Ben Crichton and Jessica Bell arenít letting CFS stand in the way of their rekindled relationship.
Personal Stories: Ben Crichton
They met in kindergarten in their hometown near Milwaukee, dated in middle school, went to the junior prom together, became best friends and were inseparable. And then he got sick.
It came on gradually; doctors didn’t know what was wrong with him, but he was so tired he couldn’t get off the sofa. She thought he was being a jerk and, worse, that he didn’t like her any more. High school graduation came, and they went their separate ways.
She went to Duke in North Carolina. He had to drop out of Indiana University after first semester because of his illness. He enrolled in Marquette University back home in Milwaukee and concentrated only on getting better and getting his degree. By then he had a diagnosis—CFS—and knew what he was up against. He focused on healthy eating, getting the proper amount of rest and taking light course loads—a regimen that allowed him to manage his symptoms. Dating was hardly at the top of his list.
She moved to Spain and then to New York. He entered the family real estate business.
Then two years ago, at their 10-year high school reunion, they reconnected. The chemistry was immediate. He had not forgotten the “drop-dead gorgeous” blonde. And in her words, “The pull was so strong; it was all or nothing. We weren’t looking to get back together, but it was inevitable.”
And so on Saturday, August 9, Jessica Bell and Ben Crichton will marry in a small, family ceremony in New York City’s Central Park.
This is one love story that CFS was not able to quash.
“It was so frustrating when Ben got sick,” Bell recalls. “I was young and didn’t know what was going on—no one did—so I took it personally when he wouldn’t go places with me. I thought he was just being difficult. It hurt because I was losing my best friend.”
Later she came to understand the dynamics of Crichton’s illness and to appreciate his struggles. “It took a while for me to trust him again, but when I did, I realized that this illness has made him an even more wonderful person. Despite having to cope (with CFS), he’s so optimistic and positive. He’s been dealt a bad hand, but he’s determined to live every day to the fullest, and make the most of even the simplest things,” says Bell. “Those are amazing qualities and make me love him even more.”
Crichton says his physical condition has improved a lot, even though CFS still affects him daily. But he consciously takes good care of himself while financially supporting the CFIDS Association in its effort to conquer this disease once and for all. It’s obvious his happiness with Bell is a big part of his well-being.
Bell has relocated back to Wisconsin and is “in full entrepreneurial mode” in her own wine-related business. Crichton’s company commitments keep him busy as well. But eventually the couple, now both age 30, hopes to start a family.
“When I was sickest, my fear was that I wouldn’t be able to get through college. And then my fear was that I had lost Jess forever,” recalls Crichton. But he was determined that his illness was not going to keep him from his dreams.
He probably needn’t have worried. “I’ve got my knight,” Bell declares. “Ben is the only one for me. No one even comes close to him!”
Prior to reuniting with Jessica Bell, Ben Crichton was profiled in the 2005/2006 special issue of the CFIDS Chronicle, the Science & Research of CFS. Here’s a link to that story.
The CFIDS Association of America is dedicated to conquering chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is also known as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Your donations fund our work.
You can make a difference. Donate now to support CFS research, education and advocacy.