Living With Ulcerative Colitis Challenges Me as a Parent

By Steve Barrymore
Updated 2024-03-28 17:56:53 | Published 2021-08-23 15:05:18
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  • Ulcerative Colitis
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    • In this section of the iMedix Blog, learn about Ulcerative Colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. Find detailed information on its symptoms, treatment, and strategies for managing the condition. This resource is designed to assist patients and their families in navigating the challenges of living with Ulcerative Colitis.

father and young son holding hands

Dealing with a chronic illness like ulcerative colitis poses unique challenges for patients, especially in terms of parenting. Personally, I am grateful to have the support of my wife and three children, but I am also fully aware of how my illness has affected my ability to be a parent. When I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, my children were at ages of 10, 6, and 2 respectively. Shortly after my diagnosis, I had to be hospitalized twice before my condition could be controlled with a biologic treatment. During this time, my wife took on the primary parenting role as I was away from home, 90 miles away. Despite the stress, our extended family, particularly my mother, provided invaluable assistance by taking me to the hospital so that my wife could focus on our children.

Even after my hospitalization, parenting was still impacted by my struggles to control my condition at home. The corticosteroid prescribed to reduce inflammation in my colon affected my mood, making me more irritable and moody. Consequently, I often found myself feeling annoyed and frustrated by my children's behavior, making it difficult to be the best parent I wanted to be. This was disappointing as I couldn't always be my best self around them. Fortunately, when I positively responded to an intravenous biologic, I was able to decrease my corticosteroid dosage and regain a semblance of my former self. However, this new treatment brought about another challenge in parenting – being away for most of the day on treatment days. Once again, my wife had to step in as the primary caregiver during those times.

Although I only received the biologic treatment every eight weeks, logistics meant I had to travel 90 miles to a hospital for it, instead of going to a facility in our hometown. While this was more financially feasible, it also meant being away from home for around seven hours. On treatment days, my wife had the added responsibility of transporting our kids to their after-school activities. As post-treatment side effects, I often found that my appetite was diminished. Our family usually ate dinner together, but on treatment days, I would often skip the meal or eat very little. Even before my diagnosis, when I struggled to control my condition, I frequently skipped meals or ate less flavorful food than what my wife had prepared.

Moreover, treatment also requires careful consideration of future treatment days when planning family activities and trips. We constantly have to ask ourselves if certain activities or trips are possible at those times or if they would clash with my treatment schedule. Overall, living with ulcerative colitis has certainly made parenting more challenging, but I am fortunate to have a loving and understanding wife who willingly takes on the primary parenting role when necessary. Though it can be frustrating to work around my treatment schedule, it's a small price to pay for a treatment that allows me to maintain the health of my colon.

Steve Barrymore is verified user for iMedix

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