On Finding Love: Donna and Harold
I was born in 1961. When I got old enough to consider dating, opportunities to try to find a date or partner were limited. Disability issues were not discussed much, there was no computer to network with, and certainly there was no information on Morquio. So . . . for me, dating wasn’t given much thought. I wore a back brace in 3rd grade and again in high school. I was in survival mode, getting through the day was my goal. Back then, I was praying I wouldn’t be stuck living with my parents the rest of my life! I wanted freedom and the independence to live on my own, like my two older sisters.
With a lot of encouragement, I did go to a couple high school dances with friends. We would also cruise the main boulevard on Saturday nights and party with people we met out on the streets. It was safe, as police were patrolling, and it was the fun thing to do. There were a couple of casual flirtations and phone numbers exchanged, but nothing ever came from it.
It wasn’t until my early 20s when I went to my first LPA National Conference that my dating life turned around. I attended because Dr. Kopits was going to be there to see patients. When I walked into the hotel lobby and saw all those little people who looked similar to me running around, having a great time, laughing, and doing scooter races down the hall, I was hooked, I felt connected!
After being in this organization a few years and volunteering in our local chapter, I started organizing an “Adults Night Out” with just single adults, and we’d go out to dinner, to clubs, dancing and just hanging out together. That was a great time in my life. I was finally getting a chance to meet others who understood where I was coming from, physically.
My dating life started by meeting people through friends. I’ve always felt more comfortable with this option of knowing someone who could already confirm they were a decent person. Maybe that was my way of protecting myself. I met Harold (who is a little person with Achondroplasia) through a couple of very good LP friends of mine. We dated for a couple years and moved in together. I didn’t have to explain all my medical issues, as he already knew what might be coming down the road for both of us. I didn’t feel rushed, even though we were both in our early 40’s. We were up front with each other about not having kids, how we wanted to travel, and what our goals were. We got to know each other and as time went by, I knew he was the one for me. That feeling of support from another physically challenged person is very valuable to me personally.
I don’t feel we’ve had any more difficult challenges than any other couple have, except for surgeries needed. Although, Harold has been in the caregiver position a lot more for me than I have had to be for him. He’s very willing and wants to take care of me as I recuperate from surgeries.
The only advice I can think of is to make sure you are open and honest with who you’re dating. Know yourself and what your limitations are so that you don’t end up pretending you can do things that are too physically difficult.
Four images of Donna and Harold, (top left) seated at a dinner table, (top center) toasting at their wedding, (top right) embracing at a train station, and (bottom) posing with bridesmaids at their wedding.