Caregiving: In Sickness and in Health

My husband Patrick and I recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary. June 7, we will mark nine years since our first date. Patrick was the first, and only, man I dated following my Crohn’s diagnosis. I hate to sound cliché, but when we met I had a feeling that he was “the one” so I looked for the right time to tell him what he was signing up for in regard to my health issues. I sought to find a delicate balance of telling him before either of us became too emotionally invested but waiting until we were close enough for me to share the intimate details of my life. I wasn’t overly worried that Patrick would walk away because he would have to take care of me or that I would be a burden. I wasn’t looking or asking for his sympathy. But I needed to explain the rashes on my hands, arms, feet, and legs. I had to let him know not to take it personally when I didn’t feel like going out. Most importantly, I wanted to make sure that he kept his bathroom well-stocked with toilet paper. Telling him about my Crohn’s wasn’t too bad because at least inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is treatable. The difficult part was telling him about my Crohn’s-related primary sclerosing cholangitis. How do you tell someone you might start a life with that you don’t know how long that life is going to last because you’ll eventually need a liver transplant? I don’t remember when or how we first discussed my health issues. I may have been running a fever one weekend and told Patrick about an upcoming doctor’s appointment. When I asked him what he remembered about learning that I was chronically ill, he said, “It was very sad. I was quite c
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" Emmeline Olson : In addition to her weekly IBD News Today column, Intestinal Fortitude, Emmeline Olson is a freelance Communications Specialist, providing writing, editing, and graphic design services to her clients. With a Master's degree in Advertising from The University of Texas at Austin, she worked in the industry for more than 15 years before joining the advertising faculty at Texas State University in 2010. She recently resigned from her teaching position to focus on her health after receiving a liver transplant in 2017, more than 20 years after being diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), an autoimmune liver disease. She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2006 and is in remission. Emmeline (an Auburn University fan) and her husband Patrick (a University of Alabama fan) live in a house divided in Austin, Texas, where they enjoy watching SEC football and spending time with friends and family. For fun, Emmeline brandishes a sword and hunts people for body parts – but not at the same time. She's a Kyo Sa Nim (2nd degree black belt) in Mu Sool Won and an advocate for organ donation through Donate Life and UNOS. With renewed health, Emmeline is determined to advocate for patients and educate the public on the impact of living with chronic and autoimmune diseases. She dedicates her work and her life to the 30-year-old woman who made the unselfish decision to be an organ donor.."