Thursday, April 21, 2011

When Chronic Illness Gets In The Way (Or The Third Date Rule Revisited)

My last post was about a recent flare. It hit me pretty hard for a few days, and has seemed to level off a bit. That’s not really what is wearing on my mind, though.

It’s been about two months since my boyfriend dumped me. I say it that way because that’s the way it happened.

It feels like so much longer, but I guess that’s because when you go from spending everyday with someone and they are no longer there, it does make time drag on.

I wish I could say that I’ve stopped thinking about it, but it’s the background music that is always playing in my head. And it’s making me crazy.

We met a few weeks after the breakup happened to talk about things, because I felt I deserved closure. But I got nothing. NOTHING!

Lately I feel starved, but it’s not food I’m craving. It’s answers, understanding, and other things that I may ultimately never obtain.


There’s part of my dating experience that I haven’t shared. Around the time that I met my now ex-boyfriend, I had been dating another guy. Things were going fine with him, but ultimately, I felt more of a connection with the man that I just finished spending over a year with.

This other guy was fine, other than one major flaw. Before Facebook tightened its security, by virtue of his friends having mutual friends with me, he was able to view my profile, found out about my blog, and ultimately, found out about my illnesses.

When the third date came around and I disclosed to him about my illnesses, his response was that he had known I was sick before we went on our first date.

As I told this person, his friend had no right to do that. It wasn’t his news to tell.

Now only MY friends can view my information. By virtue of online dating, I do not share my last name, and will NOT be Facebook friends with someone unless we are actually dating.

By virtue of blogging, I am obviously open about my illness experience. But it’s one thing writing to an audience of other chronically ill people, it’s another thing to be writing for potential suitors (Suitors? Really? Mates?). Each post is a snippet of my life. I do think it’s easier in some ways to read the words that I have written than try to explain the intricacies of life with illness out loud. I guess I’m just better at expressing myself in writing.


In thinking back to my last relationship, maybe I was once again seduced by the fact that this guy was okay with the illness stuff. It was very hard for me to tell him, in the beginning, because I didn’t want to have to go through what I did with my ex-ex, but I was also worried that because he was a doctor, he wouldn’t want to spend his non-work time with someone who was sick.

But he told me that we all have our things. And then he was so amazing when I was in the hospital, like spending the night in the ER with me was the most natural thing in the world.

The most recent flare that I had was the first time I had, had in a long time. And it sucked. My arms and legs ached, my throat hurt, and I had a pounding headache. To boot, one arm hurt so bad that I couldn’t even use it to hold the cold compress on my head. The last time I felt like this, my ex-boyfriend was in the picture.

(Plus it was my Methotrexate day and I got my period.)

You know how people worry when someone dies that they won’t be able to remember the person’s face? Well I can still see his face, but I feel like there’s nothing left for me to hold on to. It’s not that the memories are fading. It just feels like insert any guy here, that the things I loved weren’t qualities that only he has.

I remember sitting on the bed with my boyfriend, we were at his parents’ house, about three or four months into dating. And he was surprised because he at first thought I was too young, not religious enough, and he didn’t want to date another redhead. And I had similar feelings. The last person I wanted to date was a kosher-keeping, redheaded, Jewish doctor. And yet, there we were. And I think we took that as the ultimate reason to be together; because you can fall in love with the person you never thought you would give a second glance to. But maybe we had it totally ass backwards.

I don’t think our relationship was a mistake. It was a happy thirteen months. But it sucks when you’re alone and feeling like crap on a Saturday night and all you want to think about is all the reasons the relationship should have worked, and all you can think about are all the reasons why it shouldn’t.

We moved quickly in terms of emotional intimacy, and slowly in terms of physical intimacy. I took this as a good sign, especially when he was parading me around his family and friends. Not only did I lose him, I lost them, too.

He was totally not a planner, which I think worked to the advantage of my illnesses in some ways. We just took things as they came. But given that he is a doctor, there is a level of emotional detachment that comes with his job, and ultimately, that carried over into our relationship.

I can’t say that I can explain the way the break-up occurred, or why I deserved to be treated the way I was treated in the end. He was out of town for four days, came back, said we had to talk, and ended it. And made me move all of my stuff out of his apartment that night. I didn’t think that anything could have been more hurtful than the guy before him point blank saying that he was with someone else, and yet, he managed to hit that out of the park. We spent over a year cultivating a relationship that it took about five minutes to destroy.

I hate dating. I love dating one person, but I hate being a serial dater. I’m just not good at it. Plus, there is the whole chronic illness thing. And now that I’m back on the “market,” the one thing I’m looking least forward to is having to disclose my illnesses all over again.

I wish I could just say that I have these illnesses, but that they don’t really interfere. But that’s not true. I mean, they ebb and flow, but the reality is, my short term memory sucks, sometimes I lose my words mid-sentence and can’t remember what I want to say. Sometimes my hip freezes up in compromising situations. Sometimes I’m in so much pain or feel too crappy to get off the couch. But mostly, lately, I’m just me.

I imagine that some of those close to me who read this will be surprised because they thought I was coping better with things. But the reality is, I’m sick of coping. I’m sick of having something to deal with. I’m sick of having to overanalyze everything I’ve done and everything I do because I feel like a failure.

I’m not the one who gave up on the relationship. I’m not like that. I never would have done that. I don’t give up easily. And maybe that’s part of the problem. But I hate having to count losses. I hate having to measures days, months, and years on what has been lost rather than on what has been gained.


  1. I'm not a big fan of "dating", either. It feels so false to me - it takes me a long time to realize I like someone. And disclosure of illness is always hard; it never happens the way you expect it to.

    As horrible as breakups are and as rough as the aftermath can be, I have to tell you I smiled when you mentioned your hip freezing in "compromising situations." You're definitely not the only one - once I actually yelled "Oh God - Ow - STOP!" I think I scared the life out of him.

    You're right, it would be so much easier to say we have these illnesses but they don't affect our lives, but we just never know. With the right person, it won't make a different. It's hard to imagine sometimes, but I know it's true.

  2. I was never a chronic dater. I am a monog girl for sure. I don't need the stress that comes with all the hussle bussle of dating several.

    I too would want answers. I believe the worst thing a person can to another is leave them without explanation on something. The leaving hurts but you get over it, the doubt of not knowing why is just cruel.

    I had a friend who is now an ex (her doing) who not only thought it okay to push her political views in my emails but I found her to be extremely controlling. She of course doesn't see this but that's her short coming not mine. Then one day decides she doesn't want to be "everyday friends anymore". When asked for an explanation, nothing. Talk about arrogance. Furthermore, she thought it was just dandy to talk about my illness's to another of her friends who supposedly was a nurse. She asked the nurse of those with lupus have difficulty with memory problems. The friend, Nurse, told her "no" . I laughed my ass off. It's only one of the top 5 complaints from all of us. OY VEY!!

    You will move eventually, I promise and you'll be better for it. I wouldn't be to worried about anyone finding out about your illness personally but I do understand how a perfect stranger courting might be weird. Good lord do people not have any self restraint and tact anymore? Ugh. Gentle hugs.

  3. I'm sorry, I know that not all men are like that. Many are looking for someone to love, despite their health condition. Don't allow yourself to write off relationships because of your illness because you deserve love too.

  4. I should clarify. By serial dating, I meant casually dating two men, but when things got serious with one, dropped the other. Or chatting with multiple guys online. I'm definitely monogamous. I couldn't handle the stress either.

  5. I spent most of my 20s feeling like I was damaged goods, and that I was lucky that anyone was willing to date me at all. So I ended up with partners who were often controlling and dismissive, and who made me feel bad when I had flares, or like I was exaggerating the extent of my pain, or just being "selfish" when I needed time to recover.
    None of us have infallible bodies, it's just that it takes an illness or an accident for most of us to learn that. I wish our culture wasn't so obsessed with bodily perfection. It makes it hard to be chronically ill and not feel like that's a liability.

  6. Plain and simple....sometimes coping just blows!

    I have no advice for dating....I've never had a boy

  7. I'm sorry that things are still rough, but take your time with things. Who cares what other people think of you and how well you're coping. Just do you and you'll be fine. One day you'll wake up and it'll hurt a little less, and so on.

    Also! The hip-thing---totally happens to me all the time in those "situations" lol...we might've stumbled upon something that us chronic girls have that no one would think of... we should make a t-shirt! LOL

  8. The hip thing. Haha. I have has the thought of...oh now I know why old women need hip replacements! Hahaha!

  9. Hi Leslie! I came across your blog while searching the internet. I have a few friends at work that were diagnosed with Lupus and rheumatoid and it was terrible how much it interfered in their life. One of them went to a clinic in Georgia called the goldberg clinic and he is doing so mucb better. He was able to get off all of his drugs and get his life back. If you have time you should check out their website

    best wishes to you.