a series of moons over the ocean passing time

Locked Out: The Misery of No Restroom

A reality exists that incites immediate fear and anguish for anyone with inflammatory bowel disease. This reality, when it arrives, hits hard and sends quivers throughout the body like bolts of lightning.

The hard truth I'm referencing is a lack of restroom access.

My husband and I experienced this harsh reality while we were on vacation. Over the years, I've learned no restroom access will ignite from me fast-flowing tears and an immediate response from my ulcerative colitis. Let me explain.

It all started on a beautiful island...

We were vacationing in Key West, Florida. Our niece was getting married at a resort that will remain nameless. As soon as the wedding invitations were sent out, my husband made reservations at this venue. Staying on site would make it convenient and easy during the wedding.

For months, I looked forward to this vacation in Key West. I had never visited the island, and as an Ernest Hemingway fan, I couldn't wait to explore the area he once loved. The resort in which we stayed sits right on the ocean at the southernmost point of the United States. This "boutique hotel" is also revered as a historic property on the island.

Let me be clear: This restored mansion and its elegant rooms and suites do not disappoint. I especially love and appreciate all the Hemingway photos hanging on the mansion's walls. Yes, he hung out at this property at one time.

But one caveat exists at this historic site: It's easy to get locked out.

How did we end up locked out?

Yes, you read that correctly. My husband and I got locked out of our oceanfront bungalow room on the second night there. How is that possible?

When we checked in, we were given 2 identical key cards. One card opened our bungalow, and the other key card provided access into the main house where breakfast is served each day. You can probably figure out how we came to be locked out with identical key cards.

Yep, one evening after returning from listening to live music on Duval Street, my husband and I decided to take a quick dip in the pool to unwind before bed. We changed into our swim suits, he grabbed a bottle of wine and glasses, and I grabbed the "room key."

IBD panic ignites

To shorten this long story, I grabbed the wrong key. After midnight when we decided to return to our room, we realized the error. We couldn't get inside. Outside in the late night, we stood with no shoes, no cell phone, and no clothes other than the wet swimsuits we were wearing.

My colitis dragon started to stir. What could we do?

Since the card we had opened the main house, we decided to venture inside. Maybe there we would find a restroom and a way to contact someone.

Sadly, all that was available inside the house was the main office used for checking in guests and stairs that led to locked rooms and a balcony. An office phone did allow us to leave numerous voicemail messages for someone who was supposed to help in "locked out" scenarios. At least, that's what a sign said on the main house door. But no one answered our messages.

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A storm from my colon

With thunder and lightning looming outside, my husband thought we were safest staying out on the second floor balcony. But without a restroom, what was I going to do? It was now late into the night. All nearby businesses were closed.

My colitis dragon roared louder. I needed a restroom... STAT.

"You have the ocean," my husband replied to my soft cries. I was in so much pain trying to hold it all in. At one point, I even rocked back and forth in the wicker settee, doing whatever I could to prevent a gastrointestinal "mess."

Going poop in the ocean

"I'm sorry, fish and all other sea life," I whispered when I first ventured into the ocean that night. Polluting it made me feel terrible. Plus, there were unknowns.

In the cover of darkness, I had no idea how deep the water was, whether drop-offs would whisk me away, or if security cameras of the nearby businesses were recording my only avenue of relief. All I knew was that I hated resorting to releasing my colitis angst into the small waves that pushed and shoved me around.

Four times, I resorted to Mother Nature's open waters. Each time my colitis signaled its "you need to go now" message, I awakened my husband. Too afraid, I wouldn't make the trek alone. The distance wasn't far, but it did require us to cross a street to the small beach that was available to guests staying on the historical property.

IBD can be humiliating

Needless to say, each time I submerged myself into the ocean, I felt more and more humiliation over my UC. It's always inconvenient. It always strikes when my anxiety levels increase. And it always hits as soon as a restroom isn't available. Without a doubt, life with IBD is not for wimps.

At 5:00 a.m., someone finally answered all the voicemail messages my husband left about being locked out of our room. A worker showed up and let us into our room. I never felt more relief about a bathroom than I did that morning.

In the end, the resort manager apologized profusely for the communication breakdown. She said because of us, the resort would implement a new system for room access.

Well, that's all fine since I'm not sure if we will return to stay at that resort. But if a new system prevents this from happening to someone else with IBD, well... Then, good for you, future IBD guests! I suppose I "took one for the team."

I certainly left with a story to tell

As a contributing writer in this community, I did warn the manager that my night spent outside supplied me with material for an article. The part I didn't understand was why there was no restroom available inside the house. But they also didn't answer our "locked out" calls either. So, that business has some work to do.

On a good note, the manager did compensate us for 2 nights' stay. Plus, we did attend a beautiful wedding and enjoyed the rest of our time. Sadly, the vacation just got overshadowed by that night spent out on the balcony... and in the ocean.

So, what message lies in this whole ordeal? Some people might think our "poopy colons" pay off. Naw, I would have preferred not to have been locked out.

Always getting the lowdown on restrooms

Here's the moral: Let my hard lesson serve as a reminder for you as you head out on an extended stay away from home. Do your research. Make sure restrooms always stay within your line of sight. And never, ever mix up room key cards. Because if it happens to you, just know that your Crohn's or colitis will activate in an instant.

Do you have any restroom horror stories that you'd like to share? Please feel free to share in the comments how you handled not having access to a restroom.

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