Online dating chronic illness

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Dating is nerve-wracking for most people, but when you have an invisible and often debilitating illness, things can get really tricky.

How soon is too soon — or too late — to open up about your health struggles? Writer Kylie Maslen knows how difficult it can be to answer these questions."The damage that endometriosis has done to my pelvis means that I have chronic pelvic pain to the point that I'm now technically disabled," she says.

Now 24, she works as a photographer in San Francisco, California, and writes about the transition from life with PH to life with chronic immunosuppression. After fighting Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension with combined intravenous and oral therapies for 17 years, Kathleen Sheffer received a heart-lung transplant on July 1, 2016.

Now 24, she works as a photographer in San Francisco, California, and writes about the transition from life with PH to life with chronic immunosuppression.

One patient shared that his teenaged girlfriend broke up with him because she thought it would be too difficult to be more than friends when he died. If I went on a date, would I have to disclose that we couldn’t talk about kissing for another six months? As with most aspects of “normal life” I believed were permanently over after my transplant, I was wrong.

Soon after my heart-lung transplant, I asked my nurse practitioner how long I had to wait before kissing someone on the lips. On average, transplant centers advise waiting six weeks for intimacy with a partner, and encourage kissing much earlier than that, as long as they’re healthy (and ideally brush their teeth)!

The 36-year-old is forced to only work part time, adhere to a strict diet, take lots of medication and constantly manage her pain — which has taken a toll on her mental health, and her social life.

She says it's "definitely" a difficult conversation to have with a date.

The opinions expressed in this column are not those of After fighting Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension with combined intravenous and oral therapies for 17 years, Kathleen Sheffer received a heart-lung transplant on July 1, 2016.

My health has always served as an extra filter for my relationships, romantic or otherwise.

One man asked me to be his girlfriend on a Friday night and then broke up with me on Sunday, citing his desire for biological children as the sticking point.

My ideal partner acknowledges my health challenges and makes space for me to talk about them when I want to, without letting them define me or our relationship.

Some guys can’t hang with my dark transplant humor, so when a guy takes a photo of my dissected sick heart in stride, simplifies “heart-lung transplant” to “switcharoo,” and starts quoting my blog posts (mostly to tease me about being a “fall risk”), I know he’s special.

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