Anonymous' Personal Story

June 25, 2013
Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Location: Phoenix, AZ, United States

The Worst Nightmare of an IBS Sufferer: Don't worry, you WILL laugh at me, and it is okay. Part of my coping is my ability to laugh at some of the unfortunate incidences associated with IBS.

My boyfriend and I went on our weekly date night. I knew something was brewing when we sat down, and like a true IBS sufferer in denial, tried to ignore it and enjoyed my salad. Once the food came, I lovelingly looked @ my bf and announced, I have to go...NOW. He knew exactly what this meant, and continued to enjoy his steak.

Ok, it is bad enough to have an IBS attack at home, but we all know we pray on the way to a public bathroom that it will be vacant and we can be alone in our misery. Upon entering, I greeted the sweet hostess who sat us as she changed the paper towel roll....(be right back, another attack coming on...)

Whew, I made it. Back to the story from hell. As I pre-washed my hands as an excuse to bide time, hoping for her to leave me in peace, I contemplated which of the three stalls I would pollute. I picked the middle. After holding it for as long as I could stand, and realizing that the sweet hostess was now my nemesis of invasion, I let it go, flushing as a courtesy. Now bent over with cramping, I heard the door to the bathroom open. To my horror, a new stranger entered the 1st stall next to me, triggering another IBS attack. This time, with the hopes that the courtesy flush would work, it backfired. The complete sickness of awareness that the toilet was overflowing hit me, followed by a growl of noooo, as I watched my IBS flow all over the floor and into the room of strangers. I yelled to the hostess, Oh God, Emergency! In my efforts to escape, I panicked and did not realize that my pants were still around my ankles as I bumped into the hostess on my way to the empty stall next to me.

My thoughts drifted to my boyfriend, enjoying his steak with a "WTF" look on his face. The vision was interrupted by the hostess dry heaving as she attempted to plunge the toilet I had just left, which in turn, overflowed more, flooding the entire bathroom. Her cries of despair will haunt me for the rest of my life (and hers, I'm sure).

After washing my hands over and over, head hung low as the poor hostess cleaned up my attack, I rushed back to the table where my boyfriend had just about finished his dinner. He smiled and laughed along with me as I retold the horror. We quietly asked for a to-go box and left.

All of us with IBS take a risk when we enter the public, and it is what it is. I have developed a sense of humor and humility about this crazy roller-coaster of an illness, and have found that most people are understanding and helpful. Remember, everyone poops...some of us at inconvenient times. :)

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The views expressed on this page are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Digestive Health Alliance (DHA) or International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).