IBS Tried To Ruin My Vacation
Imagine being on vacation at one of the most beautiful and tropical places on Earth, where the beach is crystal clear, and the sand is white and soft. You walk along the beach with your feet grabbing the sand with every step, and the illuminating sun is keeping you warm like a blanket wrapped around your whole body. Everything is peaceful, and you actually feel tranquil for a moment. The ocean is calling your name, so you get ready to take a dip in, but then, out of nowhere you feel a sharp pain in your gut and you must rush to the nearest bathroom to relieve yourself. That wonderful moment is now ruined and interrupted by a condition you deplore almost with a passion. Can you imagine that happening to you? Ok, well now imagine having that painful experience constantly, regardless of whether you are on a beautiful beach on a tropical island, or in a business meeting with your boss, or even on a date with your significant other. Living with irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D) is synonymous to living with a needy dog that is always in your way when you need to get something done, except this dog isn’t adorable and loving whatsoever.
One thing about suffering from IBS-D is that there will always be interruptions at the most inconvenient moments. I end up rushing to the bathroom whether I’m in the middle of working or having a good time. I also know that my IBS easily gets triggered to any amount of stress, which I have recently learned more about through understanding visceral hypersensitivity (VH). Stress can cause a biological reaction which IBS patients feel at a very heightened and painful level due to VH. For instance, the urgency to use the toilet may feel like you might experience incontinence and therefore won’t be able to hold anything in because the pain is truly that great and unbearable. This painful experience can cause easy interruptions at any moment of the day for anyone suffering from IBS. Every time I get interrupted I always ask my gut, “Really? I have to use the toilet again?” Or even, “Really? Do we have to go right now, at this moment?” Talking to my gut might seem insane to some, however sometimes you have to talk to yourself to maintain sanity. Because truly, the only person who really understands what I’m going through is me. Nonetheless, we all know that IBS is not only triggered by stress, but also by certain food and drinks as well.
Holding myself accountable
I recently went on vacation to Cancún for the first time and overall, it was quite an unforgettable experience. The weather was perfect the whole time and the relaxation away from home and stress was exactly what I needed. To be honest, it was the most anxiety-free I have ever felt in a very long time. However, even with that, I still struggled with IBS symptoms and the urgency to use the restroom. I was hoping this vacation I would not only be able to get away from work and stress, but also IBS. Clearly, I was asking for too much because I should have known that the food and drinks mixed with a little excitement would also trigger my horrible IBS symptoms.
I do hold myself accountable for how much fun I was having, which led to some of the “IBS interruptions”. I’ll be honest, I did drink alcohol, mostly mojitos, which I’m sure played a huge role in my IBS-D misbehaving. I knew what the consequences were going to be if I over-enjoyed myself, so I consciously made sure not to drink excessively, but even just a little bit of any of that can still activate my symptoms dramatically, so it’s hard to get away from triggering my IBS symptoms. The good news is I didn’t let the annoying symptoms stop me during this trip, and my wife and I got to create some incredible memories together. From sailing on a catamaran to La Isla Mujeres, to snorkeling and exploring the lush landscape on a golf cart, the trip was a huge success in my book. I definitely plan on going back to Cancún one day for a family trip.
The obvious point I’m trying to make in this article is that living with IBS-D is living with constant and random interruptions. However, learning to not let those interruptions dictate your emotions is a discipline that can help anyone with IBS live life less stressfully. That’s probably easy to say and do when you’re on vacation, but when reality hits, I’m sure the act and discipline are extremely tough to do. However, I believe self-awareness can allow you to take the proper steps necessary to manage your condition in a way that works best for you. So, yes, IBS interrupted my vacation a few times, but I was still able to bounce back after any IBS attack and not allow it to ruin my Zen-like experience away from home. I may not have been in full control in regard to when IBS attacked, but I was in control of my reactions, and that is honestly the best I could do as a human-being suffering from this condition.
Do you have difficulties with setting boundaries and saying no?