Coping | Daily Life | Relationships
“In sickness or in health,” any woman with IBD knows that vow translates to “in diarrhea and constipation, vomiting and bleeding, infusions and pills, toilets and ostomies, cramps and aches, fatigue and no labido, anxiety, and depression… or in health.” It’s the harsh reality of being in a relationship and thus being a caregiver to someone who suffers from Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Now, I am not married yet. I am, however, dating to marry one day. I’m searching for that special person who will take me as I am, in my own, complicated, exhausting version of “in sickness or in health.” Right now, I’m in, what should be, the fun, exciting, “butterflies in your stomach,” lustful stage of getting to know someone. But I had my colon removed a year ago due to a ten-year battle with ulcerative colitis. I currently have a j-pouch, so those “butterflies” in the stomach feeling just mean I better find a bathroom… like five minutes ago.
Trying to navigate dating with IBD is ugly and anything but exciting. Trying to explain to a 20-year-old male that he can’t take you on a dinner date because you’re afraid you’ll shit your pants in his pickup is not a flirty conversation you want to have. Just take my word for it.
I’ve often found myself wondering if I’ll ever find a man with whom I can be open and comfortable; a man who will stand with me through my most trying moments and here’s the kicker, who actually wants that responsibility.
Caregiver is an unspoken title given to your significant other whether you live with a chronic illness or not. I have found that even with guys I date for short periods of time find themselves at doctor’s visits with me, picking up Imodium on the way to my house, pushing the speed limit to get to the nearest restroom, and worrying about what they can do to make me feel better. Unfortunately, for most of them, those actions are out of lust and fizzle out rather quickly. So I pray each night that my future husband will be the caregiver I need him to be because Lord knows it’s going to take a strong and patient man with a good sense of humor… and leather seats.
I am not ashamed that I want a man who can take care of me. I want my future husband to pray for a woman who can take care of him in return. And I aim to be the caregiver that he and our children need in their lives. Needing a caregiver, whether it be a spouse, parent, nurse, or friend, is not a sign of weakness. As humans, we need social interaction and we need people that we can depend on; it’s just that those of us with IBD tend to need those people a bit more often than others and I’m learning that that’s okay.
Taylor Evans (19 )is from a small town in Arkansas and attends the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where she is currently studying business. She was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis roughly ten years ago and cannot really can’t remember a time when she was healthy. After trying medication after medication,Taylor had her entire colon removed during the summer of 2020. After two months with a temporary ileostomy, Taylor got a J-pouch. Life with her J-pouch has been a roller coaster. Taylor hopes that her writing will help and encourage other women like her and take back the life that UC has taken.