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“It’s how you say it and when you say it that determines how it comes across,” she says.
Of course, the decision of how or when to talk about your condition is different for everyone.
That usually involved telling her dates what MS is, and more importantly, how it affected her. If someone is not willing to stick with you through the challenges of a chronic illness like MS, it’s better to find out sooner than later.
“It’s about taking some risks, but also protecting yourself by not waiting too long,” she says.
For example, if the person you’re dating is struggling to cut a piece of chicken or zip his or her jacket because of MS-related numbness, sit tight and be alert, but always wait to offer assistance.
Double vision, eye pain, and blindness also can be associated with MS.
Once Milliken started dating again a few months after her diagnosis, she never delayed in sharing it.
“I would bring it up on the second date because it was dominating my headspace,” she says.
“When people are diagnosed with a chronic illness they take an emotional hit,” says Rosalind Kalb, Ph D, director of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Professional Resource Center. ’” Your love life may have some twists and turns, but rest assured: People with MS can and do find meaningful, lasting relationships -- and have fun along the way.
After Ann Marie Johnson’s diagnosis in 2002 in her early 30s, “I had to learn about the new me,” she says.
If she says eight, he goes ahead and cancels everything on their calendar that day. “Good relationships don’t do very well when they have a foundation of secrecy or half-truths,” she adds.