Thursday, March 25, 2010

Breaking My Own Rules: The Doctor Is In The House

(This isn't my man. But this is a gift he got me when he was out of town. He said I need to have a doctor in the house when he's not around. Isn't he sweet?)

There has been some good excitement in my life as of late, but it has taken me awhile to sit down and compose my thoughts. Because in some ways, I feel like I’ve become pretty good at dealing with the bad stuff, but not as good as soaking up the bliss.

So I guess I should start at the beginning. Our first date…

When I first started Methotrexate (MTX), I was taking it on Tuesdays. This particular Tuesday was bad. I slept from 12:30 until 3:30 in the afternoon. When I first started MTX, I would feel progressively stronger and better as the week went on. But for awhile, I would get more and more exhausted as the week progressed, and then I’d be staring Tuesday in the face again, wishing that it would go away.

I had a first date set up, which I really wanted to cancel, because I just wasn’t feeling myself. But how can you cancel a first date? If you want to attempt to make things work, you can’t. So I didn’t, and tried to make myself look better than half dead. But what do you wear when you’ve been sleeping all day and get out of your pajamas at 7 o’clock for a date?

I was worried. I’ve never dated a doctor before. Would he be able to read on my face or by the way I carry myself that I’m sick? Would it be obvious to him? And because he’s a doctor, he spends like 100 hours a week with sick people. Why would he want to come home to me? Man, insecurities are a bitch. Clearly, I have issues…

So the first date went well. And there was a second date. And the third date came and went with no disclosure of illness on my part. And I found myself hating myself because I didn’t ever want to have that conversation. Things were going well, and I worried that illness was going to mess it up. This is why I’ve always disclosed so early in the past, so that I didn’t have to worry about getting attached to someone, only to have them run the other way. Never before had breaking the rules felt so bad…

And there’s a part of me that feels this should be easy. There are worse things in the world to have to confess to someone. But then there’s another part of me that feels like there is never a good time to break this news to someone.

I wish it could be done in a “by the way” kind of way. But that doesn’t feel quite right, either. I don’t want it to seem huge, but I don’t want to minimize it, either.

Disclosing illness isn’t a requisite part of patient education, probably because doctors are notoriously bad at delivering news. They make sure you know about procedures you’re going to have, and medications you are going to have to take (when and how to take it), but they don’t prepare you for having to tell the people already in your life about illness. And they certainly don’t prepare you for having to tell the new people in your life.

But the truth is, more than worrying about what to say and how to say it, I worry about what happens after. Does the person take one look at me and run the other way? Do they hug me and tell me that everything is going to be okay? Are they relieved that “that’s all” it was, after being prepared for the worst – “we have to talk,” “there’s something I need to tell you,” etc.

When I finally got around to disclosing, I felt like a deer in headlights. And I felt myself going into shutdown mode. “There’s something I need to tell you about, but I really don’t want to…” I can only imagine what he thought might be coming next, because he honestly sounded relieved when he heard what I had to say.

I’ve found somebody, who, when I finally disclosed, basically said “so what.” He feels bad that I have to go through what I do, but it doesn’t change anything between us. With the right person, this isn’t earth shattering news. The other person says something like “we all have our issues,” and move on. That’s exactly what I was hoping to hear, but didn’t think anyone would ever come close to telling me that.

I’m forced to be reminded that not everyone is like my ex. And that the right person won’t see me as damaged, not whole, and in need of fixing. But it’s that notion that makes me so insecure about sharing this news. I realize now, that my last relationship was not a good one. But I didn’t know any different. I allowed myself to be treated poorly because I agreed with the notion that I was damaged, not whole, in need of fixing, and not worthy of love. It’s hard for me to sit here and admit to this. But now that I know that relationships can actually be good, it’s harder to allow such treatment to happen again.

I’ve realized that in my past relationships, I wasn’t myself. I pretended to be something I wasn’t. It wasn’t intentional. I was trying hard to make things work, thinking that I didn’t deserve more than what was in front of me. I started wondering if it would ever be possible to be the real me, illness and all. But I’ve met a person, who not only accepts that side of me, but embraces it, asks questions, provides answers, and makes me feel like myself is the only thing to be.

And it’s also in that moment, of unqualified acceptance, that for the very first time, I’m glad that things didn’t work out with my ex, because I see all I would have missed if I would have settled for someone who didn’t treat me the way I deserved.

The truth is, I’m so glad that I didn’t cancel that first date. I feel so lucky to have met such an amazingly wonderful guy.

The doctor is in the house, and for the first time ever, that’s a good thing!


  1. That doctor is adorable. It is good thing he did not send Dr. House - could you imagine? Not all people are the same. If someone cares about you and loves you, they will accept you for who you are. "Damaged," huh, my exhusband called me "defective" and the, we move on with better people. Good for you for not canceling that first date!

  2. Yay!!! Ha ha...weird question...but what kind of doctor is he?!

  3. What happy news! I wish you and your sweet doctor-fella the very best. :o)

  4. Awww, this was the sweetest post ever :)

  5. I'm so happy for you! Here's to breaking the rules now and then!

  6. Living It, Loving It - I'm certainly glad he's not the Doctor House type. I can't stand him!

    Britta - He's a pediatric surgeon.

    And to the rest - Thanks so much for the well wishes. It feels so good to finally share some good news with you!!!

  7. so wonderful! sounds like a great guy.

  8. It's me again :) I was just reading this post and smiling because it sounds EXACTLY like my love life (both present and past.) I am now dating a medical student who says something like "Stop, I have my stuff too" whenever I'm feeling insecure. He loves me unconditionally and illness is just a small part of who I am in his eyes. Crazy feeling, huh? But we do deserve it. And your ex sounds very similar too.
    beautiful post again! Thank you for sharing