I don’t know a lot of people whose partners legitimately worry about them dying. Sure, in the abstract you think or talk about it. In your vows you say ‘in sickness and in health’ assuming the health part will be dominant and hopefully the sick part will never happen…. Or if it does it will be years from now. Your bond will be strong, your relationship will have gone through a million other challenges and you will be able to stick with each other, be the caregiver they need, and support their journey through the scary world of healthcare.
But what about when you are ALREADY ill. The sickness is your day to day. Healthy is a word used loosely to describe feeling good at that moment… but knowing the sick is always there, lying dormant waiting to rear its ugly head and knock you off your feet again.
For me, I have been ‘sick’ for 18 years. I know my body. I know what I can take. I’ve had 18 years to adapt to this. 13 years on dialysis- 9 of those years on Peritoneal Dialysis and 3 on Hemodialysis. I know what my body can take. I know how to keep myself ‘healthy’. But when I start dating someone. This is all brand new to them. They are healthy af and have zero idea what life is like with a chronic illness.
I do give them a lot of credit. I’ve asked myself before what I’d do in that situation. I hope if I loved someone I would be willing to take it all on.
The scary part is it’s not a question of IF I will end up in the hospital at some point, but a matter of WHEN.
I spent most of the time I’ve had this illness single. Being diagnosed in while still in high school I have never been a ‘normal’ adult. For the first few years I was in and out of college. I was too focused on staying well enough to go to school and finish a semester to give dating a thought. I also was gaining weight due to my decline in kidney function and felt pretty gross most of the time. I was in and out of the hospital. I was busy fighting for my life and dating was the absolute last thing in my mind.
Two kidney transplants, countless hospitalizations and a college degree (there went 7 years) later, my health stabilized and I was finally able to try out life as an adult.
Dating, working, being on my own.
Ok, well not on my own. I did still have to live with the parents… so that was super awesome. It also makes for an awkward conversation when you have to admit that as an adult you are living at home with your parents.
To this day it has a terrible stigma attached to it.
You somehow failed.
You are a loser.
You couldn’t get your life together.
You sponge off of your parents.
What I do know is that these are not all accurate portails of why someone would still live with their family at 30 years old. In my case it was to have to the support system I needed, financial, emotionally, and physically.
Try telling that to a new date.
Oh yeah, I don’t work, because I’m sick.
I live with my parents, because I’m sick.
I haven’t gotten to travel like so many of my peers have, because I’m sick.
It’s so easy to go straight to the negatives of having this wretched disease.
It’s easy to see and focus on what I COULDN’T do.
I really should focus on and lead with all I managed to still do, despite my body fighting me along the way…
I’m sick and I finished college.
I’m sick and I had a career I loved in politics.
I’m sick and I am a loving Auntie.
I’m sick and I have been able to be there for many special moments with my family and friends.
I’m sick and I am still Bridget, still fighting, and still working every day to not only survive, but THRIVE.
To be continued…