Love is a powerful thing. The following AskReddit users share how they still make their relationships work, even when one of them is suffering from an illness and/or disability. Proving that once we move past the surface, people are not their conditions.
Sorce list available at the end.
My boyfriend is in a wheelchair. He has a slow ascending paralysis which might stop or it might not.
I love him to pieces, but sometimes I wish he would give himself more credit. He is the best human I know, and it sucks that he doesn’t always see that.
Self-worth in people with a disability is a fragile thing, and it’s taken me years to find ways of working around it. By far the hardest part about being with someone with a disability (at least from my experience) is their mindset.
My wife was diagnosed with SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) when she was 9. We’re in our thirties, happily married for over 10 years. She is without a doubt the strongest person I know, dealing with all of the stuff she goes through. Lupus is terrible, and after all of this time caring for her (a full-time task at this point), I’m still learning.
She is riddled with rheumatoid arthritis and can barely move. Her bones are so brittle that the doctors gathered to see her scans at her bone density test, fascinated that it could be happening to someone so young. She has the bones of a 70-year-old. She has diverticulitis, irreversible dental problems (thanks to years of steroids), vasculitis, and pericarditis (fluid around her lungs and heart, restricting breathing).
Last April, at age 32, she had a heart attack. A heart attack at 32. She survived thanks to an emergency stent. She’s now on blood thinners that make her blood so thin that a slight cut could be an absolute disaster. I try not to think about it, but we are extra cautious in everything we do now.
I’ve done it all. Carried her in and out of the shower. Wipe her after she uses the toilet. Injected her stomach every day for over two years. You think of it, I’ve likely done it.
But she has to live within that broken body every minute of every day. She can’t sleep because of the pain. It frustrates me that I am doing all I can, but it’s not enough and never will be.
I barely keep it together, but her stubbornness and love for our children are what gets me through each day.
I met my fiance at work. She works in tech support and is classically trained in opera from a prestigious music university.
She also has cerebral palsy. I help her in bed at night and help her get her legs on the couch, but outside of that, between crutches and a power chair, she is self-sufficient.
I love her like the morning sun. The best thing I have done with my life so far is asking her to marry me.
My boyfriend of 7 years is blind. I was living in the dorms sophomore year of college, and I loved sitting outside listening to him talk to people and speak so freely about his disability. He went blind when he was 18, so he felt very comfortable telling his story and educating people about blindness. I gave him my phone number one day (cell phones talk), and we began dating.
I guess, at the time, I was just looking for a college boyfriend. I didn’t really stop and think, are you willing to marry and make a life with someone who can’t drive, has very limited work options, etc.? When I graduated college, I definitely felt scared that maybe I was making a mistake in being with someone with a disability. But I love the guy so much.
As other people on this thread have said, everyone has difficulties in relationships. Ours are the limitations due to the disability, but as a couple, we do great. I guess I realized what really mattered to me, and we would just try to work through all of the challenges together.
The hardest part is work. He is so driven and enthusiastic and wants to make a difference in the world. Working in a factory or restaurant just does not fulfill him, so he’s still trying to figure out what he should do for a career. Disability income is not nearly enough to live comfortably, so I pick up most of the expenses in the household. I want to live somewhere isolated and surrounded by woods, but can I really do that when it would be isolating him from the rest of the world since he can’t just jump in a car and go? These things are challenging for both of us. He struggles with feeling worthless, and I struggle with thoughts of “what if..”
Overall, I believe in us, and I believe that things will work out. I believe he will eventually find a career that he loves, and we will have enough money to hire a driver. I know that I have it better than so many people, and so does he. Blindness has taught us a lot about patience, being thankful for what we have, and pushing through the struggles because we really don’t have much of a choice.
My wife has had type I diabetes since she was 9-months-old, severe rheumatoid arthritis since she was 16-years-old, and had a kidney transplant three years after we were married. She’s tough!
When we met, I was in the Navy, and she was in college. We dated for five years before we married, so she kind of knew what she was in for, but being a Navy wife is hard. We moved five times, and she was on her own every time I deployed, and most of the time when I was stationed at sea, my ships were “Out on Monday, Back on Friday,” so she was home alone then too.
She even got a second BA while I was deployed!
We’ve been married twenty-seven years, thirteen of which I was on active duty.
She has some difficulty walking and has developed nodules on all of her fingers, which makes using her hands a challenge. Her arthritis has been (mostly when we were first married) so painful that I’ve had to help dress her and even help her off the toilet. She takes so many meds that if I didn’t have insurance from being retired military, we’d be paying over $3,000 per month. As it is, our co-pay is over $200/mo. She has approximately one to two doctor’s visits per week.
I love her, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. I’m nothing without her.
My dad has a terminal slow-moving kidney disease that is inheritable, and all of the early warning signs are blaring for me. It’s tough watching him go through it. It is even making him lose his hearing.
But watching my mom soldier through it. She has mastered the art of reading with a booming surround sound system on. She can now sleep through everything and still manages to wake up at the slightest inkling that anything is wrong.
My S/O has OCD.
I don’t know how to relay how much more serious his condition is than it’s portrayed. He won’t talk about it openly because it gets trivialized so often. It’s not really that he organizes things or is just super anal. It’s more like he won’t eat for days if he sees something that triggers him. He will wash his hands repeatedly to a point where they crack and bleed.
On the off chance that I would be able to get him to consume something, you’d still have to be cautious of everything around you. Are you driving to the restaurant? Is there anything that looks diseased (like roadkill) on the way there because, if so, then no eating. Are there enough people in the restaurant? Does the waiter look like they’ve washed their hands? Are there any marks on the glass/silverware/plate/food etc? If all of that meets his standards, then hopefully he’ll eat.
When things go wrong, they tend to have an avalanche effect. The first place, someone nearby mentioned rats. The second, there was a black mark on the glass. The third, the food had a red spot. It gets frustrating for us both (not to mention expensive).
I find myself caught in a pattern of annoyance/anger and guilt. I deal with anxiety myself and start to feel the tight pang of stress, eventually in the cycle, which is replaced with guilt because I know how hard he is trying, and how it hurts him to see me stressed.
Ultimately I love him so much. He is trying so hard to deal with it. As I’m typing (he’s sleeping next to me), he rolled over and tucked his head into my side with a smile. Everyone goes through some stuff. How you deal with it is what matters.
My husband isn’t special needs, but he suffers from a rare form of migraines that give him stroke like symptoms. He gets the numbness, paralyzes, loss of motor skills, impaired speech, and all of the other classic stroke symptoms. Every time he has one, his neurologist wants an MRI of his brain to make sure he’s not having an actual stroke (his risk of having a real stroke is higher than the average 32-year-old man). So, when I take him to the hospital, I have to speak on his behalf because he’s so incredibly incoherent that he can’t even give his own name and date of birth. The doctors do not treat us well (he’s 6’4, covered head to toe in tattoos, and is usually wearing a metal band t-shirt) and always try to imply that he’s having some sort of drug overdose. The man is afraid to even take an ibuprofen unless I read the ENTIRE bottle label to him. He doesn’t use drugs, and it angers me that they assume that just based on the way we look. The first time I witnessed one of these migraines, I was so scared. He hadn’t had one in three years, which was before we were together, so I kind of panicked and called 911, and they had trouble carrying him out of the house to the ambulance. Now that I know what his condition is, and what kind of symptoms it causes, it’s not as scary to me anymore, but it’s definitely heartbreaking watching the person you love suffer from these horrible uncontrollable symptoms.
Not my current S/O, but I dated a guy for a while who is deaf/blind. He has been blind since birth, but as he’s getting older, he is also losing his hearing and relies on hearing aids. We met while I was in college studying to be a sign language interpreter at a camp for deaf/blind people.
It was a great relationship, the only thing that was really strange to me was that he never turned lights on. I understand it was totally unnecessary for him, but as a sighted person it was kind of weird. He would just walk around in a dark apartment.
Another thing that was strange, he was trying to learn tactile sign (like what Helen Keller used). I was also trying to learn so although he could hear with hearing aids when we would take a bath together, he would have to take them out, and we didn’t really have a way to communicate. He could talk to me, and I could try and respond using tactile signs, but tactile signing is hard, and it didn’t work very well. Being completely unable to communicate was strange, but also kind of nice that we could just enjoy each others company.
We ended up breaking up amicably because he was moving several states away for work. It was a fun and interesting relationship while it lasted, and it gave me a real appreciation for my sight and hearing which I definitely take for granted.
I’m legally blind, and while I don’t require a whole lot of help, my other half has been great for putting up with the fact that I can’t drive. Other than my disability, we’re a pretty stereotypical boring happy couple, and we like it that way.
My partner has severe depression, OCD, and has been the subject of psychological abuse by her mother and an ex-significant other for most of her life. Simply put, I found someone who operates on the same frequency as I do. Instant chemistry at first sight. We’ve been seeing each other for half a year now. I love her more every day. The psychological issues pale in comparison to this. Sure, sometimes it’s annoying when she has to triple check that the door is locked when we’re trying to leave, but it doesn’t matter. She could check the door 100 times if it meant she could have some peace of mind. I love her for so much more than her flaws, and she loves me for so much more than mine.
After a year of dating, my now-husband went to work a couple of hours at his family-owned deer processing shop on Thanksgiving morning in 2012. He was overly confident in something he’s done a million times – pushing frozen pork through a meat grinder without the tool you’d normally use (it’s inconvenient or doesn’t work well or something). His hand got caught, and he lost all of his fingers and about half of his palm. His surgeons were able to reattach a digit as a little thumb.
Overall, it hasn’t changed things much. The recovery process was really difficult, and he had to learn how to do a lot of things like tying his shoes. I help him with a few things like putting a belt on through his jeans. It definitely brought us together. We got engaged a few months after it happened. Someone posted in a thread yesterday how couples should all go through “bad times” together, and it couldn’t be truer.
My boyfriend recently got into a motorcycle accident and had to have his leg amputated below the knee. It’s not a huge handicap, but he has not received his prosthetic yet and basically gets around on crutches and sometimes in a wheelchair. Our first date was a week and a half before his accident, and after it happened I realized that I did care about him quite a bit. It’s been hard for him to adapt he’s 24, and so fiercely independent that relying on people for help makes him depressed and frustrated. He’s strong and young, so he will bounce back quickly enough, but it has brought us closer than I think anything other than time would have. He’s kind and brave and so optimistic and strong that I think he will turn out a better person at the end of this.
My S/O has dyslexia. Despite this, she was an amazing student in college, way more ambitious than me, and she had to work twice as hard than the average student. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been editing and helping her write her papers as often as I could.
Her disability doesn’t bother me at all, but it stops her from enjoying the more difficult literature I enjoy reading, and I always saw myself being with a writer.
My ex and I were together for 5 years after he suffered a TBI. The main thing it impacted was his short term memory and you would never know he dealt with it. He’s a great guy. We are still friends. The relationship just wasn’t gonna work.
Overall, it made school really, really hard for him. He still is trying to pass his CPA. I tried not to get frustrated with his memory loss, but I remember an incident over pizza where he forgot the ‘no tomato’ part of the order.
I also feel like he deals with the disappointment of everything by drinking.
My dad had ALS for 4 years and passed away when I was 10. For my mom, I could see that it was draining, but I could also see how much she loved him. She’d work from 5 to 2, and so I’d have to get up early before school and get him in his chair before the caretaker got there. We spent thousands on trying to find a way to make the progression halt, from science to homeopathy.
When he finally passed, it was the most bittersweet thing I’ve ever felt. I mean losing your dad at 10 sucks, but knowing that he’s no longer stuck, and knowing that my mom no longer had to see him suffer was such a pretty sight. He constantly had rashes on the bottom of his thighs, and he couldn’t scratch it, and when it was unbearable he had us scratch it, but he’d always cut us off early because he didn’t want to bother us. I knew he suffered a lot, and it hurts me when I think about it, so him passing was ultimately for the best.
My wife had a stroke in 2004. It affected her judgment, memory, language, and impulse control, but not her intellect. It makes it very hard sometimes because she can’t work- aside from the brain injury, she also has a number of physical issues including spinal and brain problems (and surgeries to correct same) unrelated to the stroke, which means she’s at times been unable to walk, etc.
She gets so frustrated sometimes because she knows that her brain isn’t working right, but can’t control some of the effects- like aphasia. She can come nearly to tears trying to find a word, and simply carrying on a “normal” conversation in a social context is utterly exhausting.
Your brain consumes the vast majority of your body’s energy output. People with brain injuries frequently need even more of that energy simply to maintain, which means they’re often exhausted far sooner than “normal” people without a brain injury.
Oh, and did I mention, she has asthma and diabetes?
It’s even worse than you might think in some ways because while she has all these fundamental problems, it’s not obvious. She doesn’t have a partially paralyzed face, slur her words, or have obvious cognitive issues. It’s the worst kind of brain injury to have because it’s so profound and so subtle at the same time.
My boyfriend was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 20, a couple years before I met him. At 5’10, he withered down to 100 pounds and constantly had diarrhea, butt leaks, pain, urgency, etc. So when I met him a few years later, he had gained some weight and was getting back into the routine of having a job (we met at work). At first, it was a little hard to understand, but I know all of his quirks and the things he needs/can’t have. We usually only go out for fast food because, as weird as it is, he knows what he can eat and is afraid to eat too much of anything I have at my house. If I take him to a new place, I always make sure to tell him where the bathrooms are. I know not to lay on his stomach. I know what gives him cramps. I know what medicine he can take and how much butter to put with his eggs. I invited him on a trip that we’ll be taking in a few days. He’s been having panic attacks about the 6-hour drive just because he’s afraid to trust his stomach after his past, but he’s really excited. He told me I helped give him the confidence to get out and live again, and he helped me in the same way (I have depression). I wouldn’t trade him for the world, and we’re always happy to help each other.
My girlfriend has chronic regional pain syndrome and functional movement disorder. As a result, walking can present a real issue some days and leave her in a wheelchair. She is unable to exercise and is bigger than what she wants to be, even though she diets. She is way too harsh on herself though and covers up and tries to avoid making friends as she is scared that if she gets worse her friends will leave her again.
She volunteers at a charity that grants wishes to terminally or seriously ill children, is currently sitting her A level exams, and is in her second year of an open university degree in psychology. She takes her exams at her home as she has been through a rough patch and lost her hair (and causing depression).
It’s a long distance relationship currently, making it really tough for both of us, especially when I see her struggling. I’ve been with her through tough times and carried her to her bed from the car after she had multiple seizures, but I think there is still an element of doubt in her mind that I will leave her for someone closer and more able bodied.
I complement her daily and have spent hours making and painting things that are related to her and have special memories, but she is feeling down more and more.
I really wish that I could help her see how amazing she is. She quite literally saved my life when I was going through some tough times with my diabetes. I was living in the hospital, and she came to see me as often as she could and would just sit with me and tell me it was going to be okay.
I’m 56 and my wife is 53. We have been married for 33 years.
She has a degenerative bone disease and has so far had 25 or 26 surgeries.
About 2 1/2 years ago, she was standing behind a car directing the driver as he was backing up. The elderly man mistook the brake for the gas, and she was struck in the head by the car. She has traumatic brain injuries that will never “get better”.
She has undergone a complete personality change, has virtually no short term memory, and it has been a real challenge learning how to live with my ‘new’ wife.
My girlfriend had a stroke when she was younger, so she can’t use her right hand/right leg very well. She will get super self-conscious and down on herself, and it drives me insane sometimes because to me she’s one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. She’s smart, hard-working, kind, and beautiful to boot. I have no problem reminding her of those things either.
I just worry because I don’t want one of these bouts of self-doubt to cause her to miss an opportunity because she can do anything.
I try to keep in mind that I have no idea what she’s going through. I just get frustrated when she sees herself as anything but fantastic and awesome.
My bf has Poland’s Syndrome. I’m colorblind and have epilepsy. We take care of each other really well. He’s a programmer, and I’m amazed at how fast he types with one hand. Also, I call it his power puff girl hand and sing the theme song when he’s doing stuff around the house. He joins in after like a minute or two so it doesn’t bother him. He hates it when people want to help him do stuff. He lets me help occasionally, but only if he asked for it. I’d hear, “Hey, two-handed humans, please do this for me.” Or, “I need a hand.” Yeah, the hand puns get pretty bad sometimes.
My S/O has several heart conditions. Every night I fall asleep trying to cope with the fact that she might not still be there when I wake up. It’s tough, but she’s worth it. And when that day finally comes, I want to be comfortable knowing I enjoyed every second I had with her.