Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Traditions Can Be Great “Knowns” for IBDers

Since my mom was very young, my grandmother always got her a certain type of dog calendar for the new year. It became something that was absolutely known in my mom’s life – regardless of all the unpredictability she was experiencing having a child with a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

That tradition certainly didn’t take away all of the emotional pain that my mom would go through because of my disease, but it did provide at least one KNOWN in her life. An absolute. Something that couldn’t be broken no matter the circumstances.

With my grandmother passing two years ago in November, I decided to take on the tradition of buying my mom the same type of calendar each year. She is always thrilled when she gets it (and still somewhat surprised since she is obviously used to associating this with her mother) which makes both of us incredibly happy.

This made me think about the importance of tradition.

Living with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis can take its toll on so many aspects of a person’s life. Inflammatory bowel disease not only impacts someone physically, but mentally as well. In fact, I have heard a lot of IBDers say that the emotional toll of living with an invisible, chronic illness like inflammatory bowel disease is worse than the physical. Obviously, that is not true for everyone but it just goes to show you there are so many deep rooted issues that are a byproduct of living with IBD, or many chronic diseases for that matter.

While the example I gave is pretty minor, it is still an interesting thing to think about. I have been trying to create more traditions in my life because they also give me something to look forward to. I try to make it realistic also so I don’t set myself up for failure in case my health takes a bad turn.

Last year, I decided to start an ugly Christmas sweater tradition with my boyfriend.

We each chose {what we believe to be} a heinous looking sweater that we wear on Christmas Eve. It was fun and gives me something to look forward to this year.

img_20161224_173818My parents, boyfriend and my boyfriend’s cousin are all in a family football pool and have been for about four years. It is just for fun and is also a constant in our lives. Plus, a great distraction from a lot of the things we all go through.

I don’t think those who haven’t experienced (either personally or through someone else) an unpredictable, chronic illness can fathom how much the fact that life can change in a split second wreaks havoc on our lives and emotions. It is devastating when our bodies turn on us for no reason whatsoever. It just happens without warning. It is flat out awful!

I know a lot of the time some of us can’t even get out of bed, let alone try and carry out a tradition.

Maybe find new ones that you know you can do from anywhere. With online shopping so prevalent these days, it takes two minutes to search something on Amazon and have it delivered. Again, I say this knowing full well that when you are severely ill, in the hospital, recovering from surgery, have drains sticking out of every end of you, etc that these things would be the last thing on your mind.

I am just always looking for things to look forward to and be hopeful about. Living with a severe disease can often make you feel really badly about life and kind of hopeless about the future. So I guess I look for simple things like this to get me through some of the harder emotional days.

Do you have any traditions like this? Are yours more religious or spiritual? Have you ever given this idea some thought? Would love to hear from you!

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.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    10 months ago

    Love the idea of the ugly Christmas sweater. The past years have been really difficult for me but now is when I am finally out of a terrible flare. I definitely want to begin to create traditions, because like you said, it gives you something to look forward to!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Poll