Zack, a 39-year-old writer and college professor in Raleigh, North Carolina, was happy to oblige. In fact, he felt the same way about his own chronic condition, a social anxiety disorder related to autism, though the metaphor he preferred was “social battery” — i.e., he could only spend so much time around others before needing to recharge by himself.
Still, Cara’s illness required Zack to adjust what he calls his “bachelor issues.” For example, when he was living alone, he never noticed toothpaste or hair piling up in the sink. But since Cara was prone to infection, such dude-dom debris wasn’t just disgusting to her, it was potentially life-threatening. Also, while Cara could walk short distances with a cane, she was predominantly confined to a wheelchair. Thus, an errant laundry basket in the hall between the kitchen and bathroom could add precious minutes to Cara’s trek to the toilet. And if she did successfully make it, a whole new set of problems arose if Zack had taken a shower earlier and left water on the floor.