By Maya Satin
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS, affects 35 million Americans a year, and probably some people in other places too. With the exception of tummy gurgles and intense flatulence, these brave souls suffer from their syndrome in silence. Statistically, someone you know quietly struggles with IBS.
Here at Ladyspike, we believe in ending the stigma around this crappy syndrome. To do that, we spoke to 3 individuals with IBS to hear firsthand about their experiences.
There are 468 tiles on my bathroom floor. I should know- I’ve had plenty of time to count them. I spend a cumulative 5 hours a day on the toilet, and keeping myself occupied is crucial to my survival. It’s not just about keeping boredom at bay. It’s about numbing the pain in my tum-tum.
Since I spend so much time on the can, I’ve had to take gigs that allow me to work from home. It’s lonely, but I can’t go back to working in an office. Water cooler talk is not supposed to be an opportunity to gamble on the exact amount of time I will spend on the toilet, or how fast I can sprint from my cubicle to the bathroom. And if people are making those wagers, the office bookie should at least have the common courtesy to give me a percentage of the payout. Either way, it’s demeaning to place bets regarding my illness. It’s shitty behavior.
Cramps. Aches. Misery. A circus of medical horrors abound in my gut. The sploosh of a dish being dropped in the sink gives me flashbacks to the agony of my last bowel movement. And suddenly, it’s not a flashback anymore. A fire has been lit in my belly, and I must extinguish it with cool, clear toilet water.
I’ve been living with this for forty years now, so I know a few tricks. I collect pocket-sized books to carry with me, so I’ve got reading material no matter when or where I have to “go.” I’m never without my flask of Pepto-Bismol, and I sprinkle crushed Tums onto my meals along with salt and pepper. Also, I wedge a menstrual pad between my asscheeks. It’s a precaution in case I get “leaky.” You never know when you might get caught off guard by a coughing fit or a particularly good joke. I try not to let IBS control my life. I’m in charge. But I do watch less comedy these days. Oh, to laugh freely again…
I keep telling you I don’t want to talk about it, but fine. I have extra-strength bidets installed in every toilet in my apartment, a third of my yearly budget goes towards soap and bathroom cleaning supplies, and I keep my toothbrush locked in a safe under my bed to prevent fecal matter contamination on the bristles.
There, I’ve exposed my most private self to you. I hope you’re happy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to “make.” Goodbye.
To learn more about the joyful journey that is IBS, please visit: https://www.aboutibs.org
Image: Medical News Today