During our Vegas elopement, my wrists hurt constantly and my hand cramped up a lot, but I pushed through the pain, and managed to have an okay time. When we got back, however, things got worse. After seeing several specialists who couldn't determine why my hands were cramping up, stiffening, and in so much pain, I finally heard this…
"You have Avascular Osteonecrosis in the wrist, also known as Kienbock's Disease. It's extremely rare, incurable and beyond my expertise. I'm sending you to a very experienced surgeon who specializes in hand micro-surgery right away."
I was diseased. The disease is very rare, not much is known about it, and it is incurable. The unexpected diagnosis shattered me.
My disease causes bones in the hand/wrist to die spontaneously and crumble — causing arthritis and other painful problems. If other doctors had recognized it in an earlier stage, there are operations that could've been done to try to slow down the progression of the disease, but it was finally diagnosed in stage 3B. And my only viable option was total fusion: broken bones, bone grafting, metal hardware, the works.
By the time I was diagnosed, just a month or so after the wedding, I couldn't even get dressed by myself anymore. My husband had to help me eat, by putting the utensils in my hands because I couldn't grasp them. It was awful. I had to quit my career as a dog groomer, which hurt emotionally because I'd spent my whole adult life working to get to the top of my field.
I had my big operation immediately after diagnosis, and my husband was there for me every step of the way. He made my meals, looked after our dogs, provided for us financially, and was there for me emotionally, too. It was such a terrible, whirlwind time.
I became a disabled housewife so quickly after we married, that I'd felt guilty- like he didn't get what he signed up for in marrying me.
Going through all that as newlyweds was so stressful.
I became a disabled housewife, without any warning, so quickly after we married that I'd felt as if I'd tricked him, or pulled the ol' bait-and-switch.
A lesser man would've taken the opportunity to say, "I didn't sign up for a crippled wife; I'm out," but he stuck by me.
After my operation, which had a year-long healing time, I immediately began to feel better. My husband says he noticed a huge improvement in my mood and attitude within a week of the fusion. Being in chronic pain had made me depressed, and even the pain of healing from surgery was a relief in comparison. Gradually, movement in my fingers came back, and the pain went away more and more every week. I'd made it.
My husband has a great job, that can easily, comfortably support both of us and our rescue dogs. He reassures me that he loves me wholeheartedly, and that he'd have wanted to marry me even if we'd known about the disease before the wedding. He said it wouldn't have changed a thing, and that he loves our life together. But I still deal with feelings of guilt for not being able to financially contribute to our partnership.
It's been a year since the operation. Now that I'm pain-free and have full finger movement back, I can do just about everything normally and by myself (although my dog grooming days are over forever). I feel so lucky to have found a partner who's proven that he truly is willing to stand by my side no matter what life throws at us.
A diagnosis like that would've easily broken up many couples. But getting diagnosed with this rare incurable disease brought us even closer together, and just reaffirmed that we made the right decision to be together.
I never, ever thought something like this would happen to me, but it did. I now believe that life isn't about what happens to us; it's about how we choose to deal with it, and about who stands by our side and helps us heal and grow.