As difficult as it may sound to do, it is certainly doable but just as with any other relationship, there will be ups and downs. However, when involved with a partner who is dealing with sickle cell, there is a different level of patience and understanding required.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my brother did have serious relationships and eventually a steady girlfriend who was well aware of his condition and witnessed first hand his crises and pain. His physical pain was one thing but then his psychological pain was something entirely different because he would often go through moments of depression and sometimes anxiety. His coping strategies at this time would either be to involve himself in an increased number of activities to distract himself or he would retreat into himself and be overcome with negative thoughts and emotions which he sometimes expressed through poetry. He would naturally put up a bold face for my mom and his sisters but I knew he was a very sensitive guy who treated the people he cared about extremely well and whenever he and his girlfriend would get into fights or disagreements, he talked to me about them and I would do my best to convince him not to let it affect him to the point of becoming stressed out......because as you know, stress could trigger a crisis.
There are several roles one would need to assume if you find yourself involved with a partner dealing with this disease and my brother's girlfriend soon realized that she needed to adjust to these:
1. Patience - In any relationship, this is a key factor because there will be moments of aggravation that could push one to walk out on their partner but with dating a sickler, an extra dose of patience is required. They battle different emotional and mental struggles that could affect their relationship with you and so you need to patiently love them through these times
2. Emotional Support and Availability - Family and friends obviously provide this but it is also very much needed from a romantic partner. There will be times when he/she does not want to confide in anyone but you and if you make them feel like they are a burden, they will pull away and sometimes just shut you out completely
3. Physical Presence - Simply put, they need you around particularly during times of hospitalization from crises. Many times my brother was hospitalized and would not want anybody but his family and girlfriend to visit him. He would not answer anybody's calls or messages but ours and I know that having us by his side made him happy
4. Understanding - My brother was a social butterfly, every weekend he had something to do and somewhere to go and each time, his girlfriend was with him but when he could not be social because of whatever pain he was experiencing at the time, his girlfriend was understanding and would stay home with him just watching TV.
Being in a relationship with a sickler is indeed possible and enjoyable but the challenge comes when issues like marriage and children become a serious consideration. I personally am of the school of thought that no one knows when their time on earth will come to an end or whether the children you will have will be born with some kind of health challenge or not so if you have the necessary support and are convicted in your heart, then by all means embrace love. You just never know what purpose you are fulfilling by being in the life of someone living with sickle cell.
I appreciate you stopping by today...