We need a maid.

Last updated: September 2012

I’ve written before about what it’s like to have a partner who also suffers from chronic pain, but ever since I wrote that personal essay, things have taken a dramatic turn.

My partner has insurance for the first time in at least a decade (though I suspect the insurance-free time was actually significantly longer than ten years). Lucky for him, too, as he’s been to doctors about twice a month, on average, since seeking help for his severe, chronic back pain. I won’t go into detail about his problems, but I will say this: it is harder than I ever imagined to deal with someone who is ill. This is mainly because I find myself worrying over him. The only plus side to this is that I worry a little less about my migraine disease.

The outward sign of our hectic health can be found as soon as you open our front door: OUR HOUSE IS A MESS.

We each work full-time at “regular” jobs that actually pay us money. (He works 40 hours a week at one gig; I work a handful of jobs so that I can cobble together a full-time paycheck—a little editing here, some nannying there, and occasional writing assignments tucked away over in the corner.) Both of us have non-paying pursuits that are our true passions, though, and those passions (not hobbies!) take up most of our “extra” time. You know that I have been working part- or full-time on my bookstore over the last couple of years—this means I’m honing business plans, poring over financial worksheets, attending seminars, volunteering for the We Are Athens (Buy Local) campaign, meeting with area leaders, and more every day of the week. Jim is a musician who plays in several well-respected bands—for him, this means after-work practices, recording sessions, and gigs as near as down the street and as far as New York.

I daresay we are two of the busiest people I know. And we’re both chronically ill. We prioritize what’s important to us: community, books, friends, family, and each other. We let other things fall by the wayside—and by “other things” I mean “cleaning the house.” I know it’s so much more comforting to be in a clean, tidy house where all the laundry’s done and the kitchen is spotless. I know this not from living in my own house in another time but from visiting others who are cleaner than I. But, when given the choice between cuddling up with Jim to watch a movie or scrubbing the toilet, I’ll cuddle with Jim. Meeting with someone about my business trumps unclogging the bathtub drain.

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