Having a sick wife changes you. Is it for the better or worse? I don’t know. All I know is I’m not the same person I was before Chrystal got sick. I don’t care about the small stuff. I don’t care about things that don’t move me and my family forward in life.
About 21 months ago my lifepath dramatically changed overnight. Then 7-8 months ago, I started to transform into the person I am today. Having a sick wife changes you immensely and I’ll get to that in a minute.
Marriage is a Rollercoaster Ride
Chrystal says I’m an oversharer and she’s right, I am. This may be oversharing right off the bat and it’s very real so, yeah, take it as it is.
It seems like the vast majority of people like to paint their lives with rose-colored glasses online. They like to portray their life as perfect. That’s complete bullshit. No one has a perfect life. No one has perfect children. No one has a perfect marriage. Mine and Chrystal’s marriage isn’t perfect by any means and to keep in the spirit of this blog being real… here’s some realness.
Right before Chrystal almost died the first time (about 21 months ago)… Chrystal and I were going through a very rough patch in our marriage. We were at each other’s throats over the smallest and most ridiculous things; “everything mattered.”
Looking back I don’t think it was one thing or another. we were just not chill with each other in the least bit. And though I have an outstanding memory, I can’t think of what one of our fights was about back then.
Our fighting and not getting along, or not being happy together, had gotten to the point to where we were on the verge of splitting. That was an ongoing conversation we were having at that point. Yeah, so super not chill.
On Tour In Costa Rica
I was in the music industry on the management and production side for several years. I was constantly on tour through the spring, summer and fall. In the winters I’ve been a snowboard coach for several years while homeschooling the kids and helping with the business and so on. I manifested a pretty awesome life… and I was pretty miserable due to mine and Chrystal’s marriage being on the verge of crumbling.
So at the end of March 2017, I was on tour in Costa Rica not only Tour Managing, but I was the acoustic opening act too. I play guitar and sing a little. I had been invited by my good friends Thicker Than Thieves and Through The Roots to go on tour with them. I was and still am so grateful for that opportunity.
So we’d been in Costa Rica for a few days doing publicity, going on radio stations for interviews, going on TV, doing photo shoots ,etc. We were getting the rock star treatment for sure. We had a huge spread in La Nacion, I think the photo they published is super cool and so few people in the English speaking world have seen it – check it out here. I don’t even know if I ever even shared this on my personal Facebook page when it all happened. Immense fun was happening.
We had just finished up the last bit of media and all of us were hanging in San Jose CR getting ready to embark on a week-long adventure down the Pacific Coast with a series of awesome shows lined up. Then my phone rang.
The 1st Phone Call
Chrystal called me and said she was in the hospital here in Big Bear Lake with gallbladder pain and pancreatitis. She told me it wasn’t a big deal, they were just keeping her for a few days on a clear liquid diet and it was more of a courtesy that she was letting me know. She sent the kids to her aunt’s house to stay with her and I wasn’t to worry. She told me to get on with the tour and go do my shows. And I was like “cool, no worries.”
The next day we all got on the bus for the 7-hour drive to go perform our 1st show. I think with bands and production staff there were like 20 of us.
The truck with the stage/ lighting/ sound/ music equipment left the night before and was meeting us in Nosara and was to have everything set up and ready for a sound check when we got there.
It was a super long and slow going bus ride through amazingly beautiful countryside. We were a few hours into our journey and we were all having a great time. And my phone rang again.
The 2nd Phone Call
Chrystal called me again. She had been transferred to Riverside Community Hospital and was finally settled in a room and had talked to more doctors. The nearest larger hospital (Arrowhead) wasn’t equipped to deal with her condition. The next closest equipped facility (Loma Linda) didn’t have any beds and neither did the other 4 closer hospitals. So finally she was transported by ambulance all of the way down to Riverside Community Hospital, the nearest equipped hospital with an open bed.
Big Bear Lake has a super tiny hospital that’s basically good for advanced triage at most. The doctors scrambled to find a hospital to transport her to who had the means to take care of her and Riverside Community was the closest hospital they could find.
She told me the doctors needed to get in to do emergency surgery to remove her gallbladder as soon as humanly possible… but the infection in her pancreas and pancreatic duct was so bad they had to get it under control with IV antibiotics before they could do the surgery.
They told her that if she got pancreatitis again from another gallstone, she could die and so the gallbladder removal surgery was critical.
Goodbye Costa Rica
I immediately left the tour before playing my 1st show. I had a crazy 35-hour journey from Nosara to Riverside Community Hospital which is a story in itself. Crazy cab rides, sleeping in an airport, crazy Uber ride and almost getting into a fistfight with another Uber passenger who was a blatant racist towards our driver (shared ride).
When I got off the plane in LAX, I fully expected Chrystal to have had the surgery already, but she hadn’t. The infection was still too bad.
By Her Side
When I walked into the hospital room and saw Chrystal I broke down. All the crap that had ever happened between us dissolved and went away. There she was, lying helpless on the bed… her eyes and cheeks sunken back and her skin had a yellow tinge to it.
Chrystal had dropped over 20 pounds since I saw her last (maybe 6-7 days before). She was on morphine and still in excruciating pain. The light in her eyes was gone. She told me things to tell our little girls in case she didn’t make it out of the hospital.
Chrystal ended up having the emergency surgery 2 days later after the infection was brought under as much control as it could be. The doctors were adamant they couldn’t wait any longer. Chrystal’s surgery took 2 hours longer than it should have. The doctors had to “get as much of the infection out as they could.” That was a very scary time in my life waiting in that waiting room.
I stayed at a hotel down the street from the hospital. During visiting hours I was by Chrystal’s side (they wouldn’t allow me to stay by her side overnight).
After surgery, Chrystal improved and we were so excited and happy when they released Chrystal from the hospital the next day.
Chrystal was on the Road to Recovery and All was Amazing
When Chrystal got out of the hospital, she had a relatively fast recovery. Before we knew it, she was back up and around. She had more energy and vitality than she’d had in years.
Our relationship grew stronger than it had ever been. Our love and that spark we had when we were 1st together was there again and even brighter. And for the next 14 months, we enjoyed the best times of our entire marriage.
I got out of the music industry, this blog was starting to really take off, we were going on trips and getting some really awesome offers from major brands. Life seemed to have fallen into the most amazing place. We were making some huge plans for the summer of 2018 and even bigger plans for fall of 2018 (Chrystal was interviewing to be cast for a Prime Time Major Network TV show when she got really sick)… Potential book deals and speaking tours were peeking on the horizon. Our entire little family couldn’t have been happier.
Almost exactly a year ago our entire family came down with the flu. We all got it really bad. I bounced back 1st, then the girls got better… but Chrystal didn’t. It lingered in her for a couple weeks. She went to the Dr. a couple of times and was basically told to drink fluids and get rest. That’s pretty much all you can do with the flu.
By mid-late January, her flu started going away. Then she got hit again in February, this time it was even worse than before. And then she got over it. She had her energy back at about 80% but not quite 100%.
Now when Chrystal got sick with the flu in February, she lost some weight. She was around 145 pounds and dropped to like 135 pounds while she was sick.
Back to Normal?
When Chrystal’s energy started to come back she got more active (we’re a very active household). We were taking family hikes and walking every day by the lake. The first week in June, she took the girls to volunteer to help restore trailheads in the forest for National Trail Day.
The more active she became, the more tired and weak she became. She was losing weight said she just didn’t feel right almost like she hadn’t completely recovered from the last flu.
Chrystal felt more and more like she was out of shape as the walks and hikes got harder and harder for her to do. And the weight just kept melting off of her at a rate of about 1/4 pound a day. And as her weight went away, so did her strength and energy.
When Chrystal got down to 125 pounds, she was like, “wow, I’m at my college weight.” When she dropped to 120 pounds, she was like, “I haven’t weighed this little since high school.” When she dropped to 115 pounds, we decided to go to the doctor.
Then by mid June 2018, we did go to the doctor and that’s when life started to get very real.
If you’ve been following the blog for a while you know what’s been going on. If you’re new, you can read about all of Chrystal’s health crisis and us documenting it starting here. It’s been a tough journey full of so many emotions. There are several blog posts you can go through to catch up on what’s happened.
Everything we had planned in 2018 was put on the back burner. From having sponsored worldwide travel to Chrystal potentially being on the TV show to book deals and speaking tours to everything.
She has worked so hard on this blog over the past decade, and to see some major fruits of her labor get taken away was beyond emotionally devastating to her and to us. It’s all okay as more opportunities will arise when Chrystal gets better.
I’m a Completely Different Person Than I Once Was
I’m a different person than I was 8-10 months ago. I’ve lost pretty much whatever ego I’ve ever had.
Maybe it’s me just trying to make myself feel better about my previous actions. Before Chrystal got sick, I was pretty petty about a ton of shit. I used to hold grudges and when someone wronged me, I would get angry over insignificant shit. I was ridiculous about a lot of things.
One huge change in me is that I’ve pretty much given “blanket forgiveness” to everyone who has ever wronged me… stolen money, lying, cheating, whatever; I just don’t care about those people. I have simply moved forward with my life and have made a conscious effort to not care. When you’re faced with your wife being so sick and potentially dying, everything else becomes petty and insignificant.
I stopped watching most news. I used to be very opinionated about politics. Now I just don’t care. Politics is soap operas for people who have day jobs. I pretty much only pay attention to the weather, fires, earthquakes, snowboarding, music, space, science, business trends and things that make me laugh. On social media, I look for and seek out things that are positive and make me feel good. If something doesn’t stimulate my mind in a positive way, it’s worthless to me.
I’ve recently developed a very short fuse about cutting people out of my life. I’ve cut out and am cutting out anyone who is negative or has bad vibes and I do it without regard. I just can’t deal with negativity and I won’t allow negative people in my life anymore. Life is just too short to deal with anyone who isn’t bringing positive vibes.
There are so many people out there who just live in misery and live in a world where they feel they have to impress other people to be accepted. Yeah, those people will suck the life out of you if you’re not careful. I won’t give them the opportunity to do it to me or my family.
I think the biggest change in me is that I really try to make a conscious effort to lead with love in everything I do. I really try to look at things with love and positivity. And things I see without love and positivity may grab my attention for a minute, but I don’t allow them to rule my world.
And don’t get it twisted… I mess up all of the time. I just try my best.
It’s Just Hard
Chrystal has been and is bedridden in pain. She spends 22+ hours a day in bed. She’s got a really pretty smile, so it may not look like she’s sick when she posts a selfie… but she is.
Every single time I someone tells me “I’m glad she’s getting better” I truly want to throat punch them and scream “She’s not!!!”
She’s eating 3-4K calories a day and we’re fighting to keep her body weight at around 110 pounds; she needs to be at least 120-125 pounds. The 110 pounds she is right now is a whole lot better than the 99 pounds she weighed when she was discharged from the hospital a couple months ago. So we’re very grateful for that. Her body just isn’t absorbing nutrients properly. Her muscles are eating themselves and she’s in constant pain.
And I totally get it that she gets super restless and so tired of laying in bed. Then, she’ll go and use up all of her energy by getting up and sitting in a chair to do a craft project. She’ll put all of her energy into that for an hour or two… then it’ll put her down in bed for a day or two. My heart breaks for Chrystal. Before she got sick she was such a super active woman.
I am not complaining as I’m so glad I’m able to be here for my wife and kids.
It’s just hard taking care of everything. Taking care of my wife, taking care of the girls, homeschooling the girls, helping run the business, growing the business, spending quality time with and parenting the girls, spending quality time with Chrystal and supporting her, taking care of the house, cooking the meals, cleaning, driving to doctor appointments and so on.
My days run together. I often don’t know what day of the week it is – I missed trash day last week because I thought it was a different day.
I am able to do all of it, everything I do, because I live on a schedule. I’ve had a few people ask me about my schedule. I’ll do a blog post on that sometime in the near future. I wake up at 7 am and go to bed at around midnight or so every day… like it’s 2:10 am right now, so sometimes later.
Keep Moving Forward
2 years ago I had a huge drive to propel my music management, production and performing career. I had planned on recording an album, booking myself a few nationwide tours and to be crushing it by now. And yes it’s that easy for me to book myself on nationwide tours.
When Chrystal almost died from pancreatitis, I reevaluated all of my relationships, including my relationship with myself. I took a good hard look at my life and made changes within myself which I felt would help our family grow together. Instead of being selfish with my career, I gave all of that energy back to my family and wow, life just got so much better on every level.
I so much try to focus on positivity. I so much try to look for the good in every situation. And don’t mistake that for being easy. It can be so hard.
When your wife is lying in a hospital bed and you don’t know if she’s going to make it out of that bed, it’s so fucking hard to find the positives. When your wife is at home bedridden crying because she’s in pain and there’s literally nothing you can do about it, it’s so fucking hard to find the positives.
When your little girls have lost the shine in their eyes… it’s so fucking hard to find the positives. When I’m on the verge of breaking down in tears at any given moment of the day, it’s so fucking hard to find the positives.
But damn it, I do find the positives. I’ve got to do it for my family. I have to lead by example and show my girls no matter how fucking hard life is, you lift your head up and you keep moving forward. You don’t stop, you don’t give up and you don’t surrender to negativity.
I used to hang out with my friends, go to shows, travel and do all sorts of “on-a-whim” type adventures. I loved having my private time where I’d go post up by the lake with my guitar for a couple of hours and play music for myself. I used to be extraordinarily free-spirited. That’s not me anymore. I’m pretty much now the epitome of predictable and I’m totally cool with it.
“In sickness and in health” are such powerful words. When your wife gets sick, you have to stop being selfish and you have to put your wife and children ahead of everything; even if that means putting them ahead of your own happiness.
Now that Chrystal has been bedridden for months, I really don’t care about anything other than the happiness of my family. I now have a huge drive to help create as many amazingly good family memories together as we possibly can.
If we are dealing with the worst case scenario and Chrystal’s time is short, we need to remember these are the good days and to make the best of them as we possibly can.