I call him warrior because the word ‘sufferer’, ‘victim’, ‘patient’ conjures up images of a weak, feeble, measly soul struggling through life. Bent over double in pain coughing into a hankie, one step away from being carried out on a stretcher when the grim reaper walks past ringing a bell calling “bring out your dead”. Just like the word ‘person’, ‘individual’, ‘husband’ doesn’t feel, well, big enough. Warrior is brave, strong, heroic, a fighter, marching forward with determination and grit regardless of what battles he’s faced with. Theres no loin cloth wearing, horse riding, spear carrying or Game of Thrones style blood baths. In our case the warrior is fuelled by a bucket full of tea, the occasional fag, a spot of golf (“not enough”- his words), beige food and nightly baths. I will, from here on in, refer to all you mighty beasts with Crohn’s as ‘warriors’.
What I’ve learnt through ‘owning’ one for the past 8 years is that no two Crohn’s warriors are the same. Each one has its own unique digestive system, finely tuned to absorb some foods and violently expel others. Unfortunately the warriors fail to be delivered with a user manual and you therefore embark on a lifelong journey into trialling the various foods and drinks of the world experimenting to see which ones your warrior can handle. Don’t become comfortable once you discover that your warrior can eat say, cheese, because next week a tiny little malfunction in your warriors highly sensitive ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ style engine will result in said cheese causing a mal-function. Recognising a mal-function of this nature can take on various guises, more often than not involving prolonged toilet visits, abdominal pain, frustration and general feelings of being unwell. A word of warning here to all you new owners of a warrior – do not air your frustration at the inopportune moments that these malfunctions occur. As frustrating as it is that the engine fail light has come on as you’re on your way out to a date night; the babysitters here (thanks Mum), you’ve actually put lipstick on for once, have been day dreaming about a large Sauvignon since you were woken by the baby at 5 am – this is inevitably more upsetting for your warrior than it is for you. Now is not the time to figure out what caused this situation. Questions such as; “Why is this happening again”, “what have you eaten to make this happen”, “are you doing this on purpose because you hate my mates”, “why the fuck did you eat cheese at lunch time when you knew we were going out tonight” – these comments are helping no one and the fact is, there aren’t any answers. Because the downright cruel fact is that yesterday, your warrior probably ate cheese at lunchtime and was fine, but today he’s not. And that’s the end of it. We don’t know why. So wave your Mum goodbye, open the Sauvignon in the fridge, catch up on Game of Thrones and be done with it.
Image courtesy of Andre Yaniw
Your warriors highly sensitive operating system can make it susceptible to other malfunctions when exposed to harmful bugs within its daily environment. These bugs could be fended off by something known as an immune system which unfortunately this version of the warrior doesn’t have. Dangerous environments (or battle grounds as we will refer to them) which must be avoided at all costs include soft play areas, kids parties, hospitals, doctors surgery waiting areas, Nursery and the school playground. If this isn’t possible there are a few preventative measures you can put in place to avoid major malfunctions. These are;
1; Hand sanitiser – apply liberally to your warriors hands/face/ neck and any other exposed areas of skin
2; First Defence Nasal Spray- spray up your warriors nose before entering and upon return from the battle ground. Absolutely no medical evidence to prove this will fend off the Nora Virus but if it kills off cold and flu bugs its got to be worth a try, right?
3; DO NOT ALLOW YOUR WARRIOR TO EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING THAT IS OFFERED TO HIM AT THESE BATTLE GROUNDS
4; In a desperate attempt to keep the warriors home environment free from contamination all members of the warriors clan must strip off at the door upon arrival back to HQ. This ESPECIALLY includes any “young warriors in training” who must also have a bath (due to the fact they’ve been in treacherous conditions with a high chance of contamination ie ball pits, under tables in Dr’s waiting areas, on the floor in public toilets – insert green puking emoji here)
5; Your warrior may need to take a cocktail of drugs to maintain his engine. These can include anti-inflammatory’s, pain killers, multi-vitamins and oral suspension Colestyramine. Ensure spares are stashed in various places incase your warrior ‘forgets’ to bring them with him when out and about. The car glove box, your handbag, the babies nappy changing bag, the pushchair pocket or golf bag are a few suggestions which make for good hiding places…ensure they are out of the reach of any young warriors in training who might mistake them for sweets!
image courtesy of Andre Yaniw
If these basic operating instructions are followed to the letter your reward will be bountiful. For example our warrior is a hardworking plumber, an amazing father (to two mini-warriors we’d been told we may never have), a loyal friend to many and a soul mate to me. Truth of it is, we’d be lost without him and I’d hugely recommend investing in one.