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I see no benefit in wishing that things had turned out better. That’s a waste of time and an emotional drain. However, I do have an active, albeit MS-addled brain, and lots free time on my hands, and so my mind wanders. I find myself imagining, just for the fun of it, how things might play out under different circumstances. For example…
Question one: What if Kim had come down with MS instead of me?
This would have been a disaster. I am so much better suited to have MS than Kim is, and Kim is so much better suited to be a caregiver than I am. Don’t get me wrong, Kim is a tough cookie and would have found a way to cope with MS, had she contracted it. But she has no love for sedentary activities and has difficulty relaxing. In contrast, many of my interests are sedentary, and I’m quite adept at kicking back and taking it easy. Furthermore, Kim is a natural caregiver – it’s in her DNA. I think I would have been an adequate caregiver, but I don’t possess her rare combination of empathy and energy.
It’s best for each of us, and for our marriage, that it worked out the way it did.
Now let’s ramp the discussion up a notch to another subject I allow my mind to ponder at times. Warning – some of you may consider this second scenario borderline morbid, in which case I advise you to stop reading here (I’m talking to you, Carole).
Question two: Imagine if Kim and I were the last two people on a sinking ship. There’s only room on the rescue helicopter for one more of us, and the other will certainly drown. Who should be saved?
I would insist that Kim go on the helicopter. She, being the empathetic person that she is, would insist that I go. Many people in committed, loving relationships would behave similarly. So, although these would be noble gestures on our parts, they would not be particularly unusual for the circumstances. But I would have reason and logic on my side, instead of merely love, duty, and compassion.
Here’s what I mean. If Kim were to live and I were to die, yes she would be left without the love of her life. But she would most likely enjoy a long, active, independent, healthy life, and one freed from the burden of caring for her devilishly handsome, but significantly disabled husband. She would almost certainly remarry, probably to a doctor, lawyer, or wine sommelier. However, if I were to live and Kim were to die, I would be left without the love of my life and without my primary caregiver. I would likely endure a shorter, more difficult life than Kim would, and I would (will) suffer one health problem after another. I would be completely dependent on paid caregivers who may or may not treat me with the TLC that Kim does and would not necessarily have sex with me. It’s conceivable that I could remarry, but I wouldn’t be exactly the most eligible widower in town, iBot wheelchair or not.
I’m not being heroic or romantic here. I’m being practical. Therefore, Kim, I don’t want to hear any argument from you in the unlikely event that we find ourselves in a sinking boat scenario. I’ve already stated my position clearly; now get your ass in that helicopter!
First, I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to live if Kim were to die. I would find a way to marshal on. It just wouldn’t be pretty.
Second, I am by no means implying that my life is not worthy, that Kim would be better off without me, or that the lives of disabled people are less valuable than the lives of healthy people. I’m only making an assessment based on the scenario presented and an honest appraisal of our probable futures.
Readers, do your minds ever wander in this way, or is it just me?