Hello everyone!  I’m back, and I’m officially a husband!  Thank you to everyone who sent well wishes and congratulations.  For those who have been asking, you can view some of the amateur photos over at my Facebook fan page, http://www.facebook.com/danielpmalito .  It has been a long time coming, and proof that people with autoimmune disease aren’t  doomed to a solitary and loveless life.  It isn’t going to be easy though – I know no marriage is, of course, but even in Hawaii I was reminded in stark fashion about the third member of our budding marriage – rheumatoid arthritis.

DanAllisonThe rite of passage called a “honeymoon” has been around for 2500 years, although the actual term was only coined in the 1500’s.  It’s a tradition thought to have started with my ancestors, the Vikings, and it stems from the “honey sweet” period at the beginning of a marriage, which lasted for a month, or one “moon.”  Some historians believe that it the term might also stem from the fact that in Scandinavia the couple drank honeyed wine for the first month or so, to ensure the marriage was “sweet.”

I don’t know about you, but spending a month vacation drunk on wine with my new wife would probably result in about nine months of bliss before the consequences popped out.  Whatever the origins of the word, though, it is supposed to be a time when the new couple can isolate themselves from the rest of the world, shed all the stresses and aggravations of planning a wedding, and hopefully increase the chances of a positive start to a lifelong union.  This is exactly what we were hoping for as well when we went to Hawaii, a location that is both physically and spiritually isolated from our home state of New York.

For those of you who have never visited the great state of Hawaii, let me reassure you – everything you’ve heard is absolutely true.  I have been lucky enough to visit four times, and each and every time, even when I was young, I did not want to leave.  Not only is the weather the perfect blend of wind and heat, but the living is so much easier there, especially when compared to the hustle and bustle of a place like Long Island.  People take time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings, and at least half the people on the islands are visiting tourists,  so no one spends too much time stressing out over anything more pressing than whether to order a Mai Tai or a Pina Colada, because even the drinks taste better in Hawaii.

As you can imagine, even though our wedding was filled with love, by the time it was over, we were ready to spend a week or two caring about nothing other than what bathing suit to put on.  Planning our wedding was one of the most stressful, most aggravating, endeavors we have ever undertaken, and there were points where I felt like the worst potential husband ever, because I began to wonder if it was all worth it.

Amazingly, when I mentioned this to a few of my married friends, they responded with, “oh that’s normal – if you don’t consider calling the whole thing off at least three times a day you aren’t doing it right.”  Nice.  I thought, “why didn’t anyone tell me this in the beginning?”  Probably because all the married people we knew experienced just a tiny smidge of ecstasy knowing that Allison and I were going through the same trials and tribulations that everyone else does.  Chances are, I’ll probably do the same thing when my unmarried friends finally tie the knot – sharing the misery will bind them closer anyway.

So, when the day came and we were finally heading to that island paradise, both of us couldn’t have been more ready to kick off our shoes and be pampered for a week or two.  Unfortunately, when we finally got to the airport and saw what was waiting for us at the gate, our hopes were dashed.  It seems that our flight also happened to be the transportation of choice for the senior class trip of a local high school, and they were, quite literally, bouncing off the walls.  I told Allison that they would “probably be fine,” but I knew I was lying the second I said it.

High school seniors going to Hawaii for a class trip?  That’s like crack with a side of super-crack for a crack addict.  My hopes of catching some zzz’s on the flight were dashed, and true to fashion, the kids were like a gaggle of geese in the back of the plane – clucking loudly the entire 12-hour flight.  At one point they even used the plane’s PA system to ask each other to the prom.  It was a veritable free-for-all.  Allison was especially upset because she was hoping to be able to turn off her teacher instinct for a while, but it looked like a lost cause.  Fortunately, I convinced my new bride to put on her headphones and try to sleep, and that once we got to Hawaii, she would see that it was all worth it.  Even the smell of the air when we got off the plane, I said, would smell like a sweet tropical Eden.  So we bit the bullet and tried to ignore the prep school class that had hi-jacked the rear of the 747, and I went without sleep.

When we finally got to Maui, after a second connecting flight, we were both exhausted.  In addition, my head was completely clogged with dirty airplane air and all the latest gossip from St. Sebastian’s social circle.  With no Wi-Fi on the flight, the students actually had to talk to each other, and when you are 18, that means gossiping.  So when we finally reached our hotel room that night, we passed out quickly after eating at the hotel bar.  I couldn’t wait until the next day when my head would be clear and the beach would be waiting.

Unfortunately, my disease had other plans.  To cut a long story short, my wretched disease had exacerbated the germs from the 747, and I had developed a chest cold.  I was going to have to get antibiotics on Maui, somehow.  What a nightmare, especially because it was the weekend and my doctor was not on call.  Trying to get a doctor to help you on Easter Sunday is more difficult than finding a four-leaf-clover, and a lot less charming.  I eventually had to find a doc-in-the-box, and on Maui, there was only one, so it was busy.  And expensive.  I eventually got a script, though, and with an entire day wasted, I eventually made it back to the hotel, dejected.

Even though Allison kept telling me it was no big deal, I couldn’t get out of my own head.  I kept thinking, “What kind of life have I cursed my wife to?”  We couldn’t even go away for a simple honeymoon without my disease making things difficult.  It was hard enough bringing my shots on the plane, and keeping them cold at the same time, but now I had to deal with a chest cold that any normal person should have been able to fight off?  God, I was so angry.  I wanted to scream off the balcony and punch through the wall at the same time.  The same questions kept playing, over and over, in my brain. “How long before this begins to affect my marriage?  What right do I have to ask Allison to deal with this bullshit?  How can I ever ask her for anything else besides to deal with this?  Will she end up resenting me one day for something I can’t even control?”

Over and over, the Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka’s factory sung songs in my head. “When you wed with illness a-round.  You get a wife and some kids who are always let-down!”  Of course, my wonderful new wife assured me she knew what she was taking on, and that every married couple has things they have to deal with, and that’s certainly true, but I felt like my disease was an “and also,” not an “instead of.”

To be honest, there really isn’t any good solution to this issue.  I’d love to tell you that somehow, magically, I found an answer to make me forget these things, but I’d be lying.  The simple fact is that these are the eternal questions those with illness must face, and they don’t ever go away.  All I can say is that if you find a worthy partner, and you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way.  Of course, it helps a lot if you are in Hawaii at the time.  Seriously.  Go there.  Aloha.