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December 30, 1994 - Image 61

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-12-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

START LOSE WEIGE FOR 95!

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whom she met as a teen-ager
through B'nai B'rith Youth Or-
ganization, knew about her ill-
ness. He knew about her hospital
visits. He knew about her surg-
eries.
It didn't dampen his love. They
married in 1956 and Lawrence
has been her partner in coping
ever since.
"It's automatic," Mrs. Kron
says. "If you love someone, chron-
ic illness just becomes another
challenge. But if you're having
difficulties in your marriage, it
can create additional problems."
Mrs. and Dr. Kron, both psy-
chologists, have started the Cen-
ter for Coping with Chronic
Illnesses, based in Royal Oak,
West Bloomfield, and Hutzel
Hospital in Detroit. The center is
a place where people can get their
psychological needs met through
individual, marriage or group
counseling.
Mrs. Kron also was one of the
originators of coping conferences
through the Crohn's and Colitis
Foundations of America, Michi-
gan Chapter. During these con-
ferences, she and her husband
(they work together) underscore
the importance of communica-
tion. Sick and healthy spouses
must share their concerns and
frustrations with each other. If
one person feels overburdened,
it's important to say so.
Like Dr. Brickman, Mrs. Kron
stresses time management. Pri-
oritize the family's responsibili-
ties, she says. Have plan A, but
if one spouse gets sick and can-
not go through with it, resort to
plan B.
For instance, if sickness pre-
cludes a night on the town, so-
cialize with friends inside the
home, Mrs. Kron suggests. And
be flexible.
"When you have a chronic ill-
ness, there's constant readjust-

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ing. During healthy times, which
are so unpredictable, you learn
to enjoy the now," she says.
Both Dr. Brickman and Mrs.
Kron say couples needn't rule out
sex if one spouse is seriously ill.
Rarely do doctors restrict sexual
relations for the long term, al-
though a hiatus might be neces-
sary if the sick person has
sustained certain types of trau-
ma, like a heart attack or an
aneurism.
Sex doesn't necessarily have to
involve intercourse if the couple
isn't feeling up to it. It can con-
sist of stroking and cuddling —
physical and emotional intimacy
that reaffirms the marital union.
Sexual dysfunction among the
ill is often caused more by per-
ceptions than medical realities,
therapists say. Sick spouses
might not feel appealing. They
might believe their illness has
made them unattractive to their
mates. In turn, mates might wor-
ry that sex will hurt their un-
healthy partners. It's important,
say Dr. Brickman and Mrs. Kron,
for husbands and wives to offer
encouragement.
In her book, Ask Audrey, Mrs.
Kron conveys her own story. She
offers many coping tips and, at
one point, addresses the fear of a
young woman who is planning on
marriage but is worried that IBD
will affect her sex life:
It's important to focus on the
potential, not the limitation. Re-
alize that sex is expressed in many
ways. Think of the whole person
rather than just the genitals. Flex-
ibility, communication, education,
understanding and humor are all
important. Above all, you should
try to do what you can to improve
any difficulties in your sexual re-
lationship, and never abandon
the idea that you can do some-
thing to enrich this important as-
pect of your life.
When an illness is termi-
nal, as opposed to chronic,
spouses face somewhat dif-
ferent issues.
Life and death issues.
Earle Kanners and his
youth-group buddies used to
house-hop from meeting to
meeting in an effort to so-
cialize and get to know B'nai
B'rith girls. One evening in
1947, the young Mr. Kan-
ners spied Helen Green-
baum. They married in 1948
and she gave birth to twins.
Mr. and Mrs. Kanners en-
joyed bowling together, play-
ing golf.
"We liked to go to the
show and out to dinner. Va-
cations, of course. We just
enjoyed being with each oth-
er," he says.
Hardship spares few mar-
riages. It struck the Kanners
in 1985 when doctors diag-

nosed Helen with colon cancer.
Surgery alleviated the problem
for more than three years, but it
returned worse than before. The
couple traveled to New York's
Memorial Sloan Kettering Hos-
pital.
"The doctor opened her up and
closed her up and said there was
nothing he could do without re-
moving a leg and part of her side,"
Mr. Kanners says.
His wife would not hear of it.
"There was no talking her out
of certain. things," Mr. Kanners
reflects. "In retrospect, I wish I
had. I'd rather have part of her
than none of her."
But, as a caregiver, Mr. Kan-
ners had certain rules for him-
self. When he suggested hospice
and she flatly refused, he didn't
press the issue.
"I didn't do anything with her,
or to her, or for her without her
consent," he says. "I didn't believe
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in it. We had a working marriage.
It was a good marriage."
Gradually, as her condition de-
teriorated, Mrs. Kanners recon-
sidered the hospice option. She
finally approved. Hospice less-
ened Mrs. Kanners' pain, which
in turn alleviated some of the
agony her husband had been ex-
periencing.
"They even sent someone in to
do her hair. She loved that," he
says.
Helen Kanners died April 5,
1994. Hospice has kept in touch
with Mr. Kanners, who has since
become a staunch advocate of its
care.
"Get help," he advises other
caregivers. "Don't try to do it
yourself Emotionally and phys-
ically, you can't."
Mr. Kanners works as the vice
president of finance at Jon Green-
berg and Associates, which does
retail store design and planning.
To this day, friends tell him he
was a good caregiver. It's a com-
pliment he doesn't completely un-
derstand.
"It was my job," he tells them.
"Just because there was adversi-
ty, I couldn't walk away. She was
my wife for 46 years. We had a
partnership. Period." ❑

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