Dating While Fat & Disabled

Yesterday was my partner & my 1 year anniversary. In many way it’s been a wonderful year - I’m very lucky to have met & fallen in love with this amazing woman & we’ve had a lot of fun. We’ve also had a lot of challenges.

The big, unexpected challenge came in the form of a small fall in February which resulted in two broken feet, two surgeries, a month in hospital, two months in a wheelchair, lots of time being bed-bound & ongoing pain and mobility problems. I now walk with a stick almost every day, am unable to stand still for long without pain & frequently have to ice my feet after moderate walking.

Because of my accident, many of my ongoing health issues were pushed to one side in 2011 & I’m starting to feel the toll of ignoring them for so long. My mental health (I have Bi-Polar, ADD, PTSD and Anxiety) is in a very dire state - particularly since my anti-depressant (Citalopram) has been found to cause heart damage at the dose I’m on. My sleep is all over the place & I’d like to taper off my Seroquel but every time I try I go completely insane. It doesn’t help that my Psychiatrist has started telling me that I should stop walking with a walking stick & lose lots of weight because “it looks bad on a person [my] age”. Finding a new Psychiatrist is my first job for this year.

I have a brain problem (Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension) cause by fluid build-up around inside my skull which causes intense headaches which are fairly impervious to standard pain-killers. This condition has been getting steadily worse & I’ll probably have to a shunt installed later this year. I also have PCOS and have been having some strange goings-on in my groin that suggest that its friend Endometriosis might have been hiding with it all along.

My partner has a long family history of auto-immune diseases and many of the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (which both her Mother and younger sister) also have. She also has a very long history of doctors completely ignoring everything she says. She is frequently in pain, often has difficulty walking and struggles with using her hands. Her symptoms have gotten steadily worse over the last year, but due to clean blood tests and the persistent idea that only old people get arthritis she has been unable to access treatment.

We take care of each other as best we can, but sometimes it’s hard.

Sometimes just going on a date is hard!

For our Anniversary, I decided we should revisit our first date - we had eaten lunch at one of Melbourne’s many trendy lane-way cafes & then caught an exhibit. The original date had also involved a lot of extra wandering & beer-drinking but I knew we’d be unlikely to manage that this time.

The day didn’t get off to an auspicious start - I’d had a bad headache the night before & we’d both had trouble sleeping so we stayed in bed far longer than we’d intended. Thankfully, we’re both used to unexpected delays by this point. But we got up, left the house and made it in to town eventually - which was by no means guaranteed!

The cafe we went to, Jungle Juice, is definitely not made with the fat and/or mobility challenged customer in mind. It’s about the side of our bathroom at home and the tables are crammed in as close as they can. But their bagels and coffee are delicious and the staff are absolutely lovely - happy to let us take up two tables & gracious about me tripping them all up with my stick.

Because I had been sick a lot of the previous week, we had some shopping we needed to do - purely romantic outings are a luxury we can’t really afford these days. I briefly entertained the notion of applying for a job I saw advertised at a sex shop I like…before I realised that the stairs would pose a rather large problem & that my anxiety probably couldn’t take being a fat, disabled woman behind the counter at an inner city sex shop. (The shop is Twisted Toys on Russel St at the staff have always been absolutely lovely - when I’ve made it up the stairs!)

Before we went to the exhibit we stopped for gelati at Cafe Deluxe in Fed Square. While their gelati is excellent I was literally unable to sit in their chairs - it’s not just that they were uncomfortable, it’s that I was worried if I tried to force myself between the arms the chair would spring apart like I was in a cartoon!

Finally, we made it to ACMI. We were already very tired by this point, but absolutely determined to see their “Star Voyager” exhibit before it ended. The exhibit was interesting and had a lot to see, but sadly I couldn’t see a lot of it. For an exhibit where the main interest is in rare and archival video footage there was a distinct lack of seating. There were big groups of viewing stations that I just couldn’t use because I couldn’t stand for long enough to make them worthwhile. Most of the seating was in front of art installation style films which, while interesting, are not my favourite. I did enjoy the 3-D Mars Landscape film & some terrific Space-themed music videos, bu ultimately I left feeling like I’d missed out on a huge chunk of the exhibit - probably because I had.

While our day out (and the extravagant home-cooked meal we had afterwards) was huge fun, it completely wiped both of us out. I had to cancel both my commitments today & have spent most of the day in bed. I wouldn’t have missed yesterday for the world, but I just wish that it could have been a little easier.

This year is going to be one of focusing on our health - and, who knows, maybe next anniversary we’ll climb a mountain!