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The Year Without a Christmas

The Christmas season is often a sad time of year for millions of people around the globe for various reasons. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, being unable to go home for the holidays or a family feud, Christmas is not always merry and bright. For patients living with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis, the holidays can be even worse.

I won’t be home for Christmas

Christmas 2013 was such a year for me. In the spring of 2013, I started the worst flare-up of my life. I had been on and off of steroids all year. I was trying multiple new medications in an attempt to get my disease under control. I was also experimenting with dietary changes. Unfortunately, nothing was working and little did I know that just a few months later, I’d have to have surgery.

I was sick, weak, having more bowel movements per day than I could count, not sleeping much, underweight, malnourished and puffed up from prednisone. I had also just gotten out of the hospital due to severe dehydration. While I probably could have forced myself to go home for Christmas, I knew the best thing to do was to set boundaries and not drive 3-6 hours to see my family.

Blue, blue, blue Christmas

Telling my husband I didn’t feel up for it was probably the hardest part. Neither of us had ever been unable to see our families at Christmas before. His family is extremely close-knit. They have a bond as I’ve never seen. He was heartbroken knowing he wouldn’t be seeing his parents, brothers, and grandmother; but he understood. His family, being the understanding type, didn’t complain either. They all knew how fierce my battle with ulcerative colitis had become and they didn’t want me to push myself. My own family also, thankfully, were very understanding as well. Not everyone has that kind of support system.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Both my husband and I are creatively inclined, so we resolved ourselves to have a Merry Christmas anyway. Evil colon or not, this is a time to celebrate, be thankful and remember the years past. A time to look forward with hope, knowing that things always have a way of working out–even when they look bleak.

T’was the night before Christmas

Christmas eve, my husband and I laid out a pallet of blankets on the floor next to the Christmas tree. I don’t remember what movie we watched that night, but we had a great time watching it and drinking hot cocoa. We each opened one of our gifts and slept on the pallet that night. When we woke the next morning, we made pancakes and reminisced about Christmases past. We called our families to wish them a Merry Christmas, spent time with our pets and opened the rest of our gifts.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, that Christmas is forever etched into our memories and, honestly, I would consider it one of our best Christmases to date. Because we didn’t let my disease dictate our lives. I would encourage each of you to try to do the same. Don’t let your disease define you or your happiness. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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
    1 year ago

    So beautiful. I’m so happy that despite the circumstances, you and your husband made the best of the situation and in turn had a memorable and beautiful Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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