Who Are We?

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by Annie Dixon |

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We, the columnists at BioNews, have good editors. They catch typos and grammar mistakes that slip through the computer spell checks and syntax filters. Then they read with a critical eye for clarity of meaning and consistency of style, and prescribe remedies. Finally, they point out patterns or habits we could address to ensure better columns in the future.

Editors are the doctors and coaches of the writing world. They make sure we authors are capable and confident to produce our finest work.

Speaking for both of us

We, my husband and I, live with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome. He is the only one who has the condition, but we both live with it. However, last week one of my editors noted that my drafts do not always make that clear.

Like a patient relapsing into old habits, I realized my word doctor was right. I was putting in writing my quirky speech pattern that had appeared along with my husband’s illness.

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Let Me Sleep on It

In the hospital, while my husband, Ronald, drifted in and out of sleep at all hours, and rotating shifts of nurses floated in and out of the room, I was a constant presence. He and I talked about his symptoms, his tolerance for treatment, and his hopes for the future. I took note of his sleep patterns, his liquid intake and output, and how lucid he was or was not at various times.

When the doctors made their rounds each morning, the patient quickly ran out of energy and the ability to focus on their questions. They looked to me to fill in the details. When I did, I noticed myself often using the term “we” when I responded to their inquiries and when I posed our questions.

The royal we

“We,” as the British royalty speak of themselves, originally referred to the sovereigns and God, by whose grace they believed they ruled. These days, as royalty shares power with Parliament, the “royal we” is still in use, but interpreted to mean the king or queen as the embodiment of the state.

I was not feeling at all regal or powerful while keeping vigil in the hospital. But I felt odd talking for or about my intelligent and accomplished husband while he was right there, awake and listening. He was not comatose or a child; he was simply exhausted, disoriented, and overwhelmed. Somehow, speaking in the “we” came more naturally than presuming to state what “he” felt or needed.

I purposely never talked with the medical staff out of earshot of the patient. It was important to have him acknowledge and verify the information or requests I was relaying, if only with a nod. And I always made sure he got last call for anything I forgot or got wrong, asking him in front of the doctors before they left, “We good?”

We are family

We, husband and wife, are a couple of people with distinct personalities and very different health conditions. But we have one primary goal: keeping him healthy enough to enjoy our shared life. To that end, every routine is maintained and every risk is assessed according to its impact on his illness.

Years ago, when we were both young and healthy, we discussed the difficulties of balancing ambitions and sacrifices within the ordinary framework of careers and marriage. Rather than feeling resentment, we each felt fortunate to have a companion to consider as we navigated along the road of life.

Since then, we have always traveled two by two. I expect we have often talked that way, too, without even realizing it. But since I realized we would both be living with this extraordinary disease for the rest of our lives, I think my language may have become more intertwined. Now that I am writing a column about us coping with his illness, it is helpful to have an editor question where individual and shared perspectives overlap.

Just us

We are neither one person nor royalty. We are just two ordinary people trying to live one good life. Sometimes I say “we” when I am speaking or writing about the state of our union, our marriage, our shared life. I am not trying to usurp his voice or experience. I am just trying to give voice to how we are trying, two by two, side by side, one day at a time, to live happily ever after.


Note: aHUS News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of aHUS News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to aHUS.


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