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Posted by on Dec 15, 2016 in General, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes | 14 comments

Chronic Blessings – Family

Chronic Blessings – Family

I have been married for 39 years.  My wife and I have had ups and downs, and we have made it together, which does not imply we are perfect.  Marriage and family is hard work.  It is messy, complicated, and often it results in difficult situations where there is no road map for the future. But it is also worth every minute of the investment we make.

Meeting Sheryl

I had been a person with diabetes for a few months when I met Sheryl, and it was two years later when we started dating.  When I asked her to marry me, I immediately had misgivings, not about being married, but about being married with diabetes.  Today I look back on the life we have and what we have built, and I know I was foolish.  Sheryl is the rock of my life.  I cannot imagine living without her or my two sons.  Over the years my family has helped me face job, health and financial issues.  Not once have any of them ever asked me to be perfect or even better than I was.  They only asked that I be me.  It is the greatest reward a human can have to be loved.  Not for what we give, but for who we are.

I describe my family, but I will wager that almost everyone who has a chronic condition would use similar words to describe their family as well.   I believe I can manage Diabetes and now RA by myself.  But I know I manage it better when I work with Sheryl.  Family (however you define it) is just like that.  It gives us strength when we feel weak and hope when we are forlorn.  I know I have been at the lowest depths.  When I lost my job due to RA, I lost my identity and my purpose.   I had to toss in the towel on who I was even as I lost hope for the man I might someday be.

Recognition of little things

It seems odd that we recognize families for the extraordinary things.  In truth, the real recognition belongs to our family for the little things.  Those times when we sit outside and watch the clouds, or take a walk, it is those things that give us the foundation so we can keep going.  In my life today I am blessed with grandchildren I love a great deal.  My work is about helping to make a world where living with RA or Diabetes is easier than today.  I cling to the hope that someday our grandchildren or their children will not face these conditions.

My mother (also a person with diabetes) said once that diabetes is a family issue.  Yes, it is personal in that one person is diagnosed, but it is also a family issue because everyone must adapt to the reality of living with it.

Never is this truer than when the true heroes of the type 1 community (parents of young children) face this condition.  These caring warriors support the youngest members of the community with dedication and persistence that is not often exhibited in other contexts.  Likewise, the dedication I witness by the parents of children diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis is beyond compare.  They care for and about their children’s wellbeing in ways others cannot fathom.

We owe our families a great deal of gratitude for what they do for and with us.  Our families are certainly a blessing to those of us with chronic conditions.




  1. That’s such a beautiful account of what being married is all about Rick. Today is our 21st wedding anniversary. 6 months before we married I was lying in a hospital bed with viral pneumonia. It really was the start of all my underlying health issues being unleashed. Drs were telling my family they weren’t holding out much hope. I was so ill but all I remember is thinking that I had found the man of my dreams & there was no way I wasn’t going to make it to my wedding day. Miracles do happen & on the 15th Dec 1995, I received the best early Christmas present ever. He has stood by me as each unpredictable health chapter has unfolded & in between it all we have enjoyed some amazing adventures together. Our wedding day still feels like yesterday & it was & is a major blessing in my life. I may have chronic diseases but I’m chronically happy & in love…can’t ask for more than really!

    • Samantha, happy anniversary!!! Like you I was so fortunate to find a life partner who holds me up and makes me so much better. 39 years seems to have flown by in a blink of any eye. This is my fifth year of including family in my year in chronic blessings. I imagine it will make it in the list again next year as well.

    • Samantha, I am so inspired by your comment. I have been trying to determine how to respond since you posted it. I can only say that finding a partner in all things, including chronic conditions is such a blessing. I am so glad you have found your partner as well. I know Sheryl means everything to me including whatever health I been able to sustain.

  2. Loved reading this post. It’s so true that we owe our family and loved ones a great deal of gratitude. It’s definitely a family disease. Thanks for sharing, sounds like you have a beautiful marriage.

    • Chelsea, thank you for the kind note. We do tend to rely on our loved ones both near and far for the support to stay well and keep fighting.

    • Chelsea, thank you for the very kind comment. I do have a wonderful family who support me through thick and thin. We share this condition, no one does it successfully alone.

  3. I haven’t even met Sheryl yet but I love her. Our families really are blessings. #blamePete

    • Karen, I am sure she will love you as well when she meets you. Thank you for the very kind remarks.

  4. I love that you love Sheryl so much. 💖

    I’ve found that each person in my family plays a unique role. Like Sheryl, my husband is my rock. My son is my calm. No matter what is happening in life, a hug from him and all is well. My daughter is my motivator. She reminds me of good days when I’m struggling and keeps life positive. My sister is the one that knows when I need someone to complain to or someone to listen to me cry. Family is amazing.

    • Cathy, I believe family (in general and Sheryl in particular) is what keeps me in the game of life.

  5. A great post – and those others you have written about Chronic Blessings. Very thought-provoking. I often wonder what my life would have been like without a chronic condition, but I can’t picture it. I think we develop certain aspects of personality to cope but they become so ingrained you don’t know if they are there because of the diabetes or not. Anyway, wishing you the very best for 2017. Emma

    • I agree, I am a person with diabetes (42 years) and RA (16 years) and I have no idea what I might be or think if I did not have both. No, I have no interest in having either of them. Some days I wish I knew how things would have turned out if I had escaped these issues. But then, wow think of all I would have lost.

      I suppose it is the unanswered question.

  6. Cute as Rick! I can’t wait for the day I can say I have been with my husband for nearly 40 years.

    Sheryl sounds like a strong woman and a blessing.

    • I met Sheryl in High School. We started dating one year after when she called me (it was unheard of for a woman to call a man in 1974). This June 3 we will have been married 40 years. It has flown by and we have grown together.

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