If I were to be judged by my Instagram, my life is all rabbits and lingerie. While that is vastly true, it’s only the aesthetically pleasing side to my life. But, real life isn’t neatly packaged and trimmed with a bow, and we’re all a little guilty of living through enhanced filters.
April is IBS Awareness Month, and as the title suggests, I have IBS. First diagnosed at 16, my condition’s journey has taken me on a symptom super-looper. It got so severe that when inflammation was found following a painful colonoscopy I was suspected to have the inflammatory bowel disease, colitis.
IBS is treated as just a common complaint, but it’s had me in hospital, made my partner turn carer and installed barriers within my day to day life.
The article To The Woman Who Tutted at Me Using the Disabled Toilets resonated with me, as I too have experienced the judgemental eyes of those who do not understand. The key in my pocket is for when I urgently need a loo; it’s not a blag or a life hack – it’s a necessity that would otherwise cause embarrassment if I weren’t so absorbed with my pain and panic.
A city trip some years ago has marked my memory for all the wrong reasons: not for a relaxing get away but for the time spent rushing to toilets I couldn’t find. An office block in the near distance – like a mirage – has never been so far. If it weren’t for the quick kindness of a receptionist I still dread to imagine the alternative consequence.
Anything to do with bums and bowels is sniggered at – hey, I laugh at farts too! But when ‘normal’ prolongs with its cold sweat of despair leading you to hope for unconsciousness to survive the agony, well, it’s not so funny any more.
IBS is painful and stressful. It’s no joke to feel the excruciating agony of intestinal gas, and I’m not laughing when I’m doubled over in cramp. (If only it were just trapped wind.) And if it’s not pain it’s anxiety ruling you wherever you go. Take it from me, IBS is not a load of crap.
So next time you see an able bodied person rushing into the disabled toilet, be careful not to judge and point out the obvious. Yes, I know I have two arms and legs, but you’d be the first to complain if I just crapped all over the floor instead.
Crohn’s and Colitis UK
Don’t miss part 2 of my IBS special this month – a review of the IBS treatment, Symprove.