What It's Like Dating With A Chronic Illness

What It's Like Dating With A Chronic Illness

Not exactly easy
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As those who read my first article which was an open letter to the Doctors of the world might have guessed I suffer from a chronic illness. Which illness that is the doctors are currently still figuring out. When my symptoms suddenly got worse in July of 2015, I ended up in one of the local hospitals twice in the span of a month. Each time for approximately 48 hours and me leaving the hospital more frustrated with the lack of answers than I was when I first went in.

I’ve done a lot in my life thus far and it’s been amazing. At 18, I studied abroad in London for a semester, so January of 2010 I flew and lived in London for 4 months. After coming back I bounced around trying to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. In that time period I ended up applying and completing the Disney College Program, which turned into me moving to Florida in 2012 and staying there for 3 years I laughed and cried and made some of the best friends a girl could ever ask for. I changed jobs and locations inside of the Walt Disney World Resort and have so many fantastic memories. I cherish each and every one and all the friends I have made along the way. In 2013 I donated Peripheral Blood Stem Cells through Be the Match and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

(Myself in London, January 2010)

(Myself in Magic Kingdom, most likely 2014)

(Post PBSC in May of 2013)

(July 4th 2015 Albany NY)

Of course at the end of June in 2015 I moved back so I could go back to school and finish my bachelor’s degree, which I had put on hold while working in Florida. Less than 2 weeks after I came back was my first hospital stay and subsequently getting more doctors than I realized was really possible for someone who was 23 and had been mostly healthy until this moment. Yeah I had issues but hey who doesn’t? It was supposed to be normal and never in a million years did I think that I would be still trying to figure things out and never did I think that 2 years down the road I would be sitting in my apartment having to take pain meds because the pain was getting worse and that was the band aid to this problem. Didn’t actually heal it but it helped.

Of course I’ve realized some things at this point, dating with a chronic illness is a joke. Or at least in my case it is, I try to put myself out there but then you get the problems. I push myself too hard to go out and be with people and I push myself into a flare which means I spend the next week exhausted while trying to work full time and balance friends, family, doctors, medications and trips to the store. Plus keeping up with housework and making sure that there’s actually food in my apartment, I’ll give you a hint roughly half the time there’s only a few staples. I work in a restaurant so I don’t really ever cook. And when you spend most of your time at work food tends to go bad when you do have it. Also most people aren’t exactly accepting of you cancelling plans at the last minute because you really don’t feel up to it or you are having a bad day with your illness, trying to find a significant other who will accept these things and understand is like finding a needle in a haystack.

So that’s where we get to the dating issues, personally I’m a hopeless romantic who despises the hook-up culture we’ve found ourselves in. I want the love that people write about, not the one night stand we try to pretend never happened. So we’ve got online dating and personally for me these things never seem to go very well. I mean how hard is it to have an actual conversation and not just talk about sex? Apparently not that easy, believe me I’ve tried. So now I’m trying to meet people by going out but let’s return to what happens when I push myself shall we? It doesn’t end well for me.

But even with all of these issues I still have hope. After all hope is one of the things that we never truly lose. In this life there is never really anything certain except that at one point it ends. What you do with your life is really what counts, how you are as a person is what matters. Even with my health being ridiculous I still try to remain positive and find the silver lining in every situation, because that’s really all that we can do. Life is what you make of it after all.

So next time you happen to be out at the bar and see that cute person who maybe is also wearing a brace of some sort or maybe has a mobility aid (cane, wheelchair etc.) and you want to talk to them. Do it. Who knows maybe they are one of the coolest people you will ever meet. Just try not to make a big deal of the mobility aids okay?

Cover Image Credit: Pexels.com

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To The 20-Year-Old Girl Dating A 45-Year-Old Man, From The Child Of An Age Gap Relationship

Please know what your getting into.
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Recently, I've seen a few stories on the Odyssey discussing age gap in relationships.

They all seem to be written by girls who are dating men who are 20 years or more their senior. The articles talk about how love is love, the heart wants what it wants and that no one will change their mind about their relationship. I respect everyone's right to their opinion and their happiness. If you really think it works for you, then go for it. However, you should know what you are getting into completely before fully committing to this.

I am a child of parents with a large age gap. My dad is 23 years older than my mom. They got married when he was 50 and she was 26. My dad was 65 by the time I was born. I love my parents but here's why I think we should be wary of large age gap relationships

Disclaimer: my parents both know and understand my feelings on this. They know I wrote this article and that they are mentioned. I wouldn't trade or change them or their relationship. My parents have provided me with a wonderful life full of love, family, and happiness. Because of them, I've been given financial stability, a safe environment, an education and a huge, loving family. Things have worked out for our family, especially given the circumstances. However, that doesn't mean I would recommend a large age gap relationship. It may seem like nothing now, but the years between you and your significant other will catch up to you.

My dad is now 86 and struggling. He has trouble taking care of himself.

He needs help with almost everything. He can't be left alone for more than an hour or two. He has nurses come three times a week to help with his care. He needs someone present when my mom leaves the house to work part-time. His memory is fading, his health is declining and it seems that he slips out of lucidity more often these days.

My mom is now a full-time caregiver more than a wife.

She does an amazing job making sure my dad is content and taken care of. However, it is draining. She is still young enough to want to go out and do things. She wants to go on vacations and hang out friends. But most of the time, she is at home watching my dad. She is following her wedding vows to a tee but that doesn't mean it is easy. She struggles with guilt sometimes over the entire situation.

Then there is me. Because of my parents' age gap, I have been put in a difficult place.

I've had to watch my dad slip away physically and mentally for a good portion of my life. I try to help out but it is not always an easy thing to do. I will go watch TV with him so my mom can get out for an hour. Unfortunately, I usually end up calling her home because something arises that I can't handle alone. I have gone over to their house many times to help pick my dad up because he fell and refuses to let someone call the EMTs. I have changed college and life plans in order to stay close to home. I have known since I was little that my dad most likely won't be there for my wedding. He won't meet my children. I have struggled with my relationship with him due to the immense age gap. It is all I have ever known but it is something that still greatly affects me. I love my dad with everything I have, but that doesn't make the situation easier.

So my warning to you is this; be prepared for what is down the road.

Know that your age difference of 18 and 40 doesn't seem like anything now but it will at 60 and 82. It will be difficult for everyone involved. As a wife, you will slowly watch the man you loved slip away. Your kids will have to deal with struggles that no one else will understand. It is a lonely and painful situation. Before you make any drastic decisions, please understand what is coming.

If you decide that is what's right for you, then, by all means, go for it! but just understand the consequences of your choices.

Cover Image Credit: PX Here

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Appreciate The Time You Get To Spend Together And 6 Other Secrets For Making Your LDR Work

Spoiler Alert: It's not nearly as hard as you think.
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On Earth Day this year, I will have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for a full 365 days. As we are both finishing up our freshman year of college, this means that we have spent a majority of our relationship over 1200 miles apart and will continue to do so for a while. Every time I tell somebody about him, I get the same responses:

"Isn't that hard?"

Of course, it's hard, but it's totally worth it.

"I could never do that."

I didn't think I could either.

'I can't believe you trust him that much."

He hasn't given me any reason not to.

"How do you make it work?"

This is probably the most common question I'm asked in regard to my relationship. I have had plenty of peers ask me for advice on how to decide whether the long distance is worth it and others who question whether the relationship is going as well as I say it is. So here I am, ready to expose my secrets to the world.

You have to love their mind.

The most important lesson I have learned throughout this process is that you have to really love talking with the person, not just being with them physically. Make sure you love them and not just the idea of them. It's one thing to enjoy somebody's company, but it's another thing to enjoy simply having conversations with them when physical presence isn't an option. If you are unable to tell the difference between the two, I promise the distance will clear that right up.

You should make each other better people.

If you and your significant other aren't encouraging each other to be the best version of yourselves that you can be, then why would you waste so much time and effort in a long distance relationship? If I didn't have my boyfriend constantly pushing me to read my Bible and keeping my attitude in check when I get overdramatic, the distance would be much harder. It's easier when you're able to think of them as your cheerleader from 1000 miles away rather than a relationship you're obligated to keep up from 1000 miles away.

You can't have any secrets.

Since we started long distance, I feel as though I have gotten closer to him than I have with any other person. I have started to tell him things that I haven't even thought to tell another human before because all we really can do is find things to talk about that we haven't yet discussed. It's also a good way to make sure you're communicating enough. I often find myself simply telling him thoughts that pop into my head just so he can feel like he's experiencing life with me and not just getting a general outline of what goes on.

That means you have to speak up when there's an issue.

The main source of any "fight" we get into is pent-up anger that we ignore until we just can't take it anymore. At that point, it's not fair to the other person to blow up on them out of nowhere. Considering the other person's feelings is way harder when there are some that you were never aware of. It's hard to remember that they aren't as involved in your life as traditional couples nor can they read minds. It's better to bring up something that bothers you as soon as you notice it. It might make the other party feel a bit irritated, but it's much better than having arguments over things that could've been discussed previously at a smaller magnitude.

You still have to make time for each other.

My favorite days are the ones where neither of us is terribly busy because that usually results in one of our "FaceTime dates" that I love so much. Just like a real date, we often set aside times during weekends that we know we aren't doing anything where we can take a few hours out of our day to spend the closest thing to quality time that we have together. Just because you don't live in the same area doesn't mean your significant other should be any less of a priority than they were before.

You should be constantly reminding them how special they are and how you wouldn't trade this for the world.

When you're so far apart, it's very easy to get lost in negative thoughts and insecurity. I have had my fair share of nights when, because I'm not constantly going on dates with him that reiterate his feelings for me, I question whether or not he likes me anymore. Of course, when I tell him that he is quick to assure me of how ridiculous I'm being. Though it requires a little bit of extra effort on your part, your partner will really appreciate constant reminders that you love them and are happy in your relationship. (And if you find that to be too much of a chore, maybe long distance isn't for you).

Appreciate the times that you do get to spend physically together.

The times in which we are both home that we get to spend with each other makes all of this worth it. I'll admit that I have moments where the months at a time that we are forced to spend apart really get to me. However, finally reaching the day that you've been counting down to is one of the happiest feelings I can think of. It's important that you don't take that time with them for granted. Rather than dwelling on the fact that you hardly see each other, be thankful for those times that you do get to spend together because there are very few joys that compare to that which comes with that reunion.

Cover Image Credit: Samanthah Santana

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