I’ve always struggled with my weight. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been classed as having a normal BMI (not that BMI is the healthiest way to look at your body, of course!). But when I got ill with ulcerative colitis, the steroids and general lack of being able to tolerate anything green and… Continue reading Losing Weight with IBD: My Weight Loss Journey So Far
As I’m currently sat in the blistering heat of my boyfriend’s flat, looking longingly out of the window, I’m reflecting on some of the ways we’ve been keeping ourselves entertained during lock down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Why? Well, if not to give you ideas of what to avoid doing then definitely to make… Continue reading How NOT to Cope in Isolation (AK What I’ve Been Doing)
For my first holiday abroad as a coeliac, a city break seemed to be the best option. I really wanted to be able to find something gluten free to eat. Another requirement was that it needed to be somewhere really pretty for me – so I could take lots of Instagrammable pictures – but also… Continue reading Eating Out Gluten Free in Massachusetts
Okay, let’s talk about mental health and inflammatory bowel disease. It’s ridiculous how closely the two are related. Anxiety can definitely trigger the physical symptoms of disease, but the disease can also cause mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Neither of these is more or less important than the other: ill health is ill… Continue reading Mental Health with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
Is it even a flare if you haven’t had an accident at or on the way to work?
The first time I had an accident at work, I was mortified. I’d managed to go 9 months avoiding having one in public, and then one day – bam! – I was sent home from work to clean myself up. I wasn’t prepared at all.
Living with inflammatory bowel disease can be pretty tricky. From the minute you wake up, you’re up against a ton of challenges. This could be anything from urgently needing the toilet to brain fog and even indescribable fatigue (that everyone else seems to see as laziness?). And if you’re not prepared? You end up wasting valuable working hours, having to travel home and sort yourself out.
Although accidents are unavoidable, there are a few simple ways you can make it easier for yourself when you are caught short at work. Here are my top tips for surviving the working day with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.
Plan Your Route
Could you plot on a map the location of every public toilet on your way to work? That’s the level you need to be at to stop yourself panicking at the traffic lights or when you’re caught in school traffic.
Although my last job was in a city centre and there were TONS of toilets on the way, the traffic was horrendous and I had to make at least 2 stops every morning.
At my current job, the commute is a lot more rural, but the roads are fast and there’s rarely traffic. I still know that there are 4 possible toilet breaks I could make on the way though. Luckily, they’re quite equally distanced too.
Make sure you set off early in the morning to give yourself plenty of time in case you do need to stop in the way to work – being super early to work is a lot better than being super late!
Let Someone at Work Know
As you can probably tell from my blog, I definitely don’t shy away from talking about my bowel issues. Everyone who sits in earshot of me at work knows that I’ve got a dodgy colon because if I’m not complaining about gluten free bread and stomach ache, I’m making really awful (or should I say sh*t?) jokes about needing the loo!
However, if you’re not a fan of discussing bowel movements in the office (in which case, my colleagues will probably want to swap me for you), at least make sure your line manager knows. That way if you do encounter trouble on the way in, they’ll understand why you’re late.
This is also important for hospital appointments. If you don’t let someone at work know, they’ll not understand why you’re at the hospital all the time – and they’ll probably worry about you too! By letting someone know about your Crohn’s or colitis, they’ll be able to explain the procedure for taking time off to go to the hospital, so you don’t end up missing out on all that much-needed annual leave.
Book Meetings in the Afternoon
I don’t know about you, but I always have bowel issues in the morning. Especially if I know I’ve got a 9 o’clock meeting.
Meetings are awful. You build them up in your mind to be these inescapable situations, so that 15 minutes before it starts, the panic sets in. Should I go to the toilet now? Or leave it right until the last minute?
Then once you get into the meeting room, the chairs are normally really uncomfortable and the air con’s always so cold you can feel it tightening up your stomach. It’s also pretty embarrassing to have to leave the meeting to use the toilet.
That’s why, if I’m the one booking the meeting, I’ll always try and make sure I book it after 11am. That way, I know I’ve had time to settle in at work before throwing myself in that kind of situation.
Create an Emergency Kit
The first time I had an accident at work, my biggest mistake was not having an emergency kit with me.
Whether you keep it in your car or your bag, you should always carry the following with you in case you don’t reach the toilet in time:
- Baby wipes
- Spare underwear
- Spare clothes
- A carrier bag for any soiled clothes
- Air freshener
I’d also say: don’t be afraid of adult nappies. At first, I hated them; I’d use them as a form of punishment if I had an accident, telling myself I didn’t deserve proper underwear because I couldn’t even hold in a bowel movement.
That’s an awful way to think of yourself, especially about something you have no control over and could happen to anyone, whether you’re 23 or 83.
Nowadays, I love ‘em. If I’m having a particularly awful day (maybe I got carried away and ate too much sweetcorn the day before or something), I’ll just pop one on. I’ve never ever soiled myself wearing one, because the idea that I’m protected stops me from panic-pooing – something I’m sure you’re oh-so keenly aware of.
Sign Up for Crohn’s and Colitis UK
As well as offering loads of helpful advice, Crohn’s and Colitis UK will also send you a ‘Can’t Wait’ Card and a radar key when you buy your membership.
The card is great for when you don’t know where the nearest toilets are when you’re on your way to or from work – just show it to a member of staff in a petrol station or fast food place and it saves the stress of having to take the time (which you really don’t have) to explain your disease and why it’s so important that you have access to their toilet.
What’s a radar key? Have you ever seen disabled toilets that say they need a special key to unlock them? Yep, this is that magical key. Instant access to disabled toilets is a must! And pay no attention if someone says something to you because you don’t ‘look’ disabled – you have every right to use these toilets!
Yes, it’s annoying. Yes, it’s upsetting. But sh*tting yourself is just one of the facts of life when you’ve got bowel disease.
And you know what? No matter what that nasty little voice in the back of your mind says, it’s not your fault, and it’s not the end of the world.
It’s okay to get a little sad when it happens, just don’t let it hold you back for the rest of the day! Clean yourself up, put on some fresh clothes and get on with it – and if you can do that, you’re strong enough to take on anything!
I hope this IBD survival guide gives you back the confidence to take back control in this area of your life. If you have any more advice on surviving the working day, I’d love to hear it! Or, if you’d like a survival guide for another part of your life, let me know in the comments below.
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