"I'm Sick, but He Thinks It's All in My Head"

Her chronic illness is taking a toll on their relationship. Can this marriage be saved?
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Her Turn

"Ryan and I haven't even celebrated our first anniversary, but our marriage is already in trouble," said Laurel, a 29-year-old who's been married for just 10 months. "Looking back, I see that our problems started during the year that Ryan and I were engaged. I lived in St. Louis then, and at first we had a great time going out with friends and enjoying city life. It was all new to Ryan, who comes from the small town where we live now. Then, about halfway through the year, I started gaining weight and feeling constantly tired. At first I figured it was because I was constantly running around and grabbing fast food. I didn't realize how heavy I had gotten until I went in for the second fitting for my wedding gown. The seamstress couldn't zip it up!

"Later, when I weighed myself, I had hit 140 pounds -- 20 pounds over my usual weight! I made up my mind to get back to 120 before the wedding. Ryan got me a membership at his gym and went on a diet with me. And it worked -- I took off so much weight that my gown was actually loose on our wedding day. But within three months, the weight had come right back. Eventually, I quit going to the gym, which really ticked Ryan off, but I just didn't have the energy. The first thing I'd do when I got home from work was lie down. Ryan would end up cooking dinner, which we'd eat in front of the TV. Then I'd go to bed. Needless to say, this didn't exactly do wonders for our sex life.

"On weekends, after dragging myself to work all week, all I wanted to do was sleep. Ryan kept asking me to go with him on his fishing trips, but I was too exhausted. Then my periods began coming every two weeks and were really, really heavy. And I kept gaining more and more weight -- some 60 pounds in all. That's when I finally went to a doctor.

"My blood tests showed that I have Hashimoto's disease, a condition where my immune system attacks my thyroid gland and causes hormone fluctuations that affect my periods and my metabolism. The doctor said it's a relatively rare condition that runs in families and usually doesn't show up until adulthood. When I checked with my mom, she said one of my great-aunts had had it, too. I'm taking medicine, which helps with the symptoms, but the disease can't be cured -- only managed.

"When I got home and explained all this to Ryan, I started sobbing. But he gave me no sympathy at all! He didn't even hug me. All he said was that I was making matters worse by lying around and stuffing my face."

Continued on page 2:  Her Turn, continued


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