Alannah’s Stoma Story: caring for each other
20 July, 2019
Having a loved one who is unwell can put a strain on any relationship, but where people are suffering from a chronic illnes they are more likely to be sick more of the time. I spoke with Alannah (a member of our closed facebook group and very active advocate) about how she met her partner Jaimie and how sickness and caring for each other has affected their relationship.
Can you give a brief overview on you and your partner and how you met?
“Jaimie and myself met when I was 17 through facebook and then reconnected again on instagram in 2017. We both have Crohn’s Disease and permanent Ileostomies and gaming in common! Jaimie is a huge support in my blogging and vlogging and since we became a couple, we have helped each other in different aspects of each others lives for the better.”
Does the fact you both have a stoma make it easier to understand/appreciate what the other is going through?
“Absolutely. I suffer from blockages a lot and I’m not scared to get my belly out when it’s bloated or ask for help when I need it and vice versa. We also really appreciate each other because when either of us are having a bad day or are going into hospital, we have one another for company and support.”
Being sick is a part of life, but having a chronic condition means you’re more likely to be sick more of the time, does this put a strain on your relationship?
“At the start I thought it was going to but being completely honest, it has brought us much closer. We understand when one of us is moody it’s because we are in pain and it’s not a personal thing with one another. We both understand that this is for life and so is our relationship.”
Are you/your partner a good ‘patient’ or do you not like being looked after?
“It’s quite funny because we both love looking after the other but when it comes to being looked after neither of us like it because we want to help the other instead! I can be very stubborn and like things done my way so I feel bad and Jaimie tries his best! I prefer it to be me looking after him however it has been more of the other way around as I have been really poorly.”
Do you sometimes feel guilty if you need to be looked after for a longer period of time?
“Yes and it is very frustrating. I always feel like a burden when people have to look after me. At the moment it is Jaimie feeling this way as he has surgery every friday for his vacuum dressing.”
Does looking after/caring for someone change the dynamic of a relationship?
“Many people have this theory that being a carer in a relationship doesn’t work because you become more of a carer rather than a partner but I really disagree. It really depends on how much you both put in the effort and love into the relationship and help one another rather than just one part of the relationship doing everything. For us it’s great because there is no embarrassment, shame or loss of dignity! On the bad days, we make each other laugh. Many couples buy each other jewellery or expensive gifts but it’s the little things like making Jaimie a cup of coffee in the morning or Jaimie getting me a hot water bottle that is more important than material things.
If someone was caring for a loved one today, what advice would you give them?
“Always listen even if it’s not something that you are interested in, even if your loved one has said it multiple times, just being an ear to listen can mean so much to someone. Be open with them too, let them know how you are feeling. It’s also really good to have someone that you can talk to such as a family member and to get out of the house from time to time, as a couple or on your own. Don’t forget about caring for yourself too!”
Thank you so much to Alannah for that insightful interview. Remember if you have questions, concerns or just want to talk to someone who is in a relationship with a stoma then you can call our 24/7 stoma helpline. Our volunteers have met their partners both before and after surgery and can give you their insight and experiences. 0800 328 4257
by Oliver Gwynne