As someone with arthritis, I find it a tough ask to deal with my ‘self’, especially as this self is in constant denial about medical conditions. This self needs to be the tough one in the family, to be able to know where to go, how to do stuff, on call and ready to go anywhere at any time. They need to fix stuff, be there to support the supporter, and pick up the pieces as required. I’m fine with all that. The need to keep going and get everything done is vital for sanity and there’s no-one else to draw on, except at work for work stuff.

The support role for a driven person with an introverted personality is equally tough.

It’s about being the anchor, being grounded enough to know where to draw the line, even for such a driven person as myself. Even when she knows I will go quietly out the back door and spend a few hours digging, doing ground prep in the garden, chopping firewood, or just helping the landlord in the orchard.

The anchor has to be yet firmer at times, especially when it’s raining or windy and this person has come back to our hut after being down the coast or down on or in the river. Then she’ll have to issue painkillers which are the price to pay for carrying kilos of camera gear for kilometres…because she loves me.

My wife goes with me to the doctor to explain what actually goes on in our hut because although this person can shut down in his head, the pain still exists, so she’s there to say where, when and how often this occurs.

The pharmacist’s hat comes out when she issues meds, as and when required. Even when this person says he doesn’t need them, she knows he does and he’s all the better for taking them.

My encouragement unit is there in the background, and even without saying anything, I know she is always on tap if required. Without being told, she knows when the bad days happen.

Work is rarely the issue. It’s those spring, summer, autumn days that are the worst, when the barometer goes up or down within hours, and the hygrometer elevates. This person instantly feels it, so then she dons her comfort cap.

For those days when inflammation takes a greater hold and time critical duties have to be done inside and outside the hut regardless of weather or level of suffering, she issues tea, tabs, telling off and tears as required. Beautifully timed hugs and attention are tendered and tended.

The motivational supporter comes out on days when a road-trip occurs, especially if the weather’s been rubbish for a while. Chores and duties remain on the shelf as the picnic stuff goes into the car and off we go, to places new or old, with camera gear and boots at the ready.

One thing with having her around, I’ve had to learn to communicate better (still a long way to go). Hat’s off to her who knows best, who has been with me through better and worse times, and does her best no matter what, even though she suffers as well. Between us, we muddle on and through; it’s just us two, and that’s fine.