There are so many dynamics as it relates to being married/engaged/significant other with someone that has Sickle Cell. What are your thoughts around this? What have you learned? What works? What doesn’t?
The first thing is to realize is that not every guy or woman can handle being with someone that has sickle cell. I’ve had many boyfriends disappear once they realize the enormity of my condition. There was this guy that I was really serious about that ended up bailing after my first major hospitalization even though he had been there all through the time I was sick. He said he loved me too much to see me in pain like that and couldn’t imagine having to deal with that for the rest of his life.
At one point, I actually had a lot of self esteem issues related to dating because of my sickle cell. I considered myself a “short term relationship” girl, meaning that I could have a good relationship for 3-6 months but once a crises hit I could guarantee the guy was out the door. When I was in a relationship, I tended to overcompensate for being a sickle cell warrior, accepting shit that no one in their right mind would accept from a boyfriend. I felt that this was the only way to cover up my genetic fault. So I took risks, made several bad choices, accepted crap, and did things that I normally would never do.
Eventually I realized that it wasn’t because I wasn’t good enough, it was because the guys I was messing with weren’t good enough. I took a time out and just learned to fall in love with myself. This was when the evolution of me from becoming a sickler to being a sickle cell warrior began to occur. It took about a year to actually get my mind right, and when I started dating again, I was a new woman. There was no more settling, no more putting up with BS, no more accepting stuff that wasn’t ideal for me in the guise of being in a relationship.
After that I met my sweetheart, and he changed my perception of men entirely. I told him about 6 weeks into dating that I had sickle cell, and gave him a synopsis of what it was. The next day, he arrived for a date, complete with printed out information, questions, phone numbers and references that he had spent the day compiling. He even called his Nobel prize nominee Uncle across the country to ask him if he could find a cure for me. That pretty much wowed me.
His tenacity and dedication into not allowing me to be complacent about my condition changed how I dealt with sickle cell. He found Nicosan, and that changed my life completely. He kinda became my guardian angel, and I could rest assured that no matter what was happening with my sickle cell, he had my back.
I guess what I’ve learned is that I had to stop treating sickle cell like it made me inferior in any way. I am a wonderful woman, and until I accepted that about myself, I couldn’t have the relationship that I deserved. I learned to tell the guys upfront about sickle cell, before I got too attached, so that when they disappeared, I wouldn’t have invested too much heart and time into them…lol. I also learned that sickle cell helped me find the guy that was right for me, because it weeded out all the Incorrigibles.
I think it takes a special person to be able to love a sickle cell warrior and hang in through the difficult times as well as the bad times. I know woman that was married to a man with sickle cell for 17 years, and she loved him from the first time she laid eyes on him lying on the hospital bed. She was there for him, took care of him, and treated him like a king, when he was sick or well. But he couldn’t love himself, and started drinking and cheating on her. He served her divorce papers while she was at the bedside of their 2 sons (both with sickle cell).
Relationships can be difficult, and when you throw in a complicated medical condition like sickle cell, then it makes things more dicey.
Call me an optimist, but I feel like the person that God wants you to be with; well, it will work out no matter what hurdles come your way. Because that person was specially designed to be with you, and you were both meant to complement each other. Sickness, unemployment, death, children, life….nothing is able to stand in the way of a relationship built on God. It might take some patience…and decades of prayer, but the right person for you will move heaven and earth to stay by your side, through thick and thin, sickle cell or not;…just like those vows say.