Monday, April 11, 2011

How to solve a problem like Brendan?

The truth of it comes down to this - I am embarrassed by my illness. I am ashamed of it, and what it means.

Darwin has affected me deeply. Clearly. I regard my useless kidneys as a grand signature of my failure as a human being. The fittest around me are thriving and surviving, and I am a genetically inferior one, not worthy of the human race.

I feel it is a deeply unattractive burden that I now carry, this failure to be healthy, to glow with some radiance of youth and be living recklessly rather than existing cautiously.

It is for all of these reasons that I find it difficult to tell people that I am sick. Because I look relatively normal, and thanks to the advances of cosmetics and almost two years of learning how to cleverly disguise my tummy, I don’t necessarily have to confess anything to anyone.

But then what if there comes along a someone?

My female friends on dialysis share my general reluctance for relationships. It presents too awkward a conversation. It is difficult to plume your feathers and possess the confidence that defines attraction when you are conscious of the disaster zone that occupies your mid-riff.

And yet, and yet, and yet...

The logical ones out there will point to the obvious - that none of us are getting any younger. The medical people tell us we should not put our lives on hold while waiting for transplant. Friends tell us we are wonderful and that we deserve to love and be loved.

Last week, I was faced with all of this in the form of one massive Friday night dilemma. So I minimised. I said “I’m waiting for a transplant, it’s no big deal.” I didn’t mention my dialysis machine, or the fact that I have a tube in my tummy.

If he sticks around, he’ll get to see both. Lucky guy.

Admittedly, for all the worry over the giant elephant on my side of the beer-stained table, there was still the giddy happiness of a first date. Oh, the glorious normality of it all.

Who knows where it will go, and whether it will go.

But I realise there is little hope for any love in my life unless I can find the words to introduce the someone to this complicated world of mine.


  1. Don't take it the wrong way, but part of that post made me laugh. Funny how guys and girls can be so, so different. Of course a woman's curves are essentially the definition of her femininity and I'm sure each and every woman has her 'hang ups', even over the smallest thing about their physical appearance, and then the bigger stuff (not to belittle your situation). Same for me and a lot of other guys, I'm sure.

    But what made me chuckle was I'd be far more worried if a girl mentioned the 'L' word in the context of a first date with me on her blog, than if she told me she was waiting for a transplant LOL. I’ve seen Fatal Attraction!

    There’s never a ‘right time’ to mention something like that. Like when do you mention you were previously married, or that you have kids, or two heads or whatever to somebody in whom there is a romantic interest? I have one of those clangers to drop. Reactions would be the vast majority (maybe 70%) are fairly unfazed, the remainder can’t get away from me quick enough. Such is life. The latter types make you feel like shit, but I figure if somebody is that shallow, fuck them, I wouldn’t want to be with them anyway, and it’s better finding out sooner rather than later. But my policy is to drop the clanger as soon as possible, otherwise it gets harder and harder to bring it up. Oh, and I NEVER mention it when there’s booze involved.

    So, chin up, and good luck with it.

  2. Anonymous - Thank you for those words of encouragement! I'm working on my "fuck them" attitude, but I'm finding it a little harder to bounce back from rejection, probably because I don't feel none to great about myself these days.
    As for the 'L' word, what kind of mentalist thinks they're in lurve after a first date?! We can all appear charming and fabulous for a few short hours in a dimly lit bar/restaurant. See how you feel after you've spent a weekend with them, doing nothing more exciting than grocery shopping, watching the Late Late, and sorting out your odd socks - that's what I say!

  3. As someone who knows and loves you, take it from me 'he' will be one lucky lad if he gets to be part of your life. Just hope Brendan does not get jealous!! :-)

  4. Who are you anonymous? I find it most frustrating when people who know me don't declare themselves when commenting!

  5. I'm Anonymous 1, the second anon is nothing to do with me!

    I shall christen myself Anon E. Moose then!

    P.S. Odd sock sorting? Did it myself a few weekends back. Perversely satisfying.

    Anon E. Moose

  6. Ah Regina. I've never even met you outside of blogging land and I know you deserve a first date, a second date and as many more after that as you want! I can only imagine how hard it must be to introduce new people into your world. But if he's a decent sort he'll take it all in his stride!
    As someone in a relationship with someone who has a longterm condition, I was glad to know about it from the start, that way it's never been a big deal. I know what to do if he falls ill, and otherwise it's just another part of the day. I don't think too much about what might happen down the line, healthwise.

    Don't be embarrassed. The rest of you works just fine! And I hope to God a kidney comes your way soon.

  7. Oh, a new romance, the excitement!

    First dates are scary no matter what your baggage or hang ups. People are more used to an ex, a child or a tweety bird tattoo, rather than a dialysis machine, but all who know you know you're worth sticking around for!

  8. Suse - It's always interesting to hear the experiences of the people on the other side - those who are going out with someone who is ill. I do think females in that position are better. Not to generalise all males, but I think girls are more comfortable with looking after someone..?

    Shiny - No doubt about the scariness of the first date, but look how well it worked out for you! I'm thinking the people who know me should provide me with personal endorsements for any future first dates...just to ensure the fella knows I'm highly thought of!

  9. I think that's probably the case! He usually knows better than anyone how he's feeling, I'm sure you're the same. If he's really ill it'll be glaringly obvious I'll know what to do. And my fella is thankfully usually in control of his situation (he's a type 1 diabetic) so I don't ask much. In fact, I think it probably annoys him when I do ask, I think it makes him feel that all I see is the disease rather than him!

  10. Suse - It's a fine balance, I find. I don't like when people treat me differently because I'm sick, but at the same time I like it to be acknowledged occasionally that I am dealing with this massive upheaval, that life isn't as easy for me as it is for them, and that I don't always feel good. I'm sure I'm a nightmare to deal with really!
    PS My dad had Type 1 diabetes. It's another of those invisible illnesses. You make sure that fella of yours looks after himself well x

  11. print this page, in lieu of letters of recommendation, and bring along to first dates!