As we approach the holidays, we become immersed in the gift giving, parties, decorating, and especially time with our loved ones. We tackle mall stores and search the far corners of the internet in the hunt for the perfect gift to bestow upon our friends and family at this special time of year. Figuring out what to get someone with IBD can be difficult, especially if you haven’t been through that experience. Here are twelve gift ideas, some funny, some practical, for the special person in your life with Crohn’s Disease or Colitis. Because sometimes that 48 pack of toilet paper just doesn’t impress…
- Charmin To Go mini rolls of toilet paper, perfect for stashing in your purse, car, or even bicycle seat bag! Available in the travel section at Walgreens or Target.
- Wet Ones Travel Wipes for all types of on the go emergencies for those with GI issues and suppressed immunity.
- Tums / Gas-X / Imodium to treat unexpected gastrointestinal distress. These are a standard part of every Crohnie’s first aid kit!
2. Relaxation Items- Having IBD is 24-hour stress, both physical and mental.
- Scents such as Lavender have been shown to offer relaxation AND anti-inflammatory benefits, and is a common scent for candles, lotions, and more. We love hand-made products from Olivü 426, where you can customize items with your favorite scent, in made-to-order gift packages. All-natural oils and ingredients also eliminate irritating colors, scents, or alcohol found in some store products.
- Everyone Poops – this childhood classic is a lighthearted reminder that we aren’t the only ones spending time in the bathroom (we’re just better at it!)
- Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers – countless editions are available, so you’re sure to find one that’s new and interesting.
- Other topics of interest – You don’t have to read about BM’s while having one, any book that your favorite Crohnie is interested in will do! We like David Sedaris whose funny, shorter stories are perfect for one sitting; crossword or sudoku books will do also!
4. All Natural Heating Pads- pain relief is the perfect IBD gift!
- These heating pads are filled with natural materials and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and even colors. Pop them in the microwave over and over to bring some heated relief to sore abdomens. Available online, and at local craft fairs, flea markets, etc.
5. Books About the IBD Experience- to remind us we’re not alone.
- The Foul Bowel – John Bradley writes frankly and humorously about his experience, starting with his Crohn’s Disease diagnosis.
- The Man Who Couldn’t Eat – Jon Reiner was a foodie author when he was diagnosed with Crohns, so you can imagine how much his life and career had to adapt to his disease.
- Strong At The Broken Places – This explores the human experience of 5 different chronic illnesses. The Crohns chapter is inspiring, and the other disease stories are enlightening.
6. IBD Friendly Cookbooks- Eating and keeping a happy gut is especially challenging during the holidays.
- How To Cook for Crohns and Colitis – This is full of staple recipes, and includes every category from breads to desserts. These easier recipes are things you’re probably already familiar with, with an IBD twist.
- Eating for IBS – written for a different condition with similar symptoms, this book is a treasure trove of low-residue recipes. This includes more complex recipes, and is great for culinary variety while remaining gut friendly.
- Creative Colitis Cookbook – The recipes included are the most gut-friendly of any book we’ve seen. The diet requirements specific to Colitis (and Crohns) are really taken into consideration in this book, and the recipes turn out delicious!
7. Belly Friendly Tea and Honey- Who couldn’t use a soothing cup of tea?
- Peppermint tea is soothing on the digestive system and calming for the soul. Use homegrown peppermint and make your own, or check out Tea Forte for a large selection of teas, including mint, and some perfect gift packages.
8. Goofy Gifts- to remind us that yes, poop is still funny.
Hallmark’s Jolly in the John talking snowman ornament
- “I’m Only Speeding Cause I Really Have To Poop”bumper sticker
- Santa Toilet seat cover and bath rug
- Toilet Bowl Coffee Mug
9. Bathroom Related Ornaments- homemade, from the heart to the colon!
- This TP Tube Ornament is so beautiful, you’ll forget it was ever in the bathroom! (Video Instructions)
- Turn craft supplies into a TP ornament:
- Get some white cloth ribbon, about 1″ wide, a drinking straw, fabric glue, a fabric marker, and a ribbon for hanging.
- Cut off a 1″ piece of the straw (or however wide your ribbon is). Use your hanging ribbon to glue a loop on the straw, with the two ends touching the cut end of the straw. Let it dry.
- Starting on one end of the white ribbon, apply a thin layer of glue and roll it around the straw like (what else) a roll of toilet paper! Leave 1-2″ of the end hanging as the end of the roll, and write a small message on the end such as “2011″ or “Cure IBD”. Hang proudly on your tree!
10. Gift Certificates for relaxation- IBD patients will especially appreciate these!
- Massage Therapy – IBD can be very painful, and not just in your abdomen. The stress and tension can spread all around your body. Patients who have recently spent some time in a hospital bed will truly appreciate this!
- Itunes or Netflix - A lot of days not being able to go out, nights in a hospital, or hours getting infusions can leave Crohns and Colitis patients with a lot of downtime. Give music to escape for a bit, or movies to stay entertained.
11. Bum-Pampering Gift Basket- You’re never too old to take care of your butt!
- Thick body lotion for soft skin
- Soothing bathroom wipes (yes, baby wipes!)
- Comfy yoga pants for happy-butt lounging
- A spare pair of underwear (we all keep this stashed away!)
- A nice, soft roll of toilet paper – two ply minimum!
- Wrap this all up, with any other gifts, in a nice gift basket from World Market.
12. Your Support – A gift best given year-round!
- Did you know that 79% of Americans would rather receive a charitable gift in their name than an item they wouldn’t use? This holiday, support them by donating, in their honor, to an IBD charity. We’re pretty sure that any good cause will accept your donation, and here are two running holiday fundraising drives: CCFA – Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America and Get Your Guts In Gear – producing multi-day cycling events for research, awareness, and community.
- Finally, just support them, plain and simple. Be a good listener. Don’t judge or pity. Cook them a gut-friendly meal. Hang out when they can’t go out. Realize that this is a tough disease. Know that you won’t understand, and don’t pretend that you do, but don’t let that stop you from caring. Let them know that it’s ok that they have Crohns Disease or Colitis, you like them anyway, and you’re there for them. Give a sh*t, when they are giving twelve a day.
This is what we really wish for, all year long.
Happy Holidays from the Great Bowel Movement!
Have more holiday ideas? Please share on our Facebook wall!
Stand proud with your disease! These awesome t-shirts help empower patients and friends to start a conversation about IBD. This has a profound and unique impact on Crohn’s and Colitis awareness that is so important.
As you know, around 1.4 million Americans has IBD. When you start asking around, you’ll find that nearly everyone knows someone else with Crohn’s or Colitis. In fact, that’s part of the basis of the Great Bowel Movement.
Wearing your disease on your shirt sends a few awesome messages: you are literally telling people to ask you about IBD! (I know, that’s obvious!) But not everyone is comfortable discussing their disease, especially with strangers. That’s OK, as there is definitely a process to becoming comfortable, and even more to be willing to share. But when you get to that point, you’re a living, walking example of the positive, inspiring side of things, and showing that it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
You’re also becoming a face for all the others that have IBD. Countless more are walking around your very own community! Just wearing a shirt out and about allows you to become the spokesperson for the commonality of our diseases. Crohn’s and Colitis don’t have to be gross or embarrassing, if we don’t let them. We also don’t have to leave the few celebrities who stand up for our cause to be the poster men and women…we can take that responsibility on our own!
Starting the conversation allows others with Crohn’s and Colitis to know that it’s ok to approach you and talk to you. Sometimes, those who need to talk the most are the ones who believe they are alone with their disease. A few minutes of open conversation can literally change a life.
Finally, we introduced the “My — Has IBD” shirts, because we know that just because those who don’t have IBD are still affected by it. This is a great way for your family, friends, classmates, co-workers, clients, doctors, etc to get involved. It also challenges everyone to look into their social circles and find out who they know with IBD!
If you’re interested in a shirt, but you’re not sure about the conversations that are sure to follow, please view our Awareness Kit (http://www.thegreatbowelmovement.org/gbm-awareness-kit.html). Check out a few of the features such as the Write Your Own IBD story questionnaire, and the IBD fact sheet. Be prepared for when the conversation happens!
You can see the designs and order online: http://www.thegreatbowelmovement.org/ibd-tshirts.html
Be sure to send in your photo of you in your shirt!
Many of us are diagnosed at a young age. We have our parents to take care of us, to drive us to the doctor, to write a letter to our teacher, and to make us our favorite tummy-friendly meal. We go to school and although it’s hard and the other kids don’t always sympathize, we know our teacher will understand if we have to take a long bathroom break. We go to college and find that we don’t have to raise our hand to go to the bathroom. We miss class when we need to, make up the work when we can, and spend the day between the toilet and the couch. We graduate and everyone is proud of what we have accomplished in spite of our conditions.
And then we get a job.
It’s challenging enough, in our current market, to find a good job, or even land an interview. Gone are the days of growing our identities through our IBD experiences, and asking for exceptions whenever they are necessary. Last time I checked, no one was getting paid just for beating a disease. The job-searching, and job holding processes can be very stressful and complicated without a disease, but with something like Crohn’s or Colitis, the obstacles can be multiplied.
When going through the interview process, be aware that there are laws to protect you, including discriminatory protection based on disease. It is also illegal for a potential employee to ask you if you have a disease such as IBD during this process. However, it’s generally a good practice to avoid the topic of illness during this stage. Sometimes, potential employees won’t hire you because of potential future complications and threat of discrimination. Jennifer Jaff, of Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, discusses your rights in detail: http://www.advocacyforpatients.org/legal_disabilities.html
In the workplace though, it can sometimes be unavoidable to disclose your condition with your coworkers or superiors. Perhaps you have to request a private bathroom, or explain why you keep extra pants in your bottom drawer, or avoid most of the food at the company picnic. At my first office job, I had to explain why I might be running late (my colon had a non-negotiable appointment with the toilet, every morning at 7:40 sharp, and for approximately 15 minutes) and pray that my boss would believe me. I also snuck a book of crosswords into the office bathroom for those extended bowel movements during the day. On the other hand, I have been asked in interviews about my biggest accomplishment, and I couldn’t help but tell my story of learning to live with Colitis and completing the Get Your Guts In Gear bike ride for the first time.
First of all, here are some tips for dealing with IBD at work:
1. Map out all the bathrooms in your building. Figure out which ones are cleanest, least busy, and never run out of toilet paper!
2. Show your colleagues and superiors that you are motivated and capable before you let them know about your condition. When you bring it up for the first time, accentuate the positive, like overcoming challenges and being inspired. Make them love you before you discuss your disease, and make them love you more for your strength!
3. Keep some trade journals in your bathroom. This way, you won’t feel guilty about spending too much time in there, especially when its unavoidable. Also, if anyone else sees your magazine stash, they’ll see you are serious about your job despite your frequent bathroom trips!
4. Learn that Crohn’s or Colitis is not an excuse, and live by that. Your co-workers will quickly catch on that you are serious about your coping skills. Also, you one day may need to use it as an actual reason for something- and having people accept this, even when they likely will not understand- and your integrity will be your biggest ally.
5. Keep clean underwear, and maybe even pants, in your desk drawer for emergencies. Pick some out that make you happy- maybe they are cute, fun, or extra comfortable. This way, when you need to call on them for backup, it will be something you’re excited to change into when you feel pretty gross!
All of us have likely developed our own set of coping skills. (Please leave your personal tips in the comments!) A lot of these skills have developed from our experiences of living a chronic illness driven life in the real world. Too familiar are reactions of people who just don’t understand, or don’t even care to hear, about Crohn’s and Colitis.
The professional environment is no exception to misunderstandings. When you do decide to discuss your illness at work, you may be met with unfavorable reactions, and the instant opinion that IBD will inhibit your work ability. But as people seasoned in dealing with IBD, we know that although it is a tough journey, it can make us better people! Here are some specific workplace reasons why IBD can actually benefit your workplace value! Feel free to discuss these with your co-workers, or just become a living example.
1. People with Crohn’s and Colitis know what it really means to be sick, and they understand that they may need to save sick days for when they are desperately needed. The also generally monitor their overall health more closely than the average worker. Because of this, IBD patients may actually have better attendance records, and not call in for minor reasons like a headache or a sniffle.
2. IBD patients have dealt with pain and discomfort on a larger scale than most. Have you noticed that after your experience, or a tough flare, that getting back to normal seems like the greatest thing ever? The tiny bumps in the road become insignificant, and are easily handled. IBD teaches you “ don’t sweat the small stuff”.
3. A moderate or severe flare may render IBD patients in the hospital for a few days or longer, or even just mandate staying at home, in bed, and close to a toilet. This experience is extremely motivating to make the most out of our lives, talents, and energies, for when we are feeling better.
4. A good dose of Crohn’s or Colitis can be a major motive in restructuring priorities. Building trustworthy relationships, job loyalty, and career success can be satisfying results of a job well done, not to mention steady health insurance. Also, the experience of IBD can lead us to desire more meaning and purpose in our lives. This also fuels our desire to accomplish something in our jobs, aside from merely climbing the corporate ladder and chasing a bigger paycheck.
5. Crohn’s and Colitis are full of challenging situations. Sometimes, these can be minor, and sometimes larger. Sometimes there is no choice but to deal, and sometimes they are life-changing decisions, like whether or not to have surgery. Learning to deal with these can teach us how to face challenges like a pro, even when others may back down.
While work is just one aspect of our lives, we do spend a lot of time there. A steady income and source of health insurance are nearly always necessary. Yet we will always have challenges to overcome in this environment, and rising to the challenge, becoming a positive example of someone living with IBD, and spreading awareness will collectively help all of us reduce these challenges.
Please share your experiences of IBD and the workplace in the comments!
The Great Bowel Movement will be posting articles about IBD related topics. These will include the emotional side, the experience of IBD, as well as stories of inspiration and awareness. We’re always looking for ideas and contributors! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to review a book, share a recipe, discuss a product, or simply get your story out there!