How to Have a Safe Date Night With Sarcoidosis

🦋 Kerry Wong avatar

by 🦋 Kerry Wong |

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I’ve joked before that “middle-aged date night” entails my husband and me scheduling our annual physicals together. First the doctor’s office, then the lab, then maybe a stop for lunch before we head home for a nap. Things change for everyone as they get older, but it feels like I’ve gotten older much younger since I’ve been living with sarcoidosis and other chronic illnesses.

Because sarcoidosis often includes systemic, or full-body, inflammation, it can feel like it is aging us prematurely. We likely have aches and pains throughout our bodies. We can lose stamina, agility, and dexterity. We might have difficulty walking, breathing, and even concentrating. We have more medical appointments, medications, and screenings than others, and may even have to retire early.

That’s been even more the case since the pandemic started. Regardless of how young we may be, we are in the same category as those above a certain age when it comes to vulnerability and vaccine guidelines. Because we’re at greater risk, we have to take greater precautions.

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This affects just about every aspect of life, especially our social lives. It’s risky to go places, see people, or do things like we used to. With a lot of research, planning, and preparation, I was able to go on a short and safe vacation with my husband last year. We’re hoping to take another trip in the fall, where we’ll be safely isolated on a beach property if it becomes safe enough to fly by then.

Even with that, we all need to have some sort of socialized experience more than once a year. Whether it’s a family dinner, a night out with friends, or a romantic getaway, we’ve got to tap in to that part of the brain and the heart that finds joy in what we do and who we do it with. As with cooking for me, we need something that is completely separate from our illness, even while it is adapted to meet our changing needs. It’s the only way we can even begin to balance out all the hardships that come with chronic illness.

Fortunately, I’ve just discovered a way to do that. Rather, my husband did, when he took me out for a COVID-19-safe date night that can easily be repeated with parents, children, or friends.

Dinner and a movie

It sounds so simple (and at one time, it was), but now there are so many obstacles. Restaurants and movie theaters are too crowded, and now that mask and vaccine mandates have been dropped in so many areas, I don’t feel safe going inside anywhere. But simply stating that problem to my husband actually led to a solution: Instead of going somewhere indoors, he found a way for us to enjoy dinner and a movie outdoors.

pandemic date ideas | Sarcoidosis News | A beautiful shot of the The Skyline Drive-In NYC outdoor movie screen on the left and a stunning blue and orange sky at sunset on the right

The Skyline Drive-In NYC was the perfect solution for a safe date night with my husband. (Photo by Kerry Wong)

First, my husband found a drive-in movie theater about an hour from where we live. It was showing a movie we both wanted to see but thought we’d have to wait (and avoid spoilers), because it was only in theaters. Over the past two years, we’d gotten spoiled by all the new films that were released on streaming services, but as theaters started opening up again, we started losing that option. But at the drive-in, we’re technically “in the theater,” but we’re actually in our own car, safely distanced and protected from everyone else there.

Next, he made a reservation at a vegetarian restaurant with outdoor seating only 10 minutes from the theater. My husband is very much a carnivore, but because I am a vegetarian, he knew I’d have better options there. Best of all, the restaurant had outdoor booths separated by cubicles, so we literally had our own space apart from the other diners.

Part of what made this so special was how completely ordinary it was. There were people dining at all the tables around us, and the drive-in was full of cars. For all I know, none of those people live with a rare disease like sarcoidosis. They weren’t there because it was the immunocompromised consolation prize. They were just eating delicious food and watching a blockbuster movie like regular people — and so were we.

Ultimately, the best thing about any date night is the person we’re with, and this particular date night really drove that point home. It is such an incredible demonstration of love that my husband is always looking for new ideas and finding ways for us to feel like our old selves while respecting my new limitations. I am definitely blessed when it comes to that, and though I can’t (or won’t) share him, I can surely share his ideas. And I encourage you to find and share what works for you, too.


Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

Comments

JILL STEVENS avatar

JILL STEVENS

I have systemic sarcoidosis. In my airway, (it affects my speach and breathing) I have scarring on my heart and in my lymph nodes. How were you able to medically retire? I have joint pain daily, mostly on my left side.

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🦋 Kerry Wong avatar

🦋 Kerry Wong

I'm sorry that you're struggling with this too, Jill. As for me, "medically retired" is basically another term for "disabled" that I've seen others use. I had to stop working in late 2013, and applied for Social Security Disability in 2014 (initially denied, then approved on appeal in 2016). If you're in the US, you can get information to apply at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/. Good luck!
~🦋

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