I've decided to skip my usual blog because it's the holiday season, and, let's be real, who wants to read about someone's struggle with IBD at this time of year? Not that these diseases take time off to allow us to enjoy the holidays like everyone else. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact, because what’s the one thing that goes on in most homes and gatherings around the world at this time? That's right, it's all about eating (and drinking) to your heart's and stomach’s content, in many cases, in excess and of the kinds of food we usually tend to avoid or limit in our daily lives. People see the holidays as a time to cut loose and indulge in ways they wouldn't do any other time of the year. And, guess what, IBD sufferers are no different, we get caught up in the spirit of things as well, forgetting, but mostly, choosing to ignore the potential repercussions that could turn dire afterwards. Just like diabetics “forget” to watch their sugar intake, and people with high blood pressure, their salt. While the consequences can be quite grave, we’re just human too, wanting in on the action. For me personally, the Christmas season is one of my most favorite time of the year, and I would be the first to admit to being guilty of living in the moment and paying the price for it later on, sometimes very dearly. Make no mistake, I do this willingly and knowingly, as crazy as it may seem. But that's just me.
‘Tis The Season To Be Understanding
I'm really not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, but I wanted to let people know that this time of year can be extremely difficult for people with IBD. So, on behalf of my fellow IBDers, here are some suggestions/tips/advice on how to be mindful of the way you treat your colleagues, friends, or family who suffer from Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, in social situations generally, but especially during this wonderful season that we all want to enjoy.
If someone accepts your invitation to your gathering/function, and cancels at the last moment due to ill health, please don't be mad, even if it messes up your seating arrangement, plans or whatever. It's really not something any of us wants to do, we know we're probably causing some kind of inconvenience, and have to deal with that guilt now as well, but sometimes it's impossible to even leave the house. Do you really think we want to miss out on all the fun and companionship, and be at home alone wallowing? It's not a good feeling!
If someone tells you they can't give you an answer to your invitation if it's too long in advance, it's just that they don't want to commit then go back on their word. You can be gracious by letting them know they're still welcome if they feel able to attend closer to the time. It’s not ideal but might be the only way for you to get to spend time with someone you care about.
When we refuse an invitation outright, it's because at that moment we may be going through a rough time and can't imagine feeling well enough in time for your event. Don't take it personally. If it's possible, leave the invitation open if things improve. If it's not, no biggie, we'll understand.
If someone shows up late, try not to be offended. Believe me, some days it can be a real challenge just to walk out the door, particularly if it's some distance away. Also, no one wants to arrive when people are in the middle of a meal. I speak from experience; it has happened to me many times. I've been on the receiving end of some extremely harsh looks, words, and treatment that made me want to just turn around and leave. I actually had a very close relative tell me once that if I couldn't show up on time, don't bother coming. I'm not kidding! It was hurtful and humiliating, especially coming from someone close to you, relation-wise. I don't believe that's the norm though. At least I hope it's not!
If your IBD guests come to a gathering at your home but say they can't partake of the meal you carefully planned and labored over, don't freak out, please. They're probably unable to eat just then but still wanted to come and spend some quality time with you. It's always a good idea to invite us along with “normal” people so your food doesn't go to waste.
If we are the ones who invite you over for a meal, but are unable to eat with you, don't think it's weird. We obviously didn't know it was going to be a bad day or a don't-you-dare-eat kind of day, we still want to be able to enjoy your company. No need to feel badly for us, that's the nature of the beast. Most of us have learned to go with the flow.
So, in the spirit of the season, be kind, understanding, and forgiving. It will be so greatly appreciated.
Finally, to all my loyal followers and champions, thank you sincerely for all the love, support, and encouragement. I am grateful for you taking the time out of your busy lives to allow me to share my story. I want to wish each and every one of you, your families and all your loved ones, a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season. May the new year bring only good things. Leave the negative thoughts and feelings behind, and move forward with a positive, open, and accepting heart and mind. See you in 2018.