Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Here is a little peek for you:)
Jack and Stephanie sat in the neurologist’s office the next morning. She had been through the MRI and they were going to go over some options.
“I feel badly. Most patients don’t get such quick results. I don’t like using our positions as doctors to take someone else’s appointment,” she sighed.
“I think it’s okay to pull rank every so often. Besides, we won’t be long,” he said.
They looked up as the doctor came in and smiled.
“Hi. How are you feeling?” he sat down across from Stephanie. Jack stood in the corner out of the way.
“My side hurts from where I fell, but otherwise I’m okay.
“Good,” he said and smiled. “The MRI doesn’t show any active lesions, so that’s good,” he began.
“But?” Stephanie smiled and looked at Jack.
“Well I would like to run some blood work and check your liver and kidney functions as well as a resistance to the interferon.”
“You think her body is rejecting the meds?” Jack asked.
“It’s possible. You have been on the same medication for almost 10 years, right?”
“The efficacy can change after time, so it’s good to check for antibodies before we make any changes.”
“Okay,” Stephanie said and looked at him.
“Is there anything else that you have noticed?” The doctor asked her.
Jack saw her flinch and he felt his heart drop.
“Stephanie? What is it?”
She looked at him and then at the doctor.
“I have been having some pretty intense dizzy spells.”
“Okay, when do they seem to happen?”
“Four or five times a day,” she said. “Especially when I move my eyes to the right or left.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jack asked her.
She felt terrible and shrugged.
“I don’t know. I’m sorry,” she wiped her eyes and the doctor smiled.
“If I may,” he began, “With a disease like MS, every day there can be a new symptom or sensation. Some days are similar and others invite an entirely new sense of fear at possible disease progression. I find many of my patients keep much of the daily issues to themselves, not because they feel their significant other can’t handle it, but rather because it is painful to dwell on every issue that comes up.”
Jack didn’t say anything and Stephanie knew he was upset. She stood up and thanked the doctor.
“Please pick up the request for lab work at the counter on your way out. I’ll call you with the results.”
She thanked him and he walked out.
“Jack,” she began.
“I don’t want to talk right now. I need to go to my office for a bit,” he turned and walked out.
She let her tears fall, knowing he was hurt. She figured she would give him a few minutes and then head to his office. She got the lab form and made her way out into the hall when she saw Julie sitting on the bench, her eyes closed.
“Julie?” She walked over to her and sat down.
Julie opened her eyes and smiled.
“Hi,” she moved to let her sit. “Are you working?”
“No, I just had an appointment with my neurologist. Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I had a follow up with the kidney doctor. They drained my blood and made me pee in a cup and now I wait,” she grinned.
“Have you been feeling okay?”
“I’m fine,” she looked at Stephanie and sighed. “What’s going on with you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re upset, I can see it. I know I’m not your usual sounding board, but can I help?”
Stephanie laughed and then her tears came again.
“Hey, what is it? Now you’re scaring me,” Julie turned to face her more.
“It’s fine, Jack’s really angry with me and I don’t blame him. I need to go talk to him, but I wanted to give him a minute to cool off.”
“What could he have to be angry with you about?”
Stephanie filled her in on what happened and Julie ran her hand through her hair as she thought about it.
“He’s just scared for you,” Julie said. “He also doesn’t like to be out of the loop. I get that, and so does Bill.”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but living with doctors can be a little intimidating. You guys know things that we don’t, and when there is something going on that we don’t understand, it’s frustrating. I think Jack isn’t used to that. He wants to get ahead of whatever is happening and when you deal with things he doesn’t know, he gets scared.”
“But I don’t need to tell him every little twitch or pain I have. I don’t want him to live his life worrying about me so much,” she said, knowing that was a weak sentiment.
“He loves you, Stephanie. It isn’t conditional on anything other than trust and faith. He isn’t going to be scared away, no matter what.”
“I know,” Stephanie said softly. “This is on me, not him.”
Julie looked up and smiled as Jack walked towards them.
“Will you talk to him? Will you tell him what you’re thinking?”
Stephanie nodded and looked up to see Jack. She smiled and wiped her eyes as Julie stood up.
“Thanks for the talk,” Stephanie hugged her.
“Anytime, and let me know when Bee can come over for a play date. We could use some help with potty training,” Julie winked.
Jack looked at her.
“What could Bee do to help with that?”
“I was just thinking that David might like some company, that’s all,” she teased and then kissed Jack’s cheek. “I’m kidding, relax,” she laughed and waved as she walked away.
Jack sat down and took Stephanie’s hand in his.
“I was giving you some time alone,” she said softly.
“I know, but I don’t need time alone. I need you to talk to me.”
“Jack, I need you to understand something,” she began. “I have to put certain things with this disease in a place that doesn’t affect my daily life. If I woke up every day and went over the ways I feel this disease creeping in, then I wouldn’t be able to get up and function. I deal with it the best way I can, and I know it might not be the best, but it’s the only way I know how to be the woman I need to be. It isn’t that I don’t want your help or that I’m trying to hide things; it’s just that I can’t become someone who has MS before anything else.”
He listened to her and pulled her into his arms. She was surprised, but held onto him.
“I love you, Stephanie. I just want you to feel like you can talk to me about all of this. I don’t know how to help you without making you feel like it’s all I think about. I have never looked at you and not seen the woman I adore before anything else. I just need you to know I will be here for you through all of this.”
She nodded and wiped her face.
“I know that, Jack. I just don’t know what to do. I worry I will get worse and one day I might need so much more help with my every day life. I don’t want to waste a minute of my life being sick and I don’t want our girls to ever look at me and see this disease before they see their mom.”
He didn’t know what to tell her. He couldn’t fix this, no matter how much he wanted to.
“How about if we just take this one day at a time. Tell me when you need to talk or when you need to be held. Tell me when to leave you alone or when to do more. Just talk to me, please. If our roles were reversed, you know how much it would hurt you if I kept this to myself. I just need to help in any way I can.”
She cupped his face in her hands and leaned in to kiss him.
“You’re right. I would hate it and I would feel as upset as you do. I will do better, Jack. I just need to work on letting go of some of this control.”
“I like when you take control,” he grinned. “Maybe you can do that more in certain situations and let me take over some of your worrying.”
“Oh? What kind of control are you talking about?” she laughed.
“The kind with chocolate and nuts,” he leaned in and kissed her.
“My favorite,” she murmured into his mouth.