I have been with my fiancé for more than five years. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis four years ago. Needless to say, there has been some overlap in my relationship with my husband-to-be and my relationship with IBD. It has been a long road, and my ulcerative colitis has not always allowed it to be an easy one.
When I first started having the inevitable digestive problems associated with UC, I wasn’t sure what was going on. I figured I didn’t feel well, and went on with my life as best I could. After a few months, my sole concern at seventeen years old was hiding what was happening to me from everyone. Especially my boyfriend of a year. We were comfortable around each other, we could be ourselves around one another and we knew that we were in love. But, I assumed that if he knew the terrible things that happened to me in the bathroom that he would be disgusted and leave. I couldn’t think about the situation rationally, and understand that any young man who would leave me over an uncontrollable condition was not someone that I actually wanted to be with anyway. I could only force terrible pain on myself by trying to avoid displaying any symptoms while over at his place or out on a date. It finally got to a point that I couldn’t keep what was going on from him anymore. I was leaving his house earlier than I actually intended too, trying to get home as fast as I could in order to preserve my dignity. I hurried goodbyes, and was inattentive during my most painful moments. I decided to come clean.
He was perfect. He was a little miffed that I hadn’t just explained sooner (as he thought I was being distant with my early departures and the like), but being open and honest about what was happening to me actually made us both closer. Trust deepened, and our level of comfort did, too.
I am still embarrassed about the constant diarrhea and the rancid smells that sometimes accompany my condition, but our key to keeping the romance alive is our sense of humor. He pokes fun at me a bit about it, and it alleviates the tension. I know he knows what I am going through, and he doesn’t let me hide and be embarrassed about something we both know is out of my hands.
Of course, I still want to spare him the details as much as I can. Our bathroom is certainly always stocked with air freshener, which I am sure to use liberally as the occasion calls for it. The fan in the bathroom is always on, and I sometimes turn on the tap for noise control if I feel it necessary. I always carry perfume with me to make sure I feel fresh wherever we are, and I make sure that I am eating especially well when I know we are going to engage in especially romantic activities to avoid breaking the mood.
Ultimately, our relationship is based on trust and openness, and I know that he loves me no matter what. That is the most romantic thing, knowing that I am loved and cared for regardless of my digestive issues.