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Dating probably doesn't enter the conversation very often during visits with your lupus patients. Here, someone who has had more than her share of struggles with lupus describes trying to find someone to share that difficult life.
I avoided dating for many years after I started dialysis for lupus nephritis, because I didn't feel I was ready to devote myself to someone else.
When I was on dialysis, I wasn't really confident enough to "put myself out there" and start dating. I'm not sure why. I know lots of people who do it, but I just couldn't.
Then, a few months after my transplant and almost 9 years after I started on dialysis, I felt ready. I felt comfortable.
But I wasn't.
What? When? How?
In the first place, I didn't know what to do in order to try to attract the right person. Then I didn't know how to keep him.
My main concern is telling a man about my struggles with lupus. How do you tell someone that? Will he get spooked? How much information do you share? And when, and what?
Of course I have to tell the other person about the lupus and about my kidney transplant. But when and how should I tell him I have a fistula, I have a huge scar on my stomach? I had my hip replaced too. And on and on. Eventually everything else will have to come out.
Clearly these different issues do not define me, but it's also not something I'd want to hide, you know?
When I find a half decent guy who is willing to give me the time of day, after I have told him just a fraction of the things that are wrong with me, if he doesn't run right off in the other direction, I feel I had better hold on for dear life. I feel so damaged that I perhaps don't have the right to comment about how I'm being treated, or about what guys do to make me mad or upset. My relationship may not be normal, but that is just what I have to do if I don't want the guy to leave me.
Sometimes I feel like I just want to be 100% okay with myself before delving into any relationships. I think that is a fair thing to want.
He went quiet for a minute ...
About 13 days ago, I went out for my first date with a gentleman I met online.
The evening was still young after we went out for dinner, so we decided to go back to his house and watch a movie. After that, we got to talking, and he told me about a couple of struggles that he had had in the past. His honesty inspired me to tell him about the most important thing that has happened to me recently.
I explained to him that I had a kidney transplant and that my brother was my donor. He asked me why my kidneys failed, and I briefly explained to him that I had lupus and what it is.
He went quiet for a minute, and then said, "I don't know what to say."
Damn, I thought. I guess that's it for this guy.
Then, he did speak. "Actually, I do have something to say. I think your brother is a pretty stand up guy for donating a kidney to you, and I think it's great that you have such a strong and close family that supports you. And this doesn't change anything."
Those were the words I was looking for: This doesn't change anything.
The final question
With all of the things out there that can cause stress in a relationship, what kind of person would willingly commit themselves to someone who has such an unpredictable disease?
In the end, the more I ask myself that question, the more I realize how many great people there are out there who are not bothered by such things.