My challenge was to tell this tale discreetly, without too many gross details, and still have my readers understand the horrifying situation I’m describing. But given that most of my readers also have fibromyalgia, and that I’m describing the results of a common symptom, I’m guessing you’ll fill in any missing information.
A week ago, my husband and I went to meet friends for lunch. It was a farewell celebration for a couple who are moving to another state. The restaurant parking lot was full when we arrived, so we parked two blocks away.
As I got out of the car, the effects of my irritable bowel syndrome associated with diarrhea (IBS-D) struck full force. Because I’d been prepared (both with my clothing and with what I’d carried in my purse), I thought I could repair the situation at the restaurant. But a half block away it struck again, more forcefully this time. Needless to say, we had to cancel our lunch.
It was sad to miss the last opportunity to wish our departing friends good luck in their new home. Rescheduling (the story of my life) was not an option. Truthfully, my focus was more on the abdominal cramps I was having at the time than on any emotions I was feeling.
I remember the first time such an event occurred. It was nearly half a century ago. At that time, my illness caused us to miss the wedding of my husband’s best friend. I was devastated. More than that, I was filled with guilt and shame.
On this and subsequent occasions, people were told only that I was ill — not the particular symptom I was having. In a way, that made the situation worse. I worried there were folks who wondered why I didn’t come regardless of how I was feeling. I considered myself weak because of all the cancellations in my life.
I’ve realized how wrong I was. Given the severity of my IBS-D and my intolerance to any medication that would improve it, I’ve begun to consider leaving the house an act of courage. My husband, who has witnessed the entirety of my dilemma, has confirmed that given my symptoms, he would have become a recluse long ago.
Over the decades, I’ve become good at assessing how I feel at any given time. It’s only when I ignore abdominal discomfort or unusual gurgling because I don’t want to miss an event that I have a problem in public. My usual response to those symptoms is to cancel and reschedule. I’ve stopped worrying about what other people think. Instead I think, “Try walking a mile in my shoes!”
Will I continue to live dangerously? Will I continue to ignore my body’s signals that I’m in danger and leave the house for important occasions — even when I know that a possible disaster lurks? It all “Depends.” (That’s a little IBS-D humor!)
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.
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