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How My Husband and I Made Our Trips to the ER More Romantic

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My husband and I got married on a windy, September afternoon in 2014. Three days later, we made our first ER run as a married couple. And so began the “date nights” that have been a consistent fixture in our calendar during our first 8 months of marriage.

I live with a chronic illness called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) which is a condition where my mast cells are hypersensitive and continually release chemical mediators throughout my body.

The symptoms are most severe in my GI tract where my mast cells are sensitive to any solid food that requires digestion. It can cause severe pain and motility issues.

We’ve tried to count how many times we have been to the ER in the 8 months we have been married. I think we ended up somewhere around 15-17, and that doesn’t count hospital admissions. We jokingly began referring to our ER trips as “date nights” after a particularly difficult week that resulted in two trips on back to back days.

Since we can’t go out to eat, because I can’t tolerate food, and we don’t go do other activities often, because a lot of times I feel sick or just don’t have the energy, for a while it seemed whenever we did go out in the evening it was to the ER.

Sometimes it’s hard to see our friends posting on Facebook about going out on date nights and doing fun things. Both my husband and I love to be active, and it can be difficult not to be able to do “normal” newlywed activities. Instead, we sit at home watching the next season of House because I’m not feeling well again.

Referring to our ER trips as “date nights” has become a joke for me and my husband to share. It helps take away the disappointment and frustration that comes with the ER visits and helps remove some of the negative emotions surrounding each episode. It helps us disconnect from the fear of dealing with a chronic condition. Plus, it makes it even more fun when we do get a real date.

Just a few weeks ago, we were able to go on a double date with friends of ours to a drive-in movie. As we were heading to meet our friends, we realized it was the first “real” date we had been on in a while. We got a laugh about it and quickly quieted our voices so we wouldn’t scare the good vibes away and spoil the evening.

Living with a chronic illness has its challenges. It can be hard and frustrating and difficult and disappointing. At the same time, though, we have learned to find something to smile about in everything and truly treasure the good moments I do get. While our date nights may not look the same as couples other couples’, every one is time spent with my husband, whether we are in the ER or at a drive-in movie.

We have learned to treasure even the hard times and make the most of the good times. Plus, when we do get a “real” date night, it’s that much more worthy of a celebratory Facebook post.

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Originally published: May 18, 2015
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