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“When I’m crying from pain and frustration on a bad day, my husband has a tendency to do things that add tears of joy to that flow because he makes me feel so blessed.” People with chronic pain sometimes “feel like they are less and have to settle for less,” said Parker, adding that this is a big mistake.
“Don’t even tempt me.”That was Ashley Pierce’s response when her friend Tammi tried to set her up with Walter.
“I could often see that lightbulb moment wash over their faces when they started to realize they couldn’t handle it after all – seeing me put on my bulky knee braces for a hike or the frustration [for them] of having to sit down and take breaks when walking around,” said Parker.
Paulette Kouffman Sherman, Ph D, a psychologist and dating expert in New York City, says single people with chronic pain face many pitfalls.
Despite her unique challenges, Parker said there are still plenty of ways to have fun while dating. “Even before I had heard of EDS, much less knew that I had it, my bad knees alone sent guys running before they even learned about any of my other symptoms.” Others would try to accept her disability but then realize they wouldn't be able to cope.
Having spent a good portion of the last 10 years in a Las Vegas hospital bed, Pierce didn’t even want to entertain the thought of dating. He never backed out.“I never thought someone would marry me with my conditions,” 26-year-old Pierce recently wrote in a Facebook status. Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis—chronic inflammatory conditions that affect the gastrointestinal and digestive tracts and include complications ranging from abdominal cramps to malnutrition.
Besides, if he was anything like other guys she had pursued, she didn’t think he’d be able to handle it. For Pierce, the most extreme cases were when the doctor told her parents she wouldn’t make it through the night, either because she had stopped breathing or was dangerously anemic, weighing in at 63 pounds.
On more ordinary days, she experiences stomach issues and a chronic cough, among other non-terminal-but-annoying symptoms caused by medicines that suppress her illnesses.
These include trying to hide their condition forever, not knowing when to reveal it, not knowing when pain will strike and they'll have to stop whatever they're doing, fear of complaining too much, getting in bad moods, and not having fun or being able to smile.