How my boyfriend motivated me into accepting my ileostomy bag

My boyfriend Fraser and I have been together for almost 4 years and like any couple we have been through ups and downs.

Our hardest battle as of yet was in January 2015 when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I had been complaining of a sore stomach to him for about 7 months previous to my diagnosis but I made him swear he wouldn’t tell anyone. I then came clean to everyone and my weight had gone right down to 6 stone so I was admitted to hospital straight away.

I was so ill that I couldn’t look after myself. He actually had to wash me, wash my hair and dry it for me. I felt like we were already an old couple.

2015 was Fraser’s final year at university so already stressed to the max, he brought his laptop to hospital every day so that he could be with me and study at the same time. I worried that because of me his focus would be lost and he would not be able to get the degree he had been working so hard on.

This worry was only the beginning as my short hospital stay soon turned into a long month stay.

I really was at my worst as I was hurting, scared, hungry and overall exhausted.

Day after day Fraser kept showing back at the hospital – I really wouldn’t have blamed him if he took that chance to never come back. This was due to us learning more about this disease and its chronic lifelong effects; what 21-year-old wants to stick around when they know this will be their life?

Adding to all of this I had to have an emergency operation where I had to have a temporary ileostomy. For the first few weeks I wouldn’t let Fraser look near my stomach or even give me a cuddle.

I wasn’t normal anymore and I wasn’t the Emma that he first got into a relationship with. My body had changed and I couldn’t accept myself so how could he still love me?

Turns out for some crazy reason that he did in fact still love me and when he eventually saw my stomach he wasn’t even shocked.

He actually helped motivate me to accept my bag – he would help doing bag changes and time me so that I could get faster at changing and not think too much into it. Now a year and a half later I have recently been lucky enough to have my ileostomy reversed.

Fraser and I have a long way to go as this illness is life-long and when I have bad days he can sometimes struggles when I say things I probably shouldn’t.

I personally think that this disease and process has made us so much stronger as a couple. He is so understanding so when I say I’m sore or tired he tells me to stay in bed and not to worry.

I often ask him if he is okay with me having this illness and if he wants to leave he can – but he tells me he is willing to fight the fight with me.

I 100% understand how lucky I am having someone that it so supportive and understanding.

Fraser is one of three people that I couldn’t have gotten through the last year and a half without.

We are looking forward to the rest of our lives – we know Crohn’s will always be there but it will never stop us from getting to where we want to be.

Words by Emma Burden

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