10 Questions My Friends Have Always Wanted to Ask Me About My IBD & Chronic Illness

Today I will be answering 10 questions my friends have always wanted answers to regarding my IBD. I thought this would be a fun and informative post about IBD. I tried to get some juicy questions out of my friends, so I hope you enjoy. But before we jump into the post, make sure that you subscribed to my blog to get email updates every time I post, and follow me on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest to get more updates from me on my day to day life. 

1. Has living with Crohn’s ever effected your personal relationships?

In short, yes it definitely has. Crohn’s disease effects you both physically and mentally which can cause you to feel disconnected from other people. For that reason there has been times where I have cancelled plans on friends without a reason. This is because I’d rather not explain how I’m feeling at the moment. For me I have a few categories of friends, some that I keep constantly in the loop about my Crohn’s and thus I can talk to them at any time about my symptoms. Others that know a little bit, and so I don’t always feel super comfortable talking to them about my symptoms, and lastly I have some friends who don’t even know I have Crohn’s. Since, starting my blog I have definitely become more open with my Crohn’s disease. So, this has made it easier to talk to friends about symptoms but it still can cause problems in my relationships with those I am closest to. Sometimes it causes a strain on my relationship with my boyfriend because there will be times where I am too tired or in too much pain to go out. But, this has significantly improved since I had my surgery in July. 

If you want to know more about how it has effected my relationship with my boyfriend you can check out theses two posts:
5 Things I’ve Learnt From My Relationship When Dealing With A Chronic Illness 
4 Things I’ve Learnt From My Partner’s Chronic Illness: Boyfriend Tells All

2. What is your go-to guilty pleasure that you shouldn’t eat but you do it anyway?

When I was on a low-residue-liquid diet I would often have a “cheat snack” or “cheat meal”. This was mainly because without them I feel like I would have gone insane. Before surgery, my go-to guilty pleasure was frozen yogurt or nachos from a local pub. I knew that these weren’t great for my stricture, but honestly I knew that whether I ate the food or not I would still be bloated, so might as well enjoy yourself sometimes. But, since surgery my diet has been a lot more inclusive of foods and so not many things bother me anymore. However, I would say that my guilty pleasure would be pickles. I love pickles, but sometimes they give me acid reflux, so I have to watch out for them. 

3. Does anyone else related to you have IBD?

Nobody in my immediate family has IBD, but some of my family has IBS and some extended family has IBD. One second cousin had Crohn’s disease and a few of my aunts/uncles/grandparents have IBS. 

4. What are the best resources that you can give people interested in learning more about IBD?

Some of the best resources for IBD include the following: 

I also encourage people to follow hashtags on Instagram or Twitter related to IBD, and to reach out to other people through social media about your chronic illness. As well as, getting involved in your local Crohn’s and Colitis Chapter. 

5. Is low nutritional absorption a symptom of IBD and if so what can be done to improve it?

Although this isn’t necessarily a “symptom” of IBD, it can be associated with IBD. Many people with IBD suffer with internal bleeding, inflammation of the intestine, strictures (narrowings) of the bowel, fistulas, ulcers, and many more at some point in their life. A lot of these symptoms can lead to loss of blood or malfunctioning of the bowel which will lead to a lack of nutrient absorption. Certain minerals and vitamins are absorbed in the small bowel and the large intestine. So, if a certain part of your bowel is compromised it can cause a lack of nutrients. 

Water and electrolytes are mainly absorbed in the large intestine, and the majority of vitamins and minerals are absorbed in the small intestine. I have always had an Iron deficiency since the time of my diagnosis. So, every few months I have Iron infusions and I also take an Iron supplement everyday. Other people get infusions for Vitamin B12 or Vitamin D. 

When it comes to malabsorption different treatments can be given based on the severity. It may include drinking extra calories everyday such as Ensure drinks, or in more extreme cases it could include TPN which is a method of feeding that bypasses the gastrointestinal tract. Overall, nutrients can be a difficult thing to control and absorption of certain nutrients can change based on your condition. Therefore, it is important for people with IBD to get their blood work checked often and to watch for fluctuations in weight. 

6. How do you deal with intense discomfort when you’re in a situation in which you can’t just get up and leave?  I.e during a job interview, during a mass or a ceremony, etc 

I always try to keep certain things in my purse/bag for whenever I have a moment of intense discomfort or pain. A few things that I keep on me at all times are as followed. 

  • Peppermint Oil – this is amazing at reducing bloating discomfort (and also awesome for headaches)
  • Gas-x pills – this is great to alleviate any built up gas 
  • Water – I ALWAYS have water on me, a lot of times pain and discomfort can be intensified due to dehydration so I try to keep very hydrated
  • Tylenol – If I have bad joint pain or cramping Tylenol can sometimes help with this. 
If all else fails, I will get up and excuse myself. I have done it before and typically people are very understanding. 

7. Do you feel like you missed out on a full childhood as a result of developing IBD so young ?

Because I was diagnosed at 11 I definitely had to grow up a bit faster than other kids. However, my parents always tried there best to take care of as much stuff as possible. I am very grateful that I have such an amazing support system and that they have always gone to the moon and back for me. None the less, I did have to grow up a bit quicker and do some things most people won`t even do in their life time at a young age. Regardless, I don`t feel that I missed out on too much. A few years after initial diagnosis I was fairly stable (with the odd flare here and there). So, I could pretty much enjoy my childhood with only a few minor annoyances like doctors appointments, pills, tests, etc. 

8. How do you deal with people not understanding your situation?

I used to get very frustrated when people didn`t understand my situation or the complexity of my condition. However, I realized that in order for people to understand they need to be educated on the topic. So, I started opening up more about my condition and what they can expect from me in a flare. I found that being super open with professors was especially important because they always wanted to help. So, telling them exactly what I expected of them was really helpful for them and me. 

I know that people will never FULLY understand what it is like, but as long as people TRY than I am happy. If people aren`t willing to do that, well then honestly, I don`t need that kind of negativity in my life. 

9. How has your relationship with food changed ?  

For years I have had a love/hate relationship with food. Although food is not known to “cause” or “cure” Crohn’s disease, it definitely effects your symptoms. This is kind of common sense though, if food effects people with normal intestines, than it is going to effect people with IBD (sometimes even more so). A few years back I tried every diet in the book. I tried dairy-free, gluten-free, low-residue-liquid diets, etc. All of them had some positives, but none of them seemed to do enough for me to continue on those diets. 

Although it may seem simple, these diets can be very difficult to maintain. It is harder to find options on the go and it can be more expensive. But, the main problem that I struggled with these diets was the mental roller coaster that it put you through. You start off with a new diet, you are all excited to start fresh and feel better. You stick with it for months, see a few changes here and there. But, after 5-6 months you realize that this isn’t the one. This roller coaster starts to get to you after a while. 

So, after surgery I decided that I was going to take a break from”diets” and instead try to eat real/whole foods (something I couldn’t eat before surgery because of the stricture). So far it is going great and I am sticking with it. Does this mean I will never go on a different diet? No. But, I think it is important to never place extreme parameters on yourself because it can be mentally exhausting. 

I wrote a whole blog post on my diet post-operation if you want to read more on my thoughts:
My Attitude Towards Food Post Surgery

10. How do you deal with drinking culture?

Drinking has never really been an issue for me and my IBD. But, going out downtown has caused me some major anxiety in the past. Although I love to go out dancing with my friends. Being around that many people has always given me anxiety that I will catch a sickness from others. This has especially gotten worse since starting Biologics because I am more afraid of catching a cold/flu because my immune system is more suppressed. I wrote a whole blog post about my anxiety about getting sick not too long ago so check that out for more info. 

Thank you so much to all my friends who gave me these questions. I hope that you enjoyed this post and found it entertaining or helpful at all. If you want to see a part two of this post let me know in the comments on Instagram!

I hope you all had a great week and are ready to kick off a new one! Before you go, make sure that you subscribed to my blog to get email updates every time I post. Also be sure to follow me on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest to get more updates from me on my day to day life. 

Your trusty gutsy gal, 

Nathalie xx

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Nathalie is a Canadian entrepreneur, blogger, architectural designer, and Crohn’s warrior. Nathalie graduated from her final university degree in Spring 2020 with a Master’s of Architecture. Nathalie decided to start this blog to share her journey and experiences. She shares daily advice on all things health, lifestyle, self love, motivation and environmentalism on the blog and over on Facebook and Instagram.

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