Tuesday marked the second of a two-day flare-up of my IBS. My stomach felt like a brick, weighing me down, the sharp edges poking into my sides. My intestines felt like overfull balloons, the tender fibers being pushed to their limits. It was exhausting. My flare-ups usually last a few hours to a day, and in general I can trace them back to stress or something that may have had some of my triggers. But this was different.
Having IBS-C means I don’t always know what is causing my symptoms, since they can occur up to two days after I’ve consumed the offending food. It’s incredibly discouraging. As I rode the train to work on Monday with my husband, I was reduced to near tears, not because of my symptoms, but because of my frustration. I looked at him, attempting not to break down in the middle of a packed train, and said, “I just want to know why this is happening.”
Tuesday took me down. I had to force myself to eat small meals and try my hardest not to sink into the couch and let it devour me. Some of the natural recommendations to help with a flare-up are to drink water and exercise. But when my stomach has swelled to the point of me looking five months pregnant, the last thing I want to do is crunches and lunges. (You think I’m kidding. I would post a pic of me in full flare-up, but I’ve got an ounce of pride left and I’m clinging to it with all my bloated strength. At least I know what I’ll look like if I ever become a breeder.)
I decided to still go to trapeze despite my flare-up. It was my last class in the session, and I really, really didn’t want to miss it. With all my inner strength, I put on my spandex pants, found the loosest tight shirt I owned, and made my way to class.
I let my teacher know what was going on, since I thought I might need to sit out certain tricks. Surprisingly I didn’t. There were many moments where I found myself curled over, hands on my knees, panting and thinking over and over, Keep going. Keep going. And I did. I kept going. I was completely drained by the end of class, but I had made it through.
My condition is a source of pain, frustration, and sadness in my life. It affects me nearly everyday. I regularly think about it, try to prevent it, and fall victim to it. I have to fight hard not to give up, sometimes forcing myself to get out of the sweatpants and into the world. Something I’ve learned with trapeze that I’m trying to apply to my IBS is the fact that I will not die. I might feel uncomfortable and my body might feel like it is failing, but I will not die. In fact, I may even feel better.