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The Impact IBD Can Have on Friends and Family – Part 2

I wrote a previous article talking about some of the ways friendships and relationships have been affected in my life. I wanted to not only expand on this topic, but also talk about how difficult it must be to have a loved one with a serious chronic disease such as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.

While the unpredictable nature of inflammatory bowel disease is detrimental to our lives as the patients, it also greatly impedes on those closest to us. I know I am not telling anyone anything they don’t know here, but I did want to say it. IBD is a family disease; just like any other chronic illness.

I noticed shortly after my diagnosis, my mom became increasingly afraid to make plans. I know it would hurt more to be looking forward to something and then have the plans be ruined because your daughter is sick but I also think my mom never wanted me to feel badly about things needing to be canceled because of me.

My dad had tried pushing my mom initially to have a little more faith and not be so scared but when she was continued to be proven right, it obviously just exacerbated her need to not think or plan too far into the future. My parents planned one vacation for the four of us (I have a younger brother) after my diagnosis and we were all so pumped for it and a week before the trip, I was in a flare up and needed to be in the hospital. Ruining the trip for not only my parents, me, but also my 11 year old brother.

This caused my mom to become hesitant to make plans with friends and the more severe my situation got, the more I noticed her really only wanting to be around my dad, brother, her parents, and myself. She needed people who understood and I know given her private nature coupled with the fact that I also didn’t want the world to know everything that was going on, it forced her to not want to be around anyone who she couldn’t be her true self with.

In terms of people who are not close family (like my parents and brother), I can understand that someone would be concerned about inviting someone to an event when they know their friend isn’t doing well. It is a difficult scenario because on one hand, you don’t want to bring up the event and have them have to feel sad that they couldn’t attend, but at the same time, not inviting them also can make a person wonder if it is because their friend doesn’t care or is just trying to do what they feel is right in this situation.

Vacations and things that are planned out far in advance and often cost a decent amount of money are also tricky when you have a friend who suffers from an unpredictable chronic illness like Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis. Your friends have the right to book a vacation or time away and know that they will be able to attend (unless God forbid an emergency occurs.) But, when you have a friend with a chronic illness, the odds are a little bit more stacked against you.

In my mind, any true friend would invite you everywhere but be completely understanding if you weren’t able to attend. Perhaps pay a little more money if there is a way to avoid cancellation fees, etc but if someone enjoys being around you, I think it is always nice to be invited.

For those of you who are not a patient but have a loved one with inflammatory bowel disease, please know that we all understand how difficult it is to balance these things. Asking questions and being open about it with your loved one can only bring you closer, I believe. I always responded to calm, easy going questions, where everyone was open to listening and just making it easier on those involved. That is what life is all about – doing what is best for one another and understanding all sides.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.