If you have ulcerative colitis (UC), you know it can be a pain sometimes to leave the comfort of your own house. You have to be ready for whatever comes your way, since anything from prepackaged food to long lines and stressful phone calls from family can set off your next flare-up, or make it unbearable.
The following tips and tricks are essential to helping you navigate the outside world of public restrooms when you’re living with UC.
1. Know your rights
Sometimes you might find yourself in a flare-up situation, but the store or venue you’re in doesn’t have a public bathroom. According to Ally’s Law, anyone with a chronic illness has to be given immediate access to the employee-only washroom without question. So grab that pass! Think of it as a VIP all-access card that gets you into the finer spaces at events.
2. Try baby wipes
Experience the luxury we all got to feel when we were babies and invest in soft, warm, cleansing wipes. They’re like a bidet in a bag! They give them out to first-class passengers on the plane, so why shouldn’t you get the royal treatment all the time?
3. Buy anti-diarrheal meds
If your doctor says it’s fine to take anti-diarrheal medication, ensure that you have a stash close by at all times. This will come in handy when you’re experiencing an inopportune time for a flare-up, such as during an important business presentation or even at your own wedding.
4. Stock up on toilet paper
Like a squirrel stocking up on nuts, do the same with wads of toilet paper. Keep some in your purse, briefcase, jacket pocket, backpack, and office desk. What’s worse than entering a public toilet to find cheap one-ply? Finding no toilet paper at all. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. Grab the luxury TP
When you can, buy deluxe toilet paper. Why not treat yourself to the three-ply, aloe-infused toilet paper? It’s worth the extra 20 cents — trust me.
6. Turn your bathroom into a library
If your symptoms are flaring, you know you might be in the bathroom for a while. Bring along a book or magazine that makes you smile to pass the time.
7. Have air freshener on hand
Instead of worrying about odors coming from your stall, carry some cheap perfume or air freshener and spray a few squirts into the toilet water. It’ll help you mask the smell, lessening your stress.
8. Zen out
With the popular push toward mindfulness, consider your toilet time also your meditation time. Light a candle, take a few deep breaths, and you can be halfway to enlightenment before noon.
9. Keep extra clothes nearby
Always pack an extra pair of undies and pants when leaving your house. While UC flare-ups don’t give us the courtesy of calling ahead of time to announce their arrival, you can plan ahead. Have fun with it and treat yourself to the good stuff, like clothes that are softer than kitten fur against the skin.
10. Make your bathroom the place to be
When designing the bathroom in your home, place a potted tree by the toilet and hang toilet paper rolls on each of the branches. It’s decorative and a useful accessory for everyone to enjoy. Better yet, attach some patent leather arm rests and pretend you’re simply driving a Ferrari!
When you live with UC, you know that bathroom trips can be frequent and long. And while UC isn’t a laughing matter, humor can go a long way in helping you navigate bathroom stress. Plus, you can never be too prepared when it comes to UC. Maybe bathroom meditation isn’t for you, but it doesn’t hurt to carry some extra essentials like toilet paper and air freshener with you for the moment your symptoms strike.