I have a Wonder Woman in my life.
I have never felt more supported… sometimes with a pointy stick in my back and cries of “Write! Film! Edit! Act, you glorious bastard!” And it’s great because there are times that I need that and she knows. The give and take in our relationship is a fine balance of support and push. We both know what the other needs and when. Sitting down to think of it brings a smile to my face and really shows me what has been missing in relationships of past. I’m happy but—
But there is something I never had to think about and it really shows just how blessed with good genes and health I really am. My Wonder Woman has Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect the body (the digestive tract) from the mouth to the anus. The symptoms are horrendous and often steal entire days away from her and confine her to bed like it’s prison. And from behind my visitor’s glass with two-way phone receiver in hand I sit helpless and watch WW serve out her Crohn’s sentence not knowing how long this prison term is going to be.
And it sucks! Wonder Woman’s number one trigger for a Crohn’s flare is stress… and guess who is a partner in a financial firm and runs a company of her own while raising her daughter with a little help from me? Guess how much stress there is Monday to Thursday and how that affects our plans on Friday? Many a weekend has been lost to the bed of Shawshank. I’ve been able to educate WW on a lot of really great movies that slipped through the cracks, and she loves bad horror flicks. The screams from our viewing of “Evil Dead” cost me 15% of my hearing. Worth it!
There is nothing worse than sitting beside someone you love and watching them suffer through an 8/10 on the pain scale for hours, and you can do nothing but be there. I get angry. I never had planned my life or relationship around health. I tore my ACL years ago and had to be on crutches for two months, but I could still get around. I could go to movies, restaurants, and the local sock hop for a malt… I may have also built a time machine, but that is another story. (I also might be your real grandfather.)
A Crohn’s flare knocks WW on her ass and there is a very good chance that no matter what might have been planned for the day, it’s done. A person gets very good at rolling with it and it is hard not to become jaded. “Why can’t you just be normal?” runs through my head. “I am sick of this bullshit!” Dates, dinners, BBQ’s, meetings, alone time all out the window and new plans have to be made.
It’s the third trip to the hospital in a month.”God! Can we get just one week, one normal week…” A person feels like scum for thinking angry thoughts again and again. I will admit that I even thought about calling it quits because I wanted ‘normal’ again.
Then I learned what normal was.
Normal is sneaking into a hospital room where your love is sleeping and watching her breathe.
I realized that we are as normal as normal gets.
Crohn’s does not make WW any different. She is still amazing, loving, powerful, beautiful, driven, intelligent, passionate, artistic, funny, playful and one hell of an unbelievable woman; and she happens to have Crohn’s.
Remember that when you’re living with someone who has health issues it will affect your relationship. Stupid fights will happen, pain will affect quality time together, plans might go out the window. And sometimes when someone lives on a pain scale closer to the top than bottom fighting and bickering become a release. Sometimes you have to just sit there and take it. Although don’t smile if it’s funny— that just goes south so fast.
Love and life are messy… in good times and bad. Our good times are amazing because I’ve learned that our bad times together just need glitter, some streamers and a T-shirt cannon to make them awesome.
Then and now.
I wrote this 2 years ago. Since then, WW was put on Imuran and flares are rare. I’m a proud papa to our little Kid Vader and love our family life. We eat mostly paleo and grainless to help keep her inflammation at bay— though they’re rare, flares still happen.
This November it’s IBD month, so please learn about Crohn’s and Colitis. Chances are you know someone who suffers with some form of them. Ask them about it. Ask what you can do to help because it can be embarrassing and hard for them to talk about what they’re feeling or to discuss certain symptoms.