At the end of the year, we see the gift guides come out. There’s one for every type of person, usually focused on age and gender, but also based on hobbies or interests. Or, even, based on chronic illness such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
There’s no doubt, gift guides are helpful. For someone like me, who doesn’t go out shopping a lot, it’s useful to know what’s out there. Learning about the latest in cookware or video games can be helpful. To me, the funniest ones are the gift guides for teens or college students. Even I know they just want cash.
When I still had my colon, I was at the pharmacy on a regular basis. Like most people with IBD (ulcerative colitis, specifically), I was always taking several medications in an effort to keep the inflammation down. I also usually needed over-the-counter things as well — witch hazel and wipes and antacids.
Once when I was in my mid-twenties, the young man behind the pharmacy counter tried to talk to me about my prescriptions. He then questioned my use of that particular location of the pharmacy.
“You know,” he said to me, “there’s a store in [town that I lived in] that’s closer to you.”
We have slang now to describe what this man was doing to me. He was mansplaining it to me. For some reason he thought he knew better. Continue reading
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. 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 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 have the vocabulary to 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.
Did you know that more than 70% of people with IBD have reported bathroom accidents (fecal incontinence)? Did you also know that only around 20% ask for help from their physicians? It’s a sensitive topic, to be sure, which is why I offer advice on how to cope with this problem and how to avoid it in the first place. If you’re struggling with this issue I have tips that you can use today but the best advice is to talk to your doctor about it (and I discuss that also!).
I hadn’t given too much though to my relationship with food until recently when it occurred to me that my experiences with IBD have influenced my diet since diagnosis. In the IBD community people often share ideas about diet and nutrition, and what we eat is all very different. It has taken me a very long time, but I’ve come to understand that IBD has probably had a strong influence on my relationship with food — and not in a positive way.
Every so often when I tell someone what I do (writing about digestive disease) I get some curious responses, usually with a barely restrained sneer. “Wow, is there really a need for that?” “How could that be something that you need to keep writing about?” “Is that something that people are interested in?”
You bet I’ve said this. I’m glad to see a healthy poop from my offspring.
And my answers are: yes, yes, and yes.
My standard response is this: “If you have a digestive problem, you are going to be very glad that there is someone available to you who has studied the digestive system, and can help you.”