Plumbing Work and IBS
Last updated: October 2023
Living with IBS can turn the most mundane situations into sources of stress and anxiety. For example, when you’re calling the plumber to get your bathroom fixed.
Installing a new toilet
My partner and I bought a house two years ago. It’s a typical French house, meaning that the toilet is separated from the bathroom and about as big as a closet. It also lacks warm water.
While this is a completely normal situation here in France, I am not French. I like warm water to wash my hands, as well as the ability to not freeze to death in the winter because this tiny toilet obviously isn’t heated. So, I convinced my (French) fiancé to have a second toilet installed in the actual bathroom. There’s an empty spot anyway where they had a bidet in the past, so why not?
Making an appointment
We called a plumber, got an estimate that wasn’t too high, and made an appointment to have our new toilet installed. I was so excited. We’re a family of 4, and even though our youngest is still a baby, it seemed like a great idea to have more than one toilet. Me and my IBS count for 5, anyway.
As the day of our appointment drew closer, I got more and more anxious. I contacted the plumber again to ask for how long he would need to turn off our water. All day, he said. All day. An entire day without access to the bathroom? I started freaking out. It’s okay, my partner said. You can just drive to a café somewhere. He really didn’t get it.
My IBS needs a private bathroom
Managing IBS isn’t as simple as having access to a bathroom somewhere in town. It’s not enough to be somewhere with a restroom. It’s not enough to have the water turned back on while our plumber takes his lunch break.
For me, having IBS means that any disruption to my routine causes stress and anxiety on some level. And in turn, I almost always get a flare. It might be mild, it might not last long. But I for sure will need to use the bathroom several times a day, if not multiple times an hour. And if that bathroom is not private or accessible to me at all times, my need for it will grow exponentially.
It’s mostly about the stress
Strangely enough, it’s mostly the idea that I would be home all alone with a plumber and no bathroom that was freaking me out. Had my partner been able to stay home with me, it would have been okay. I would have known that he can drive us somewhere to a public restroom. I would have known that he’d be there to calm me down. Doing this by myself seemed so much more daunting and impossible to do.
Situations like this continue proving to me that my IBS is mostly triggered by stress. How else would you explain that having a support person makes such a big difference in my head?
Once again, having IBS is expensive
After lots of stress and many heated discussions with my partner who just didn’t seem to understand, I decided to book a hotel room for the day. Only of course, hotels are usually booked for nights, not days. In order to get it for one day, I had to book two nights, making it twice as expensive. Unfortunately, this was the only way for me to avoid the extreme anxiety that was starting to build up with our upcoming appointment.
Now, I only hope that the new toilet will be worth all of this!
What would you do in Karina's situation? (no right or wrong answers here!)
Do you suffer from IBS-C, IBS-D, or IBS-Mixed/Alternating?