Valentine's Day... roses, chocolates, dressing elegantly (highheels and all), out for dinner, a 'special' evening together... all those things kind of change when you have a chronic illness. Sensitivities to smells and food intolerances mean the roses and chocolates are out the window. Muscle pain and a body scrunched up and unable to walk for neurological reasons kind of anihilate the elegance and high heels. A romantic meal would have to be booked for 5pm (if I was lucky to be well enough) and sex - well if it is ever possible takes days/weeks to recover from. Many of us with this illness can't even stand to be touched because our bodies are so sensitive.
Somehow I still have someone who is willing to live with me and this uninvited third party. And I thank my lucky stars. Someone who believes, cares, helps. Is not ashamed of pushing me around in a wheelchair and is accepting of the new me and the changes that have come with it. Someone who has had to take on all those responsibilities that I use to hold. Someone willing (when needed) to shower me, help me from the toilet, cut my food into little pieces, cook, clean, dress me, take me to appointments.
How must it feel for these partners to watch the person they fell in love with be replaced gradually by this other body? I know there are moments when we both see this stranger in the mirror and have a sudden moment of terror.
Years ago I envied the romantic presents my younger sisters received from their suitors but I soon realised that a partner who was consistent and reliable in day to day life was far more important and a far greater gift. These people who live alongside us and this illness are truly special. So many take fright or don't have the selflessness/patience to handle such a situation. I know that this support makes a huge difference to what I am going through and my chances of improvement.
I know I have one very special guy - one very special valentine.x