I can have a conversation with you about your stressful day while infusing antibiotics straight into my heart through a port-o-cath. I pay attention to your every word when nausea kicks in. I ask you questions about your day. I take a genuine interest in your life. And I want the same in return. That’s part of the building blocks of any successful relationship. Trust me, dating a woman with a terminal illness will make your life better, not worse.
I am 32 years old and have been hospitalized 67 times. These hospitalizations range in length from one day to six months. The diagnosis is cystic fibrosis and diabetes. The prognosis? Nobody really knows. Some doctors have said I only have a few years left, others say it’s hard to know.
My fiance has no underlying health conditions and proposed in 2018.
Dating was extremely difficult for me . I grappled with questions on when to tell him about my condition, navigating extended hospitalizations, and yes, even losing my bowels without warning one night.
It’s not uncommon for those with chronic illnesses to be shunned from the dating community. Many have given up entirely and left to feel like ‘used goods’.Tweet
Even as I researched the article, polling my friends with terminal illnesses, many were reluctant to share their names. Although everyone has a different way of disclosing their health, many felt they would be rejected if a partner googled them.
And I remembered what it was like for me the moment my fiance decided to google me.
Our love story lasts. We’ve been together 5 years. And if you ask him, this is what he’ll tell you about dating a woman with a terminal illness.
1. She Embraces Change
When plans change, we change with them. Ever girl I know who is facing a health struggle, has an overnight bag ready for the hospital. Delicately we balance a full life on the outside, with a meaningful life on the inside of the hospital wards.
I’ve always prided myself on dating men who are spontaneous. There’s nothing like leaving on a trip at the spur of a moment on a Friday afternoon.
Sometimes, that trip is to the hospital.
Many times, that trip is to a place we’ve been talking about visiting.
We embrace spontaneity. We’ve learned how to change our plans without warning. We know how to have good time, regardless of where we end up.
2. She’ll enhance your life
There’s a high probability we won’t want small talk about how the Vikings keep losing. Yet, when you explain the plays to us, we will cheer louder than the die-hard fans because we know what it’s like to root for something as part of a larger piece of life.
“Babe, you don’t even like sports,” I can hear my fiance comment.
“I like winning though,” I retort back.
He teaches me about quarterbacks, I teach him about infusing an IV drip. That’s teamwork. Team work is what builds relationships that last.
When the wedding day comes, we will know what it means to say “I do” when the pastor asks about sickness and health. We can get through it all, because we have.
3. Trivial Things Don’t Matter to Someone With a Terminal Illness
I will be the first to admit that I have my hairstylist on speed dial. She knows that when I call, she needs to get me in for my extensions because I’m about to travel or I’m getting back from an extended hospital stay.
And yet, I’m not going to talk to my fiance about my hair at length. Or my makeup. Or my patent leather shoes. Or my nails because the polish actually causes the machines to malfunction when reading our oxygenation levels. There is nothing trivial that can detract us from spending intimate moments together, experiencing the journey of life, and having deep conversations about it.
4. She’s Low Maintenance
Chronic illness has forced us to grow up enduring a lot of trauma. We’ve seen our friends buried before us from the same conditions we battle, we have spoken at funerals, and held the hands of the parents as they say “goodbye.”
Nothing rattles us. We don’t care if our hair is perfect or if you’re a few minutes late. We’re strong when times are rough and able to hold your hand too when things get hard.
We know how to be strong during tough times. And we can be strong for you.
5. A Woman With a Terminal Illness Will Break Your Comfort Zone
In the hospital, we are woken up at 5 am for blood draws and encounter dozens of personalities every single day as people arrive with needles, vials, tests, and treatments.
During one type of treatment, a respiratory therapist beats our lungs with a machine and forces us to cough while we simultaneously inhale medicine to keep our airways open.
And we sit there, smiling and having small talk.
We are extroverted AF and know how to turn on the charm at any given moment. We push you to see a world beyond what you’ve already experienced, teaching you tricks of extroversion to match your introversion. And if you’re extroverted? All of that pent up energy inside of hospitals for months out of every year means we are ready for adventure when we get out, matching your style easily and effortlessly.
Gentlemen, dating a woman with a terminal illness or who is chronically ill is not as scary as you may think. We bring the best out of you and force you to come to terms with how all of our lives are ending. In other words, that realization means you will have the best relationship you ever had. You will learn to love differently, appreciating the small joys as well as cheering on (loudly) the big wins. Try it.
Now it’s your turn, have you dated someone and found out they have a terminal illness or chronic condition? Maybe it was an invisible illness? Or maybe that person is YOU! What lessons did you learn in the process? Share below:
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