Partners in Love & Laughter

I’m glad to hear you got a lot of PT in. You make me proud every day. You’re such a badass.

As much as I like to pretend otherwise, I’m a pretty sentimental person and have saved every email that Vin sent me when we first started dating. Like everyone else, we’ve had our ups and downs over the years, and sometimes I reread them during the tougher times. It helps to remind me why I fell in love with this man, and how far we’ve come over the last six years.

Vin and I started dating in a series of chaotic weeks leading up to me having both of my hip replacements revised in July 2009. I was in the middle of untangling myself from a truly toxic relationship amidst the realization that I was madly in love with Vin – and had been for some time. We had exactly 21 “normal” days together before my surgery.

That day must’ve been really hard for him. I hadn’t told my family what was going on between me and mex-fiancéx fiancé, and only a few close friends knew about Vin. He had to settle for text updates throughout the day since he couldn’t be at the hospital. My surgery was wrought with complications, and I spent the night in post-op before I was stable enough to be moved to a surgical floor. Twenty-four hours after surgery, as he held my hand long past visitor’s hours, I looked Vin in the eye and told him I wanted to die. I was in so much pain that, in no uncertain terms, I wanted my life to be over. All these years later, I can’t even begin to wrap my head around all the ways in which that must have broken his heart. At 23 years old, I wouldn’t have blamed him for walking out the door that night and never looking back.

In October Vin turns 30, and he has grown into a person that I am proud to know let alone call my partner in this life. The word “partner” implies serious commitment not dissimilar to marriage – unconditional love… in sickness and in health. When you’re someone’s partner it’s assumed you’ll do these things without question. If only. Because when people think “in sickness and in health” most don’t think of a chronic illness that will span the life of the entire partnership.

All my relationships before Vin boiled down to one of two versions: (1) I would do everything I could to mask my illness (down to taking my pills in the bathroom) so the person would have no idea how sick I really was and (2) when hiding my symptoms was no longer possible, realizing that the person was in no way capable of handling my RA, least of all without making me feel like a colossal burden.

That’s a very real issue for people with chronic illnesses – feeling like a burden or inconvenience to our friends, family and loved ones. Because when your partner is also your caregiver, it’s not always that sexy. But Vin, even in those youthful post-grad years, has never made me feel like a burden. Not once. He has made me feel above all else – loved. Cherished. Supported. Happy. Desired. Perfectly imperfect. But never a burden.

It hasn’t always been easy. There have been times when I’ve been sick or flaring and he’s still gone out with friends causing me to lash out at him in frustration. But over the years I’ve learned that this is part of what makes us work. Vin has a rich and full life outside of playing caretaker (outside of our relationship as a whole, really) and going out and living that life makes him a happier, better partner. But perhaps, more importantly, he doesn’t know I need him to stay home unless I explicitly tell him. And if I do he will.

Going back on Methotrexate has reminded me of the strength of our partnership. A few weeks ago I spent Saturday laid out from the chemo hangover AND a shitty head cold while Vin took care of meals, dishes, laundry, puppy duty, etc. We watched a series of ridiculously random movies on HBO and Showtime (much easier than actually agreeing on something to watch), and, even though we ended up at the 24 hour CVS for a new heating pad at 11:00 Saturday night, what I remember most from that weekend is laughing. Laughing like a fool at who knows what with my best friend and partner in this life.

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