Over the past three years I cried, thrown tantrums, vomited all over the place, screamed bloody murder and been too tired to even drag myself off the bathroom floor. I have looked hideous; had oozing boils all over my legs; spent days without showers; dribbled like a baby, and well looked like someone waking up after having their bowel removed – enough said I guess!
But despite all my efforts to push him away, and bizarre steroid induced (and non steroid endured) mood swings, my boyfriend has lovingly stuck by my side and supported me through thick and thin– I have no idea how he does it!
Since I was diagnosed with IBD 14 years ago I have struggled to cope with relationships. It is a well known fact that during flares I become increasingly stubborn, and push everyone I love away from me. I don’t like people seeing me sick, and so I get angry, grumpy and turn into a mad raving cow as I struggle to battle with my illness. I know how it affects people around me; how sad it makes them; how much it wears them out – so I either hide it, or push them away.
When me and Andy first met I was already extremely ill. I was in the, I’m trying to pretend I’m not seeing my whole world fall down the toilet, stage, which some call denial! And so I was being my bubbly outgoing self, putting on a show, lying to the world to pretend I wasn’t ill. We had a few really fun dates together – then I fell down the stairs and broke my hand!!
From then on my health went downhill; from horrendous inner ear infections; gooey eyes; eczema; and obviously my never ending battle with Ulcerative Colitis. Less than two months after we started dating, Andy was visiting me in hospital for our dates. He came every single day, and refused to listen to my pleas that I didn’t want him to see me looking so ill and such a mess.
I think that was when I knew there was no getting rid of him.
Since then he has coped with a dozen or so heartbreaking flares. Dealt with hearing the carefully cooked food being vomited up, and pulling out his hair as I screamed from the bathroom. He has visited me in hospital more times than I can count, given up holidays to be at my side, and spent hours holding my hand in A&E.
Even more remarkably Andy has kept me smiling through some of the hardest decisions of my life, and kept me smiling through two lots of surgery. He has helped me to adjust to life with an ostomy bag and supported me in my new life. Which is amazing – I had been so worried for so many years about the impact of my bag on my love life.
When I had low moments, mostly through boredom, on my long road to recovery, he held me when I cried, and insisted on making me laugh even when I thought my stitches were going to burst.
He has driven me around the country on my challenges, braved his fears and spent far to much money helping me to achieve my dreams. And we have loved, well, almost every second together, and have some unbelievable memories.
At times he can be too much of a saint, which sends me spiralling out of control when I’m angry. And he has his faults; weird meal combinations; sometimes forgetting to check ingredients for lactose; and taking pictures of me while I’m sleeping in the car!!
But I love him. He has lived on a knife-edge for the past three years. I can’t imagine what it must be like for him (or my family) to live in the constant fear that I might suddenly throw up, faint, pass out, or simply fade away to skin and bone in front of him.
Yesterday was his birthday and I gave him a photo album filled with pictures of our amazing adventures together. It was incredible to see how much we have changed, and how, no matter how ill, skeletal and sickly I got, he always managed to make me smile.
If you are reading this Andy, I don’t always say it but I am so very lucky. I love you.