Creating and Maintaining Loving Partnerships While Trying to Heal Your Body

by Nicole Aivazoglou at The Living Fuel 

There is so much information out there on how to heal from a chronic illness— protocols, supplements, nutrition tips, lifestyle tools and more. But no one ever talks about how to deal with finding a partner or maintaining a relationship while simultaneously healing. I’ll be the first to tell you that the last thing you want to do when you have zero energy is to peel yourself off the couch, get all dressed up and go on a date. Chronic illness and dating are hard! I’m here to tell you my story and give you some actionable tips that worked for me.

There are things in life you truly can’t plan for. Chronic illness being one of them. When my health issues hit, I was freshly dating, my now husband, Manoli, and we were enjoying the “honeymoon phase” of our early relationship in New York City. We enjoyed dining out, going to concerts and clubs, and exploring our new relationship in a lively city. Little did we know, everything would change drastically a few months into our dating.

Getting Sick

One morning in May of 2019, I woke up feeling intense vertigo, heart palpitations, crippling anxiety, and completely out of my body. After a week of hospitalization, scans, and appointments, doctors ruled my condition Lyme Disease.

I was scared and all I wanted in that moment was the comfort from my partner, Manoli. When I called to tell him the news, his response was, “We will figure this out together,” and over the course of the next few months, we did.  Manoli took care of me, whether it was giving me a place to stay so I wasn’t lonely or taking me to the doctors, he was truly my rock in the hardest period of my life. However, our social life, spontaneity, and the excitement of our relationship had to take a major backseat.

The Lyme, and although I did not know it at the time, mold toxicity, made me extremely sensitive to every single food I ate and chemical I smelled; this was so severe that I was even having allergic reactions to different kinds of water. Anytime Manoli would give me a kiss on the cheek or lips, I would immediately break out into hives. Another huge strain in our relationship in regard to intimacy was then created.

Around 6 months into my healing journey as I slowly regained my strength, we decided to try out a date night for Manoli’s birthday and go to a concert. The second we walked into the venue, my ears began ringing and the noise was unbearable. I immediately stepped outside, called a car, and we had to head home. I could see the disappointment on Manoli’s face, and it was then that I realized this wasn’t just my life that I was hindering, it was his as well. I began resenting my illness and felt so sorry for my partner who wasn’t symptomatic but had to suffer with me.

Mold Changes Everything

Fast forward to a year later, my symptoms were finally under control, and I was finally starting to feel like myself again. Manoli and I decided to move to Miami together for a fresh start and to get out of the hustle and bustle of NYC. Within the first month of living in our new home, my symptoms resurfaced, and I was getting sick almost every week. Manoli also started to feel a little off as well, and we had no idea what had brought this all on. Then, I started seeing a new doctor in Miami who opened my eyes to mold toxicity, and I realized that mold exposure was a missing piece to my story all along.

When we tested our apartment with an ERMI test, the score came back astronomically high for dangerous mold toxins. Living there was causing me to feel sicker and sicker by the day, and I began getting other diagnoses like hypothyroidism and SIBO, which I now believe were both linked to the mold. In discussing next steps with several doctors, they all said there is only one real option–to move out and get rid of our contaminated items, and I mean EVERYTHING. All clothes, shoes, bags, home items, pretty much anything that wasn’t glass or metal could NOT be moved from the moldy apartment to a new place. As a disclaimer, I don’t believe this is the only option for everyone, but with the level of sensitivity I was at, it was for me. 

Relationship Crossroads

When I began to explain the situation to Manoli and to educate him on mold toxicity, I could see him begin to shut down. He didn’t want to move from our seemingly great apartment, and he certainly did not want to get rid of his belongings. Me being the one who was so sensitive and sick and him feeling fine with very minor symptoms, it was so hard for me to even justify this crazy move for him to take. We argued for months over this, and it led us to a breaking point. I felt cornered with having to decide between my health and the love of my life. We finally sat down and talked through it together. We created a non-hostile, open space where we both could speak, and each say our side with no interruptions. I recognized the sacrifices he would have to make, and he recognized my yearning for optimal health. When we finished our discussion, Manoli decided to move forward with me, to break our lease, and to get rid of his belongings as well. It was in that moment that our relationship was forever changed for the better.

We both read the book The Power of Now during this process and it really helped reframe our mindsets around material things and what actually matters. Getting rid of our belongings felt cathartic and like a fresh start. During this time Manoli also got his body tested for mold, and it turns out he had some detoxing to do as well. This was helpful to reinforce that our decision not only for me, but also for his health.

We moved into a low mold apartment with nothing but the clothes on our backs and had to rebuild our home and relationship. I am happy to report that I no longer deal with the crippling symptoms and inflammation that I once did, and I believe my environment was truly hindering me from my healing potential. Manoli successfully detoxed his body from mold toxins as well. He now understands how mold can wreak havoc on the body and is grateful to have gone through this process to now help others through it as well.

9 Tips for Navigating Relationships with a Chronic Illness

There really isn’t anything more taxing on a relationship than a chronic illness. Especially when one of the partners is more sensitive than the other, which is most of the time. Having come out on the other side of this experience, here are some of my tips and takeaways for anyone else out there dealing with something similar:

Tip #1: Look at your relationship as a PARTNERSHIP, not two individuals living their lives. This was the major shift in our journey, when we started to work together instead of against each other. There are times to be selfish in life, but in a relationship that is worth fighting for, sacrifice is necessary.

Tip #2: Relationships will always be a give and take. It will never be completely equal. There will be times where you will be riding high and others when your partner will be. Support each other no matter where you are. Manoli has sacrificed so much for me, so I go out of my way to do the same for him now. That’s what a relationship is, having each other’s backs through the waves of life.

Tip #3: COMMUNICATE! The most important foundation for a relationship is communication. Don’t leave things unsaid!! Is your partner bothering you? Tell them with kindness. Is your partner making you happy in some way? Tell them with kindness. I truly believe that being vocal with each other saves relationships. Also with illness, if you aren’t feeling well, tell your partner! Instead of snapping at them for no reason, tell them in the morning, “Hey, I’m feeling symptomatic today. Just giving you a heads up I might need some space or extra support.” No one is a mind reader, so help each other out.

Tip #4: Plan date nights! Chronic illness can really affect the “lust” and fun in a relationship, especially when you feel low energy. Try and plan dates to keep things exciting! It doesn’t need to be anything crazy, even a picnic in the backyard, a movie night, or something healing like a yoga class or a sound bath. You will have to try extra hard with a chronic illness to do this tip, but your partner will really appreciate it and will know that are also willing to put in the effort to make the relationship work.

Tip #5: Use resources! Two books that changed our relationship were The Five Love Languages and The Power of Now. You will always be learning about your partner; put in the work for someone you really love.

Tip #6: Assess if the relationship is serving you in the best way possible. Is your partner sensitive to your needs? Understanding of your illness? Helpful when you are suffering? If you’re feeling drained and dragged down by them, they may not be the partner for you.

Tip #7: If you’re single, seek out a partner who understands what you’re going through or is open to learning. Having a partner with chronic illness is more work; you should be open and upfront about your situation when dating. Make sure they are up for the challenge and ready to work with you. 

Tip #8: Include your partner in your healing! Manoli loves doing infrared saunas, sound baths, IVs etc. with me. He also now better appreciates all of my healing tools. I love sharing these experiences with him and he feels better too.

Tip #9: Taking care of your relationship is important, but nothing is more important than taking care of yourself first. You can’t pour from an empty cup.  If the mood of your partner affects your mood, you may be using it as a crutch for your happiness. It may be a sign you need to go within and work on your inner happiness and peace before serving others.

Do you resonate with any of this? Shoot us a DM @thelivingfuel I would love to hear about your journey. Additionally, if you need help navigating a relationship through your chronic illness or feel stuck and need help in your healing journey you can book a 15 minute free discovery call with me to see if we could be a good fit.