How a relationship can shape you

A relationship can teach you a lot about yourself. It offers another perspective into your daily choices and efforts. It can be a powerful source of self-accountability as well as an external pressure to always be your best.

I met the love of my life when I was in grade 10 at a New Year’s party in North Vancouver. After nearly two years of phone-tag and late night texting, we would finally start a relationship in January of our senior year.

I remember the first time I went to her house as if it was yesterday. I rushed home from school, put on some clothes — skinny jeans, a leather jacket and a black hoodie — and headed over to her house. Before leaving, I remember my grandmother looking at me with a smile as if she knew exactly where I was going. I walked for 10 minutes before I got to the pathway leading to her house. I waited there for another 10 minutes just to get my heart rate to slow down. When I finally arrived, she greeted me with a kiss. It felt like it was meant to be.

We both could never have predicted the way things would play out, however, one thing was for certain: we both need each other to overcome the obstacles ahead.

New Year’s Day, 2014 was a horrible day. I woke up to the sensation of a sharp “stabbing” pain in my right side. Given my high pain tolerance, I didn’t tell anyone until 3:00 am when things got out of hand.

I was rushed to the hospital, where later that morning, I found out that my right kidney had filled with blood. The first doctor I saw surgically implanted a stent to drain the blood, however this caused the blood to leak from my kidney, which worsened my condition. I was moved to Vancouver General Hospital to see the best urologist in the city, who ultimately decided to remove my kidney. After nearly 4 weeks of being hospitalized, I was released. The whole time, she never left my side.

A year later, my health took another turn for the worst. At the age of 19, I was diagnosed with Avascular Necrosis (AVN).

I have always struggled with my mobility due to the throbbing pains deep in my bones. We had seen doctors since I was 14 but no one could ever pinpoint a diagnosis. All I was told was that the formation and placement of my bones in my lower body was severely abnormal and I would be expected to have many complications as I aged.

Soon after my diagnosis, my mobility completely diminished. I left my computer science degree and I began a series of surgeries to treat the affected areas of my AVN — something that continues to this day. During this time, I put on weight, and I fell into a deep depression. I lost my ability to enjoy the things that I love and I isolated myself from her, my family and my friends. I never spoke openly about how I felt because I never thought anyone could relate. People around me seemed to have everything in place. It was easier to just pretend that everything was alright. It put less stress on the people that cared about me.

Each surgery that I underwent put me out for a while. When I was limited to my hospital bed, she was always there watching movies with me. She remained calm and certain that this would pass. Her energy and persistence was contagious and really made me revisit the way I saw and conducted myself.

I guess at a certain point you stop feeling sorry for yourself. I began to realize that I needed to completely change my lifestyle; spiritually and mentally. In my mind, I had accepted that this was who I was; a miserable guy living with a life-long physical disability. In her mind, I was still the strong, courageous guy that she fell in love with.

Our relationship continues to teach me a lot about myself. I’ve experienced various transitions personally, which have made me aware of the way that I conduct myself. Through all of my hardships, she has continuously been an inspiration to me and one of the reasons why I keep going with such positivity. I recognize that my energy affects those around me, and so I have tried to channel it accordingly. Our relationship is a beautiful thing; something I will never take for granted.

It is now my duty to help others crawl out of the hole I was once in.

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