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Woman experiencing a Crohn

The most awkward places my Crohn’s has flared

We all know that when battling a flare-up, being in the comfort of your home is the best option. But unfortunately, real life doesn’t always make that possible. We might be traveling, socializing or working. And whilst it’s sensible to rest when we’re unwell, a flare can sometimes last and last; making it impossible to put life on hold. Today I thought I’d share some of the most awkward and random places that my Crohn’s has sprung to life (along with some of my fellow IBDers). I’d love to hear yours too!

When a flare strikes in another country

There’s nothing more awkward than a flare when you’re out of your country, but try living in China-a country famed for its squat toilets and you’ll get the picture! China not only has squat toilets; forcing you to adopt an uncomfortable position, hovering over the hole in the floor; but sometimes also dispenses with doors altogether so you can chat to your stall mate!! I was actually diagnosed when living in China and, looking back, had no idea how I coped living there so long!

It’s not just about squat toilets, the lack of clean toilet facilities in many countries can make traveling there impossible.

“Once in a lodge in Ghana, there wasn’t enough water left in the bucket to flush the loo,” explains another IBD sufferer who I chatted to. “So I crept out into the garden and squatted over a pile of leaves, praying there weren’t any spider or snakes around!”

Where’s the worst country you’ve found for dashing to the toilet? And where’s the best?

Flaring in the middle of a conversation

Wherever you are in the world, is there anything more awkward than that pang right when you are in the middle of a conversation with someone new? You start to feel sweaty, you clench hard and your stomach is cramping; all whilst nodding along politely (honestly, we should get a medal at times). Do you wait for a break in the conversation or do you just butt in? Dash off and explain later or hang on as long as possible and end up doing that awful ‘pretending to be calm but actually running’ to the toilet once you break free? My Crohn’s has created so many awkward conversations and I’ve lost count of how many times my head has screamed ‘you need the toilet!!’ whilst my mouth stays closed!

A flare on public transport

Even in the UK, the toilet situation isn’t ideal; we’re losing more public toilets than ever before. And when on public transport, I have lost count of the times I’ve seen an ‘out of order’ sign on the train’s only loo. And that’s when they actually have toilets, the London Underground during commuting hours on a hot summers day is something else altogether. You’re lucky to find a place to perch, let alone a toilet!

Whilst we can feel in more control when driving, we can still be left vulnerable! “Driving down a motorway one day years ago, I realized I had to find the loo urgently!” explained another pal with Crohn’s. “My husband pulled over into the hard shoulder and my plan was to scramble up to the slope and relieve myself on the other side of the hill out of view of traffic. However, once I reached the top; I realized there was a road on the other side too! I was horrified but absolutely desperate-so there I went, up there for all to see between two busy roads!”

It gets to a point where we just need to let go of the awkwardness and put ourselves first, but giving the taboo that still surrounds our toilet habits, it isn’t easy. I’d love you to share the most awkward place you’ve ever flared to help all of us realize we’re not alone…

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • poonicorn
    3 months ago

    Ahhh yes the embarrassing moments! We’ve all got a couple that seem to stick with us. My #1 would probably have to be the post-taco dash with my previous boyfriend (also has IBD) and his little girl.
    Nice happy Saturday, tacos for lunch downtown, and a little walk before we go home. Wrong. 5 minutes into our walk after tacos, one loud gurgle. He looks over to me and whispers “we gotta go. Now.” So here we are running to the car to get to a bathroom with toddler in tow. We make it to the store and he has to leave her with me so it’s “let’s go look at the flowers until daddy’s ready.” Ten minutes go by and we’re having fun talking about favorite color flowers and why orchids have a stick but not the other plants. Well now it’s hitting me and I gotta go and he’s not back yet. She farts and giggles and goes “let’s go potty!” We’re going in as he’s going out and she shouts “we gotta poop now daddy, you wait now!” So yeah we managed to severely stink up those bathrooms as a family that day and our toddler announced it very loudly on our way out of the store that she felt much better after that poopin!
    The other time was in the middle of Sunday brunch with my whole family at my dad’s house. My dad had complained that I had blotted the grease off of my bacon and hashbrown while making my plate. We were all talking about our week and the funny videos we had seen while we ate. I let out a huge fart, everyone laughed, my brother let one out. Few minutes later,I let out another only this one was NOT just a fart. “Oh gawd, I think I gotta go ” everyone dying of laughter over the fact that I just sharted at the table! I suppose it’s a good time to say my family is mostly boys and I’m usually the only girl. Needless to say, we are all very immature. Had to excuse myself for quite some time bc I really had to go apparently, and a quick easy clean up thanks to having my bag prepped at all times. They laughed and joked the entire time. I come back to more laughter and about every poop joke under the sun! Although it was totally embarrassing, at least we didn’t go out to eat that day and we all had a good, well needed laugh. So glad we were not out in public that time. Also, that was the day that my dad started respecting my food limitations and restrictions, realizing how important it is to not eat food that makes me have to go (especially like that) mid meal.
    Other places I’ve had close calls and almost emergencies include deep in the woods, flower field, many gas stations,on the way home from bloodwork I had to go at Save a lot in their employee/ trucker bathroom yuck!, and a plant nursery. Luckily I’ve never had an accident away from home except for the brunch story. Just getting to the door, key in hand, and losing the battle is a different story however. Hey, sh*t happens

  • TPChamp
    3 months ago

    This is great!

    I have two very memorable stories (and somewhat embarrassing). I have UC which is slightly different, but during flares it could be really REALLY bad. The first is in a small meeting with a new boss and one other associate. They were walking me through an important part of the job and there was no way I was making it to the end of the conversation. I politely excused myself for 5 minutes and came back to looks of ‘huh??’. I was new and didn’t want to talk about it, but it didn’t make a great impression.

    The second was on a long run near my house. I’d always run a loop that included my gym at one point and my home at another so I’d always be less than a mile (8 or 9 minutes) from a toilet. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that kind of time one run. I had to drop shorts right on the run path with thankfully nobody coming by at that very moment. Went home, changed, went back out to complete the run.

    Thanks for sharing! I’m hoping to see more comments with stories soon!

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    3 months ago

    Having to go in public places is the worst!! I fell victim of needing to pay to use a bathroom in Venice, Italy and ended up just pushing my way through the automatic doors with the woman in front of me (whom I didn’t know) because I really had no other choice.

    You hit all of the pain points here. Thanks for sharing!

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • crystal.harper moderator
    3 months ago

    Heads up for anyone living with IBD and traveling to Iceland- I was there recently and thought it was odd that while there are plenty of public toilets, you have to pay to use most of them! While I don’t have IBD, I imagine this would be pretty inconvenient (to say the least) in an emergency situation!

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