Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Impact Of Digestive Motility Diseases On The Family

Digestive motility diseases and disorders not only affect the patient, but can also greatly impact the patient's family and relationships. How anguishing it is for a parent to watch his/her child suffer and not be able to make the child better. How painful it is to watch a spouse, parent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, or grandparent endure a chronic illness where treatments may be limited ... where there may not be any cure ... where others may not understand ...

Reflecting on my own experiences, I have witnessed the worried looks, concerned brows, roller coaster of emotions, and my family's bold attempts at trying to conceal the tumultuous torturous thoughts that boldly raced through my family's as well as husband's minds. The helplessness redirected into quiet prayer, entwined with emotions of anger, frustration, fear, guilt, and heartache.

I am blessed to have such a wonderful husband and family who are always there for me, even if they cannot fully understand the scope of the realities that I face on a daily basis because I too try so desperately to shelter them from the pain.

Others, however, are not so lucky. Relationships can crumble and families can be torn apart .... after all, it is not easy when someone has a chronic digestive motility disease or disorder.

Chronic digestive motility diseases focus on the very essence of living ... food ... nourishment for the body to live and function normally. Most of us, cannot eat "normally." The bathroom always needs to be nearby ... just in case. Perimeters become smaller as patients fear that the symptoms may suddenly worsen. Plans become difficult to make because one never knows how they will feel at any given moment. Finances may become impacted as medical costs escalate, employment jeopardized, and income dwindled. Emotions may rise as both the patient, family members, and relationships struggle with the guilt, anger, bitterness, frustration, sadness, depression, and mourning of a life that once was. Siblings may begin to act-up and jealousy may prevail. Spouses and other family members want their needs to be met and may become angry and impatient. Caregivers may burnout from the stress, and both the patient and family unit struggle to live in a fractured world of illness.

There are ways to ease the burden of chronic illness, however. Communication and understanding are key in all relationships. Talking about the illness, feelings, and needs can all be beneficial. Learning about digestive motility diseases and disorders is paramount as well. This may help others to try to understand, at least in some respects, about these illnesses. The physician should be aware of both the patient and family's abilities to cope. Some people find religious organizations helpful in their times of need. Professional counseling should always be considered if the problems escalate to an intolerable level. And support groups such as the Association of Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders, Inc. (AGMD) can be of great benefit by providing information, support, education, and resources. It really makes a difference when people communicate with others who understand because they are traveling a similar journey.

Living with digestive motility diseases and disorders is certainly challenging on a day-to-day basis, but working through each obstacle is certainly worth the effort ... because life is far too precious not to.

I welcome your comments and encourage you to respond with your own experiences.


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