Sunday, August 18, 2013

Embarrassed by IBS

I used to be embarrassed by my IBS. If I was going through a rough patch where it was completely necessary to always have instant access to a bathroom, I would just stay at home. I couldn't fathom my friends knowing I was having stomach issues. If my stomach would make ridiculous noises, I would turn red and apologize profusely to anyone within range. I'd grin and eat whatever I was offered because I didn't want to have to answer questions about why I was refusing or make the host feel bad. In short, I was embarrassed by my IBS. If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you'll know that time is long gone. I share all :)

I grew up. I realized I don't choose to have this Syndrome. I mean, who in the hell would choose to give up their favorite foods or feel super sick when they cave and eat things they shouldn't?? Just as someone with any other sickness (cancer, diabetes) did not choose what they have, neither did we. Anyway, I came to accept that this had become a part of who I am, and, just like any of my other quirks, if people didn't like this part of me, too freakin bad. My IBS defines most of how I live my life; I cannot just hide it away to make it less uncomfortable for you.

That was until I started at this new store. I suddenly realized that very few people there knew what IBS was, and even fewer knew that I had it. Some of my techs found out about it when I was talking to them about whether or not I counsel patients about constipation when they pick up pain meds. My comment was, "Well, if they're on it long-term, I talk to them about it, but if they're on it for a few days, I don't. Not many people like talking about poop." Someone responded saying that no one likes to talk about poop. My response, of course, was, "Well I blog about it." Obviously, this left everyone there basically clearing out their ears wondering if they could have really just heard what came out of my mouth. Once I assured them that is what I actually said, they had to look up my site, and they didn't like what they saw. My IBS had make someone feel uncomfortable, and I just knew they were all judging me for it. It probably didn't help that one of the first posts they saw was a detailed description of how my mornings usually go, but still.

I know it's silly to be embarrassed by my IBS, but I got into a sweet spot where everyone in my life knew explicit details about my IBS and had come to terms with it. They accepted that me blogging about it was how I dealt with how singled out and lonely it makes me feel, and how I connected with other people like me. To them, it was part of knowing and loving Rachel. Now that I'm in a new place and have all of these new people with whom I interact, I don't know how to go back to not being embarrassed. I thought about just hiding the fact that I have IBS and trying to wiggle my way out of awkward situations (refusing food, etc), but I don't want to go back to living like that.

Yes, I talk about some graphic things on this blog, but the gruesome fact is that poop has ruined so many of our lives. Well, maybe not "ruined" for some of you, but most of us live our lives based on when we poop, what makes us poop, and figuring out how to change that and get back to normal. Talking about this on a public forum helps ME. And based on the amazing comments and emails I get from all of you, it helps you too. And that's why I put my embarrassment aside and talk about it as I would talk about it with my doctor, or fiance, or sister. Because just like poop, getting it all out just makes you feel better :) And joking around about it helps too.

Having a blog doesn't change the fact that I have IBS. It doesn't stop the urgency, doesn't quiet my stomach, and it sure as hell has not made it ok to eat pizza again, BUT I remember how lonely it was when this all started happening to me. I remember thinking that anything I put in my mouth might as well be poison because that's how it made me feel. I remembering avoiding anything but bread, rice or cereal and losing tons of weight because I didn't know what else to do and my doctor didn't know either. And then I found the IBS page, and I learned something about IBS. I started making a list of what my trigger foods were and what foods I could safely eat, I read comments from people who sounded just like me and struggled through the same things I struggled through, and I thought, "What if I just blogged about what's happening to me? What if I wrote everything I know about IBS in one spot so someone newly diagnosed with IBS has somewhere to start, someone who's on their side, and someone who knows what it feels like to have a broken body?" So I started blogging. And someone emailed me and thanked me, and it was all worth it. If this blog helps a single person on their path to health or makes then feel like someone understands them when no one else does, then it has done its job. And because I know it has, I can get over this small embarrassment of coworkers judging how I deal with my personal struggles. Because I know you people are out there, and that you get me. And that's what matters.