For a few years, I knew there was something wrong with me. Normal people don’t need to know the location of every bathroom in every single public place they visit. Normal people don’t plan their whole day around if they will have access to a restroom or not. This is atypical.
It is not normal to feel like and almost shit your pants once or twice every two weeks. It is not normal to have constant aching in your stomach, diarrhea, and constipation. If when you poop, you feel like you can’t get it all out, that’s not normal.
I knew all of these things for several years but continued to have the same issues. It is still a source of constant embarrassment. All my friends would notice my frequent bathroom visits when we were all hanging out. I didn’t want to even think about having sex with anyone because it was such an issue.
I finally got a new doctor last year and she finally listened to what I had to say. None of those things are normal, she agreed. She prescribed me with anti-anxiety meds and encouraged me to try parts of the FODMAPS diet. (No, I do not know what it stands for, you’ll have to GOOGLE it).
I figured out pretty quickly that a lot of my issues were caused by soy. I had a lot of soy in my diet. I love edamame mixed with veggies sautéed on the stove in some basil, garlic, and olive oil. I would eat it practically every day. And I have been a vegetarian since I was 14, although I am technically a pescetarian because sometimes I eat salmon, lake water fish, or shrimp. But now, I can’t eat tofu or veggie burgers or any of the plant-based protein foods that I like. But cutting out soy made a huge difference. So did cutting out yogurt 😦 I still miss it, so much.
I’ve made all these changes. You would not believe how much better I was feeling for a while. Instead of feeling sick every single day, multiple times a day, I switched to feeling sick once or twice a week. If I skip meals, I pay for it. If I don’t eat enough, I pay for it. If I wait too long between meals, I pay for it. I constantly still assess where the bathroom is, but I wasn’t driving to work squirming in my seat every day, trying to think of where the closest bathroom could be or whether I could pull over somewhere, if I absolutely had to.
My issues were better, for a while. Grad school certainly did not help with the take out food and late night meals, but it was better last semester. I just finished my first week of student teaching (!) and it has been MISERABLE this week. I have constantly had stomachaches. I constantly feel like I’m shitting my pants, and then go to the bathroom and nothing is there, and then nothing comes out, and then I’m just constipated. Every fart creates immense fear.
I went to CVS to pick up my prescription the other day and almost starting yelling at the pharmacy tech because she was taking so long. And then I’m starting to feel like I might faint, my face is burning up, and I really have to go. She tells me there’s no public bathroom in CVS, even though I can feel the sweat pouring down my face. Luckily, no one questions me as I run into the bathroom at the restaurant next door. Unluckily, this same situation has happened to me several times, once I even had to pull over and go into a restaurant because I was worried I wouldn’t make it the 2 minutes home.
I don’t know why I needed to tell anyone this at all. It’s a constant issue and it was much better for a while, but it never completely goes away. And now it’s back, in full force, and I have children I have to be responsible for. How am I going to do my two takeover weeks if I am constantly needing to use the bathroom? I am so embarrassed. I feel like everyone can see me squirming and hears the weird noises coming out of my stomach. I feel like when I go out to eat I have to constantly watch what I eat. I feel like I’m constantly tired and exhausted, I’m sore from wiping so much, and that I am having to worry about this issue way too much when I’m around my boyfriend.
I don’t know if anyone who doesn’t have IBS could truly understand. I know I didn’t understand what Ulcerative Colitis truly was like for my brother until I started having my IBS issues.
I know there’s no magic cure. I know that I’m supposed to be relaxing, but that’s nearly impossible with the combination of working, grad school, student teaching, and anxiety. IBS is just another thing I have to constantly worry about.
But if anyone out there knows anything that could help, I would truly appreciate it. I want to be able to sit on my boyfriend’s lap without worrying about this. I want to be able to go on a date with him where I don’t have to rush to the bathroom for fear that I might have an accident. I want to be at my student teaching position and feel okay. I want to be able to go for a walk or run without worrying that there will be no bathroom for a while.
Someone, out there, please help.