Love it or hate it, it’s Valentine’s Day, and if you’ve got love in your life, this is the time to flaunt it in everyone’s face. Whether you love your kids, your cat, or your significant other, it’s nice to know there’s a date on the calendar where it’s socially acceptable to drink too much wine on a Wednesday and eat chocolate hearts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I myself am among the hashtag blessed who are lucky in love, having been happily married for more than 13 years. And my luck must be obvious, because it’s frequently pointed out to me. It’s a popular idea that women with diseases like multiple sclerosis are especially lucky should they happen to find their Prince Charming and trick him into marrying them.
Yeah, I said lucky. As in accidentally getting something great; something random you don’t deserve, or haven’t earned.
Lucky for me, it’s my partner who thinks he’s the lucky one. The Banker and I hooked-up pre-MS, in a life that was so long ago, I barely remember it. We tied the knot post-dx, and from the moment we announced our engagement, our relationship has been judged by some as extra-special. Of course, we smugly agree that our marriage is the bomb. We’re both proud of what we’ve built. But even after all these years, we still find ourselves explaining the whole marriage-with-MS thing, because some are still genuinely baffled that a grade-A guy like The Banker would willingly sign up for a life with, well, a utility-grade girl like me.
Is it ever reasonable to wonder why someone would choose the sickness part of “in sickness and in health”, so soon into a relationship? Maybe. Do I have a flat pancake ass? Definitely. The point is, YOU DON’T NEED TO POINT IT OUT, OKAY? Rude.
Literally fucking everyone knows that marriage is hard, and divorce rates are high, and blah, blah; I don’t wanna gross you out even more with the break-up stats when MS is involved – especially if the partner with MS is a woman. You think it was “brave” of someone to marry me? Well, what about me? I walked down the aisle knowing I’m statistically more likely to offer to help you move than I am to hang on to a man who will nurse me through the worst of what MS can do. This scene obviously isn’t for everyone, and that’s cool.
I didn’t want to marry you anyway.
My defensiveness aside, I do understand the doubters who, for their own good luck or utter lack of imagination, can’t envision this life for themselves, or even for someone else. I also know it’s easier to scoff at the ignorance of how uncomplicated our marriage actually is because, at least for now, we are still true partners. The impact this disease has had on our relationship has been manageable. I know that could change some day, but we’re not there yet. And I’ve been trying really hard to stay grounded in the present lately.
So today, on this most sacred and holy day, I’m here to tell you that marriage and MS cancoexist. Because The Banker and I are nailing it. And you don’t have to take my word for it: I decided to interview my husband so you could see exactly what kind of person does co-sign for MS.
Thank you for coming.
This is our living room. I live here.
Let’s get right to it. We’ve been married for like, 13 years. What’s the hardest thing about being married?
I don’t ask for help, and with marriage sometimes you need to be the one leaned on, but sometimes you need to do the leaning. I don’t always like to do the leaning.
Are you saying MS isn’t the hardest thing?
No. It’s not.
Wow. I would have definitely said MS, followed closely by indoor temperature negotiations, but you usually let me keep the heat jacked.
Well, I am the more considerate one.
That’s true. Is that why you married someone with MS? Because you’re a hero?
Uhm, no. It didn’t matter that you had MS. I married you because you are you.
Okay, but, I know it’s not always easy. What’s the hardest part about loving someone with a disease like MS?
Watching you struggle when I can’t do anything. There are times when I can’t help; like, I can’t make your legs move for you, and I feel helpless.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve lost or had to sacrifice because of MS?
I don’t think I’ve lost big things. It’s smaller things, like holding hands while walking. When I’m pushing you in Optimus, it’s harder to have a conversation.
You don’t think it’s romantic to yell into the back of my head “WHAT? I can’t hear you”?
What would you say to people who believe you got a raw deal?
You do so much to help me experience life. When you’re in a marriage you do stuff for each other. I don’t see it as stepping up. We work to our strengths. I’m doing what I can to support my wife, but you do so much more for me.
I am pretty great. Let’s explore that. What’s your favourite thing about me?
It’s tough. There are so many things that I like; I can’t narrow it down to the best thing.
Yeah, but try harder.
It’s easy to point out your physical attributes, your mind, and your personality. That stuff’s easy; but like, you make me a better person, and you make me enjoy life.
If you could take on one of my symptoms for me, which one would it be?
I think I would take on all of your symptoms, in a way to shoulder it; so like, if we could split them almost. So it’s not as big a burden for you.
What, like 50/50?
(Long pause) Uh…60/40?
60/40. You really are a hero.
It would be difficult for both of us to be fucked; so fine, I would probably take on the fatigue just to let you do more stuff. I think I can fight through a lot of tiredness; I don’t get a lot of sleep during the week anyway.
Oh NO he didn’t.
So, you’re saying you could handle MS fatigue better than me?
(We explored this for the next 27 minutes.)
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about MS?
Apparently, it’s fatigue.
What do you think is the most important quality someone with MS needs to have?
MS is always gonna be worse than whatever the healthy person is going through.
Are you saying I lack empathy for your man-cold and dislike of needles?
This feels like a trap.
Before we wrap this up, let’s find out a little more about you. Did you always know you wanted to be a banker?
No. You know I’m not actually a banker, right? I don’t even work at a bank.
What’s your favourite thing to do without me?
Eat gluten and sugar.
Do you agree that drinking every day is a good idea?
Wtf does that have to do with MS?
Nothing, I was just hoping you would make me a drink.
Who would play you in the movie of our life?
Ew. The correct answer is Benedict Cumberbatch.
Final question. How much money is too much money to spend on Valentine’s?
Valentine’s is a made-up, commercial holiday.
Yeah, that’s why it’s so awesome. You get the presents of Christmas and the candy of Easter without having to go to church.
|Happy Valentine’s Day, Trippers. I love you all.|