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Would you date someone with heart disease?

(63 Posts)
JuliaGulia Sun 21-Apr-13 21:43:40

Hi all,

I'm divorced with 2 young kids.

Is it short sighted to dismiss someone who had this condition or should I protect my children from the uncertainty of what may lie ahead?

He's a nice chap, prepared to consider life with me + my 2 kids and seems really keen on me. I like him a lot, we have a great time but I'm just weary of getting involved with someone with a life restricting condition. It's congenital so he's lived with it all his life but there's no cure.

He can't do any sport, must walk slowly and sometimes sleeps with oxygen at night. He also has clubbed fingers which sometimes people stare at but they don't bother me.

Any words of advice? This is my first date since divorcing so I feel a bit inexperienced!


Doha Sun 21-Apr-13 22:08:10

He has lived with it all his life--so is he expected to get worse quickly or has he had these symptoms for a long time.

Lie is short for us all and God forbid you could get knocked down by a bus tomorrow, l am a great believer in going with the flow- what will be will be.

There is no harm in dating--it may not work out, just don't introduce him to your DC's until you know if it is going anywhere or not.

JuliaGulia Sun 21-Apr-13 22:28:02

Thanks Doha.

Ex and I have agreed no introductions to DC until 1 year into any relationship so that gives me time to think.

I sort of care about this guy so I don't want to mess him around because there's nothing he can do to change it.

So confused!

Doha Sun 21-Apr-13 22:44:28

Why would you be messing him about! Give it a go, it may not work out but you won't know if you don't try.

You say it is a life restricting disease but is it life threatening/limiting. How old is he just now? How old are your Dc's? Remember the 1 year rule --that gives you a bit of space.

JuliaGulia Sun 21-Apr-13 23:01:26

Thanks for your reply Doha.

My twins are just 3 so pretty active and still highly dependent on me.

He's 35. I don't think it's life threatening but I just fear that 10 years down the line I could be pushing him round with an oxygen tank strapped to his wheelchair. Or worse still, he'll become an integral part of my kids lives and then pops his clogs and my kids feel that loss.

He's a bit wheezy but has a full time job, runs a house and we've spent full days together sight seeing etc. he just needs to stop and rest regularly which isn't what life with small children is like.

I really want to know more about his condition before getting too involved but he got a bit upset when I asked too many questions - probably because he just doesn't know himself and nor do the doctors as every case is different. He said he'd like to live to 70 but my nan is 90 and has been a widow for over 20 years and it's not what I would choose.

I want someone to grow old with!

ImperialBlether Sun 21-Apr-13 23:28:20

I don't think you sound keen enough on him, to be honest. If you take away his health problems, how do you feel about him? I think if you were crazy about him, maybe you wouldn't be asking the question.

SwedishEdith Sun 21-Apr-13 23:55:26

I agree that you don't sound keen - "sort of care" doesn't sound enough on which to base a long-term relationship.

Lizzabadger Mon 22-Apr-13 06:45:48

I don't think you want a relationship with him that much either. I think you feel guilty in case it's because of his condition and you want permission from us.
It is fine not to want a relationship with him regardless of the reason.

NotTreadingGrapes Mon 22-Apr-13 07:05:10

Agree with the others. If you were really into him, you wouldn't be asking.

JuliaGulia Mon 22-Apr-13 07:48:07

I probably like him a bit more than I'm letting on. We've been seeing each other weekly for a couple of months and I'm having such a great time with him. I guess I'm not letting myself get too head over heels incase I can't overcome the restrictions that come with the heart condition.

My first husband left me unexpectedly for someoneelse. I guess I want to protect myself from loosing another man - and the kids loosing someone they've come to love.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 22-Apr-13 08:19:12

He's 35 with a condition that has already been spotted and is presumably being treated, managed and monitored. He'll be more aware than most about living a healthy lifestyle, watching his weight, eating the right foods. Of all people, he is least likely to drop down dead kicking a football.... it's the ones that don't know they have a heart condition that do that.

Death is part of life and you can't protect yourself from life. He'll probably outlive you...

'He'll be more aware than most about living a healthy lifestyle, watching his weight, eating the right foods. Of all people, he is least likely to drop down dead kicking a football.... it's the ones that don't know they have a heart condition that do that.'

Unfortunately no that isn't the case. The man described has a serious congenital problem. This isn't like high cholesterol or something that requires a bit of replumbing after crap lifestyle choices. This is a serious structural problem and this man's body will have been under additional strain all his life. This is harsh but if I was looking at a scenario dispassionately no I wouldn't get involved. Chronic illness puts a huge strain on a relationship. I work in an area which has a life limited polulation, some of whom have congenital disease. It's bloody miserable. I've seen some fantastic examples of loving care but is it something you would choose? No it isn't.

Protect yourself and your kids and stop this now before you fall in love with him and can't leave him.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 22-Apr-13 09:00:26

Actually... missed the bit about sleeping with oxygen... blush

JuliaGulia Mon 22-Apr-13 10:05:05

He lives a very healthy lifestyle and the oxygen is by choice not necessity. I agree it's not something I'd choose but I had a cancer scare a few years back - would I expect someone to steer clear? I don't know.

He's on the latest available medication straight out of trials which helps his condition and he has monthly check ups to make sure he's doing well.

Frustratingly we have a lot in common and we get on really well. After the marriage break up it's wonderful to think that there's another chance with someone and i'd hate to throw that chance away. We've agreed to take things week by week and see how things go but surely everyone begins to plan ahead at some stage...

My brother in law is only 30 and he has a pace maker. They found out after my sister had married him but she would never think of leaving him. But I know this ahead of getting involved with someone - I'm not sure what is worse.

Moominsarehippos Mon 22-Apr-13 10:08:02

I'd see how it goes. Don't feel that you need to daye him/not because of the illness. Take him for who he is, and not the wrapper.

Good luck!

Moominsarehippos Mon 22-Apr-13 10:09:10

Daye = date!!

Oxygen isn't a 'choice'. It's been prescribed for him. He has a medical need for it and somebody having monthly hospital appointments is not by any stretch a 'well' person. This man has a serious illness. Do you think he's been totally honest with you about it?
Look, you obviously like him a lot and I agree it's not nice at all to think people may steer clear because of medical issues. Fwiw my child has a congenital heart defect albeit one which hopefully won't impact on her life too much. You were asking if you should let your heart rule your head and my answer is head rule heart on this one. It's totally different when you're already in a relationship and an issue comes up. The majority of disability is acquired not congenital. We should all be prepared for life changing injuries or disease and then you have to just get on with it. Your situation is different.

TheFlyingBanana Mon 22-Apr-13 10:36:29

Run for the hills. You are just going to end up being a full-time carer for him.

hanahsaunt Mon 22-Apr-13 10:58:14

As the aunt of children who have life-limiting conditions this makes me both angry and heartbroken that future partners will assess them on the impact they might have on their lifestyle. How awful to be given the third degree about your health before someone decides to date you or not.

My dh was upfront about his potential medical issues - probable infertility (though turned out not to be, much to our surprise) and the likelihood of developing illnesses secondary to the illness he had as a child and a probable lower life expectancy. Did it matter? No. What will be, will be.

I think if you have to ask the question, you already know the answer.

kittybiscuits Mon 22-Apr-13 11:05:05

A person considering embarking on a full on relationship with someone with a very serious health problem has every right to know the full facts of the situation. I noted that you said you didn't like to ask too many questions OP as he became upset. This concerns me. We are not talking about a 'maybe it's serious, maybe it isn't' situation here. I also think you feel a sense of responsibility already. I would consider stepping back a little, and also becoming clear that is absolutely fine for you not to head blindly into a situation where you don't really know the health status of your potential partner. It seems like it's difficult for the two of you to communicate about this. That is the main issue right now.

AnyFucker Mon 22-Apr-13 11:08:52

You can't have oxygen prescribed by "choice"

It is an extremely well-controlled drug and to have it in his home would have been very carefully planned. That, and the expense of it, would not happen for reasons of "choice"

it's more likely he had no choice in the matter, and needd it for his health.

it may be that his need for it at the moment is not as critical, but it certainly will have been at some point

blueshoes Mon 22-Apr-13 11:34:13

He needs to be honest with you about the full extent of his medical condition and you need to brave to press him for it.

Only then can you make an informed decision for the benefit of yourself and your dcs. Don't slide into a relationship by default if there is such a big elephant in the room.

I think that whenever you embark on a longterm relationship it needs to be on the basis that you will deal, as a couple, with anything that comes up healthwise. Even with that intention , many relationships fail in the face of illness and disability. If you aren't prepared to have that intention then you shouldn't be embarking on the relationship and that's really what the OP is asking I think.
I've seen my sister be widowed young. I wouldn't wish that on anybody and if it's possible for heart to be ruled by head I would want to protect people I care about from that sort of loss. Of course it isn't possible a lot of the time and by protecting yourself from one sort of loss you can inflict another on yourself, losing out on what could have been a wonderful life enhancing relationship. Depending on which 'side of the fence' you're on that will strongly influence how you feel.
Is it 'fair' that people with life limiting illness may be confronted by these worries in potential partners? No of course it isn't. It's terribly, horribly unfair. What's even worse though is people getting in to relationshsips and then years down the track having a partner back away because 'it isn't what they thought it would be' - now that's truly heartbreaking. Better to think first, cold as I know it may seem, than back out later.

digerd Mon 22-Apr-13 12:38:37

I know a man you knew he was born with a congenital heart defect that could not be cured. He married and his wife knew about his condition. They had a child.
He died aged 35 when the child was 10. {sad face}

digerd Mon 22-Apr-13 12:39:33


Dahlen Mon 22-Apr-13 12:46:21

I wouldn't. I think there are many challenges in life that a good, strong, established relationship should be able to deal with - this being one of them. That's quite a different matter to embarking on a new relationship with these sorts of problems. One of the reasons established relationships cope better with these challenges is because of the bond and shared history. That simply isn't there is a new relationship, which means that in the thick of it when things get tough, it can be very hard to remember why you got involved in the first place. That leads to resentment, anger and sadness.

No one has a crystal ball, and yes you could take up with a perfectly healthy man who gets knocked down by a bus tomorrow, but although life is always a game of chance, you can do a lot to affect the odds. With children who will inevitably live with the consequences of any decision you make about this, I would be erring on the side of caution.

rockmemum Mon 22-Apr-13 16:31:26

Many years ago I met a guy I really really liked...he was HIV+. He told me straight away, before anything got physical. I found out all I could about HIV, found out at that time that he probably had about 10 years to live and we could never have kids. I pictured myself a widow at 40, alone and lonely. My family and some friends warned me not to get involved with him but I did - I loved him.

20 years later guess what? He's still around, I'm not a widow and we have beautiful DCs thanks to new fertility treatment. Docs say he'll live a normal long life, he's very healthy and we hardly ever think about HIV.

All I'm saying is you don't know what the future holds and if I'd listened to people who told me to stay away from him, I wouldn't be where I am today. Sure, there are issues. But those issues force us to be open and honest with each other about everything - our fears and our hopes and dreams.

noddyholder Mon 22-Apr-13 16:36:19

I have a very serious heart condition and my consultants said initially that it was uncertain but in most congenital cases they had seen life was different and limited in some ways but not shorter. HTH My dp has always known about my health issues but we work with it and we had to becasue we loved each other and there was no alternative smile. You could meet someone else perfectly healthy who could die too! I try and live in the day as the future is not really a 'place'

noddyholder Mon 22-Apr-13 16:40:26

My doctors have always said me having a diagnosis is a gift those who generally collapse suddenly are undiagnosed. I have had this all my life but became symptomatic in 2000 and now 13 yrs on I am on medication. Who knows what will happen Life is unpredictable.

Leverette Mon 22-Apr-13 16:43:41

Is he on the transplant list? As others have said, having oxygen at home is a pretty big deal.

noddyholder Mon 22-Apr-13 16:58:55

I don't have oxygen. What is the condition?

Lizzabadger Mon 22-Apr-13 17:42:55

Do you know what syndrome he has? There are several associated with clubbed fingers, I believe. If you find out the name then you can find out the range of possible prognoses.

AnyFucker Mon 22-Apr-13 17:45:28

OP shouldn't have to be doing this research

She should be talking openly about it with this man. The fact that he is resisting that is the problem, not the illness he has per se

weebarra Mon 22-Apr-13 18:01:35

My DS has a congenital heart defect. At the moment he seens perfectly normal (although he sleeps a lot more than the average 2 year old). I don't know what his prognosis is. It saddens me that his condition may affect his future relationships but I suppose that's only because I hadn't thought about it before.
I think you probably need to have an honest and upfront conversation with this man about the future.

Lizzabadger Mon 22-Apr-13 18:11:36

True. Even if he were prepared to discuss it I'd still do my own independent research in the OP's shoes though, in case he's minimising. I am an untrusting cow though.

AnyFucker Mon 22-Apr-13 18:14:06

Oh yes, I would too. It wouldn't be the first thing I did though, if he wasn't forthcoming.

I would walk away instead

happyfreeconfused Mon 22-Apr-13 18:21:51

I did go out with a man for a year who had had open heart surgery and had been given fifteen or so years to live. I was young and childless and didn't think twice about it. In your position, it is a bit different. I would just do some casual dating and see how it goes. It might not go much further anyway.

Health is just one of the things we DO take in to account when working out who's right for us. Career plans, do you want children, religious views, attitude to money, attitude to men, attitude to women - it's all stuff that you bring to a relationship. Everybody's relationships are affected by many, many things. It's not only health.
If the OP was asking advice on a relationship with a man who was completely upfront about the fact that he intends to spend the next 40 years working on antarctic research with mega periods away, we wouldn't think she was unreasonable for taking in to account the effect on her dreams and aspirations - and that's for something that can be completely changed. I have a friend who married a man with one child from a previous marriage and a very painful divorce when his wife cheated on him. She wasn't unreasonable to have thought very carefully about marrying him, knowing the pain he had carried and the ongoing responsibilities he had.

NutraxForNerves Mon 22-Apr-13 19:05:53

I'm another with a congenital heart condition. Emotionally I want to just say "how dare you consider turning him down because of this", because that's how I'd feel about it.

But putting that aside - because this is not my emotional life - some practical things to think about, if you're unsure just on this issue:
- see if you can go with him to see the cardiologist, who will be able to explain the condition and the various possible ways it might or might not progress.

- I have known quite a few youngish men with congenital heart disease and small children. Even those that can't run around after them are fully able to be dad; they cope because they find a way around the limitations.

- as other people have said, anyone can get ill, there are no guarantees. That said, someone with a cyanotic heart condition are probably less likely to make old bones. But again, there are no guarantees: heart surgery is so new that the really long-term outcomes aren't known.

- technology advances so quickly; if he's not a candidate for transplant at present or doesn't want to go down that road, there may be something amazing coming along in 5 years. Or there may not.

- better that you decide no now than that you leave if the going gets tough later.

- there is a saying that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I have also known a number of people widowed young as a result of their spouse's congenital heart disease. Perhaps they wouldn't admit it to me anyway, but I don't know of any that wished they had never married their spouse.

- he, or you, or both, might find it helpful to call the Somerville Foundation helpline. That is staffed by people who know all about these issues and may be able to put you in touch with someone who decided to go for it, so you can talk honestly about the things that worry you and how they deal with it. The Somerville Foundation has an annual conference and various events in the year, and I know that the spouses, as well as the patients, find the opportunity to talk to others with the same condition to be invaluable.

Good luck with your decision.

Very sensible post nutrax - and I LOVE your user name. I adore that book. One of my favourites.

'Are you taking too much out of yourself?' illustrated with...........grin

noddyholder Mon 22-Apr-13 19:15:06

I didn't realise it was a cyanotic condition I assumed cardiomyopathy like myself Sorry x

NutraxForNerves Mon 22-Apr-13 19:16:56

Thanks, NorthernLurker - reading it at present - after a spell of needing Nutrax!!

NutraxForNerves Mon 22-Apr-13 19:17:37

Sorry, Noddy, I'm assuming cyanotic because of the clubbing but the OP hasn't specified so I may be wrong!

I think the need for oxygen may suggest cyanosis doesn't it?

Nutrax - have you read any of the Jill Paton Walsh LPW books? They're not bad.

killerrobot Mon 22-Apr-13 19:38:59

It seems cruel that someone has been dealt a bum deal in life and then loses out again because someone doesn't want to commit to them because of their 'defect'. But you are a person with wants and needs too, not a charity.

The fact that you are asking yourself the question is perfectly natural, and doesn't necessarily mean you aren't that into him. You need to know what you are dealing with.

I wish both of you happiness, however things turn out between you.

killerrobot Mon 22-Apr-13 19:41:52

Wonderful post, Nutrax.

NutraxForNerves Mon 22-Apr-13 20:03:36

That's very kind of you, killerrobot.

Northernluker - I have read Jill Paton Walsh's efforts but she hasn't Sayers' gift for language so while I quite like them, I don't LOVE them.

I know what you mean. There are some bits of dialogue where you just find yourself saying 'NO, NO, NO - go back to Oxford JPW and try harder'

Apologies for the hijack OP blush

crazyhead Mon 22-Apr-13 22:22:47

I think it is reasonable that this man is very upfront about his condition before you commit heavily, in the same way that I think it would be fair if he wanted to know all about your children, how you were now co-parenting and cooperating with your ex etc. Both are parts of your lives that will have a serious impact on the other person if you stay together, so therefore it is better to be honest.

When I read about your situation - someone walking out on you, very young twins, I feel very sympathetic and a bit tired on your account - that sounds like a lot to handle. If this is your first dating experience post divorce, then it sounds to me at least as though fun, a good laugh, a bit of passion etc might first and foremost be in order for you right now. I suppose my main question would be whether this situation IS actually able to be light and fun or whether you are being pushed into heavy territory too quickly? only you know that.

This is making me sad for my DD who has a congenital heart defect. She's well at present (aged 10) but who knows what the future holds. I too was born with a congenital heart problem (Fallot's) and my parents were given no odds for my survival. I had groundbreaking surgery and I've had a total recovery. Anyway if I was you I would have a frank discussion with your DP, book a visit to see his consultant and find out everything you can.

I always think about my friend who met the love of her life and he was knocked down by a car and killed. Life is very short. You can't possibly make a decision until you are more informed about his condition. I'm a firm believer in medical advances.

Good luck.

happyfreeconfused Tue 23-Apr-13 08:28:17

I think you should grab a chance of happiness when you can. If you really like him and it's fun go for it. If it's heavy or intense or dull, call it a day as you would with or without the health issues.

Moominsarehippos Tue 23-Apr-13 09:20:19

I suppose if we were all rational beings we wouild take a good hard look at our potential partners...and run a mile!

You could be run ovwer tomorrow, oir live to a healthy 100. Life is too short to not try for happiness.

littlecrystal Tue 23-Apr-13 09:53:50

I would if the man was worth it. I would even have a naïve expectation that he would be more committed as he wouldn’t have the energy to lie, go for affairs or do stupid things in general.
However, OP you don’t sound that keen.

blueshoes Tue 23-Apr-13 09:56:15

I would not go for a man who was not prepared to totally lay his cards on the table in terms of telling you the extent of his medical condition.

I would suggest you ask him point blank. If he is cagey, it is as if he is tricking you into getting too emotionally involved to extricate yourself. Be very careful in that instance.

Lucylloyd13 Tue 23-Apr-13 10:20:33

I think this is less about his condition and more about this being an early date.

If you care for someone enough, then so long as they are alive, it can be worth it!

But when you are just returning to dating and working out what you do and dont want, then caution is wise.

xxdriftwoodxx Tue 23-Apr-13 15:05:14

My son has a congenital heart condition, he is 27,. He won't get attached to anyone incase he is poorly and having his dad die at an early age after an accident this put him off more so.
From a mums point of view I am devasted that he won't share his life with someone , have fun, children and share his worries. Life is unpredictable, but this man deserves happiness and if he is anything like my son he will live life to the max!
If you are unsure though follow your doubts because I am sure he would rather you spent time with him because you wanted too, not out of pity.
It is a difficult one but I would hope one day my son funds someone he can share his life with , what ever it throws at them, instead of him being alone worried about burdening someone...just follow your heart xx

LondonJax Tue 23-Apr-13 16:15:54

As the mum of a 6 year old with a congenital heart defect, I'd be disappointed in him if he didn't tell a girlfriend about his heart defect and wasn't prepared to answer her questions. It's that bit I'm slightly concerned about. To me, it would seem as if something were being hidden. DS's condition is related to the valves and one in a thousand new borns have valve problems. So, by discussing it with a girlfriend, he'd be able to show her that she's actually got a pretty good chance of meeting someone who actually didn't know they had a 'dicky ticker' as we call it in our house. She could then weigh up the odds. I'd be encouraging him to take her along for his next check up so she could see what his issue could be and could speak to someone about it. We were told, when DS was born, that without his procedure he wouldn't live a month. He had the procedure, he's still with us. We were told he may lack energy - he was up on the dance floor until 1am when I celebrated my birthday recently! We were told he may need a new valve when he was 3, then when he started school...he's had no procedure since the one he had when he was a fortnight old. We were told he could get poorly if he caught a cold. He's had 2 days off school since he began Foundation in September 2011 (not last year, the year before). But a girlfriend wouldn't know this. She'd need to be reassured.

Put it another way, if your new man mentioned to you, at the start, that he couldn't get involved with someone who had children, would you hide them? Because you and everyone else knows that won't make the problem go away. He needs to let you discuss your fears. He's lived with this all the time. You're new to that life and he needs to respect your fears.

noddyholder Tue 23-Apr-13 16:55:40

This is sad for me to read esp for the children and the 27 yr old who may face this. I had kidney failure at 19 and had a transplant I met my then dp about 6 months later and we were together 6 years travelled the world etc and it was not the cause of our break up. I then met dp and we had ds and my transplant failed when ds was 2 and I had another when he was 4. After the 2nd transplant they discovered I had been born with a heart problem and we had to just accept it and keep going! They fiddles aroud with my drugs to get the right combination and now 13 yrs on I ma fairly stable. W ehave been together 21 years and in that time have sadly lost about 4 friends to various illnesses that they were diganosed with in their 30s and 40s. I believe in being honest from day one but in the years between aged 18 and now 47 things have progressed so much and continue to and I hope to be around for many years smile

weebarra Tue 23-Apr-13 20:43:23

Londonjax - couldn't have said it better myself. Where our DSs differ from the norm is that they had acute problems fron birth (DS2 had a coarctation of the aorta) and other issues which are relatively common but have just been picked up and monitored because of their rocky starts.
I hope to be able to educate my DS as to what his condition may mean and then he can do the same with whoever he wants to spend his life with.

Honsandrevels Tue 23-Apr-13 21:06:30

Op Maybe if you felt strongly enough about this man then his illness might not be a deciding factor in whether to pursue the relationship.

Noddy Did you have any help with helping ds understand the transplant? I had a liver transplant 8 years ago and all dd (4) knows is that I have scars on my tummy from a big operation. I'm not sure when/how to broach it.

noddyholder Tue 23-Apr-13 21:21:19

Well I had the first one may years before he was born. I had another when he was 6 and with that one he had seen me on dialysis and we explained it in very simple terms to him and he just accepted it. He is aware of my health issues but is 18 now and seems so far to accept it as part of me. I think it is easier when they are teens tbh or at least 10 for the actual facts as they can understand the different body parts and terminology by then. It is a hard one as you want to protect them from the pain of it all but also want to be honest.

noddyholder Tue 23-Apr-13 21:21:58

He was 6 not 4 as I said in previous post

Honsandrevels Tue 23-Apr-13 21:28:58

Thanks Noddy, that's helpful.

Sorry for butting in op.

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