Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dating someone with a disability

I've recently started to date someone whom I'm very fond of who has a disability. It's the kind of disability that will progress until he is confined to a wheelchair.

I certainly did not go looking for someone who is disabled. I wasn't really aware of his disability while we chatted on line. I knew I was attracted to him and really wanted to meet him. On our first coffee date he told me that he had Ataxia. Ataxia is a brain disease of the cerebellum. Much like other, better-known diseases of the nervous system such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Lou Gehrig's disease, it progressively impacts and then consumes the functions of the affected region of the brain.

As I listened to this 6'4", 275 pound man explain ataxia to me, I felt some hesitation in wanting to know him more. But by the end of the night, after laughing at his crazy jokes and looking into his sparkling blue eyes, I knew we had a connection and I wanted to see him again.

So we have begun dating and it's been exciting and fun. We make each other laugh; he's extremely sensitive and romantic. His disability shows itself in his pattern of speech, and his coordination. But that's it. He is smart, romantic, strong and caring.

We've shared some tender moments too. We both experienced the death of a loved one through cancer. When we've exchanged stories of the pain and suffering our dear ones experienced, we both cried and held hands.

The two of us enjoy each other's company and, although we are not exclusive, we see each other a lot. I think it is probably best if we continue to date other people for awhile. I know it will keep me grounded if I do. He is afraid of the future himself. He doesn't want to burden his partner with the inevitable.

I've found out that I'm a "live for the moment" type of woman. I realized this many years ago after we buried my father, who died at 57. He always worried about the future, what would it bring and where would it lead.

So, I don't really regard the future too much. Other than trying to better myself mentally, physically and financially, I don't fret about things I have no control over. So I've decided to enjoy the journey with this man I'm dating. We may tire of each other next week or still be together in a year.

Friends and family ask why I would get involved with someone disabled. I reply that we all have some kind of disability in one form or another. I explained that it would be shallow of me to think that this person isn't worth dating because he has Ataxia.

Each moment I've spent with this man has been a positive and uplifting experience. He may have difficulty picking up a quarter and he swaggers when he walks, but I've gained so much in such a short time from knowing him.

He has a joyful attitude towards life, a determination to remain strong, and a passion about good health. He's motivated me to work harder on myself, because if this man, with such a grave disability, can laugh and smile each day, there are no excuses for me.

The purpose of this blog was for me to share my dating experiences at a stage in my life where I'm closing in on the senior days. I'm 54 years old and unless I meet Hercules, the men I date are going to have challenges in one form or another.

If they can accept my challenges, then I can accept theirs.

~ Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you're needed by someone.
Martina Navratilova

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