what I want you to know: living with inflammatory bowel disease


What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s post is by an anonymous reader.

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I have thoroughly debunked the myth that I'd heard from college male friends who naively repeated, "Girls don't poop."  I unfortunately can't stop because I have inflammatory bowel disease, a chronic, stress-exacerbated disease that doctors don't know a whole lot about.  Some doctors (including my sister) insist that I must be on medication which require regular blood tests to make sure my liver isn't failing.  Other doctors (including my dad) suggest natural supplements, mind over matter self-control to avoid toilets, dietary restrictions and exercise.  I'm caught in the middle with both sides of the argument condemning the other approach.  This obviously doesn't lead to low stress levels. 

Even though I've typically prided myself on being social, hard-working, over-achieving and courageous, now I just want to hide in bed because I'm afraid of a third flare-up that leads to nausea, losing 20 pounds I don't have and a weakness which limits my ability to walk.  I try to comfort myself by remembering those who suffer more than I do, but that just makes me feel guilty.   

Thankfully, my husband is willing to drop everything to go on de-stressing walks and help me talk about my internalized emotions.  He also doesn't complain when I stop cleaning the dishes or the house because I feel overwhelmed by other things.  We are concerned however about how our family will run once we add kids to the mix.  Will IBD cause me to go out of commission and leave him with the kids I dream of?  Will this stupid disease hinder me from reaching my dreams?  If I gain the family I so desire, will there be too much pressure upon my dear husband because of IBD?  Again, not low stress concerns.   

I wish the doctors would stop contradicting each other so strongly leaving me feeling lost in the abyss.  I wish I could be more honest with my husband, family and friends about what I'm experiencing behind the bathroom door without being afraid of disgusting them. I wish that my life choices didn't have to be affected by IBD.   I wish IBD wasn't such a private struggle. 


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