So the guy I’m seeing (casually dating?) I don’t know…it’s complicated…anyhow…he has the man flu, which is basically saying he’s got a cold. Now, for whatever reason, I don’t seem to get colds. I may get some congestion for a day or two, but that’s about it. Maybe I’m getting colds and not noticing because I feel crappy in general, so adding in a little extra coughing or fatigue wouldn’t be that noticeable. So this guy, I won’t say his name, recently came back from traveling for work, one week in the same time zone, and once eight hours ahead. Between the traveling, and the jet lag, I knew he’d feel a little run down, but he’s been coughing a lot and lamenting the man flu. I’ve wanted to see him since he left, since he left while I had a kidney infection and I only vaguely remember the visit (brought me survival basics and snuggled me for a couple hours). Initially he said he didn’t need anything, but I informed him I knew that the man flu came with stubbornness as a symptom, and that I was literally stockpiling cold/flu meds because I rarely get colds, and he relented admitting he did need a few things like orange juice, soup, and whatever meds I could spare.
Now, the inevitable comment was that he didn’t want me to get sick. I had to reassure him of a few things. First, I rarely get colds. It’s like the one thing my immune system can apparently handle. Stomach bugs are the bane of my existence, I can barely be exposed and end up hospitalized, but colds not so much. Second, if I did get a cold, the symptoms would hardly register on my scale. Seriously. Third, the benefits of having a chronic autoimmune condition are the easily accessible drugs. If I did get a nasty cough, I could get a nebulizer in a heartbeat. Problem solved. I left out the third because it’s doubtful that would happen.
Other people think the same thing, and I think it’s a misconception that everyone with an impaired immune system has to avoid everyone who is sick. I don’t go around licking door handles, hell, I wash my hands more than the average person and make sure my roommate does, too, but it’s about knowing your own body. My dad has lupus, and I can’t remember the last time he’s had a stomach bug. He gets all kinds of obscure diseases and colds constantly, but manages to avoid GI bugs. Would either of us willingly subject ourselves to someone who was really sick? No, but it’s a risk vs. benefits scenario.
In this instance, we’re talking “man flu,” not actual flu. There was no fever, no weird mucus, just a hacking cough, and some general tiredness, which was more relate to jet lag than being ill. Had he told me he had a fever, body aches, and chills, I’d have dropped off flu meds, and bolted. I got the flu shot, but if it didn’t work this year, then I’m screwed. I always get bronchitis when I get the flu, and while it’s not enjoyable, I still don’t get as sick as other people who get the flu. My body seems to handle the respiratory stuff well, even if my lungs suck a little at being lungs.
Then there is the whole positive of the situation. I really like him, as a person, and while we’re not rushing into defining things, I know that he didn’t hesitate to be there for me when I was sick, and it’s my nature to do the same. Sure, I hope that this goes somewhere, but for now I’m being patient and just waiting to see how it all plays out. Wants aren’t needs, and as long as I stay in touch with my needs, it’ll be okay. I won’t lie, I’m getting to a point where my needs are starting to be unmet, but that’s only in the context of wanting a formal label of what we’re doing, or at least boundaries. (I have a friend who routinely points out that his actions should matter more than his words since my ex said the right things but did the wrong things, but there really are no wrong things since we haven’t agreed to be exclusive with each other.) That’s diving into more of a relationship blog topic, but then again, it’s sort of relevant.
Stress. I’m forever stressed about whether what I’m doing is too much, am I being too pushy, am I being too fun. My mind is always focused on what the end goal is, for me, and I forget to just enjoy what’s happening now. It isn’t when I’m with him. Tougher we always have fun. It’s when we’re apart that I worry. I think about my ex’s comments as I left, that nobody could love someone who gets as sick as I do, and I think, “what if he’s right?” I have this fear that this guy is going on dates, meeting other women, trying to find someone who he also clicks with like we click, but who maybe isn’t sitting on a metric ton of physical and emotional baggage. We all have baggage, and my emotional baggage is relatively in check, but the physical stuff is out of my control.
My father lives alone. He remarried after divorcing my mom, but after that, swore off marriage. I’m not naive enough to think he swore off women, but he never married anyone else, and has lived alone for at least 15 years, probably longer. He once made a comment about it being hard with his health to really be there for other people, and now I live with the fear that maybe he’s right. What do I offer in comparison to a shiny toy that isn’t dented? I know my dents make me who I am, that I can be positive and upbeat in situations where other people panic because I go through some of the shittiest things, but it doesn’t mean I think men are falling over themselves to date someone with medical issues like mine.
I never lie though. The second time I saw this guy I happened to spend the night (chastise me later, this may be part of why we’re in limbo, I know) I dumped out my meds on the table. I didn’t even hide it, I just did it, and was like, “I take these, and then an injection every two weeks.” I told him I had Behcet’s, that it’s not contagious, but not to Google it because holy hell, the pictures are bad and I don’t have it that bad. That was the first or second week of September, and he’s still around, so clearly I didn’t scare him off…but that’s the question of course…did I or didn’t I?
There is a difference between liking a girl, sleeping with her, liking her and sleeping with her, and committing to being with just her. Sometimes I’m worried he’s hesitant, not because of my dating past or his, but because I’m flawed in ways that can’t be fixed. I could go into remission, I could get worse, there really isn’t a predictability to autoimmune diseases. You may use the, “you could get hit by a bus tomorrow,” analogy, but that’s not the same. I will always have Behcet’s, it will never go away. Even in remission, I still have it. Yeah, there are always busses, but it’s not like you got hit by a bus once, and now you will forever be getting hit by buses. Completely different scenarios.
Should I have worried while he was coughing? Maybe, but I’d be more worried if I’d hesitated. If I’d stayed home and taken him at his word, letting him fend for himself when he clearly needed some assistance. Worse, I would have been agitated at not being able to see him for whoever long because I’d be waiting for him to get better, and it had already been a couple weeks due to his travel. I also don’t want to live in a world where I hand sanitize to hell the people I care about just to have a basic relationship with them. I do make the roommate wash her hands when she leaves and comes back to the apartment, but I live here, and there is a stomach bug going around town. This guy is patient zero, living in patient zero town (his apartment), it’s not like I’m subjecting myself to tons of things.
Our situation stresses me out, because it’s undefined, and I like structure, but at the end of the day I just need to suck it up and deal. There are more important things in my life to focus on than whether or not we’re going somewhere, despite what I want. As for the man flu…if I get sick, I get sick. I doubt I will, but even if I did, I can’t imagine ti’d be much worse than what he has. In fact, I can almost guarantee you I’d handle it better. I mean, it is the man flu 😉