My Better Half

Welcome back. Today I want to share my other half with you. There is so much to say about Chad that it’s hard to sum him up in one blog entry.

He is my high school sweetheart. We started dating at 16 years old but we have known each other and gone to school together from Kindergarten through college. Our parents still own our childhood homes a few streets away from each other.

He had a crush on me since intermediate school but of course I didn’t find that out until high school. I remember when he finally got the courage to ask me out I was so worried it would change our friendship in the event that we broke up. At the time he was my absolute best guy friend. He promised it would not but now says it totally would have changed! Haha. Thankfully we never broke up.

We had the privilege of growing up together as a couple from teens to adults. We learned so much living life this way. We spent 8 and a half years getting to really know each other. We made a deal after high school that we both would finish college and if we were still together afterwards we would get married. I graduated in December of 2008 and he in December of 2009. We got married in in February 2010. We waited long enough right?!

Ok, so as far back as I can remember Chad has always wanted to be a doctor. After we got married, Chad got his first post college job and started focusing on his MCAT studies. Before potential career dreams, he always made it clear that above anything he wanted to have a family. That being said, we decided it was time to start our family. When our son Cadel was about 4 months old, we found ourselves in the middle of a house search. We really wanted to stay in the city but after a month of searching we could not find anything available to rent. We didn’t want to hold up any progress of selling the home we were renting so we decided to move home with our parents. Our parents each had available rooms but not enough space for all of our stuff. We really didn’t want anyone to adjust for us so we decided Chad would move to his moms with some stuff and the baby and I would go to my mom and dad’s house with some stuff. Everyone thought we were crazy. We knew we had a strong relationship and our parents lived minutes from each other so we weren’t worried. It was temporary right?! Just until we found a new place to rent…

Well four months later, still no rental. Chad would go to work, come to my mom’s to spend time with the baby and make sure he was there when he went to sleep. We would hang out for a little while but not too late so he could go home and do it all over again the next day. The time and situation didn’t cause problems but we definitely missed our family together. We took this as a sign that maybe our time in “the city” was over and we needed to consider other options. We decided to look into buying a home back in the suburbs. We found the current home we live in and we were beyond excited to finally see an end to the current situation. The home was built in the 70’s and looked like it could be on the set of That 70’s Show. That was exciting for us though as we couldn’t wait to make it our own. We got the keys and went straight to work on what we thought were cosmetic upgrades. Our excitement was very short lived. The home was a disaster. We weren’t even sure how parts of it were standing and that is not an exaggeration.

Chad being the man he is got right to work. He would go to work and then come to my mom’s house to see me and the baby for the evening. After that he would go to the new house and work into the late night and sometimes early morning hours before finally going home to sleep so he could to do it all again the next day. During all of this time he would still study as often as he could and did take an MCAT but wanted to test again so studied more. He worked endlessly day in and day out to bring his family back together. At the nine month mark of living apart he was able to get the second floor mostly done and in a livable and safe condition. That is not how we imagined we would spend the first year of our son’s life but we made it through and were so thankful to lay down next to each other again at night.

The work continued but did have to slow down as now we had a sleeping child at the house. He would go to work, come home, work his butt off on all the noisy things until it was time for the baby to go to sleep and then would work on things that didn’t make as much of noise at night. We budgeted for a cosmetic overhaul not that, plus a structural overhaul. Because of this, the majority of the work has been done solely by him but thankfully we both come from handy families so they have lent us a helping hand when needed. It took a while for me to convince him it was ok to stop and watch TV sometimes or sit on the couch and do nothing. He felt guilty if he wasn’t constantly working. It’s been this way for years now but we can finally see the light at the end of our tunnel!

Back to his career path ventures, I promise I am coming back full circle. A couple of year’s back we had a scare and thought his cancer was resurfacing. (He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the summer we graduated high school) Through all of the many doctor visits and a couple ER visits this time around, he decided he no longer wanted to be a doctor. I guess he realized how much time he would be away from his family and time with his family is what he valued most. Of course I supported his decision. We all have to work to make a living so why spend the time on something you are not going to enjoy doing. I asked him what other things has he wanted to do with his life. He thought it was probably a little too late to be a fighter pilot so he needed time to think! Haha!

Over time I have found that he is a true craftsman and he is happiest when he is working with his hands. He takes pride in is work and any physical task I ever ask of him. It’s beautiful to watch. The level of craftsmanship and detail he has taken in rebuilding our home is impressive and makes me so proud. I tell him about my ideas and he brings them to life!

After our second child Lex was born, we noticed Chad had been having a lot of skin issues that were similar to the issues he had in the previous years. Aside from being a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor he also has CTCL, Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma. It affects and reacts via the skin. It is chronic so has to be maintained. His skin is SUPER sensitive, beyond the sensitive soap kind of stuff. I can’t remember the last time I wore perfume or used a scented lotion. If I ever smell “generic” this is why! (totally kidding, but I don’t want to cause any extra issues) I often ask him what it feels like and he describes it as being able to constantly feel your skin. That is so bizarre to me. Think about it, how often are you aware of your skin? Perhaps after a harsh day in the sun but other than that, unless we cut ourselves, we don’t really pay much attention to recognizing the feeling of having skin. Anyway, his skin flare ups looked very familiar to things we have seen in the past. We tried to eliminate as many potential problems that we could to hopefully figure out what was going on as we have been dealing with flare ups for the past three years or so. We did a lot of allergy testing, food trials, etc., and nothing was getting better. Next step was a biopsy of a lymph node that was a little more swollen than usual.

We anxiously waited to get the news back and we finally got the call on a Friday afternoon right at the end of the working day. Not the news we had hoped for. His CTCL had advanced and moved into his lymph node. He was crushed…We were crushed. We had been here before but life was and is a lot different for us now. We have a family. A baby who was beginning to get over a lot of his own severe tummy issues so we were already out of whack from that. Parents of babies, y’all know what that kind of tired feels like! 😉

The rest of that evening was just grey. We had to hold it together to not alert Cadel, our oldest son, but it was hard to do. He had many tears that day and I had my time in the shower. The next morning my mother in law came to pick up our oldest son and give us some time together to process. I put the baby to sleep and we just laid in bed. I should have held him but he held me. We didn’t say much, just the sound of sniffs and the feeling of his tears on my head and mine on his chest. It wasn’t one of those ugly cries, and I am not afraid to admit I am an ugly crier! It was that uncontrollable straight face cry where tears continuously fall down your face. All I said to him was, “You can’t go yet.” All he said was, “I am going to do my very best.” I mention this situation because it is so important. Anyone who has been through a situation like this knows this is an important emotional step you can’t skip over. You have to let it out. And for us, after this moment we were able to better pull ourselves together and actually have conversations about the situation and the game plan.

I won’t bore you with details on all the doctor appointments but I will tell you it was decided that he would start a photopherisis treatment plan. He has and currently still goes twice a week every other week. It takes about 3 hours for the treatment to run its course and thankfully his only side effect is being tired afterwards. Is it working? We aren’t really sure. No huge improvement we can really see and his skin still fluctuates with the flip of a switch. But it also hasn’t gotten worse so we are grateful. Below is a photo of him from the last treatment I was able to attend with him.

Chad treatment.jpg

I hate that I can’t be there every time. I hate it so incredibly much but our boys need me with them and I know his stress level is lowered knowing I am with them. That being said, being able to go to a treatment with him is a real “treat” for us in this current situation. Almost like a date!

I have had many people say it’s hard to imagine he is dealing with this issue because when you look at him he visually seems fine. I completely understand, but that is because y’all don’t see him naked! 🙂 The affected areas tend to be in the trunk region as well as the inner thighs.

Why so much detail about all this? Well, a few reasons. One, this is our current life situation. We are so thankful it is not any worse but it’s still something we are dealing with regularly and affects all aspects of our life. Two, unless you are family or close friends, most people don’t know about it. He is a modest man and doesn’t like for people to feel sorry for him. Me on the other hand, I like to share his successes as I am very proud but I understand why he feels this way. One of his co-workers recently asked him what they needed to do to get a work schedule like his. LOL. Foot in mouth. She didn’t know but we had a good chuckle about it. 🙂 So you may ask, “Why is she using her big mouth and telling everyone?” That’s number three. I want people to be able to relate and maybe feel like they are not alone if they are also dealing with a deep struggle of any sort. We all have struggles that bring us down from time to time and this just happens to be ours. That and I really want to reach out on this subject. If you only ever share one of my blog posts I ask that it be this one! I really want to get in touch with other people who have CTCL or are close with someone who may have it and also have skin that fluctuates sporadically. We have had a hard time finding someone whose skin responds the same way to the disease as his does. My hope is that in talking to someone who is also experiencing this, it might give us new ideas to try or adjust certain aspects that might make a difference. I might hear back from one person and I might hear back from none. But you have to stick your neck out sometimes and give it a try. Here is my email, whatsupinthetreehouse@gmail.com

And finally reason number four, Chad has been dealt a bad hand of cards when it comes to health but continues to prevail. All of this aside, he currently manages to go to work, stop by and work on the reno house on his way home, come home and work on things at our personal home to continue a push forward, and be a wonderful Daddy to his boys. They light up when he walks through the door, we all light up. Not to mention he often does most of the laundry and loves me even though I hate to cook! He is a hardworking, family loving, God fearing man. I could not have asked for a better friend, husband or father for my children!

Now that you know a little about the two of us, stay tuned for my next post. I will be switching gears and talking about some work happening in the reno house. Thanks for staying and til next time…

2 thoughts on “My Better Half

  1. Wow, thank you for sharing. Sometimes we all need a wake up call to what really matters in life and how short it can be. My favorite line, “in the big scheme of life, what really does matter? ” Your family is a true inspiration and made me smile at the thought of yall’s strength! I will pray for him to heal and ask Jesus to pour his blessings all over him! I can’t wait to read your next post!

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    1. Thank you Trish! I appreciate your support and prayers! We all have trials in life and this just happens to be our current one. It helps though if we can put our pride aside and share the struggle sometimes. Its through these experiences that we can support each other and make our journeys a little more manageable during the rough patches. That and a good laugh goes a long way! Thanks again! 🙂

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