Relapsing MS and the Dating Game By Katy, Wife, Writer, and Yoga Instructor • October 5, 2018
I was diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis at the age of 19—a fun twist in the prime time of my dating years. I was in a relationship at the time, dating a guy that I had had a crush on since the eighth grade. He had long hair, was all about having fun, and we’d never really had to have “the talk” about anything too serious. We lived in two separate towns during college—he was in Charleston and I was in Athens, Georgia—and reconnected when we were both home in Tennessee for Christmas break.
We started dating more steadily when the summer arrived and stayed together somewhat seriously for several months after that, visiting each other during weekends every now and then. But when I experienced my first flickers of double vision, he was out of town, learning of my diagnosis via my phone calls.
He was very supportive and sweet, sending flowers almost immediately, visiting and paying no mind to the prism glasses I had to wear for six months as I waited for my vision to return.
In the end, that relationship went the way that most summer-romances-turned-long-distance-relationships usually do, fading away without much fanfare and the ability to remain friends. But it did give me the confidence to know that relapsing MS wasn’t enough to cause the truly good guys to run away.
I dated a lot during my early 20s, going out with every type in the book—intellectuals, a hippie-type here and there, the handsome Albanian musician I met when I was living in Italy. And my relapsing MS was never something that I felt I had to hide. Instead, I thought of it as a way to determine what kind of guy was courting me and whether he was worth the time.
Joey absolutely was.
We worked together at a barbecue restaurant when I was 24. He had just moved back to town after spending years living away in New York and L.A., and I had just returned from my time in Florence. He was a server. I was a hostess. And we became friends almost instantly.
“When is your birthday?” I asked him when we first met.
“December 12,” he replied.
“You’re a Sagittarius. We’re going to get married,” I replied, flirting a little.
“Okay,” he replied, equally lighthearted and easygoing.
We became close friends during the next year as he patiently listened to the brief sagas I had with a few different suitors. And I quietly judged the girls that he took out on dates until we finally decided to go on a date ourselves.
We saw a movie and sipped hot chocolate afterward, easily continuing our conversations that had been going on for more than 12 months. He knew all about my life already and had met my family a few times at the restaurant where we worked. He knew that I had relapsing MS just like my mom, and he saw what the disease could do if given enough time without treatment.
Having lived with relapsing MS for more than 30 years, my mom valiantly faced each day as her legs refused to cooperate during the final few years of her life. But all Joey could see was her radiance and determination, her humor and refusal to give up in the face of a challenge. He saw the consequences of the disease and wanted to stay anyway.
Several dates in, the seasons had started to change. Joey and I were walking around town, and that June, the Tennessee heat and humidity were stronger than ever. My left foot began to drop, and the longer we walked, the louder the sound of my foot became as it smacked down on the pavement.
Uncharacteristically embarrassed by something that I couldn’t control, I decided we should probably call it a night. He offered to go get the car for me, and I resisted, unfairly accusing him of not being able to handle the challenge of being in a relationship with someone who had an unpredictable disease.
“Katy, I would carry you across that bridge to the car if I had to,” he said. “Can you please trust me?”
And that night I knew—just as I had predicted at that barbecue restaurant one year earlier—we were going to be true partners for life.
Years later, Joey proposed to me as we took a walk one evening. He presented me with a gorgeous ring that coordinated beautifully with the cross I wear around my neck every day. And one year later, on New Year’s Eve, we were married in the church I have called home since I was a little girl, the one he has come to call home as well.
Relapsing MS is always present in our marriage, but it is simply something that we live with and navigate together. Letting it be a third party from the very beginning set the stage for a future of honesty and unwavering commitment. So don’t be afraid to be honest about your MS when getting to know someone new. Take a leap of faith and please trust them. You don’t have to do this all on your own.
So, how did you navigate the world of dating with relapsing MS?
- LIVING WITH RELAPSING MS
Traveling with Relapsing MS
By Katy, Wife, Writer, and Yoga Instructor, July 19, 2018
Unfortunately, we can’t leave relapsing MS at home when we go on vacation but there are things we can do to prepare
The Conflict of Self-Care: Always Listen to Your Body
By Katy, Wife, Writer, and Yoga Instructor, April 18, 2017
During the 15 years since I established my yoga practice, I have learned how to pace myself, challenge myself, push my boundaries
Attend a live event or watch one online to learn more about LEMTRADA.
More From this Blogger
A Moment to Remember: Choosing LEMTRADA
January 9, 2017
When I was diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis at 19 years old, I was terrified, to say the ...
My Infusion Encounters
December 14, 2016
Over the years I had grown accustomed to the injection drill. Premedicate by taking an anti-inflamma ...
The Power of Positivity: Living with Relapsing MS
December 12, 2016
When I was diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2001, my first instinct was to panic. My m ...