woman brushing off a man from her shoulder

Tell Me I'm a Burden

You may have seen the New York Times article where the author calls the writer’s boyfriend a “burden” for having Crohn’s disease.

(You can read the full article here)

Should we be labeled as a "burden" because of Crohn's disease?

He initially received harsh reactions from the Crohn’s community, rightfully so, because we should not be viewed as “burdens” based on our diseases. So what if we have to follow strict diets or may have a potentially shorter life expectancy? 

This disease does not define us, and there is always hope that we can go into remission or (hopefully) there will be a cure in our lifetime.

The hashtag #IAmNotABurden started trending on social media, and while I completely agree with that, I must admit that I am ok with some people calling me a “burden”.

Before you gear up your fingers for writing a scathing comment, hear me out...

Relationship experiences with Crohn's

I have been in relationships where my disease was a problem to my significant other. I was told, “I didn’t sign up for this” and “I just want to find someone I know will live past the age of 50” and it stung.

It truly hurt me to my core. But you know what, he was the wrong guy.

Truthfully, I cannot be mad at him for not wanting to be with someone with a chronic illness. It was just part of his character. 

There are some people who prefer only to date blondes. There are others who have a pet allergy so dating someone with a cat is out of the question. There are also some folks who won’t date anyone with children or anyone who wants children because they do not want kids themselves.

And, should any of the previous individuals meet someone who is on their “non-negotiable list” then they should do both parties a favor and not continue to date them. The worst thing someone can do to another is to hold resentment against them for something over which they have no control.

Ok, so back to having Crohn’s and finding a partner...

Find someone who accepts chronic illness in a relationship

There are people out there who do not want to spend their life with someone living with a chronic illness. And, if you are lucky enough to be single when you are diagnosed, then this is such an awesome opportunity for you. 

You now have the power to find someone who knows exactly what they are--for lack of a better word--getting into and accepts that in you. And, not only do they accept you, they love you. All of you. Dysfunctional intestines and all.

So make this your pocket ace. The second you tell someone you have Crohn’s and they question whether or not they want to hang around, cut them loose.

Do not let them resent you and do not allow them to make you feel like a charity case. They are only taking up valuable space for someone who wants to be with you and not see you as a burden.

After a few bad apples in the dating pool, I finally met my husband exactly three weeks after my partial colectomy in 2014.

I actually met him because I was admitted to the hospital for a PICC line a month before my surgery and I was completely bored in my hospital bed. When I saw an ad for a new dating app on Facebook (Hinge), I jumped at the opportunity for some entertainment.

The silver lining of dating with Crohn's disease

In a way, having Crohn’s led me to my husband. (That is the silver lining I choose to see in all of this). And, after our second date, I told him about my major surgery that I had just undergone weeks prior. 

I was terribly nervous sharing that I had Crohn’s given the negative reactions I had previously, but he simply looked at me and said “That’s ok. Everybody has something,” and that was it. It was never an issue and is still not an issue in our relationship.

He is 100% Italian and had to bring a girl home to his mother who is gluten-free (they make me gluten-free pasta all the time) and where we dine out typically has to be my choice because of my dietary restrictions

He has had to take time off of work to sit in the waiting room during colonoscopies and accept the fact that I was a "high-risk pregnancy" when expecting our daughter last year. None of this bothers him.

I am happy I was someone’s burden. I am glad that I was not made to feel guilty for making someone enter into a lifelong commitment with me. I am grateful that I got to weed out the guys who weren’t worth my time, because I eventually found someone who wanted all of me, including my Crohn’s.

So, go ahead. Call me a burden. Because someone now calls me his wife.

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