surgery to remove a lesion from her brain. It turned out she was positive for eight tick-born illnesses, including late-stage neurological Lyme disease. She’s also developed Hashimoto’s disease and trigeminal neuralgia.
“I don’t consider what I’m doing living. I’m existing… and fighting to hopefully one day live again,” Marisol said.
Thomas said the “real personal cost” of Marisol’s illness has been little things, like her being unable to see friends who come visit.
“She loves hanging with everyone, but she’s always one door away unable to be part of it. Or there’s holidays she has to let go by. I’ve never seen anybody love Christmas like this girl loves Christmas, so to watch it pass [is tough],” Thomas said. “These little things make a year suddenly go by without us realizing.”
Thomas also said Marisol’s illness had meant having children together is no longer a possibility, but said if she could get healthy again, they wouldn’t “need a family to complete” them.
He also acknowledged that the struggles she goes through sometimes make him feel guilty, and how her day-to-day life makes him feel selfish for doing normal things.
l’ll say, ‘Man, I had the worst show,’ then realize who I’m talking to and go, ‘I’m sorry, that’s the stupidest thing to say!’ You get perspective. I don’t think I have anything to complain about because I’ve seen how bad it can get for someone. The great thing about going to the Global Lyme Alliance benefit last year was seeing we’re not alone. People talk about their health struggles and what the family goes through and it’s normal to hear someone say, ‘I can’t tell you how much I thank my family for not just killing me!’ — and think, ‘I totally get that.’
For public record, I’m not going to kill my wife! But they spend so much time trying to get better that, as a caretaker, you pick up the slack on everything else in their life. I get tired and frustrated, then I see a glimpse of Mari and we talk, recognize it, then keep going.
Marisol’s illness has influenced not only Thomas’ personal life, but also his music. His song “Her Diamonds” is about her pain, and the pain of not knowing what he can do to help her. “Pieces” describes feeling lost and holding on to each other as they find “a light in the darkness.”
If you’re a spouse of someone with a chronic illness, there are things you can do to be supportive. Check out these “five caregiver commandments” and this chronic warrior’s letter to her significant other for advice. And check out what our Mighty community said when we asked them to share the secrets of being in a relationship and chronically ill.
Lead photo courtesy of Rob Thomas’ Facebook page