A manual gear shift with a toilet as the shifter knob.

Speeding to a Restroom: The Struggle of Driving During a UC Flare

"Hey, listen to this!"

My husband was reading headlines on the internet while I made us breakfast the other morning: "Man drove more than 100 mph because passenger 'had to use the bathroom.'"

Quickly, he followed up with, "Do you think his passenger had colitis?"

"No joke. It’s a real possibility," I replied, as I dished out eggs and toast to him.

Driving with ulcerative colitis

This incident reminded me of the numerous times I have "stepped on the gas pedal" during an ulcerative colitis flare. It’s a terrible feeling to be out and about on errands or heading to work when my IBD decides to "kick into gear."

What’s a sufferer to do?

Now, I don’t write about this driving incident to suggest that speeding along life’s roads is the solution. Speed limits are established for a reason: safety concerns. Besides, terrible risks are involved in accelerating just to get to a restroom.

But I won’t lie.

I have resorted to it a time or two (or three) along my colitis journey.

Things can quickly get take a turn for the worse...

Specifically, I recall an incident when my son was about eight years old. With my workday completed, I had picked him up from the after-school program. We were headed home. As per our daily routine, I was asking questions about his day at school when the feeling hit.

Anyone with an IBD knows the "feeling" to which I refer. That sort of slam to the gut that immediately emits a signal to the brain to get to a restroom before an eruption occurs.

"Uh oh, Bub."

"Whatsa matter, Mommy?"

My son could tell by my "uh oh" that something bad was about to happen. So, he reached his tiny hand over and touched my arm on the steering wheel. It was meant to be a consoling gesture, but my gut didn’t take it as consolation.

When colitis flares behind the wheel

"I have to get to a bathroom... NOW, Bub! I can’t wait."

So, what did I do?

Yep... I increased my driving speed a bit.

Now, before anyone judges me for driving a wee-bit above the 25-mph speed limit with a child in the car, let me explain. I was literally three minutes away from the house. We were on a back road (not a main thoroughfare). No traffic. Both fastened in with our seat belts. And I only quickened my pace to about 30 mph.

Truly, I still had safety in mind as I focused on getting to the house.

Parking, running, and... didn't quite make it

But what is it about the gut that knows when the body is so close and yet still far enough away from the restroom? Why must it prove that it's in control?

Thankfully, we indeed made it home safely.

Sadly, I didn’t make it to the bathroom in time.

Yeah... Unlocking the front door took too much time. That short commute and digging for the house key was more than my colitis flare could handle.

It was an ugly conclusion.

A poop accident is better than a car accident!

But, back to the news headline that my husband read. The man clocked in driving 110 mph in a 45 mph zone did pull into a gas station. And the passenger did exit the vehicle to use the bathroom...

Sadly, the driver was arrested on charges of criminal speeding. Whether or not the passenger suffered from an IBD was not disclosed.

All I know is that I understand the pain of needing a restroom. ASAP.

But remember, drivers, that pain could cost you — in more ways than one. So, please be careful out there on the roads of your IBD journey.

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