March is when I celebrate the second “dating” anniversary with my boyfriend.
We have been through a lot together. In reality, I believe that we both experienced the worst things that had happened to us prior to meeting each other. But as far as my illnesses are concerned, A has been there with me through Humira, which was traumatizing for both of us. And he supported my decision when I decided not to take the risk of being on Rituxan. He is also currently standing by as I wean off of steroids, which I know will be difficult for both of us.
So there’s a lot that goes into chronic illness and relationships, even when disease activity isn’t particularly high.
Many have cited that relationship problems (1,2,3,4), including marriages ending in divorce, are often an unfortunate result of chronic illness.
I mean, in my view of the situation, chronic illness is always the third party in bed, waiting to get in on the action.
I didn’t really date much pre-illness. And in a weird way, I feel like having RA made me a bit ballsy-er in that arena. But it was also a great litmus test. If someone couldn’t cope with my health issues, they didn’t need to be in my life. I don’t want to say that it put the kibosh on a lot of relationships, but it certainly helped.
I can safely say that other than my parents and immediate family, A is really the only one I feel I can be totally real with when I don’t feel well. I try to sugar coat it for a lot of people, but not him. And that is really something that is a first for me in any relationship that I’ve been in until this point.
A is great at allowing me to take naps when I need them, forcing me to use icepacks when I am visibly in pain, and overall supportive in a way that no one else I have dated has been. And I think that’s the shift. When it’s right, it’s right, and nothing (hopefully even chronic illness) can get in the way of that.
To be sure, we have issues in our relationship, but for right now, chronic illness isn’t really one of them. I know, that seems weird to say.
I know that if we get married – and especially when we get to the baby-making part of the relationship – that this dynamic will probably change.
And it will probably change if I have a significant flare or if I change medications beyond tapering steroids as I am right now.
Published On: March 12, 2014