Last updated: December 2018
For more than half my life, I have joked that I am a soccer mom in training. Going back to my days in high school and college, I never left home without a fully packed bag. Whether it included extra school-related supplies, snacks, band-aids, after-school activities, power cords, or anything else, I was always ready, and willing, to help when anyone asked: “do you have…”
My own caretaker
I used to think this behavior was just great preparation for the days when I would become a mother, but in time I realized that it actually enabled me to in some ways become my own caretaker, especially when I was on my own.
When I began showing symptoms of IBD in 2009, at age 23, my “overly prepared” lifestyle actually began to serve me really well. Consciously, I would have so many emergency items on me at all times that subconsciously, I was able to relax a teeny tiny amount. I never left the house without two pairs of extra underwear, wet wipes, extra medications, stomach friendly snacks, a water bottle, and anything else that I could possibly need. Whether I was running to the store, going to class, to work, or to the Emergency Room, I was prepared.
I felt like my body, and therefore my life, was so unpredictable that I had to make up for that in any way that I could. Often times this meant an extra heavy backpack or tote bag, but having too much stuff never ended up being a negative for me. Turns out I have always fallen into the category of "better safe than sorry."
This also translated into what I kept on hand, at home. As a Crohn’s disease patient, I never knew when my health would switch from tolerable to unbearable, and when a good day would become my last for a while. This led to me taking advantage of online delivery services like Amazon and Target, and making sure there were always extras of the essentials on hand.
Sometimes, a friend would come over and ask if I was preparing for the apocalypse, but it’s because they didn’t understand the reality of living with IBD.
My worst nightmare
What if, I were to run out of toilet paper, or wet wipes, or calmoseptine cream, and be too sick or too fatigued to run to the store? That’s literally one of my worst nightmares, so I worked hard to ensure that wouldn’t become my reality. When it came to things like crackers, canned soup, oral re-hydration products, and cleaning items for my home, I learned that I always mentally felt better if I had just a few extras on hand.
Nearly a decade later, I tend to refer to myself very seriously as “chronically prepared”. Living with IBD means that my body does a lot of things without warning, and a lot of changes come when I might not be prepared for them. I might have to cancel plans, or call in sick to work, throw in an extra doctor's appointment or visit to my infusion center, or I might end up in the hospital. While I cannot feasibly plan for what might happen when, I have instead learned to live my life in a way that I am best prepared for anything unexpected.
How has IBD changed the way you shop, organize, store things, or pack your daily bag?
What has been the most helpful for managing IBD symptoms?