Five months into our relationship, I became very sick. I was having severe stomach problems, and it was a struggle for me to get through the day. I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis and limited intestinal function. Gastroparesis means that my stomach digests much slower than usual, so I get full very quickly. Limited intestinal function means things move very slowly through my intestines. Both issues cause bloating, cramping, constipation, and severe pain and discomfort regularly. Due to this diagnosis, I dropped almost ten pounds in less than a month, and I stopped eating.
One late afternoon on Saturday in November, during one of my visits to Greg, I was finishing up my homework on the couch, and Greg was beside me. He’d just gotten a text from his friend and seemed to hesitate before turning to me.
“So… my friend and his girlfriend want us to hang out tonight.” The hope for Greg’s face was evident.
“I just don’t feel well enough, and I don’t want to explain to people why I’m not eating.”
Greg’s face fell, and I hated myself for taking away what could have been a fun evening for both of us if I was feeling better. It’d been like this a lot since I’d gotten sick. Greg wants to do things and me not being able to.
“You can go without me,” I said. “Just tell them I don’t feel well. You can still have fun.”
Greg cuddled me close, careful not to squash my already upset stomach. “No, no, no. I just worry about you and want you to be OK. I’m happy to stay home with you. And we’ll have a good night in.”
Meet the Millennial Boyfriend Who Does Anything for His Girlfriend [MONY]
I’d never expected to be such a mess so early on in our relationship, but instead of running or pulling away, Greg jumped in with both feet to take care of me. We couldn’t do much, but Greg always told me he was just happy to be with me, and he loved me regardless of my illness.
Even more important than saying it, Greg showed me he loved me every day. When I couldn’t eat solid food, he went out and bought me Ensure. My eating three bites of solid food were cause for celebration, and Greg would yell and clap enthusiastically to spur me on. He was regularly checking in on me, always asking what he could do to help, and putting aside his own needs to cater to mine.
My illness made our relationship even more challenging, especially when we were apart. Often I would get debilitating pain, and would not also be able to sit up. Greg always wanted to know what was going on, but I hated telling him the truth because he worried so much, and there was nothing he could do to help me from so far away.