Crohn’s may be unfamiliar, but it’s not top secret.
A year ago, I had no clue what Crohn’s Disease really was. Sure, I’d heard of it, but I didn’t know what the symptoms are or how much of a lifestyle change it requires. (For those of you who don’t know, Crohn’s disease is a “relapsing inflammatory bowel disease that mainly affects the gastrointestinal tract.”) About eight months ago, my friend was diagnosed with Crohn’s. Since then, I have learned a lot a lot of new things about it. Here are 12 things that you should know too if you have a friend with Crohn’s disease:
1. Sometimes they have to cancel their plans with you.
They hate to do it, but when they make plans they can’t know how they’re going to be feeling when Friday night actually rolls around. So if your friend cancels on your plans, try to be understanding about it and don’t assume that it’s because they don’t want to hang out with you.
2. They get sick easily.
With all of the medication that your friend has to take, it’s really easy for them to get sick. Because of that, they tend to get paranoid about sick friends. Don’t be offended if they try to keep their distance when you’re sick and consider trying to keep your distance or letting them know if you think you’re coming down with something.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Don’t try to ignore your friend’s disease. It’s part of their life, so whether it’s their complicated diet or all of the hospital trips and doctors visits, make an effort to learn about it. Most people don’t mind talking about it and want their friends to be informed, they just don’t want to flood you with all of the details if you’re not interested.
4. Find out what kind of food is good for a flare up.
Everyone knows that when you’re sick there’s nothing better than having a friend bring you your favorite ice cream or candy. So, find out what kind of food will make your friend feel better and bring that to them when they’re not feeling well. There’s not very much you can do to help, but that’s a good way to show that you care about them.
5. They disappear to the bathroom a lot.
It’s not a big deal, it’s just a part of the disease.
6. Stress is really bad for them.
Being stressed makes your friend feel sick, so be there to give them hugs and listen to them rant when they’re stressed or upset about something.
7. There are a lot of ups and downs.
Your friend may be feeling fine one day and really sick the next day. It’s important for them to know that they have friends who will always be there for them.
8. You can still tell them when you’re not feeling well.
Your friend doesn’t spend all their time thinking about how much worse off they are than you. Don’t assume that telling them about that annoying cold you have is going to offend them. Your friend cares about you and wants to be there to comfort and support you, too.
9. Poop puns are never not funny.
Crohn’s disease is a part of your friend’s life, so there’s no need to tiptoe around it.
10. Their weight fluctuates a lot.
Treatments for Crohn’s cause people’s weight to go up and down a lot. If you see this happening to your friend, there’s no need to make a big deal about, it’s just part of managing Crohn’s.
11. They don’t want pity.
Sure, your friend didn’t ask for Crohn’s disease, but they also aren’t asking for your pity. They just want you there to give them love and support.
12. Crohn’s is different for everyone.
This means that your friend who has Crohn’s could have a completely different diet, treatment plan, and symptoms than someone else you know who has Crohn’s.
13. They’re thankful to have friends who support them.
Crohn’s doesn’t make people weird or broken, so your friend is so thankful to have people like you around them who realize that and offer their support.
Crohn’s disease may be unfamiliar to a lot of people, but it doesn’t mean that it’s something that you can’t talk about. Be aware of your friend’s disease and make an effort to be informed, but also be aware that it doesn’t define them.