Getting Too Comfortable Between IBS Flares
Last updated: February 2023
I have IBS-M, and that means I have mixed episodes of diarrhea and constipation. This makes it even harder to predict flares. Having IBS often seems like being stuck in a constant state of change.
Since I have had many medical issues arise in the last year, I have noticed changes in the frequency and type of flares. I have developed somewhat of a pattern, and this has caused me to become too comfortable between flares.
An IBS pattern gives me a sort of grace period
Since these changes, I have noticed that I have 2 or 3 days between flares. Occasionally I will get a 4th day. It depends, but it has been fairly predictable. I know that I will have at least one day without fear. Usually I get 2 days that are flare-free, and that gives me more freedom.
Knowing that I have a couple of days where I don’t have symptoms made me feel more comfortable in planning and actually leaving the house. I don’t have the pain and urgency for a couple of days, so I feel confident in my ability to leave home without having an accident.
Identifying a pattern of IBS flares and flare-free days
My current pattern is having several days where I do not go at all. It really isn't constipation at that point, or at least I do not consider it constipation until the third or fourth day. I have no real symptoms other than simply not going. There is no urge or pain.
On the third or fourth day, I have what I have begun referring to as a ‘course correction’ day. Since I spend several days without going at all, my body seems to give it all an eviction notice with no grace period. Everything must go. This has been my pattern for a couple of months now.
Transitioning from flare-free days to days filled with flares
Once I reach the third or fourth day, I know I will spend a good bit of time running back and forth to the bathroom. It starts with relief from constipation followed by a bout of diarrhea as my body works overtime to rid itself of the waste it has been hoarding for days. This takes one or two days to complete, and then the pattern repeats.
Knowing I have a couple of days with no flares followed by a couple of days filled with flares is helpful. I still can’t plan things a week in advance, but I can generally tell the day before if I am going to have an issue that keeps me close to home. I feel like I have a bit more notice of an impending transition.
Getting comfortable with a predictable pattern
The problem with this pattern is that I seem to have gotten a bit too comfortable. Flares aren't fully predictable. I can guess what is going to happen but there is no certainty. I am becoming too careless, I feel.
After having a close call and dealing with the pain of trying to wait to find a bathroom, I realized I was trying to count that third day as a definite flare-free day. I was trying to force a routine that just isn’t possible with IBS. I am at its mercy, not the other way around.
Remembering IBS is not actually predictable
While I might feel like I have developed a predictable pattern, that isn’t actually the case. I feel I have gotten too comfortable. It seems like a pattern, but the truth is it is still pretty random. I have a day or two leaning toward IBS-C and that corrects itself after a while. This isn’t new.
When my body is trying to rid itself of everything held during an IBS-C flare, I tend to have IBS-D flares. Many times over the years, I have moved from IBS-C to IBS-D while my body flushes out its waste. Sometimes it does not. It simply does what it wants, when it wants. Lately, I have overestimated the predictability of this back-and-forth between flare types.
Surrendering to the unpredictable IBS monster
I simply cannot count on any day being flare-free. I must remember that even though it seems more likely that I will have a certain type of episode or a flare-free day, I absolutely cannot count on that being the case. What seems to be a pattern right now is coincidental and subject to change at any time.
That’s the nature of IBS. This beast does what it wants when it wants, and you cannot plan with any degree of certainty. I’m remembering that now. After rushing to get home in a good bit of pain, I am certainly remembering it.
Have you ever been too confident between flares? What kinds of issues have you had? I would love to hear about your experience with transitioning from flare-free days to days with flares.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?