A person stuck behind bars watches an incoming flare up arise

The Search to Understand IBS Flare-Ups

How did it all go wrong? When you're sitting on the toilet, clutching over in pain, heat rising in your body, you think about all the things you've eaten in the day and where it all went wrong. You think about if that egg salad you were craving when you woke up was really the right move... or if the apple you had eaten with was really the best choice? It couldn't have been the cereal you ate for breakfast, could it?

And what about those fish tacos that you had already bought all of the ingredients for and that you were going to make for dinner that night? You sigh and think, "Well, hopefully, tomorrow I'll feel better enough to make them... Hopefully, I didn't just waste a grocery trip..."

Thinking through my IBS triggers

Perhaps, it was the egg salad. But why? Eggs have been good for me lately. Hardboiled, soft-boiled, poached, scrambled, you name it. They've been good. The ingredients in egg salad too... fine. Mayo, Dijon, fine. I didn't eat anything I don't normally eat or anything I KNOW causes a bad flare-up (for me, that's mixing dairy and alcohol; for instance, no espresso martinis, that's for sure)

It's in these moments that my anxiety also peaks, which, as we all know, does not help IBS symptoms. Will I never be able to enjoy simple foods again? Is this actually a bad flare-up or something much worse? Will I need to go to the hospital? Will I ever get off of this toilet? If my safe foods aren't safe, what is? How am I supposed to do anything at all if I sometimes have to be on the toilet for multiple hours at a time? It sounds so utterly dramatic I know, but these are the sort of questions that crop up every single time I have a bad flare-up.

Most of the time I feel like I can have somewhat of a handle on IBS, but during these bad flare-ups, all I feel is despair and misery.

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On the toilet hours later

Yes, I'm still on the toilet hours later. I'm feeling sad and defeated that I can't leave until I feel 99 percent sure I can be away from the toilet. I'm feeling disappointed I can't make those fish tacos. The icepack, which I use to help deal with my increase in body temperature, is no longer cold. The strain of my body from being on the toilet that long is getting to me.

Despite all of that, I was once again thankful to be able to work from home because I would be in much more dire straits if I was in the public bathroom of an office building. Work from home has truly been such a blessing for those of us within the chronically ill community (and should've been standardized prior to the pandemic... but let's not get into all of that).

Unsure of what caused my IBS flare

I hate not knowing what exactly made me feel sick. I hate having to tiptoe around certain foods until they feel safe enough again.

Most of all, I feel exhausted.

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