Horrendous IBS Flare Up: A Review

When I started back into writing my blog, it was for the purpose of doing things that make me happy. Since writing my past few articles, I’ve realised it is also a great way to work through things that are going on in your life. Hash things out, as it were. I like to review things, so I’m going to review my latest IBS flare up. 

It started on Monday 26th February. It was a pretty standard day in work, and a colleague and I decided that since we hadn’t brought any lunch with us, we would go to our local Centra (which is popular amongst our team) and grab some food. As the weather was starting to get colder, I opted for the hot food counter. Normally I go for the Irish Stew, a personal favourite of mine at this particular counter. For some reason however, on this day, I decided to try something different.

It’s gotten to the point now where the staff at the food counters know me when they see me. I’m the gluten free girl. Normally they are pretty good when it comes to advising me on what not to eat, but they do admit they are no experts, and they do have a rather complex looking sheet to work off. What I ordered instead of my traditional Irish Stew, was more of a beef casserole dinner (even typing these words now is making my stomach churn). I had mashed potatoes on the side and some seasonal vegetables. When asking if the beef casserole was gluten free I was told “it should be,” and stupid me didn’t think to stop and say, “hold on, should be is not as good as definitely.”

You said it Boromir!

When I arrived back to work, I went up to the staff kitchen and proceeded to devour my meal. This was at around 12.30pm, give or take 5 minutes here and there. The food was actually very tasty. The casserole had a great flavour and the mashed potatoes, they were just amazing. They were smooth, they were buttery, I couldn’t have asked for nicer.

Normally when I eat something that isn’t gluten free, it attacks me roughly 20 minutes after I eat. This did not happen this time. It was unusual. In my mind I’ve put it down to the stress I’m feeling at work. My body just wouldn’t let anything happen until I’ve made that one last phone call, sent that one last email, and attended that all important meeting. It was around 4:00pm that everything kicked into high gear.

I was in a meeting with my colleagues and we were discussing something very important when the sweats started. I’d purposefully turned on the radiators in the room, so initially I put the sweats down to that. Then the stomach started to go. It churned, it cramped, it practically belly flopped (ha-ha) out of my body. I excused myself from the meeting briefly and called husband. We were due to go to his parent’s house for dinner, but I knew I wasn’t going to make it. So, I made my apologies and went back into the room. A colleague noticed I wasn’t really looking to well. At this point I probably looked like I’d taken makeup advice from the Grim Reaper. I mumbled about my feeling ill and tried to power through.

It was probably about 5 minutes after I’d admitted that I didn’t feel well, that I looked at that colleague again and they instantly told me to go, and so I bolted for the bathroom. I didn’t vomit in the bathroom, but the other stuff happened. I actually wish I’d vomited there too though. The tale only get’s uglier.

After I was finished I dashed downstairs and announced that I was going home. In my panicked state I failed to see that staying in work would have actually been a good thing. You know what they say about hindsight right?

As I got into the car I knew I was going to need help getting home and so I called my mum. Why didn’t I call my husband you ask? In my panicked state I didn’t want to worry him. I didn’t want him to know how sick I really was, so I call my mum and freak her out instead. Mum lives almost two hours away from me! What I did was cruel, worrying her like that, but sometimes you just need to hear your mums voice.

Before I move on, why didn’t I realise as soon as I got into the car that it was going to be nigh impossible for me to drive home, get out, call husband and stay in work? IBS LOGIC! You basically loose the functionality of 70% of your brain, or at least I do.

At this point I have pulled out of work, mum is on the car phone, and I’m realising that I have a good 45-50-minute drive ahead of me. Emotion swells up inside me, tears sting my eyes and I have my mum urgently telling me (in a calming manner) not to cry or else I won’t be able to see the road. Fair point, don’t want to crash. I make it to the outskirts of Armagh before I pull on to the hard shoulder. The sobs are pouring out and I’m blubbering something like “I don’t want to be sick on the side of the road,” like a terrified 4-year-old to my mother who is still two hours away from me. I don’t really know how she persuaded me to keep driving, but I think it had something to do with “get to Asda.” I had a destination to aim for.

Mum was instructed to talk nonsense to me until I got to Asda, and that’s just what she didn’t. I have no idea what she told me, she could have told me I was actually found in the park behind our house as a baby, being raised by pigeons before she took me in, and I would just have to believe it. I was so panicked I had shut down the region of my brain that was capable of speech and retaining conversations.

Asda came into sight and as I parked, Mum told me she would call husband and inform him of the situation. Let’s do an equation of sorts:

                Mum = 2 hours away

                Husband = 20 minutes away (from Asda)

                Mum (2 hours away) + Husband (20 minutes away) = Heather (1 minute away from violating a public toilet.) 

I didn’t run into Asda, a certain part of me didn’t want to attract attention to myself, however I’m pretty certain a security guard did notice a woman, dressed in all black, looking like the Grim Reaper did her makeup, power walking to the disabled toilet.

The great thing about the Asda in Portadown is that on their disabled toilet they have a sign, which reads:

                Not all disabilities are visible

Normally I would not use a disabled toilet, only in dire circumstances, and this was a dire circumstance. This sign, which I already knew was there, in a very small way, made me feel better about using that toilet. What happened in there, I could not have faced people hearing it.

The film “The Exorcist,” comes to mind when I think about what happened in that public bathroom. It wasn’t just the way the vomit came out, or the quantity, but also the sound I made. I have not thrown up like that in a very, very long time. It just kept coming. It took no prisoners. I’m pretty sure it came out of every orifice my face has, even my tear ducts! My clean hoodie was ruined, carrot was in my hair and the toilet itself…let’s just say it was destroyed by the nuclear waste that came out of me and leave it at that.

Husband got through to me as I cleaned myself up and at this point I thought that I could carry on by myself. I could drive home. Little did I realise that I’d also thrown up my brain.

In case you are wondering, I did actually inform members of the Asda staff that a nuclear bomb had gone off in their disabled toilet. I cleaned it to the best of my ability, but I warned them to wear their hazmat suits. They were very nice about it all!

As I left the Asda car park again I called mum to update her on the situation. I was convinced that I had no digestive tract left after what had just happened, but as I drove I realised I was gravely mistaken. I told mum I would call her back, got to the traffic lights only a minute away from Asda, opened my car door and proceeded to get rid of the rest of my organs. The driver behind me got a lovely eyeful and for that I am deeply sorry, but I didn’t want to throw up in my car.

Somehow, by some miracle, I have no idea, I made it home. By this point I was physically shaking all over and the most severe aches and pains had started all over my body, which I’d never fully experienced. I’d experienced some aches and pains before but nothing as severe as this. Maybe I’ve been watching too many supernatural TV programmes, but it felt like Lucifer was raking his claws over my skin (thanks Penny Dreadful for that analogy!)

Husband marched me straight to bed, and put on the electric blanket to full power, and I also had a hot water bottle (which I do not advise you do when you have an electric blanket, but I was desperate!) When I have aches and pains, heat is my cure all. The more scalding, the better. Husband stayed in the room with me for a while, but there was really nothing he could do. He watched videos of funny husky dogs with me, played games on his laptop, basically was just there for me, which was what I needed. I told him to stick to his plans for that evening, as I was not much fun anyway, and when he was away I talked to mum again and listened to Stephen Fry telling me the story of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The pains did not subside quickly. At one point before going to sleep for the night, I was sitting up in bed, rocking back and forth, telling husband “I can’t do it, I can’t do this!” The horrible things for him was, when I’m ill, I HATE to be touched. He couldn’t even pat my back to reassure me I was going to be alright. He stuck it out and made sure I was comfortable going to sleep. 

The sleep that night was horrendous. There is no other word for it, well maybe unbearable, that’s a good word to describe it too. Imagine a night where you have simply tossed and turned, and you can’t get comfortable. Now imagine a night when you’ve been plagued by nightmares that cease to end. Now combine the two and that’s how I slept on the night of the 26th February and morning of 27th February.

I was so exhausted, I couldn’t go to work. I felt terrible calling them to tell them, but I just couldn’t move from the bed. I managed another bit of tortured sleep before I finally gave up around 10:00am and joined husband downstairs on the sofa. There I stayed. From then I could feel the healing process creeping its way into my system. I could hardly eat and so breakfast was dry gluten free toast. I had no lunch and slept a lot in the afternoon. Dinner was a baked potato with butter and salt. Finally, before bed, my stomach gave a little rumble, and this time I knew it was because I was genuinely hungry, and not going to throw up. A very small bowl of gluten free rice crispies was my supper and then I trudged off to bed, hoping for a more fitful sleep.

Me circa 27th February at 5:00pm…sexy or what!?

As I write this article, which has proven to be my longest yet, I’m not 100% recovered. I am still exhausted and weak. I was back at work today, but probably should have left on a half day like I’d said I would, but didn’t do. I’ve eaten more and that’s a positive, even if it wasn’t much more. If I was to give this particular flare up a rating? I would give it a 9 out of a possible 10. Nothing will beat the first time this ever happened to me, but this one ranked high. I would say it was the second most severe flare up I’ve ever had. I hope never to repeat it, but I can honestly say that writing about it has helped a great deal.

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