We sat in the car, driving to the hospital. Nothing unusual in that; we often drive to the hospital. But I sat there wondering why he was so okay with taking me there. When did it become so normal for us to be going there because I had an appointment, needed blood taking, was having a medication given or needed to collect something from my IBD team? When did my invisible illness become such a huge unspoken part of our relationship?
When we met I was just months in to my diagnosis. He met me on a night out some weeks after my first loading doses of Humira. After months of being in hospital and punishing myself for being unwell, I met a great guy and we became friends.
After months of being friends, things started between us that clearly meant were more than just friends. I was already with someone else; who didn’t exactly understand how long term my condition was, but Ben did. It was clear I was with the wrong person at the time. Not long after that, we started dating and it’s now been almost four years. I feel lucky. I have someone I have grown to depend on, who helps me with things get too much for me on my own. Someone who I can share my problems with and talk them through. Who has been there when I am sad and alone and needing some comfort.
But it’s not always been like that. It has been difficult at times. Having a chronic illness comes with its own set of challenging for the individual let alone when that then encompasses another person too. And there are on top of and even amplified by normal relationship issues – staying over, meeting family, going out, the sexual side of a relationship too. But he is someone who is always as invested in me as I am in myself. Who wants to see me well again, despite all the struggles I go through. Who is equally disappointed that this stuff just keeps happening but helps me through it, no matter what.
And I don’t tell him enough how much I appreciate what he does.
Those selfless acts of being with me when scary things are happening. Who sees me exhausted because I’ve been up constantly throughout the night. Who witnesses me crash out and look awful and unable to move and not want to go out. Who changes our plans when I’m too ill to go out or just makes sure I’m happy to be at home. It doesn’t seem fair for him to put up with me, but I am glad that he has.
I feel very loved.
Facing my medical problems alone would be so much worse. Facing my current problems alone would have pushed me over the edge a while ago. But he is always there to hold my hand; even if I’ve done it a thousand times before or if it’s brand new; we face my illness together. I couldn’t ask for more.
Benny, I love you with all my heart, even my disease guts too!