Knowing Where the Nearest Loo is Has Always Been My Superpower
My IBS superpower has always been knowing where the nearest toilet is at all times. It’s like I can sniff them out. Or I have X-ray vision which allows me to scan shopping centers, train stations and pubs on the high street, knowing which ones would be a safe and comfortable bet if I need to use them urgently. It feels crucial to know this with the incredibly unpredictable nature of IBS-D.
Researching bathrooms to prepare for the worst
By knowing this trivial information it felt like I was preparing myself for the worst, and I was of the belief that this was a good idea. Better to be safe than sorry, right?
What you have to understand here is that if I felt my body give that twinge before an urgent bowel opening, like a two-minute warning, I’d be so consumed by panic that I’d either freeze or wander aimlessly. I thought if I researched toilets beforehand, I’d feel calmer as I’d know my options, should I need to go.
When I used to commute into London daily for work, I knew that there was a station 20 minutes into my journey with toilets. Or that if I could make 50 minutes I could go at the end destination. Both of which I’ve utilized over my eight years of commuting.
A moment of panic when no bathrooms were to be found
Perhaps it all stems back to that moment I had on one commute home where I nearly lost control. Picture the scene, it was post rush hour, so I was able to get a seat. I’d popped my top jean button as I could feel my stomach swelling. Within minutes the cramping pains had started and weren’t showing any signs of easing. I felt the dreaded gurgle warning from deep inside my gut and immediately panic flooded through me. I felt clammy and my heart rate quickened. There were no toilets on the train and I still had a way left on my journey. I called both my husband and mum in a blind panic to see if either of them could pick me up from my final station. I then spent the remainder of the journey in a fit of tears, doubled over in agony, trying to not lose control of my bowels.
I can laugh at that particular tale now because humor is my default setting on dealing with IBS. And I know I made it home to the safety of my own loo before breaking. So there's that.
Breaking my toilet-searching habit
Since having CBT, I've found that I've relaxed when it comes to my IBS. It doesn't control my every waking thought so I no longer think ahead. This means I’m trying to break out of my toilet-searching habit. Because for me, stressing about where the nearest toilet is, does not help my case. In fact, it sometimes makes me think I need it more. I could do without those thoughts.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?