My New Normal, Part 1

"New normal" comes to mind a lot right now when people talk about the COVID-19 pandemic. It has changed our lives in crazy ways. Mask mandates, losing loved ones, and loss of jobs. No one thinks about the impact it has on your gut when you have IBS.

The beginning of my new normal

When COVID began I had just hit one year being in my new position at my job. I worked in a small clinic in a grocery store. We loved it. We had a fantastic group of ladies who worked well together and another great group of people across the aisle in the pharmacy. I had a bathroom in the clinic and my co-workers knew about my IBS and were totally supportive.

Fast forward to the announcements being made regarding COVID-19 and possible shutdowns. I was off work that night. My co-worker found out that our clinic would be closing “temporarily” until things settled down. We were very small with limited capabilities and didn’t want people coming into a grocery store to be tested for COVID. It made sense to us, but it bummed us out. Within 2 hours we received messages saying a dedicated COVID-19 clinic would be opened and we would all be moving there for now.

Temporary unemployment

We bounced around for months on where they needed us. Thankfully I was placed in areas where patients were not, so no exposure for the most part. During this time I was one of the lucky ones. That didn’t last long though. While trying to be as “normal” as possible this was taking a toll on my gut. The stress of where I would be day-to-day. Then we got the dreaded news. Three of the 4 of us were placed on temporary unemployment while there wasn’t enough work for everyone.

I took advantage of this and spent time with friends and my kiddo. We got the callback and we were informed we would be at the COVID-19 clinic permanently and that the clinic we loved so much would be closed for good. But back to work, we went This change sent my gut into a downward spiral. Working 13 hour days, sitting at a desk, and on the phones that seemed to never stop ringing. Thankfully I worked with great people who tried to understand.

My IBS reacted to the stress

I found out the hard way my body and gut react horribly to stress. Even though I was not exposed directly to patients, my body rebelled against this new work schedule by making me extremely sick. I had the typical COVID-like symptoms, plus my IBS-D that felt like it was in a nonstop flare, and ended up on medical leave. Every time I would try to go back to work it would start again. I did this back and forth for months until I just decided it wasn’t worth it anymore.

I needed to focus on my health. Seeing how my health affected my daughter just broke me. I decided it was time for a major change. I left my job that I loved and made the decision to move back home. Please continue reading in part 2.

Have you noticed the stress of COVID-19 causing problems with your IBS?

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