Mary's Going with Guts!

Track my progress as I train for my next Team Challenge half marathon for the CCFA

Chronie Blogs… (I would have said it myself, but someone said it better already) Part 2

Posted by msdon9 on April 6, 2012

A Crohn’s blogger from New Jersey who also follows Julie (@semicolongirl) recently wrote a blog post entitled Crohn’s and Dating. He graciously gave me permission to share his thoughts here, but you can read his full blog at The Crohn’s Beater.

Being married, it’s been a while since I’ve dated, however, a “tweet” I read over the weekend from one of my fellow “Crohnies” made me think back about what it was like to date and have Crohn’s.  This fellow Crohnie is in the hospital with a major flare up and has a first date scheduled that she obviously could not make.  She was looking for some advice on how to handle the situation.

Dating is difficult enough for healthy people, let alone those of us with chronic health conditions that are difficult to discuss. Crohn’s is a disease of young people — most people tend to be diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. This means that there are a significant number of young, single people with Crohn’s who have to deal with this issue.

I’ve been lucky in that my Crohn’s is basically asymptomatic. While I am anemic and often fatigued, my stomach pain is rare as long as I avoid the dietary triggers that send me for a loop. I do have to say, however, that once upon a time I ate a small slice of ice cream cake at my boyfriend’s grandparents’ house because they bought it for my birthday not knowing that I couldn’t have dairy. I was NOT a happy camper for the next 24 hours, but I felt badly turning it down and I really didn’t want to have to explain WHY I can’t have ice cream cake. So, should I live a life of feeling guilty when people try to offer me food that I can’t have? In order to do that, I’d have to release the details of my diet and how I have to live, and quite frankly, it’s too much of a pain in the behind to indulge people in such conversation. Speaking of which…

For the Twitter person’s case, in my opinion, Crohn’s is not a first date conversation.

I recently had a “first date” with a doctor. Unfortunately I couldn’t escape the Crohn’s conversation because, through basic “getting-to-know-you” conversation, he learned about my involvement with Team Challenge and why the charity is so important to me. Given that I was having dinner with someone with a medical background (and perhaps a lack of tact), the conversation, steered by him, turned toward the health of my intestines. I’ll spare you the gory details of most of THAT awkward conversation, but needless to say I don’t want to talk about inflammation and colonics over sushi. Poor guy – I won’t be seeing him again.

…It takes a while for two people to really know each other in a dating relationship.  When you are both comfortable enough to be yourselves, that’s really when you can get a feel for what this other person is really about.  You can learn a lot by seeing how the person you are dating reacts to other people with medical conditions. Without ever bringing up your condition, your date may give you clues about how he or she is receptive to being in a relationship with a person who has a medical condition.  If you decide that you’re having fun being with this person for now, but you don’t think it will go anywhere, bringing up your disease is not really important. If you’re well enough during the relationship, you may not feel the need to discuss your Crohn’s.

I have no problem with this, as long as I am fully comfortable about a person. This takes a little while, as the walls that I have up in new relationships are only partially because of my chronic health issues. Any person who I had a relationship with, a serious one, knew full well about how Crohn’s affects my life, and it was rarely a problem. I think one boyfriend might have broken up with me because he mistook flare-related pain and fatigue for a general lack of interest, but there was hardly any heartbreak with THAT one, haha.

On the other hand, if you do feel like you would like to take the relationship to the next level, in my opinion, it is important to discuss your Crohn’s as soon as possible.  It’s a sad fact of life…not everyone can cope with the demands of being the partner of someone with a chronic illness. It may be better to find out earlier in the relationship rather than later, when you are more at risk of being hurt and have invested a significant amount of time and energy.

Crohn’s is difficult and dating is difficult.  Combining the two is certainly not easy, but you can make it a positive.  If you find someone that 100% supports you emotionally when you are going through a bad flare up, you know that you have found someone that will stick with you through anything.

I wholeheartedly agree here. A chronic illness, especially one that is sometimes rampant in families, needs to be discussed in the interest of “full disclosure.” Also – one should know why I need my own bathroom!!

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