Living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may have a significant affect on intimate relationships. The reasons for this are as individual as we are but can include pain, fatigue, medication side effects, and problems with body image. Kait Scalisi, an NYC-based sex educator who founded Passion by Kait, has devoted her professional life to helping women and couples learn to reconnect with themselves and their partner in order to enhance intimacy and reconnect with pleasure. Kait lives with Crohn’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis, and therefore has a deep understanding of how chronic conditions can affect intimate relationships (both with oneself and with a partner). Hear Kait’s Crohn’s disease journey and learn how she helps people find their way back to enjoying their spark, both in the bedroom and outside of it.
Many young people who are undergoing ileostomy surgery to treat Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have never met another younger person with an ostomy. Gaylyn Henderson, founder of Gutless and Glamorous, wants to make sure that people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) don’t experience the uncertainty and stigma that she encountered before her ostomy surgery. In between running a successful foundation and a support group for people with chronic illness, Gaylyn has also become a spokeswoman for people with an ostomy, proving that her ileostomy is not a barrier to success.
People who live with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis experience stigma because of their inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The taboo topic of bowel disease can permeate all aspects of a person’s life, especially when there are cultural influences also at play. Tina Aswani Omprakash, who lives with Crohn’s disease and a permanent ileostomy, shares her story of personal empowerment and how she is working to help other people with IBD live their lives with confidence. Tina describes how IBD has profoundly affected her family as well as why she decided to become an outspoken advocate for the IBD and ostomy communities and start her blog, Own Your Crohn’s.
I was fortunate to see The Matrix on its first run in theaters when it came out on March 31, 1999. We knew little about the movie at the time, just that it was science fiction and it looked amazing and that we would want to see it on the big screen and not later on VHS (DVD was not yet mainstream). The movie came out only a few weeks after my first of two surgeries to create my j-pouch (or IPAA, ileal pouch-anal anastomosis) to treat ulcerative colitis (which is one form of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD).
I love The Matrix, and how could I not? It contains so many narrative aspects I enjoy, including science fiction, robots taking over the world, an unconventionally beautiful and lethal female character, and a kick ass soundtrack. To be honest, there are a lot of things about the plot that don’t hold up to serious scrutiny. But that’s fine, it is still amazing and undeniably groundbreaking in both storytelling and technical aspects.
When The Matrix opens, the watcher has no idea what is going on. This is my favorite way to be pulled into a story: absolutely cold, with no frame of reference. There’s no exposition and the narrative plunks you right into this universe that works differently than the one you know. You have to make a decision right then and there, if you are all in and if you’re ready for the filmmakers to take you on the ride and teach you about their world. For me, it was my first time being out of the house and enjoying myself after having surgery, and I was so ready.
(Mild spoilers for The Matrix are contained in this article, so if you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it lately, go watch it now. I mean, how can you exist in the world and understand what other people talk about without having seen it?)
A diagnosis of IBD can take away the thing that you feel defines you as a person. This is how it felt for Megan Starshak of The Great Bowel Movement, who describes how her ulcerative colitis diagnosis at age 18 stole her passion for running. The process of losing and then regaining her identity as a runner fueled her desire to help people live well with a diagnosis of IBD. Her foundation seeks to educate those outside the IBD community through the use of a simple conversation prompt: Ask Me About My IBD.
Dating can be challenging for anyone at any stage in life, but having IBD and/or other chronic conditions adds another level of difficulty that can be disconcerting. Angela Cohen was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease after her intestine perforated. Her long-term relationship ended not long after and she was thrust into the dating world. What she discovered while going on more than a few “first dates” was illuminating not only about how IBD and other autoimmune conditions are perceived by potential partners but also about herself and what she wants to get out of dating, as well as her life goals. Continue reading
Even when you’re knowledgeable about IBD, it can still sneak up on you and skew your perception of how much control the disease has over your life. Angelica Catalano, Director of Media Partnerships at The Mighty, describes how ulcerative colitis has affected her since her diagnosis at the age of 6, and how she was living with symptoms on a daily basis. Emergency surgery shook her world, prompting her to make a change in her treatment program to prevent future IBD-related complications. Through her work at The Mighty, Angelica pursues her passion of helping people with chronic illness improve their quality of life by bringing them together with the nonprofits that provide support and resources.
How can we help new ostomates better adjust to their stoma? Megan Johnson, who you might better know as The Front Butt YouTuber, had a unique journey on the way to becoming a permanent ileostomate due to Crohn’s disease. Her experiences with the abysmal patient education material in the hospital after ostomy surgery sparked her desire to make accessible content that helps people adjust after surgery and “be comfortable in their own skin.”
Many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) will admit to having a body image issue. The research shows that people with IBD who have a healthy self-image are in the minority. And after all, how could we not have issues with our bodies? Our bodies fail us without warning, not to mention the symptoms of IBD which are often so distressing and personally upsetting to oneself and to others.
It’s funny, now as an “over 40,” I think back on the days when I was younger and I have to laugh at my skewed sense of self. The facts that support my internal monologue on body image will surely upset those who were closest to me when I was a child and a teen. We didn’t discuss things like body image in the 70s and 80s and there wasn’t anyone who told me the things I tell my daughter, that her body is strong and beautiful and that we will do our best to take care of it.
Getting married is a joyful time in one’s life. Until you have to bring your IBD along when you shop for your wedding dress, that is. Learn how Crohn’s disease affected Jaime’s perceptions about body image throughout her life and how it all culminated in a trip to a bridal shop that left her angry and frustrated. Plus, we share our best tips for making the dress shopping, and eventual wedding day dress wearing, go more smoothly if IBD decides to make make an appearance.