It’s not a surprise that some people aren’t big fans of the holidays. Maybe some have ongoing problems with family members or perhaps exes. Maybe they have unpleasant memories stemming from past Christmases, Thanksgivings, or New Years Eves. Maybe they don’t have any family at all.
Then there are those with documented medical conditions who might find some holiday celebrations a little challenging, especially if there are unfamiliar people on the guest list. While they might not mind being part of a gathering of family members, caregivers, or others who they recognize and trust, it may be less intimidating or uncertain at least to be around others who aren’t familiar with their particular condition.
The team at Accredited Home Care has heard similar concerns from some of its clients, especially those who are dealing with colitis and Chron’s disease.
Both of these autoimmune disorders can impact the digestive tract on an occasional or chronic basis. If not managed well, either condition can cause damage to the body, including nutritional problems and irritable bowel syndrome.
These conditions can cause challenges, including stomach pain and a need to be near a bathroom. The topic of how either disease can ravage your system can be difficult to discuss with someone unfamiliar with it.
While it would be easy to decline an invitation and stay at home, many people with these conditions do try to take efforts to go out or at least not always stay home.
So to make the best of a potentially painful and awkward social situation, try some of the following strategies to make the evening bearable.
- Eat ahead of time. Part of having ulcerative colitis or Chron’s disease means sticking to a similar diet since certain foods and ingredients can aggravate your entire digestive system and cause pain. Everyone with this condition is different in what type of diet works best and worst for them. At the same time, certain foods may work fine one day and cause irritation and inflammation the next. So taking a risk by eating unfamiliar foods at a party where you’re not sure of the source could spell an evening in the bathroom and a flare-up of pain for a certain period afterward.
- Discuss your condition with the host/hostess ahead of time. If you trust them and they’re good at what they do, they’ll look for opportunities to show accommodations to make sure you and others who may have these conditions are able to attend without pain. This could include offering special food to you only and any other guests with or making a separate area for food to avoid cross-contamination. If this event is a regular occurrence, he or she may be aware of your condition and plan ahead ask for your input since everyone has different diets and dietary needs. They also can contact you ahead of time to reassure you that steps will be taken.
- Prepare to educate. You may not want to corner a stray guest to tell them about your abdominal pain, but you can still look for ways to tell about these conditions, including what you need to do to stay healthy and some of the risks. Another positive conversational topic that can help you be approachable is to discuss the work of groups like the Chron’s & Colitis Foundation, which works to educate the community as well as organize fund-raisers around the world. The foundation also sponsors fund-raising events in major cities so one potentially could be nearby. By encouraging and educating, it could make the disease less mysterious and also lead to a local supporter or volunteer.
- Have an exit strategy. Congratulations! You’ve made it out the door and to an actual social event, which isn’t always easy due to the pain and related anxieties. Since you’re here, you may as well enjoy it as long as you can. But make sure to be ready for things to change. This means having access to a bathroom in case your IBS flares up quickly. Or having permission in advance to leave anytime if you feel overwhelmed or in too much pain. This could include bringing along a trusted person to help as needed.
Living with either condition causes serious complications if not managed well. For instance, a natural instinct is to stop eating or drinking when a flare is taking place. But ignoring regular nutrients for too long can cause a variety of problems including noticeable weight loss, strong gas, malnutrition, and other unhealthy complications.
The Chron’s & Colitis Foundation site can be considered a useful resource for those newly diagnosed and those who are already aware that they have the condition but would benefit from some pointers, advice, and encouragement.
This includes advice on what foods should work and which ones can aggravate already sensitive insides?
The foundation also offers info about Chron’s and Colitis Awareness Week, which ran Dec. 1-7. People with the condition who are on Twitter are encouraged to share these messages with the public.