If you have any sort of digestive disorder, whether it is Crohn's, Colitis or IBS, you likely feel some degree of stress at the thought of travelling. We have all encountered "close calls"; one of my most memorable close calls was while on my honeymooon in Antibes. My husband and I had a lovely dinner, went for a walk along the boardwalk and then WHAM! It hit me... that realization that I must find a washroom at all costs - before what I have always dreaded finally happened.
For anyone who has spent time in France or Europe, you realize that you cannot always walk into an establishment to use the washroom, you will likely have to buy something. There are no Tim Hortons that you can slip into unnoticed. There are no gas stations that you can discreetly duck into. Europe has these public washrooms that are brilliant in their ability to self-clean - for those who are willing to pay, but, nevertheless, washrooms are not as widely available as they are in North America. After extensive, frantic searching, I found such a washroom, during what is likely my closest encounter to date. Thank goodness my husband is well-versed in my heightened level of panic and extreme erraticism when the runs come running. Of course, upon discovering this washroom there was no toilet paper and no soap or sanitizer of any kind. To add to this, you only have a certain amount of time to get in and out before it goes into clean mode. This leads to complete and utter panic.
So, what did I do in this situation? Being a veteran IBSer I carry the equivalent to the contents of a diaper bag with me at all times, especially when in a foreign country. In this vein, and in honour of my recent road trip to Cape Breton, I would like to share the contents of my emergency IBS kit.
First and foremost, the drug store is your best friend, especially the travel section. Here you can find just the right size items for your carry-on or to fit in an overnight bag, or even your purse if you are out for a walk.
1. Mini toilet paper roll: I am in awe of the usefulness of this item. I always pack one when travelling, or alternatively tissues if going on a short jaunt (think evening stroll or run). This became essential last weekend when I had one of those emergencies and stumbled upon a washroom with no sign of toilet paper. Not to worry, I had my handy-dandy mini roll in my purse, problem solved.
2. Hand sanitizer: if you have bowel issues you have definitely used some questionable toilets. You reach a point where, in the right frame of mind, you will use absolutely any washroom available - be it the dirtiest gas station washroom, port-o-pottie, outhouse or the great outdoors. I can personally attest to each and every one of these. In these moments hand sanitizer is an absolute necessity.
3. Vaseline/baby butt cream: without going into too much detail - sometimes it hurts and these salves can help ease your pain.
4. Baby powder or cornstarch: similar to the products listed above, this can be helpful with pain management.
5. Extra undies and panty liners: in case that awful moment actually occurs, I always have stuff so I can quickly get cleaned up. My theory is that if I prepare for the worst, I can hopefully avoid the worst.
6. Baby wipes: these can often be helpful and soothing and have a variety of uses.
7. Purse hanger: a friend gave one of these to me for my birthday a few years back. I really had no idea how much I would use it, but I always carry this when I travel, for those bathrooms that you never wanted to step into and that you certainly do not want to bring with you (ie. germies).