The Ups and Downs of Relationships When You Have Crohn's Disease
Crohn’s can be sexy…right?
You know you’re a major turn on when you say to your partner:
“Excuse me baby, I’ve just gotta run to the loo.” (And you literally run.)
“Scars can be sexy, right?”
“What am I doing today? Just going in for a casual colonoscopy.”
“Sorry baby, I can’t, I have to go get some blood work done – catch you after though?”
That being said, in my experience of having Crohn’s and being in a relationship, the one you love loves you all the same and is totally understanding of your condition. And, you can still be sexy.
It doesn’t mean the relationship with the added Crohn’s is without its stresses, however! And, on a deeper note, the Crohn’s can be quite affecting.
I find the biggest weight for me currently is the feeling of being abnormally tired, and when you’re tired you’re not in your best form.
I have yet to meet an overly peppy exhausted person. If you have, please introduce me – I would love to know their secrets!
I feel for my gorgeous partner who has to hear me say time and time again, “I am feeling so tired.” (Hot, right?)
The stresses of living with a disease is like the elephant in the room when it comes to being with someone. When you know you have a procedure coming up, your results come back negative or you’re waiting for the next step in your treatment…how can you totally relax and be completely present with your loved one when that is at the back of your mind?
Guilt can go hand in hand with chronic disease as well, and if things are bad with your health, those issues may start to become the forefront of relationship. What happened to planning for the future, making travel plans or simply enjoying each day when you have this potentially life-threatening disease on your hands?
You can start to feel guilty for even having the disease to begin with (even though it’s totally not your fault). You can feel guilty for stressing your partner, you can start to hate yourself, you can feel like a total downer at times, you can feel like an invalid, a dependent or someone who is physically gross and weak. And this sucks, especially if you have drive and ambition and desire to live a beautiful and robust life.
You can start to feel really awful when you see the stress of illness affect your relationship.
This has happened to me.
When I was younger, I didn’t know how to handle it and neither did my partner. We were overwhelmed. We were both aspiring creatives working our butts off in Los Angeles – and making ground, too! However, my body kept crashing, and knowing the medical system was more supportive for me in Australia, I left him, America and a potentially great career to look after my health and start a new life in the arts here in Sydney. That was heartbreaking and so, so hard.
And then I had another relationship in Australia where in the same year I had three major surgeries and major complications. This made it very difficult for him and I, to say the least. Terribly hard.
What have I learned?
As challenging as it is living with chronic disease, you can become better at living with it and handling it. You get better at it as time goes on. No one really knows how to handle an unexpected change in plans (as is the nature of chronic disease) until it happens!
I have learned to be more patient with myself and to be easy on myself as much as possible. To be kinder to myself and to loved ones. And perhaps, instead of beating myself up about living with Crohn’s, to pat myself on the back because it is challenging. Though I am handling it, which is admirable! And also, as I have said before, it takes guts (or perhaps a lack thereof) to live with Crohn’s.
It’s not easy having a relationship with Crohn’s. However, the right partner will love you all the same. It can work! And scars can be sexy! Colonoscopies can be a laughing matter. Blood work can be OK when you know you’re meeting the one you love after.
Perhaps the right relationship can make the chronic illness experience an easier one.
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