“Gotta Go” Moments with IBD
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Profile photo of Natalie Hayden

One of the most difficult symptoms related to Crohn’s disease is urgency. The need to get to a bathroom promptly, with little to no notice. It’s an embarrassing and stressful part of living with this invisible illness. You feel the uneasy pain and the need to go over, over, and over again. Each time calculating in your mind how many minutes it will take you to get to the nearest bathroom and plotting out your course and game plan.

Not even caring if it’s a public or private restroom because you honestly have no choice.

These past few weeks there have been countless times where that unwelcome pain hit my stomach. For days I could barely make it through feeding my son a bottle without having to hand him off to my husband after a couple ounces. I went to get my nails done and wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it through the manicure. It’s kept me from running errands and changed my plans because of the stress related to the uncertainty. To those around you, you look carefree and comfortable. While on the inside you’re struggling to keep it together and fearing an accident. Doing meditation and deep breaths can help to temporarily calm down your insides… while trying to continue looking calm on the outside.

In social situations—whether you’re at work or out with friends, or at someone’s house—it’s even worse.

Luckily, I’ve found friends and family are extremely understanding when it comes to sometimes needing to use their bathroom.

It is what it is… and you know what, at the end of the day… everyone poops. It’s not ideal, but I think it’s safe to say whether you have Crohn’s or not… everyone’s had a time where they had “to go” at an inopportune time.

For those with Crohn’s the feelings and consistency are amplified tenfold. There’s nothing worse than public businesses and stores whose bathrooms are for “employees only.”

This is where the “Restroom Request Cards” come in. For those of us with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, we can register for a free card that allows us to discreetly share our needs when unexpected symptoms arise. You can keep it tucked away in your wallet or purse so you have it ready, just in case. The card provides peace of mind and the knowingness that you have a “free pass” to the use the bathroom.

Mentally, the stress and worry of bathroom issues is enough to make you want to isolate yourself and stay in your comfort zone at home. In my mind though, that’s letting the disease win and control me. I choose to control it as much as I can.

Just like all things in life, the difficult moments and times pass.

It’s not easy when you’re living it, but you overcome. The pain and struggle comes in waves, it’s not a constant. Keeping this in mind is a helpful way of staying strong and keeping a positive attitude. The limitations we place on ourselves while justified, don’t have to be a constant unless we let them.

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