Thursday, December 3, 2015

{Crohn's Awareness} :: IBD and the Stall

You can't talk about Crohn's awareness without talking about the bathroom {sorry}. It's just how it goes when you have an intestinal bowel disorder. When you are having a flare up, you spend a lot of time in the stall, and it's just a part of life with IBD.

I promise to spare you details of what goes on behind the stall. But today I wanted to talk about some options that are available for those who have to be concerned with it.

Get Over Going in Public
Since I was a little girl, I always hated going to the bathroom in public places. If I could help it, I would wait until I got home. That may not have been the most healthy, but it's how I operated.

With Crohn's, all that had to go out the window. There is no holding it. And if you are somehow able to, there are usually consequences for that. I was absolutely mortified at my new circumstances; I remember crying in many a bathroom stall because of how embarrassed I was to be going in public. Unpretty things happen in bathroom stalls, especially for those with IBD. And public bathroom stalls make it impossible to hide. I would often wait until long after the bathroom cleared before I made my exit. 

I still struggle with this, but I have learned that I'm not going to die. I may still be embarrassed {and often feel the need to explain myself, which by the way, makes things WAY more awkward}, but when you are in public and don't have any other option, it's going to be ok. I know where the least-frequented bathrooms are located. I hide in the far stalls if I have to. I make sure not to eat things that are known to cause issues. 

Some people have no problems with this, and are probably laughing at me. To those people, I offer my props and respect. For people like me, you have to get a grip on reality. So it's embarrassing. People will hear {and will smell...again, sorry. Just keepin' it real}. Hold your head high. Don't make eye contact. Make a comment about bad Mexican food. Carry air freshener if you feel the need. But you won't see those people again, so don't worry too much about it.

Know Where the Bathroom Is {And the Quickest Route to It}
The first thing a new Crohnie learns is that you always know where the bathroom is. Because you never know. When I was first diagnosed, the first thing I did when I entered a public place was to make sure I looked for the restroom signs. At any given time, I needed to know the quickest route to the bathroom. 

Thankfully, as I have achieved remission, this has not been so much of an urgent need. But even still, it's always good to be prepared. If you are able to plan, do that. They say there is an app for everything, and there are even a few for finding a bathroom :)  

You just do what you need to do to make appropriate adjustments. On days when I am not feeling well, I make sure to sit on an aisle seat, so I have a quick and easy escape plan. There's nothing worse than being in the center aisle and having to climb over a bunch of people in a hurry. If you scope out the situation at the beginning, you'll feel more comfortable and able to enjoy wherever you are.

The IBD Card
Yes, it exists. You can carry a restroom access card {here or here} in your wallet that basically states that you have a medical condition that may require you to gain immediate access to a bathroom. It can even allow you to have access to otherwise off-limits restrooms. These cards can greatly help in an emergency situation. The Restroom Access Act {"Ally's Law"} requires businesses to make employee bathrooms accessible to those with IBD, chronic medical conditions, and pregnancy. It has passed in 14 states {Texas is one!}.

While the law {or card} doesn't cover access to a public restroom when there is a line, it is still worth a try. I have found that most people are gracious in allowing you to move further up the line if you explain you have a medical emergency. Not everyone is understanding, but you won't know unless you ask.

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