As a young man born with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), growing up in post-sexual revolution America, I felt compelled to quickly experience as much normalcy, connection, and pleasurable experiences as possible.
Because, prior to the information age, little was known about SCD beyond its reoccurring hospitalizations to treat painful crisis’, the harmful accumulative physiological effects of prolonged crisis pain, and short life expectancies.
These realities have lead patients like myself in many directions, but I was personally faced with basically two dramatically different dating choices.
One that postponed dating and the uncomfortable awkwardness, self-consciousness, and uncertainty of dating with a chronic and unpredictable disease. And one that foolishly jumps in headfirst without serious consideration of others or any understanding of the emotional, physical health and self-esteem related consequences.
I jumped right in, mistakenly and regrettably, assuming a life that would consistently hide and deny the reality of my preexisting condition and covered my illnesses and absences with a mountain of lies.
I still remember lying about having sprained arms, legs and back injuries that were the result of “playing sports.” Thankfully, I played enough sports to make some of the lies believable.
And I also sadly remember being on dates while experiencing full-on crisis pain.
I can remember being at a girlfriend’s prom while experiencing full-on crisis pain. I can also remember romantic evenings ending in full-on crisis pain. In fact, there have not been any romantic encounters that were not threatened by