IBD & My Significant Other - Part 2

It’s been a few months since I sat down with my partner & talked about my diagnosis of Crohn’s disease and living with inflammatory bowel disease and our relationship. Well, a little anyway.

This time, I let my partner answer the hard-hitting questions when it comes to dealing with illness, communicating how I feel when I'm sick and so much more! Enjoy!

For more questions that Kelly's partner asked her about IBD, read part 1.

Questions I asked my partner about IBD:

How do you think IBD has affected our relationship since we began dating?

I don’t think it’s changed our relationship because you’ve always had it. I think we might be doing more active, adventurous stuff. We’d probably go out to dinner more. But you still wouldn’t try many new foods. (I’m not adventurous when it comes to food - I know what I know!)

What is something about me, in general, you didn’t realize about my IBD/Crohn’s before we talked?

I didn’t know anything about Crohn’s before I met you. I actually looked it up when I met you to better understand. I found it really surprised me how different it is for everyone & how the symptoms can vary so greatly within different patients. I didn’t know about the trigger foods and symptoms with the disease. I also learned what colitis was.

What is something you still don’t feel comfortable talking about / asking me regarding anything related to my Crohn’s?

I think sometimes I’m not always sure what you’re comfortable talking about.

How well do you think I disguise my symptoms from you & since the last conversation, have you been able to tell my “signals” when I start to not feel well over a period of time or within a moment?

Pretty well. I think you don’t like people to know you’re experiencing symptoms. I think I’m a pretty good judge. I think I can tell the way you carry yourself when you start not to feel well. Even if you’re feeling really crummy, I want to know how you’re feeling.

I recently published an article about Intimacy & IBD. How do you think I am affected, if I am?

Sometimes you don’t feel well enough to “have fun together”. Sometimes you don’t want to share what’s going on with your Crohn’s. And by sometimes, I mean most of the time.

How often do you notice my symptoms? Are you more likely to ask about how I’m feeling or less likely?

I feel as though I generally routinely ask how you’re feeling, but not specific questions regarding your symptoms. I.. kind of wait for you to share those things with me when you’re comfortable doing that. I know in the past you’ve asked me to stop asking every day, but I still find ways to ask how you are or I can generally tell your overall being.

What is something you wish I talked more or less about living with IBD?

Anything you want to share, I want to hear about. But I don’t want you to think I need you to share. But I hope you know that I’m always here to support you no matter what, and there’s nothing you can share with me that will make me love you less.

What is something I am able to do despite my IBD?

You can do stuff that most other people can do. You can live your life as an independent person. You have a huge heart and are always doing things for me and other loved ones in your life. You’re very strong and stubborn too. And you’re very affectionate towards me and our many, many cats. (I’ll be honest and say after this, we had a conversation about things I’ve been unable to do and how at certain times, how my quality of life has been affected. We had an honest but long conversation about my lack of ability to (physically & emotionally) train for triathlons and half-marathons and swim like I used to. We then talked about how my bowel habits among other hidden symptoms that limit me to do things persons without IBD are able to do without a second thought - like leaving the house, taking the dog for a walk and packing for out of town.)

How has our relationship been affected since I started my last flare?

I haven’t known you outside of your Crohn’s diagnosis. We don’t have a wild lifestyle, so it’s hard to judge. (We took a moment to acknowledge that I’ve had a rough go trying to stay out of the hospital for the past year. We’ve been quite a bit restricted in a lot of ways teetering in and out of procedure rooms and unfortunately, a few hospital stays.)

Is there anything you’d like to say to other spouses and significant others whose partners have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis?

Not specifically. Your Crohn’s is something that we deal with in our relationship. Anybody has things to deal with in relationships so that’s our thing. Sometimes you don’t. It’s tough because as a partner, you want to be able to help or cure or take the burden off them and you can’t. But, it’s important to tell your partner you’re there for them.

What’s something you wish we could do right now that I can’t do right now?

Hiking, going out to eat and just going to places, in general, has been a bit difficult lately.

How does me having IBD make you feel?

Obviously, I wish you didn’t have it. If I could make it go away, I would. But it doesn’t make me feel any differently about you as a person. I love you, IBD and all.

Do you ever feel like my IBD takes over my/our life/lives?

Yeah sometimes. But there’s nothing we can do about that. I think it’s important to accept that, get through those times, and move on. (I admit, as a patient, this is always really hard to hear..)

You’ve met some of my friends who have been impacted by IBD. Can you comment on how you believe having this type of support impacts me?

I think it’s great for you. I’m always here for you and try to be a great support. But I can’t always relate because I haven’t had to experience everything involved in having IBD. It’s good to have people who know exactly what you’re going through.

A note from the writer:

I realize not everybody has a partner that is willing to work with them through thick and thin. I’ve had partners in the past that just didn’t get it. I’m thankful for you. You have been someone I have been able to lean on since I was admitted for a bad flare last year for the better part of spring. You helped me keep hope alive when it was hardest this and last year. You didn’t ask for this, yet you have learned how to navigate being the significant other in these situations as well as possible. I really admire how you are able to ebb and flow with how I’m feeling, and never make me feel bad if I’m unable to attend something or have to change plans last minute. I appreciate the support you give me every day. Maybe the readers will disagree - but love like this is hard to find.

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