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This is something I've been getting together for a little while and I figured what better time to post something about how chronic illness impacts those we love other than right around Valentines Day! A little back story: we did this interview in the middle of LAX in a crowded airport cafe with overpriced dirty chai lattes way too early. But it was kind of an awesome and memorable way to kick this series off. So please enjoy and let me know any feedback you have! As always.... this is a work in progress!
Something I haven’t delved into quite yet on Crohnically Blonde is the impact that our disease has on those around us. Whether it is a parent, a friend, or a significant other, let’s be honest here, it affects them all.
I want to start focusing on the external impact that Crohn’s Disease has because I want this blog to be a place not only for those with Crohn’s/any form of IBD/ chronic illness, but also for those who are support systems around them.
I am trying this new thing out where I am going to interview someone in my life who is externally impacted by the disease and hopefully we can spread some more awareness as far as what our loved ones are going through as our “rocks” per say. I have a list of a few “guests” in mind but I figured why not start close to home…..
I am very lucky that I have a strong support system through my family and friends but my main person that has to deal with me day in and day out is my boyfriend Matt. He has blown me away from day one with his understanding and flexibility around my lifestyle. In the beginning it takes a while to open up about the true struggles of Crohn’s because honestly it can be not so sexy at times…. but having the courage to share the truth of what is going on inside of you will open the lines of communication and make things a lot easier. Matt will be my first guest here for "Real Talk with CB" to give his perspective on not only living with me but how it impacts our relationship day to day. On top of him dealing with me, spoiler alert, he is also a nurse. So you can imagine his excitement to come home from being in charge of six whiny patients to an incredibly demanding and often bitchy one. Sorry.
Plans are, in fact, very hard to make. As is a dinner that your both can eat. Some days are hard and some days you can get through with only a glimmer of your disease (very lucky days, I may add). What I do have to say though is that I know for me personally, my experience with Crohn’s has made me more empathetic, understanding, and genuine. I think without my disease my relationship wouldn’t be as beautiful as it is.
Who is Matt
Matt is a 26 year old orthopedic nurse who has been dating Michelle (me, Crohnically Blonde, “whiny patient” as he likes to call me xo love you too) for going on two years. We have lived together for a little over a year and he is the father of my two crazy dogs. I projectile vomited on our first date and he still loves me.
CB: Are you excited to be featured on CB?
Matt: Yes, it actually is a pleasure sitting down with you today. I always see you working on the blog so it is kind of cool to give my two cents.
CB: So, let’s cut to the chase. Since you are a nurse and also deal with a Crohn’s sufferer at home, how does that affect your relationship with both work and me?
Matt: Well I have to be constantly mindful of the dietary restrictions and realize that you aren’t going to feel good everyday. No two days are the same. You have to be able to adapt. It is difficult working full time taking care of people and then coming home and taking care of someone else even though you love them.
CB: Yeah I definitely get that. And I can be a pain in the ass some days. No hiding that fact. As a significant other of someone suffering with a chronic illness, what advice do you have for others in the same position?
Matt: To be patient. As someone who is in relatively good health it is hard to relate to someone who doesn’t feel good all the time so you have to remind yourself what they are going through and even though you don’t understand completely you have to try. Research what your significant other can and cannot eat/do so that you don’t look like an asshole.
CB: Good advice. I like it. Tell everyone when I told you I had Crohn’s and what was your reaction?
Matt: When I first met her. I thought what actually is Crohn’s, what the hell is gluten and why don’t you eat it, and are you dying? It wasn’t awkward I was just confused. Even healthcare professionals don’t know to much about Crohn’s to be honest.
CB: What is the hardest part of being in a relationship with someone who has Crohn’s?
Matt: Dealing with the bad days. Some days they just can’t do anything because they are sick. It is hard to make plans because you don’t know if it will be a good day or a bad day.
CB: Do you feel any positives or silver linings happened because of my diagnosis?
Matt: I know more about Crohn’s so now I can better help people at work who have it. I am more understanding of others’ pain and restrictions. I think you are able to make more connections with people and be a part of a community, which I think you wouldn’t have had without getting diagnosed.
CB: How do you feel about me sharing her story constantly through social media?
Matt: I am happy that you are able to connect with other people and make an impact helping others. I think you thrive when you are connecting with other people who are recently diagnosed and helping them adapt. It is kind of cool. Plus having a support system that knows what you are going through is helpful since I don’t always know the answers.
CB: I’ll throw this in here as a teaser…. since I am about to do a post on traveling with Crohn’s, what has your experience been traveling with me and do you get frustrated with me?
Matt: Honestly, the only time I get frustrated is when you try and push yourself too hard because you think that’s what everyone else wants you to be doing instead of listening to your body. I know that traveling can be rough and I’ve learned that jam packing a day with things is not a good situation. I think as you put it, you only have enough spoons for so much. I think we definitely chill a lot on vacation like at night we aren’t out going crazy and you can’t feel bad about that. I think some advice for other significant others is to try and sniff out a bad situation before it unfolds. Like last night, we had those dinner reservations and I knew you were just going because you thought I wanted to go and I really didn’t give a crap if we went or not. So I canceled them and ordered in some safe food for you and we just watched Netflix and got a good night sleep so you wouldn’t feel miserable on our flight today.
CB: Yeah that was honestly one of the sweetest things. I really appreciated that. I think through all of this time you are finally getting that I feel guilty about so many things and having to cancel and potentially let other people down is one of them.
Matt: Well you don’t let me down. I knew what I was getting into!
CB: I know it annoys you when other people make negative comments about my situation or waiters get irritated that I order off the wall complicated stuff. I always get so uncomfortable in those situations but I feel like you deal with your annoyance so well.
Matt: I usually just use humor for everything. Everything is funny when it all comes down to it. I have our little jokes that we make to each other that kind of just makes everything okay.
CB: Very true, and it helps. Anything else you want to add to wrap things up. I know we’re sitting an in airport right now and your ADHD is killing you, you want to go explore.
Matt: Yeah (laughs) thanks for noticing that. But overall I appreciate you including me in this and I think it is good you are including more people in the blog than just people with Crohn’s. The support systems need somewhere to turn sometimes too!
I want to hear from YOU! Who else should I interview for these segments? I already have a pretty decent list of people I am asking to join but suggestions are welcome. Also, I will post in advance who the person will be (example: interviewing a mom, a best friend, a nurse at my gastro office) so you can send in some questions you may have that you want to ask this person in your life but feel weird so just let me do it for you.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.