In Sickness and in Health
Falling in love is never quite as graceful as they make it out to be in the movies. In reality, things tend to get awkward, uncomfortable, and sometimes downright confusing. When you add chronic illness to the mix, dating just seems to get additionally complicated.
I met my boyfriend a few months after my myasthenia gravis diagnosis — just before things with my health went downhill quite quickly. At that stage, neither of us had any idea what I would end up needing from him. We just knew that our relationship would definitely be different than any of our peers’ and that we shared a mutual feeling of fondness for one another. Sometimes I am glad we had no idea of what was lying ahead. Other times I think that then I might have appreciated more of our first five months together.
Five months after becoming a couple, my health had deteriorated to such an extent that I needed to start with cyclophosphamide infusions every four weeks. That eventually meant that I would lose my hair, vomit profusely for three days after each infusion, sleep my days away in his bed and lose all interest in his rapidly developing cooking skills. My cyclophosphamide infusions forced the two of us to become an above-average functioning unit, after a couple of months as opposed to the years that couples usually have to prepare. He was faced with his first fight-or-flight decision in our relationship and he chose to fight with me. He has fought with me through 17 cyclophosphamide infusions thus far.
He never knew when we started dating that soon I would need him to hold my wig while he drives and I vomit from the car window. He just accepted that was our fate and supported me through it. Prior to our relationship, I did not mention that there would be days when I do not get out of bed for any reason other than to take my medication. He still brought my tablets to my bed without me needing to ask. I never mentioned that he would permanently have to check his watch because I do not want to miss my next Mestinon (pyridostigmine) dose. He did just that without complaining — however, he did end up buying me my own watch.
Dating will always be awkward and confusing, but there are few things that can inhibit a love that two people share if it is truly meant to be. Real love is based on trust, respect, and honesty, and should conquer all obstacles — even chronic illness. Your disease is part of your life; it is not a defining factor of who you are. You deserve love, even if you think you are unworthy. The wrong circumstances can often lead to the most beautiful destinations. I am grateful that my disease highlighted how exceptional my taste in him was.
I am grateful that I do not currently need cyclophosphamide infusions, which means that I get to appreciate his ever-advancing cooking skills again. At the end of the day, it is all about who you share the little things with. Life is beautiful. Never stop fighting.
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