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Canceling Plans Because of IBS

Explaining how IBS affects you can be almost as annoying as having it. Too often, people who do not know you well or do not know what IBS is will push for an answer or try to convince you to come to an event.

Those of you who have been living with IBS have heard it all, and have learned how to field the questions. To hear more about what is working for you, we reached out on the IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Facebook page and we asked: “What explanation do you give when you have to cancel plans due to your IBS?”

Nearly 200 people commented. Here is what you said.

“I am having a bout of IBS.”

Some of you have been dealing with IBS so long, that it is easy for you to be honest with anyone who is asking. You do not give excuses or apologize. You are truthful and to the point. A few of you even said that you say the truth because there is no shame in having IBS—which is completely true.

“I am having a bout of IBS.”

“I just explain that I am having an IBS flare-up. It is nothing to be ashamed of.”

“I used to make an excuse, but as I am getting older, I am just honest. If they do not like it, tough.”

“I tell them ‘Nope, not today unless you want me to spend the whole time in the bathroom.”

One way to handle the question is to explain the reason you cannot go is that if you do, you will be in the bathroom all day is a truth that people cannot argue with. Often, there are people who do not understand what IBS is and how it affects the body, so by explaining what is going on with you, you are helping them understand.

“I tell them ‘Nope, not today, unless you want me to spend the whole time in the bathroom. Or that I have the runs today and am not eating anything or going anywhere.”

“I will have to stay home and camp out in the bathroom. Have fun without me. That reminds people that you are the one who is really suffering not them.”

“To my family, I say that it is a bad day, sorry.”

For a lot of you, how you answer depends on who is asking. With friends and family, you can and have shared the details, so you only need to say a few words for them to understand. Luckily, most of you do have people in your life who understand IBS and do not keep giving you advice on what to eat or reminding you there is a bathroom wherever they want you to go.

“My family and friends know and understand.”

“To my family, I say that it is a bad day, sorry. They have been around me long enough.”

“Of course family and friends already know so they always understand.”

“Employer gets a vague ‘Not feeling well.’”

The general consensus seems to be that employers do not understand IBS, so very few of you are telling them the full truth. Because of this, you tend to just say that you are sick, and leave any details out—because they could argue with details. But a simple “I am sick” seems to do the trick. Plus, not everyone deserves to hear the details of your life if you are not comfortable sharing them.

“Depends on who you are talking to. Friends and family get the truth. Employer gets a vague ‘Not feeling well.’”

“If it is people I do not know well, such as coworkers, etc., I just say I am sick.”

“Colleagues and bosses never understood.”

We want to thank everyone who shared. Your truth will help others as they deal with their own IBS. Thank you.

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