In Sickness and in Health

By Cheryl Lavin

November 12, 2016 4 min read

There's nothing like a catastrophic illness to show you what your relationship is made of.

LANA: I broke my ankle on the job and wound up having surgery. My husband's first question was, "When you will be able to have sex?" He didn't care that I was in so much pain that I nearly blacked out in physical therapy. He said that I got in the accident on purpose to get out of having sex. But he changed his tune when the workers' compensation settlement got us enough money for half of a down payment on a house.

Six months after the accident, while I was still walking with a cane, I got laid off. He was going to school part-time and sitting on his keister the rest of the time. I had to go apply for unemployment insurance and food stamps on my own, during a subway strike in snowy weather. I walked for miles on my sore ankle. He was at home asleep.

When I got there, I got into an argument with the caseworker. She said that I couldn't be the head of household if I was married. I told her I was the head of the household because I was the principal earner and my spouse was the homemaker. Her (male) supervisor had to come in and set her straight. (I'm so glad the '70s are over!)

Fast-forward three years. Six months after the birth of our child, I had to have surgery, and I nearly died. The recovery was slow. The location of the surgery made sex painful and potentially dangerous. My husband was sure I had the surgery to deprive him of sex.

I started to space out, and even sometimes crossed the street against the light. I began losing weight and not sleeping. Eventually, we divorced. It was like a great burden was lifted off me.

IRIS: I was in a three-year relationship with Seth. We had a child together. I was under the impression everything was wonderful. Then, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I was in the hospital for three days. My mother took me home. When I walked in the door, the first thing I saw was my suitcases and my 10-year-old son's suitcases. Seth said that he wanted me out. We left. My plan was to go back and get my baby.

Two days later, I became bedridden and stayed that way for 18 months. This man, who I loved with all my heart, would not bring my son to my parents' home. I was finally able to get out of bed. I contacted a lawyer. We went to court, and I was awarded joint custody, although the baby would remain with his father because I knew I couldn't take care of him. Then, I was hospitalized again because I lost the ability to walk. I was in rehabilitation for three and half months and didn't see my son once.

I feel as though I will never find another man. No one will want to date a woman with an illness. The doctor told me that MS won't kill me, but what man would take a chance?

On a happier note, I'm able to walk again. I'm back in school and able to take care of myself and my boys. I'm going to be something and make a good life for us!

What effect has the presidential election had on your relationship?

Got a problem? Send it, along with your questions and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-book, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."

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