The week has run down to Friday, and you’ve got about an hour left at work, and you absolutely can’t wait to go to your friend’s birthday party with your significant other. As you’re wrapping up for the day, it hits you. Your guts decide it’s time to cramp up and send you to the bathroom. You start to feel like utter crap.
“I’ll muscle through it,” you tell yourself, as you meet your significant other to pick up a last-minute birthday gift and grab your selection of booze for the evening. But as you’re looking for a gift, the question pops into your mind: “Should I just stay home?” You don’t want to. You definitely don’t want to. You haven’t been out in a while with your other half, and you’re so looking forward to seeing everyone. But no bathroom is close enough, and you’re tired. Really tired.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) doesn’t take into consideration the plan you have for the evening. Nor does it take into consideration that you have a life. Instead, IBD does what it wants, when it wants, and you have to navigate around it.
You keep telling yourself you’ll be alright, so you get home, and the clock is moving fast. You run to the bathroom a few more times, and all the while, your significant other is dressed and ready to go. But you’ve put on your comfy pants. You’re not going out.
This situation happened to me. And I got really mad, because I wanted to see my friends and spend a night out with my boyfriend, and I also got really sad because I could tell my boyfriend was upset that I wasn’t going, and I was so mad at myself for having this disease that keeps me in on a Friday night.
I won’t lie: it was extremely difficult to watch my boyfriend walk out the door, and leave me at home. But there’s give and take in any relationship. I knew that he really wanted to go, and I knew how much I wanted to go, so I let him go. Why? Because he works hard, and he puts up with my guts, and is always super supportive. This was a way for me to be supportive of him.
I honestly wanted to spend the rest of the night sulking. But the more I thought about it, the more determined I became that if I couldn’t go out and have a good time, I could at least stay in and have a good time.
So how did we make this work, so that I didn’t get mad or jealous of him going, and he still had a good time without me? First, we set up a communication plan for the evening. I wanted to know when he got there, what the vibe was like, and when he was on his way home. A few Snapchats were nice, too. I sort of felt like I was there with him.
I didn’t beat myself up. I got a few “where are you” texts, which bummed me out. However, I was at home, taking care of me and my guts, so I could have a better day tomorrow. A little rest and relaxation never hurts.
I treated myself. I put on my favorite chick flick, helped myself to a take-out grilled cheese, and curled up with my elephant heating pad and a blanket. I even went to bed early.
So was it the ideal Friday night out? No. It wasn’t. But it wound up being the best for everybody. My boyfriend got to see our friends and have a good time. I got to do some things I wanted to do and take care of myself. It’s all part of balancing IBD in a relationship. The two of you don’t have to always be together. You both work hard, and you both support each other. In a relationship, especially one with IBD, you’ve got to figure out how that support works. Does it mean that you let your partner go out without you? Or does it mean you do something nice at home for your partner for the help he or she gives you?
Sit down, talk it out, and make it work. Just like managing IBD, there’s no end-all, be-all treatment for a healthy relationship.
Mandy is a writer and cat mom who is slowly becoming a health-nut. She’s earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in professional writing. For her master’s thesis she wrote about patient education materials for those diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. She works full-time as a technical writer in Chicago, and serves on the board of directors and blogs for Girls With Guts, a non-profit organization to support women with IBD and/or ostomies. Follow more of her stories on HealthCentral and blog posts on the Girls With Guts website.