Editor’s note: In this series, “Crohn’s Disease Health,” Mary Horsley writes about mental and physical health in relation to IBD, and how unreliable it can be. In the second of three columns, she focuses on the physical nature of Crohn’s disease. Find part one here.
It’s more than frustrating making and breaking plans, and it is never fun to miss out. Trust that we chronic illness warriors want to keep our plans with you. Everyone I know with a chronic illness struggles with making plans for fear of having to cancel them and let others down.
Sometimes, we can’t avoid it. Sometimes, we have to give in and listen to our bodies, because no one knows it better than ourselves.
Beyond the belly and bathroom, Crohn’s disease and IBD can affect your entire body, inside and out. The physical problems patients suffer often happen without warning and they can easily change your plans immediately. See my “Beyond the Bathroom” series and my “Crohn’s Complications” series.
With some illnesses, pain is the symptom that leads us to see a doctor in the first place. With Crohn’s disease and IBD, inflammation in the inside can lead to feeling ill on the outside.
Some patients suffer back pain and joint pain, arthritis, and gallstones. Some suffer pain in their bowels or rectums, their skin or their nerves. Sometimes we have to cancel plans and take a day, and sometimes there is nothing we can do to help it. The pain can be unpredictable and while one moment can be seen as fine, the next could be a trip to another doctor.
How you look ― appearance
I have suffered skin problems since my IBD began, with weight juggling and open sores on and in my mouth. These symptoms can create a self-consciousness about oneself, and sometimes even I get embarrassed at what my skin and body look like. There have even been times I have canceled plans because of it.
But we must remember that we cannot control how our Crohn’s and IBD manifests, sometimes we all have bad skin days.
What happens to you ― accidents
Incontinence with IBD is nothing to be ashamed of; it has happened to me more than once. Although it is hard and never fun to deal with, we must remember that it is not our fault. Rather, it’s just another way our bodies and inflammation affect our diseases’ making us unreliable. We must remember that we cannot control how our Crohn’s and IBD manifests, sometimes we have accidents.
If we are having a bad day or a day spent in our bathrooms, we more than likely know what the rest of the day will entail, including sometimes having to cancel plans last-minute.
With each physical problem, IBD takes a toll on your body and on your mental health, too. The next article will focus on the mental health aspect of chronic illness, and how Crohn’s disease can affect your life in many different ways.
I cannot offer medical advice, I can only share what I know from my personal experiences. Remember, my Crohn’s disease is individual for me, and what works for me may not necessarily work for you.
For me, It Could Be Worse.