Simone from Manchester is my guest blogger today – she’s just started blogging, so check it out here. She was diagnosed with MS in 2006:
Without boring you with details of my diagnosis, aged 30, steady relationship, wedding planned; I then found myself diagnosed and single aged 30 and 2 months. Those last two months were only because it took 6 weeks to track him down after he Usain Bolted away from the neurologist’s consulting room.
So, on top of the regime of injections, aches, needles, bladder nonsense, constant terror at an uncertain future – I also had to get back on my bike and ‘try to find a boyfriend’. *
After 2 years, hiding in my house, holding on tight as I held it together; persuasion from well-meaning friends persuaded me to date online to seek my Manchester Ryan Gosling who would be able to see past those two hated capitalised letters and see me. Guardian Soulmates seemed the place to start. Surely the men on there were pretty tolerant? They all said they were and had endless photos of themselves cuddling chimps and demonstrating kayaking heroics.
Reader, I have not the time to tell you about the horrors I endured. The sociopathic Greg Rusedski lookalike OR the mountain climbing freak who listened with tears in his eyes as I told him of my MS, then MADE me climb Mount Snowden ‘to prove to myself that the MS was no barrier’ and then dumped me the next day as he couldn’t face the prospect of spending his later life as a carer…
I decided that this woman could take no more. I would buy a cat (or rather, an animal with no fur due to allergies); I would stoically face my future alone. Then I received the email in my Soulmates inbox – ‘Mark is interested’. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single individual in possession of an online dating subscription must be in want of a new message. So I replied and we wrote to each other and he was a journalist – light and funny and clever and articulate. I hadn’t told him about my diagnosis but there was time yet and so we met up.
After an odd evening with a morose, half-drunk man, we reached 9pm, by which point he was looking mournfully into his ale and I was imagining what kind of turtle I would buy for company and whether it would cuddle me on winter nights.
I said, ‘Look, this isn’t working, is it – I”m going home.’
He grabbed my arm with tears in his eyes and then said, ‘you’d never be interested if you knew.’
‘Knew what?’ I almost shouted, trying to free my arm and also catch the attention of a member of bar staff.
‘I have MS’ he half shouted/half sobbed.
‘So do I’ – I said quietly.
I took my coat off and we talked non-stop for a further 4 hours.
Dating with MS is hard and complex and awkward and requires honesty, trust and bravery. However, there are moments that make you realise that we’re all dealing with our own crap and it is whether you are willing to start a journey with someone who brings an unwelcome companion to your new relationship.
Incidentally, the journalist guy was definitely NOT worth starting a journey with. Nothing to do with the MS, he was just a self-important heavy drinker with two over-indulged, long-haired cats.
*Mum’s advice every time we talked, for about two years…