A man climbs through an intestine shaped tunnel and pokes a bear in a bowel cave

Provoking IBS and Paying a Painful Price

Last updated: September 2022

My IBS is not always triggered unexpectedly. Admittedly, there have been more than a couple of times when I have poked the IBS bear on purpose, knowing good and well that I'd be paying the painful price later. For example, eating and drinking anything I wanted at a BBQ or going to a bar to drink with friends, I knew that if I poked too much, I could easily exasperate my IBS.

Letting the fun get the best of my IBS

However, sometimes I am willing to risk triggering my symptoms because I don't get to partake in the "fun stuff" very often. In other words, I don't have much of social life like I once had, and, to be honest, sometimes I miss those days. On those occasions, I like to plan ahead, making sure I have absolutely no plans the next morning or even the entire day and allowing myself the time to recover through proper detoxing methods. But if I'm being completely transparent, there have been a few rare occasions where I let the fun get the best of me, and they would cause my illness to flare up much more intensely than expected, leaving me bound to the toilet or bed for days. The last time I knowingly triggered my symptoms and paid an excruciating price for it was shortly before the pandemic hit the mainstream in January 2020.

Drinking beer with IBS

Long story short, my wife and I went to visit one of her college friends, Lisa, and her husband, John, to who she had wanted to introduce me to for a long time. John, at one point, asked if I would like a beer, and knowing I shouldn't because I know how beer affects me, I accepted his offer anyway. I knew I messed up BIG TIME while drinking the first beer because my taste buds were telling me something didn't seem right. The beer was flat and very old because the flavor wasn't fresh like a normal cold brew. And guess what? I was too polite to say anything, so I finished the disgusting thing anyway!

I should've just stopped after that, but I felt like I needed another beer to make up for the first one, which was just a scapegoat for more of my misbehaving. My wife gave me "the look," warning me to slow down on the drinking, but like the stubborn man I can sometimes be, I didn't listen. Well, of course, one thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I was 2 beers and 3 shots in by the end of the night. At that moment, I had no regrets. But what happened after that day gave me an entirely different sentiment about that experience. Here is how I paid a terrible price for my undeniably stupid actions.

My painful IBS flare

Fast forward to the next day - I could not stop vomiting from both ends of my body. The diarrhea was so extreme that eventually, I found it hard to sit down because it started to hurt so bad. I don't want to get too descriptive with the pain, but let's say a crowd of hemorrhoids arrived for the afterparty.

Also, anything I swallowed – whether liquids, solids, medicine, or even air! – I just couldn't keep down. I was vomiting so much that it took a huge toll on my diaphragm, and each has hurt more and more. Every time I inhaled or exhaled, I felt an intense wave of nausea. I hate to sound morbid, but I'd be lying if I said the thought of death didn't cross my mind about 100 times. Every millisecond to a second was extreme pain, and there was nothing over the counter helping to relieve it. It reached a point where I barely had anything in my system and became too dehydrated and nauseous to recover on my own. That intense sickness lasted for 3 days before I decided to go to the hospital. After several bags of IV fluids and some strong nausea medication, I started to feel much better, and thankfully, I fully recovered soon after returning home.

I just wanted to have fun

Why would I do such a thing, knowing what it could do to my health? At the time, I just wanted to have a social life where there were no barriers and limitations to what I could do. But then I remember that I'm not the old Hess I once was before I got irritable bowel syndrome. I must consider my health and always prioritize it. So, now I hardly ever drink because of that experience, and if I do, then it's for a very special occasion, and my intake is minimal. The moral of this story is that when I knowingly trigger my symptoms, I tend to pay a very horrible price for it. I try and avoid this behavior as much as possible, but I'm not perfect. Can any of you relate? Do you remember a time when you knowingly caused your symptoms to flare up simply because you wanted to have fun? If so, how did you feel after?

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