If You Have Crohn's Disease, You Still Deserve Romance


“I can’t just leave,” My husband gripped my hand, lacing our fingers together.

“You need to go home and get some sleep, and this bench is not going to be comfortable.” I ruffle his hair.

***

By the time my husband came into my life, I had been in and out of the ER at least 8-10 times a year and in the hospital short stay several times with over four obstructions and one surgery. Although I come from a big family, I was use to spending extended times alone in the hospital. People worked, schedules were busy, that’s just how it was.

When we went to the ER earlier the day before, they had taken an ultrasound of my gallbladder, told me it was constipation, and send me home with a bottle of magnesium citrate and zofran. When we got home, I took my night time medicine and go to bed at about 2:00 a.m.

By 7:45 a.m., my husband is at work and I’m on the bathroom floor in our apartment, vomiting; I’m throwing up whole pills from earlier that morning. They never dissolved. I wait another hour but I can’t keep water down and I start to panic. I get ahold of my mom and we go back to the ER. I get a CT scan this time. After throwing the contrast up on a nurse, they confirm what I feared: I had a partial bowel obstruction and I was going to have to be admitted.

My husband gets off work and practically races to the ER as fast as he can. He managed to pause and grab me a few things from home. By the time he gets there, my mom has taken off, and I’m laying in bed, messing with the ends of my blanket. We talk to four doctors before I get a room, and the gastroenterologist on the floor gives us the news: It’s going to be three or four days of IV steroids, pain medicine and an NPO diet (nothing through the mouth) in the hospital before I’d be allowed to go home.

This will be the first time since my husband and I have been together, that I’ll be staying in the hospital for an extended period of time.

***

“Did you sleep okay?” He asked for the second time, fixing my blanket for me and helping me stand. He fishes under the bed for my slippers.

“As well as I could in the hospital,” I smiled at him, and he pushes a lock of my greasy hair out of my face and kissed my forehead. “The doctor suggests that I keep moving as much as I can to help move the gas through,” I put a hand on my stomach as I stand.

My husband took me by the hand, and pulled me closer to him, putting a hand on my back. We started to dance. My feet wobbled and I almost stepped on his foot, but he helps me find the rhythm while he leads me in the Waltz. There was no music, but we didn’t need any. We sway in each other’s arms until a nurse comes in and interrupts to bring me more antibiotics and to talk about the next steps.

***

My husband climbs into my hospital bed and holds me while we wait for the nurse to bring me the pain medicine. The laxatives they gave me were causing cramps and gas bubbles. He rubs my back and wipes my tears, “You’re doing so good baby, you’re doing so good, it’s going to be okay. They’re coming.”  My greasy hair has fallen over my face and I’m gasping from the pain. They finally bring me the medicine and I slump in my husband’s hold once they push it into my IV. He holds onto me until I fall asleep whispering how brave I was, and how much he loves me.

***

“Please don’t go,” I beg, to my own surprise. Tears running down my face. He has to go. He has to go to work and needs to sleep in a bed. I had never in my life, ever, begged anyone to stay while I was in the hospital. But I needed him. He holds me longer than he should and rocks me in his arms. “I’ll be back before you even realize I’m gone. I love you. You’re my whole world you know.”

Later that night, I’m laying in bed thinking about how much I wanted to sleep next to my husband and just go home. My eyes red from crying and my heart hurting. It was never like this before. I have never loved so deeply and so completely. I knew he was coming back tomorrow, but that seemed so far away.

I remember meeting my husband for the first time on OkCupid. We talked for days before finally meeting in person. Our first date was pulled right out of a Hallmark film.

I was real candid with him about my disease from day one. He remembers. I told him, with my hands folded, that I understood if he didn’t want to continue seeing me after explaining what Crohn’s was, because after a few years of battling Crohn’s, I knew how heartbreaking it can be. I thought it wasn’t fair to ask anyone to sign up for that.

To this day he both laughs at that conversation and gets deeply upset that I felt the need to give him an out.

***

We deserve consistency. We deserve care. We deserve understanding.

I think when we’re diagnosed with something, especially something life-long like an inflammatory bowel disease, we forget that we are still entitled to respect. I waited a long time to start dating again after being diagnosed. I thought that I had to have all my ducks in a row before someone would love me. I tried really hard to have a life someone would want to be a part of. I was wrong.

My life is far from perfect, and I hardly have all my ducks in a row – but he loves me for me. We believe in one another and support each other through the tough times. He finds ways to make me feel beautiful and special even when I’m feeling my worst. You deserve that, too.

I’m a disaster 95 percent of the time, but to him? I’m a beautiful disaster and we can’t see ourselves with anyone else. You deserve that.

You owe it to yourself to find someone that never makes you feel guilty about having a chronic illness. You deserve someone who is willing to learn about your illness with you and be your number one supporter, your best friend, your advocate. You deserve that.

Now go get it.

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