Tummys are interesting things. They are the home where delicious things go to live. They like being tickled. They can be flat or round, but are always lovely.
They can be a source of absolute horror.
They can make you want to die.
Anyone living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) kinda understands the longing to be able to take your mid-section away for a few days and put it on a shelf while it does its own thing until it’s settled down. (Not unlike the period vagina shelf we’ve all dreamed of at times.) We might be in pain a lot of the time but we swear our bowel is the only irritable thing about us. Unless you piss us off. If you’re lucky enough to lock down a powerful trooper of all things tummy pain, know these six things.
1 She is annoyingly focused on potential meals. You want a girl who can shimmy from food vendor to food vendor at a festival without a care in the world? SORRY FOR YOU, BUDDY. Where there is food, there is planning. You’ll likely find some cashew nuts rolling around the bottom of her tote because she knows it’s a safe choice and won’t cause a flare-up. And yes, that crumbed-chicken thing covered in Parmesan looks delicious – but not being in crippling pain is even more delicious.
2 Festival belly is real life, and we need love and support. Listen, we love to razzle in the wilderness as much as the next girl, but just pack, like, every tummy remedy ever invented before you take us away camping or something like that. I’m talking antispasmodics, painkillers, green tea, ALL OF IT.
3 A hot-water bottle is basically foreplay. Guy, you’re handsome and sexy and I wanna smoosh you so hard, but my belly is sore and I’m feeling a little less-than-sexy. Just make me a hot-water bottle for my belly and put on an episode of Girls. I’ll be ready in no time at all.
4 Poop jokes are not okay. Just don’t. This is where romance goes to die. Yes, indeed I DID have to sprint from the table right after lunch, but instead of trying to make me feel ‘better’ with little jokes of ‘Oh you dropped the kids off at the pool’ or ‘When will it be safe for me to go to the bathroom?’, give me a kiss on the forehead and tell me I’m beautiful. (Okay, and maybe don’t go into the bathroom for a while.)
5 Be prepared to be confused. One day, I will be so hungry and my stomach will feel strong enough for me to eat ALL THE DELICIOUS THINGS, and the next day I will feel so shitty (ha!) that forcing a rice cake down my throat will be an issue. Help me force it down anyway; I need to eat something.
6 Be patient. We’re aware we have a problem and have probably identified our triggers by now (wheat, gluten, dairy) but every so often we’re going to throw our hands up in wild abandon and sing, ‘SCREW MY IRRITABLE BOWEL’. We will eat a pizza with extra cheese and chug a cold beer while doing so. And then we will complain afterwards because we’re so sore we could die. We know this is annoying, and we know you warned us. But we just want to be normal people who can eat and drink normal things without having to draw a mind-map first. You can tell us you told us so; just run us a hot bath while doing that, please.