I started telling men about my illness right away after someone I was dating broke it off because I didn’t tell him sooner. I had waited a few months and told him from a hospital bed. I feel if he cannot handle it, I would rather know from the start. This relationship has been different from the very beginning. Even though we had only been talking eight days, he had already captured my heart. For the I was afraid to tell someone because if he said he could not handle it, I would have been crushed.
That is such a tremendous burden. It must have been completely nerve-wracking. How did he take it when you finally told him and how was his reaction different from your previous relationships?
He listened intently, asked questions, and then said it was okay. I thought it was amazing but what I didn’t expect was that he researched the illness online. A few hours later he called me with more questions. One in particular almost ended things. He was concerned about the life expectancy being that I am in my 40′s. I did my best to explain things and held my breath hoping he would stay. With tears flowing down my face I realized that I was losing him. So I told him that I would understand if it was more than he wanted to deal with and that I would always be his friend. He paused, took a deep breath, and then asked me if I loved him. Without hesitation I said yes! He sighed and said “Stop crying, I’m not going anywhere.” The difference this time versus the others was that he took the time to read about the disease. His questions showed a real interest. That made it even more special.
THUD! I heart your man. You are one lucky lady Kena! So how has your new Sweetheart made an impact in your sickle cell journey?
We currently live in different states so the support is primarily emotional. He is very health conscious and has offered me plenty of suggestions on how to improve my quality of life and lifespan. I am implementing some of them such as eating healthier foods and exercising now. He is very supportive and shows that he cares daily. Always asking how I feel, if I took my medication, what/if I ate, and my general activity. I have a terrible sweet tooth and used to have regular junk food binges.
When I was visiting him for two weeks, I developed a bad pain in my stomach. He woke and could tell immediately something was wrong despite my efforts to hide it from him. “What’s wrong,” he asked? I told him I was hurting. He reached his hand toward me asked me to come here. I got back in the bed and laid beside him. I told him I was having severe stomach pain while trying to hold back the tears. He took me in his arms, held me close, and asked what he could do. I asked him to lay on my stomach because the pressure relieved the pain some. He did as he held me tight, wiped my tears, and told me everything would be okay. He didn’t leave my side until the medicine finally began to work and I drifted off to sleep. He should have been sleeping himself because he works nights and had not rested long enough but he was more concerned about me. He waited on me when I woke and did not want me to do anything until I felt I was able to without making it worse. I felt so loved and well taken care of by him. He is genuinely a caring person.
I think every woman reading that must have a tear in her eye. He is amazing!!! So did you ask him to get tested for his HbS type? Are you thinking about having kids?
I did not ask him to get tested because we do not plan to have anymore children. I have a son and he has three kids from his previous marriage. I did have my son’s father tested before we had a child. However, my sweetheart and I have discussed this issue and due to my age (43) and the Sickle Cell, we feel it is not the right choice. Our plan is to get my tubes tied. Although we agree if we were younger we would have tried to have at least one child. But combined, we have four wonderful children together and there’s always grandchildren.
Is there any advice you would like to share with anyone reading this?
Be honest! Having Sickle Cell is nothing to be ashamed of. It is easier to tell the person upfront then wait and risk heartache. If you decide to move forward in the relationship educate your partner and let them see you vulnerable. Talk about what you want in the future. Be realistic in your goals. Only you truly know your body and capabilities. If you decide to have children, please ask your partner to get tested so you can make an informed decision together. If you’ve been hurt before, don’t be afraid to open your heart again. Listen to your instincts and enjoy yourself. The man I love came into my life for the first time 32 years ago. We reconnected through Facebook and are now madly in love despite the illness or distance. Love can be waiting anywhere at anytime but usually happens when you least expect it.
Thank you Kena for sharing your story and experiences with us all. I am sure that many can relate, and many have learned from it. Plus, there are a few ladies secretly crushing on your sweetheart! Congratulations for finding love with sickle cell and not allowing SC to stop you from living and loving. Give my regards to your Sweetheart.
SC Remedy: Milk Thistle