Ulcerative colitis is difficult to deal with, even under the best and most controlled circumstances. This is an actual medical condition that causes extreme abdominal cramps and frequent diarrhea, which is often bloody.
For those of us who have ulcerative colitis, trips to the bathroom are very urgent. In most cases, I would consider the trips to the bathroom as emergencies. It is almost impossible to “hold it in” or wait during a flare up.
Ulcerative colitis can sometimes be controlled by using prescription medication and some basic diet changes. The road to this control is often long and tedious. In my case, it was almost two years of trials before my doctor and I found the right combination.
During those two years, traveling was often torture for me. I would find myself in humiliating situations and in desperate need of a bathroom. I also backed out of quite a few trips due to the fear or likelihood of a flare up during the trip.
Living with ulcerative colitis usually means only going to familiar places that have convenient bathrooms. When you travel with ulcerative colitis, the unknown is your biggest enemy. Going to new places is hard because you have to find the nearest bathroom as quickly as possible just in case of an urgent need.
Long car rides are horrible. On the interstate, rest areas are far apart. In some areas, exits are just as far apart as the rest areas. I have had many times where I was caught between places to stop when I felt that familiar urgent need.
When I was caught between places to stop, I only had three choices. I could speed to the nearest exit or rest area, risk getting pulled over by a police officer, and have to rush into a strange place like a mad woman in search of the bathroom. I could have a major accident right where I was sitting. Lastly, I could pull over and take care of business on the side of the road.
Because of these limited options, I usually travel when it is dark if I can. No matter what option I chose, humiliation would no doubt be the ultimate end result. I must admit that I have done all three of these options in the past. I never did get pulled over by a police officer though.
Through all of my experiences, I learned a few things to make traveling with ulcerative colitis a little easier. As anyone with ulcerative colitis knows, it is hard to talk about so, I hope that anyone too shy to talk about these problems in public finds these suggestions helpful.
First, when I would travel, I would always wear urinary incontinence underwear. These offer a little protection in case of an untimely and urgent need that leads to an unfortunate accident. This situation is certainly not ideal, but this does work.
I kept a box of baby wipes in the car to clean up if I did have an accident or if I had to go on the side of the road. While these did not clean me up completely, they did offer a temporary solution until I could shower.
Another suggestion is to buy a portable toilet like those for sale for use on boats or for camping. This may sound absurd to anyone without ulcerative colitis but, anyone with ulcerative colitis knows that sometimes, you have to resort to odd measures.
If a portable toilet is not an option for you, I suggest keeping a hard plastic, sturdy trash can in your car. This will allow you to collect your mess easier.
I kept plastic bags in my car. If you are forced to go on the side of the road, you can triple bag your mess and put it in the trunk so you can dispose of it at the nearest receptacle.
In my experience, It is easier to fly or rent a recreational vehicle. Both of these options have bathrooms most of the time. Keep in mind that because of turbulence on planes, the bathroom is sometimes unreachable.
Luckily, I am not too concerned with these matters any more since my ulcerative colitis is controlled. I hope that everyone looking at this article for help can soon say the same thing.