Going Outside My Comfort Zone

Living with IBS means living within as much of comfort zone as you can get. Living with IBS means knowing exactly how long it takes to get from familiar places, such as work, your best friend's house, your parents' house, the grocery store, etc., to home so you know just how long you have between point A and point B to get to a toilet (or to your next toilet of the day... or hour).

Living with IBS also means that there are days that you can't leave the house for fear of not making it to a toilet in time if you're having a particularly bad flare-up.

Living with IBS means fear of exiting your comfort zone and your routine.

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Traveling with IBS

I love to travel. Traveling is always such a joyous experience for me, even with inevitable delays and mishaps. I love seeing new places, engaging with the history and the geography of a new place, and, of course, eating the food.

Scoping out washrooms

However, a great deal of my anxiety while traveling comes from simply having to map out where my next toilet will be and the fear, of course, of not making it to one, in an unfamiliar place. The best thing I try to do is go to the toilet as much as possible whenever I am in close proximity of one (at a restaurant, the hotel/AirBNB, a museum). Though, as we all know, lining up when WE want to go to the washroom with when our IBS strikes us down don't always like to line up. So, this means knowing where all the public washrooms, preferably free, in the area of the city/town/village you're in. Once you've laid out a map of washrooms, and have physically been to them, then you can grow your own comfort zone within the unfamiliarity.

Plans don't always work

Back in September, I was in the UK for a friend's wedding. I have a few friends scattered across the UK, mainly in England, that I went to visit while I was there. For the first week of the trip, my IBS had been pretty much under control.

When I went to visit a couple friends in the countryside, I vocally acknowledged this notion to them, only to wake up on the morning that I was meant to be heading back to London feeling more discomfort than I had felt since landing in the UK. Unluckily for me, the train station from my friend's house was 30 minutes away by car due to her countryside location (train travel in the UK is wonderfully accessible for the most part).

I went to the toilet at her house one last time, hoping for the best. Then, I got in her car so she could drop me off at my early train departure time before she started work for the day. About 10 minutes into the car ride, I started squirming. Traffic was bad so there would be no way to stop at a petrol/gas station and still make it to the train (especially with how long I can take in the toilet).

I gave myself hope that if I just made it onto the train, I'd be able to use the toilet on the train, no problem.

I made it onto the train, only to find out the toilet was out of service (the mechanism used to both lock the door and flush the toilet was not working. I begged the train attendant to let me use the toilet anyway. He said, "Okay, but try pressing the button for the flush before you do." So, I did... and it worked.

Relieved, I went to the toilet... only to discover after that upon pressing the button a second time, it had stopped working again. I left the toilet with profuse apologies to the train attendant and profuse apologies to the next person in line who then had to use the toilet after me. Thankfully, I was only on the train a short while before switching to a different train so that poor train attendant didn't have to look at me for much longer.

Mornings... am I right?

How to enjoy traveling while also being careful

While IBS definitely likes to pop up at the most random of times (at least that's how it sometimes seems), I knew I definitely overdid it with the heavy and rich foods I was eating. Knowing when to indulge and when to be careful is an important part of maintaining comfort when living with IBS.

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