Saturday, July 7, 2012


I've been playing video games since I was a little kid, but it was always just casually. At the end of last year, I took an active leadership role in a gaming community that was internet-based. Its members were mostly based in the US, but we had quite a few from overseas as well. To communicate, we'd either play online and talk or tweet back and forth on Twitter. It's pretty amazing how well you can get to know people you've never met through the internet.

I bring this up for two reasons. The first I'll get out of the way so we can move on to the second. IBS sucks. People think we're being overly dramatic when we say that it has ruined our lives, but let's be honest- it has. Most of us can't or don't like to go out and be social because we could be caught in a situation that leaves us rushing for the bathroom or worse. Either that or the social function revolves around food we can't eat and we'll no doubt get asked over and over, "Why aren't you eating?"

Thanks to the internet, I can still be social without being put into these situations. I love it.

Now on to the second reason. I've met some AWESOME girls through this gaming community and we've become friends, but tweeting/skyping/and google chatting wasn't enough- we wanted to meet each other in real life. We got this great idea to meet up and go on vacation together- god knows we all need that! I was having so much fun talking about vacation and coming up with places we could go that I forgot about one very important factor- my stinkin' IBS.

All of those ideas about going to exotic places (or anywhere outside a 50 mile radius of my house/bathroom) came crashing down. I couldn't spend hours road tripping in a car across the country, *quickly* stopping at gas stations for bathroom breaks and fast food joints for meals. Thinking about traveling by air on an 5+ hour ride on a plane with two bathrooms literally made my gut wrench. Another idea was a cruise- stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean, swaying back and forth, with food provided only by the ship? Uh, no.

The worst part is that I had been so into the plans and then had to tells the girls why I was suddenly seeming reluctant. They were obviously very understanding, but I just get so tired of being the one that everyone else has to make exceptions for. The one holding everyone back.

I'd love a vacation, but the thought of actually leaving home, using unknown bathrooms and eating unknown foods makes me incredibly nervous. Who knows when my body will decide it's time for a extra gnarly episode? Even thinking about going with my boyfriend, who knows every intimate detail about my issues, makes me nervous. There are too many "what ifs" and things that could possibly go wrong and leave me miserable for the whole trip.

It doesn't help that every other vacation I've been on has been difficult. When I was little, my family was always frustrated with me asking to get off the highway and let me use the restroom all the time. Back then, I'd eat out with them wherever the whole family was eating and always be the only one with the upset stomach and not know why. Luckily, then I couldn't put two and two together and relate the symptoms back to certain foods- so I didn't have to avoid my favorite pizza place or the fried chicken at the crab shack. Now, I have to be especially careful when eating out and pick things that most likely won't upset my stomach. We're on vacation- we should be doing things and eating at places we've never had before, but instead we have to stick with the places that are known to have "safe" foods. Even then, I've ended up in the bathroom all night on recent vacations. What am I supposed to do? Bring all of my safe foods on vacation with me? :/

Now that I'm out of school and will be able to afford to go on vacation again, I really want to. So tell me- what do you guys do to ensure you have the best vacation experience possible with your IBS?


  1. When I went to Disney last year, I medicated a LOT and sadly did stick mostly to "safe" foods. My preference is always for constipation if I'm around other people, so I tend to overmedicate even if I end up in a ton of pain because of it later.

    Lately, though, things have been better- knocking on wood heavily here, because the last couple days have been iffy, but still. I've been eating shredded wheat for breakfast in the mornings, which I think is helping because of the fiber, and my PCP put me on amitriptyline (my gastroenterologist agreed with the decision.) Aside from during menstruation and this little episode right now (I'm ovulating...which could be an issue too, god knows my IBS seems to be hormonally connected) I've actually been REGULAR for the first time in my life. It's been such a weird change, realizing that I'm on a schedule just like everyone else and not rushing to find a bathroom all the time.

    They also just passed a version of Ally's Law here in MA, and I got a doctor's note in case I do need a restroom when there are no public ones available. I'm so nervous to be optimistic, but I feel like things may be looking up...

    1. I'm surprised that the Shredded Wheat helped. Wheat is a big diarrhea and gas trigger for many with IBS-D, including myself. It contains gluten, which a lot of people are unknowingly sensitive to, especially IBS sufferers, it's highly glycemic...instantly converts to glucose in the body...which feeds intestinal bacteria, and it's a do-not-eat food on the FODMAPs diet (for treatment of IBS, particularly the diarrhea variant of it), and it's highly indigestable because of the insoluble fiber and for other reasons, which means a lot of it remains undigested. That helps if you have constipation, but can exacerbate diarrhea. The type of fiber that might help with diarrhea is soluble fiber. I know that when I stop eating wheat, I feel so much better. I did once get worse the first few days (likely gut bacteria dying off), but was great afterwards. I think a good probiotic might have helped.

  2. Hi Rachel. I used to have IBS so bad that I didn't even take vacation. I healed myself 7 years ago without any relapses. As a health coach I specialize in helping people trouble shoot their digestive issues while giving them the support and resources they need to succeed. I believe that a total cure is doable. Imagine never having to worry about IBS on vacation again? I can help with that. Check out my website at to connect with me. I am offering free 15 minute conversations to answer people's burning digestive questions which I offer to you or anyone reading this blog. Hope to speak to you soon. Angela

  3. That's amazing! I've heard that amitriptyline has worked for some of my patients, but I'm trying to avoid it if I can. I'll have to look up Ally's Law- I'd never heard of that.

    I had to laugh while reading your comment- I feel like IBS people all speak the same language. I say "iffy" more than anyone I know, always link my symptoms to hormones (because they TOTALLY are linked), and get super nervous when things start looking up and I start to expect a happy GI tract. Hope this is the real thing and you're "free" from IBS!

  4. Please look up eating for IBS by Heather Van Vorous if you haven't already, it literally saved my life. Also, Michael Mahoney's IBS audio program 100, which also really helped.