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The Importance of Allowing Others to Care for You When You're Ill

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From a young age, many of us dream about finding the perfect person; what will our first date be like, where will we get married, how many kids will we have? When you’re chronically ill, things seem to change a little bit.

When I finally found myself ready to be in a relationship, I was scared. Sure, people are generally a bit nervous about dating, but for me, there was added pressure on my future boyfriend. How would he cope with my seemingly long list of conditions? How would he react to the scar on my stomach where my feeding tube once was? What about the monthly, sometimes weekly hospital appointments?

As corny and cliché as it sounds, I was lucky enough to find someone who accepted it all and wanted to know more. However, it becomes extremely difficult to prepare and trust the future when you have a temperamental body. Less than three months into our relationship, my body threw a new symptom at me. This time though, it was severe and potentially life-threatening. After going out for the night, we crashed at his place. As I was drifting off to sleep my body went into complete spasm. I couldn’t breathe, my heart rate was through the roof and I couldn’t speak to grab his attention. Luckily, he soon realized something wasn’t right and tried to help, even offering to call an ambulance. Looking back on it, I should’ve let him call one after 10 minutes, but being the stubborn person I am and trying to shrug it off, I left it over an hour before I finally realized I needed to let him and others help.

It’s far from easy to put your faith in someone else and trust others when you have a chronic illness. I think that quite often we build a barrier because many of us have been let down, not necessarily by dates, but by doctors, friends or family, so we realize we have to be strong for ourselves. But sometimes it feels like the only way to do that is to not let anyone else in.

Ever since that night I’ve had the same symptoms, often lasting hours into the night when both of us should be asleep. He quite often has to physically haul my body up to get the spasms to stop and allow me to breathe. He’s come to all my hospital appointments, sometimes driving for hours to take me to the specialist I need. He’s dealt with my mood swings when I’m going through a gastroparesis flare and he cares more than I sometimes feel I deserve. It’s hard knowing you’re putting pressure on someone else. I personally don’t like the idea of my relationship turning into him being my personal carer, but I’ve realized the importance of dropping the barrier a little and letting someone else in. This might seem like a soppy love letter; I promise it’s not. I just hope others can allow themselves to let down their barriers a little too so they can also receive the care and love we all need.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 27, 2017
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