Throughout many events and circumstances in my life, I have always felt this responsibility for being honest about my health conditions. When I first met my husband, one of the first things that I shared about myself was that I have Crohn’s disease and that having this disease comes with a variety of challenges.
When I first met my friends, I was open about my journey and wasn’t afraid to share specific details with them. Even when I applied and interviewed for my job as a teacher, I was always upfront and honest about my health with employers.
You see, I figured in all these instances (and many others as well) that being upfront and honest about my condition was better than trying to deal with a flare and then lack of support later.
In previous years, I had been in relationships with others who weren’t accepting of my health problems. I had also worked for employers who weren’t lenient and flexible either. All this did was bring on more stress and add to the guilt I was already experiencing for having this condition in the first place.
So, I stopped hiding behind my conditions and found those people, those relationships, and those employers who weren’t afraid to invest time and effort in someone like me. I found others who were accepting of my conditions and always made me feel welcomed and supported.
As a result, I don’t have as much guilt as I once did. If I let everyone know about my health and the challenges that I face ahead of time, then they can choose if they’d still like to be a part of it.
Thankfully, my husband chose me. My friends chose me. And my employer chose me. I found those people and situations who were accepting, welcoming, and supportive of my journey.
But when it comes to parenting with Crohn’s disease, I feel that this is much harder. Instead of being able to choose whether our children would like to be involved with someone with health challenges, they are born into that family.
Now, I’m not saying that my son wouldn’t choose me if he were given the option; I’m just saying that he wasn’t necessarily given a choice. We had to start teaching him how to accept those of us with health issues very early on in life.
After he was born, it was never a question as to whether I would share my Crohn’s disease journey with him. My husband and I agreed that hiding my condition from him wouldn’t be doing him any favors. So, instead, we taught my son how to embrace this journey just like we would with anyone else. Now, I obviously don’t share specific details with him and keep information age-appropriate. However, I don’t hide my bad days from him either.
Even at 8, my son knows that sometimes, Mom needs to rest. Sometimes, Mom needs to follow up with doctors or have tests done. And sometimes, Mom needs to go to the hospital for treatments or take injectable medications.
This may cause some worry from time to time, but I’d rather him be aware of what is going on rather than have something happen and it takes him by surprise.
Now, he’s one of my biggest supporters and one of my biggest fans. He’s constantly on that sideline rooting for me, no matter what I am going through.
And yes, we still have moments where he may get upset because my health has changed our plans, or I need to take yet another nap throughout the day. But let’s face it: Sometimes, I get upset with these circumstances, too. Having these emotions and feelings is not abnormal.
We openly talk about these situations and what it means to feel disappointed, frustrated, scared, or sad. We talk about how to support someone when they don’t feel well, even if that means we’re upset, too. And we talk about what it truly takes to support someone and be a good friend.
I must admit that I have always felt guilty about this until I realized what a superpower this truly is. Even though health conditions may flare, and we might not be able to go to that place or attend that event one day, I’m showing my kiddo how to be accepting of those who are different.
I’m showing him how to love someone wholeheartedly, regardless of their health struggles. I’m showing him how to support someone when they may not be feeling well, and I’m showing him how to be strong when faced with struggle.
Most of all, I’m showing him that Crohn’s disease and other health challenges are only limiting if you allow them to limit you. I’m showing him that you can persevere and still have a great, fun, and successful life, even with health challenges.
It is in these moments that I’m showing him how to be a kind, welcoming, accepting, and warm-hearted human being.
I’m also showing him that I am more than my Crohn’s disease diagnosis. Yes, I may have Crohn’s disease, which may impact my health at times. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not also a creative, responsible, innovative, and hardworking person, and won’t still do everything I can to show him how much he is loved.
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