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Finding Love as a Couple With Disabilities

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Joe and I met online in March 2016. We had our first date in April 2016. On our first date he brought me flowers and held my hand.

We’ve been in a relationship since 2016. 2019 has been the best for us.

Sarah and Joe in a parking lot. Sarah sits in a wheelchair while Joe is on one knee beside her, kissing her cheek. He wears a leg brace.

Helping Joe with understanding things he can’t understand and helping him with things he can’t do easily have become natural to me, such as hand sanitizing his good hand before we eat at a restaurant. Even when understanding his messages can be tricky I don’t let him give up. I ask him to reword it until I understand.

Joe has been walking almost daily, working out with dumbbells and eating healthier to improve his energy and strength.

Our story is different from others.

I was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease when I was 2 years old. Textbook case said 2 years to live after diagnosis. I’ve beat all odds and lived through a childhood illness that takes the lives of 90 percent of kids by age 9. No one can explain it.

In 2006 Joe was 18. It was after homecoming and he had some alcohol. The “Jackass” movie had came out. He got a call from friends to do a stunt. He loves film, so he agreed. He jumped from a car going 35 mph; he was supposed to hit grass but they think his shoe got caught and he hit the concrete.

He had a blood clot the size of an egg on his brain, but they couldn’t operate for three days because of his blood alcohol. Once he was moved to rehab they found out his right side is partly paralyzed. He had to relearn everything — eating, talking, walking etc. Due to the traumatic brain injury (TBI) his short term memory is basically gone. He needs help understanding what people say, and he gets words mixed up when talking and on the keyboard.

I am in a wheelchair, speech impaired and movement impaired. He uses a cane and wears a leg brace.

Even though we’re in the same city, dates are hit and miss because we both need help, but we’re both stubborn.

We’re like every couple. We love, we argue, we laugh and we make the best of life. Only we help each other more, or we have fun trying! But mostly he makes me smile more than anybody. He’s romantic, funny, sweet, kind and caring.

We both have a story, but it’s not our ending.

Originally published: March 11, 2019
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